Whale Watching in NSW

More than 30,000 whales make their way along a route that hugs NSW coast, 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. You can watch their migration from spectacular clifftop lookouts and beaches, or get up close on a cruise.

Humpback whales migrating north off the coast of Yamba on the state's North Coast

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.

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. In Port Stephens, Fisherman’s Bay and Boat Harbour in the Tomaree National Park are the best places for whale watching, and sightings are very common.

Humpback Whale, Coffs Harbour

South Coast

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.

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.

Humpback whale breaching off Jervis Bay on the south coast of NSW

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 areas rich history at the Eden Killer Whale Museum and don’t miss the annual Eden Whale Festival in November.

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

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 or Merimbula Marina 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 Bay.

People on a CoastXP tour watching a humpback whale slaps its tail off the Newcastle coastline

Further north, CoastXP runs exciting whale watching cruises on a small adventure boat from Newcastle. Moonshadow – TQC cruises from Port Stephens, Port Jet Cruises operates out of Port Macquarie and Pacific Explorer departs Coffs Harbour. You can also snorkel with whales in Coffs with Jetty Dive. In Byron Bay, join a kayaking tour and paddle out amongst the whales.

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