Merimbula & Sapphire Coast Whale Watching
Each spring, the waters off Bermagui, Tathra and Merimbula on the Sapphire Coast come alive with whales. Locals regularly report seeing pods a hundred strong, breaching, waving tail flukes and seemingly having a good time as they gave the calves a break before the last leg to Antarctica.
In this part of NSW, spring is best for whale watching, when the combination of a warm East Australia Current and nutrient-rich Arctic flow creates a smorgasbord of krill and pilchards that sustains life above and below the waves, year after year. Chances are you may encounter a spectacular humpback whale, with possible sightings of a rare blue whale, minke, southern right or even orca.
The town of Eden has a rich fishing and whaling history. Learn about this heritage and the hunting partnership between local indigenous groups and killer whales along the Killer Whale Trail. The trail includes Eden Lookout, Davidson Whaling Station, Boyds Tower and the Killer Whale Museum, home to the skeleton of famous local killer whale, Old Tom.
From the water
Take a cruise with Cat Balou who depart from Twofold Bay in Eden or Sapphire Coastal Adventures (Merimbula Marina) who will operate during the season in Eden and Bermagui. You can be on the migration path within minutes of leaving port. Most guides offer guaranteed encounters between September and early November. Look out for common and bottlenose dolphins, seals, penguins, sunfish and turtles as well.
Vantage points on land
Watch for whales at Eden Lookout, one of the State’s best vantage points. The clifftop views from Tathra are dramatic, with the Tathra Headland Walk lookouts, Tathra Hotel and Chamberlain Lookout at Kianinny all great spots. The Wajurda Point track in the Mimosa Rocks National Park leads to a lookout with one of the best views in the region. In Merimbula, drive to Short Point Beach and relax in one of the wooden deck chairs that look out over a gentle sweep of sea, sand and sky. If the whales don’t show, you can always go for a surf – with a wetsuit.
Whale watch and walk
Combine a hike through the unspoiled wilderness of one of the area’s rugged national parks with whale watching from cliffs and headlands. Bournda National Park is a pretty playground filled with secluded beaches and scenic coastal walks. The challenging Kangarutha Walking Track in the park is dotted with lookouts.
Choose a spot along the 45km of coastline in the Ben Boyd National Park or follow the three-day Light to Light walk through the park from Green Cape Lighthouse to Boyds Tower for more fantastic vantage points.
Each November, the Eden Whale Festival celebrates the season with street parades, music, food, wine, storytelling and more.
For more information on whale watching around NSW, visit the National Parks and Wildlife website.