Whale Watching in Port Macquarie
The Port Macquarie region on the NSW mid North Coast is the ideal spot to enjoy whale watching. Vantage points are dotted along the coast and boat tours depart daily during the season, from May to November, as tens of thousands of whales make their annual migration.
Scan the horizon in late Autumn to see humpback whales swimming north to warmer breeding grounds and in Spring as they make their return journey south to feed in the Antarctic. You might even spot mothers with newborn calves on the southern migration.
The most common encounters are with humpback whales, the stars of the whale-watching season, because they breach – rise and break through the surface of the water – and turn while in the air. You’ll have many opportunities to marvel at the awesome sight of humpbacks rising out of the blue waters off Port Macquarie.
Vantage point and boat cruises
There are excellent vantage points along the coastline for spotting whales from a heritage-listed lighthouse and beach headlands to lookouts in the Kattang Nature Reserve and the Crowdy Bay National Park, near Laurieton and North Haven. Join a tour with Port Jet Cruises Adventures, to get up close to these majestic giants of the ocean.
Other top whale-watching vantage points include:
- Tacking Point Lighthouse, built in 1879
- Port Macquarie coastal walk – various locations
- Grants Head, at the northern end of Grants Beach
- Perpendicular Point and Charles Hamey lookout in Kattang
- Diamond Head and Mermaid lookout in Crowdy Bay
Southern right whales
Keep an eye out, too, for the rarer southern right whales, which have two blowholes that exhale a distinctive V-shaped plume up to five metres. The southern right whale is known for swimming into shallow bays. Adult southern rights are 14 to 18 metres long, which is a similar length to humpback whales.
You might see southern rights and humpbacks spy-hopping, when they raise their heads out of the water and hold in a vertical position for a moment as they look around. Tail slapping is another striking display: it's when a whale lifts its fluke – tail – out of the water and then slaps it against the water.
There are 45 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises – all members of the Cetacea order – swimming in Australian waters. You’ll see bottlenose dolphins frolicking in the Hastings River estuary and chasing fish in the waters just off the sandy beaches that hug the curves of the Greater Port Macquarie coast.