A First-Timer’s Guide To Whale Watching in Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay isn’t just another whale watching spot on the Australian map. This coastal gem in Queensland holds the prestigious titles of Australia's whale watching capital and the world's first Whale-Heritage site. Here, you’ll experience exceptional whale encounters that will rival any marine documentary on Netflix!

Planning your first whale watching adventure in Hervey Bay? Here’s a handy guide on how to make the most of your first trip. So, don your Captain’s hat and let’s dive right into it!

All about timing!

A panoramic view of the Fraser Coast near Hervey Bay
The whale season in Hervey Bay runs from mid-July to early November. During this period, Humpback Whales migrate from the frosty Antarctic waters to the warmer, sheltered bays to breed and nurse their calves. The absolute best time to see whales in Hervey Bay is during August and September, promising the highest number of sightings. This is the time when the young whales also join the party, making Hervey Bay a proper resting and playing ground, which means more whales and more sightings!

All tours are different!

Three massive whales swimming under a whale watching cruise in Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay’s whale watching tours are second to none, offering a variety of options, all the while ensuring that safety is the word of the mouth. Want a more intimate, cosy experience? Go for a smaller boat. Prefer stability and a few more onboard amenities? A larger vessel is your best bet.

Whale cruise departing from Hervey Bay always sell out quickly – the bay boasts such an abundance of whales that the tour operators even offer sighting guarantees, granting a free return trip if no whales are sighted. And for those who really want to make a splash, some tours let you swim with Humpback Whales. Yep, you heard that right. Just you, a snorkel, and a gentle giant of the deep!

All about the essentials!

Comfort is key when you're chasing whales. Dress in layers because the weather can be unpredictable! Don’t forget your hat, sunglasses and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s glare. Oh, and binoculars are handy – if you spot a whale or other marine life in the distance make sure you tell your Captain!

PS: If you’re prone to seasickness, pack some motion sickness remedies.

All the whale behaviours!

A sight to behold - a breaching Humpback Whale in Hervey Bay

Humpback Whales are the A-listers of Hervey Bay. Try to recognise some of their common antics including: breaching (where they launch their massive bodies out of the water), tail-slapping (a spectacular display of force) and spy-hopping (when they poke their heads above the surface to take a peek at their surroundings). 

Mugging is the most intimate and special one, where curious whales of the group approach the vessel for a closer inspection, maybe even allowing for a gentle pat! That’s why all whale encounters are unique, you’d never know what adventure might unfold before you!

All about the Whale Festival!

Level up your first whale watching experience by planning your trip around the Hervey Bay Whale Festival in August. It’s a festival dedicated solely for the whales, featuring a parade, live entertainment, educational activities and plenty more. It’s an excellent opportunity to celebrate the arrival of the Humpback Whales and learn more about their world!

To sum it up, whale watching in Hervey Bay is a bucket-list worthy adventure that will leave you with a quiver full of core memories. The bay, the whales and the expert-led tours, all combine to create an experience that’s both exhilarating and humbling. You have to experience it to believe it!