I love whale-watching season in Coffs Harbour! It makes all those walks over Muttonbird Island and any other headland and coastal lookout point that much more exciting!
Will we see whales today? If so, how many? And will they merely spout some spray into the air to alert us to their presence, will we see their backs glide gently out of and back into the water, will there be some tails up in the air or are they putting on a full-on breaching and tail-flapping show for us?
No matter how many times you’ve seen whales, because they’re so mighty and so unpredictable, every time you see one it’s exciting again. And it unites people, pointing them out to those who haven’t spotted them yet and going “oh” and “ah” and “wow” in unison.
Every year from late May, thousands of mighty humpback whales migrate north along the east coast of Australia from the cold Antarctic seas to the warm ocean waters off the Queensland coast to breed.
Along the NSW Coffs Coast, in June, July and early August you’ll see them on their way up, while from late August to early November they’ll be going back south with their calves. The whales actually tend to swim a bit closer to shore on their way back in order to protect their calves, so you may even get a closer view then.
Here are some excellent ways and places to watch whales around Coffs Harbour:
On the water:
Board a whale-watching cruise. Choose from trips with the following operators (all from the Coffs Harbour Marina):
- Sailing catamaran ‘Pacific Explorer‘ – ph. 02 6652 8988
- Jetty Dive’s ultra-fast ‘Wild Fin‘ – ph. 02 6651 1611
- Double-deck catamaran ‘Cougar Cat 12‘ – ph. 6651 6715
(The Spirit of Coffs Harbour no longer operates in Coffs.)
- From the top of or the viewing platform on Muttonbird Island in Coffs Harbour
- From Beacon Hill Lookout on Victoria Street, Coffs Harbour Jetty area
- From Boambee or Bonville Headlands in Sawtell
- From Macauleys Headland, between Diggers Beach and Park Beach in Coffs Harbour
- From Look At Me Now Headland in Emerald Beach
- From Woolgoolga Headland in Woolgoolga
Bring your binoculars and if you’re going on a boat, make sure you bring your camera as I guarantee you’ll want to take lots of photos and/or videos!
All the headlands and lookout points mentioned above have benches to sit on, or bring a rug and a picnic and park yourselves on the grass for a relaxing game of “spot the whales”.
It’s a good idea to wait for calm weather because it can be incredibly difficult if not impossible to spot whales when the sea is choppy. Have fun!