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Published July 12th 2018
Get up close and personal with these wonders of the deep
It's whale watching season here in South East Queensland, and with our position slap bang in the middle of the 'humpback super highway' there are plenty of operators offering you the opportunity for an up close and personal whale experience. With humpback whale populations reportedly increasing at about 10% each year, from June through to November 2018 south-east Queensland can expect to see close to 30,000 of these giant cetaceans cruising by.
If you want to see spectacular breaches, tails slaps, blows, tail lifts, and spy hopping, or just get close to one of these wonders of the deep then get aboard one of the following whale watching experiences. Just click on the blue headings to go the tour operators' websites.
I had the pleasure of whale watching with skipper Darryl Franklin aboard his 11 metre, French-built, luxury sailing sloop, Eau De Vie (water of life) a few years ago and can't recommend this experience highly enough. Read my full review here. Eau de Vie is the the only sailing vessel that provides whale watching tours on the Gold Coast, and it is a magical experience where you can enjoy the whales and the waterways with just a small group (up to seven people) of friends. Darryl has a highly impressive 100% success rate of finding whales since 2010.
Season: June to November
Cost: $125 per person - maximum seven people. Minimum charge $500
Departure: Set sail from Runaway Bay Marina, Gate D, 247 Bayview Street, Runaway Bay. You can choose your time but 8am departures are recommended.
With Tangalooma Whale Watching Cruises you cruise from Pinkenba on a catamaran across Moreton Bay to Tangalooma with a pre-packed lunch and expert commentary. You can also access some Tangalooma Resort facilities if time permits.
Season 1 June to 14 October 2018
Cost: Classic Day Cruise with Whale Watching $129 Adult, $89 Child , $395 Family (2 adults and 2 children) Dolphin Viewing Cruise with Whale Watching $149 Adult, $109 Child, $475 Family (2 adults and 2 children) Dolphin Feeding Cruise with Whale Watching $199 Adult, $149 Child
Departure: From Holt Street Wharf, Pinkenba. Departures at 7am or 10 am with return cruise leaving Tangalooma at 4pm. Some cruises return at 7pm. Check website for details.
Length of tour: 3 hour Whale Watching cruise (12pm-3pm)
This tour includes a buffet lunch and expert commentary. There is a licensed bar and snack and souvenir shop aboard the catamaran 'Eye Spy'. 'Eye Spy' is guided directly to the whales by a small Cessna 172 aircraft, 'Sky Spy.'
Season: 7 days a week from June to November
Cost: Prices start at $135 for departure from Redcliffe. Prices for pickups from Brisbane or Sunshine Coast start from $165. See website for details.
Departure: Departs Redcliffe Jetty with boarding commencing at 9am and returning at 2.30pm
Length of tour: Approx. 5.5 hrs
Vessel: High speed catamaran purpose-built for whale watching
Food and drinks: Lunch included, snacks available to purchase
Whales in Paradise was the Gold Coast's first whale watching tour operator. They operate two purpose built catamarans, Mahi Mahi and Kaiala. These tours leave from Surfers Paradise but also offer pick-ups in Brisbane or a personalised pick-up service from your hotel for an additional charge. Brisbane pick-ups are for the 10.30am departure.
Season: 1 June to 31 October 2018
Cost: EX Gold Coast: Adults - $99; Children (3-14yrs) - $69; Family Pass (2 Adults, 2 Children) - $267; Concession Card holder - $89 EX Brisbane: Adults - $139; Children (0-14yrs) - $109; Family Pass (2 Adults 2 Children) - $427; Concession Card Holder - $129
Cruise on board the Spirit of Gold Coast, a 24 metre purpose-built catamaran with 360 degree viewing and fully licensed bar.
Season: June to 28 October 2018
Cost: Adults - $99; Children - $59; Seniors and students - $79; Family (2 adults and 2 children) - $236.
Departure: From Mariners Cove Marina, 60-70 Seaworld Drive on Main Beach. 9am boarding for 9.30 am departure. Afternoon cruises at 1:30pm departure (1pm boarding) available depending on sea conditions.