Whale Watching in Port Macquarie
The Port Macquarie region is an ideal location to witness the annual migration of humpback and other species of whales between May and November, with plenty of on-land vantage points as well as a great selection of cruises where you can get a close-up view of these magnificent giants at play.
Every year, around 30,000 humpback whales make the longest mammal migration in the world, travelling around 5,000km from their feeding grounds in the Antarctic to the sub-tropical waters of Queensland where they breed, before returning again at a more leisurely pace during spring, with their calves at foot.
Following a migration channel close to shore, they can be spotted any time between May and November, with the blue waters of Port Macquarie one of the best places along the coast for reliable sightings. From a viewing perspective, humpbacks are 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.
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 14-18m 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.
Land vantage points
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.
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
Whale watching tours
Port Jet Cruise Adventures in Port Macquarie run whale watching cruises from May to November, with two different experiences: one on the speedy Waverider, and the other on the new Essence catamaran with three viewing decks and underwater viewing windows. Spotters direct the boats to the best sightings, allowing passengers optimum viewing time on the water.
For a birds-eye view of the action, take to the air in Port Macquarie’s only seaplane with Port Macquarie Adventure Flights.