Whale watching in NSW

More than 40,000 whales make their way along the NSW coast on their northern migration, known as the Humpback Highway, from May to November each year. Humpback and southern right whales are the most commonly sighted, but you may also spot orcas, blue whales, minke whales and sperm whales.



North Coast

Spot whales from Australia’s most easterly point, the Cape Byron Lighthouse, and wander along the Cape Byron walking track, which offers great ocean views. There are two lookouts around Ballina and a viewing platform at Iluka Bluff near Evans Head. Further south, Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve and Coffs Coast Regional Park are fantastic whale-watching vantage points.

Whale breaching, Byron Bay - Credit: Wild Byron

Whale breaching, Byron Bay - Credit: Wild Byron

There are excellent vantage points along the Port Macquarie Coastal Walk, including the historic Tacking Point Lighthouse, or you can stand on the dramatic cliffs of Perpendicular Point and look for water spouts in the distance. 

Along the Barrington Coast, you'll get great views from Cape Hawke Lookout in Forster and Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse in South West Rocks. In Port StephensFisherman’s Bay and Boat Harbour in the Tomaree National Park are the best places for whale watching, and sightings are very common.

Humpback whale, Forster

Humpback whale, Forster

South Coast

Along the Kiama Coastal Walk, there are two whale-watching platforms to view the whales as they migrate north. Depending on what end of the walk you are on there are platforms at Minnamurra and Gerringong.

Jervis Bay is halfway along the whales’ 5,000km migration route, and they often stop here to rest and play with newborn calves. It is considered one of the best locations in the whole of NSW to see whales.  

 Humpback whale migrating off the south coast of NSW near Jervis Bay, South Coast

Whale watching in Jervis Bay - Credit: Jordan Robins

Enjoy panoramic views from Meroo Head lookout in Meroo National Park north of Batemans Bay. Or head south and walk out to Broulee Island (connected to the mainland by a sandbar) for 360-degree views of the ocean.

Once a major whaling town, Eden is now a whale-watching hub. Whales stop to feed in the calm, nutrient-rich waters of Twofold Bay and it’s one of the best places to see killer whales. Learn about the area's rich history at the Eden Killer Whale Museum and don’t miss the annual Eden Whale Festival in November.

People exploring the Killer Whale Museum, Eden

Killer Whale Museum, Eden - Credit: David Rogers/Jack Nimble

Whale-watching cruises

Head out into deeper waters on a whale-watching cruise and get even closer to these giants of the deep. On the Sapphire Coast, join Cat Balou Cruises in Eden or Sapphire Coastal Adventures in Merimbula from mid-September to late November. 

Jervis Bay Wild and Dolphin Watch Cruises run tours through the waters of the Shoalhaven region. Snorkel or dive alongside them with Dive Jervis BayShellharbour Wild offers whale-watching cruises from May through to November which seats up to 48 passengers. They offer daily cruises out of the Shellharbour Marina, and you can expect to see some of the best whale watching the state has to offer.

Humpback whale spotted breaching the waters in Jervis Bay during a swimming with whales tour with Dive Jervis Bay.

Dive Jervis Bay, Jervis Bay - Credit: Jordan Robins

Further north, CoastXP runs exciting whale-watching cruises on a small adventure boat from NewcastleMoonshadow – TQC cruises from Port StephensPort Jet Cruises operates out of Port Macquarie and Pacific Explorer departs Coffs Harbour. You can also snorkel with whales in Coffs Harbour on a guided tour with Jetty Dive. In Byron Bay, join a kayaking tour and paddle out among the whales with Go Sea Kayak or Cape Byron Kayaks.

CoastXP Tours, Newcastle

CoastXP Tours, Newcastle

For more information about whale watching in NSW, visit the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service website.


Whale watching lookouts & tours in NSW