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Gold Coast Whale Watching

Home > Gold Coast > Tours | Adventure
by Wendy T (subscribe)
I'm travelling. Lots of exciting places to drink in, experience and enjoy, come and see what I see before you get to go see yourself.
Published June 26th 2013
Only 5 months left for Whale Watching - dont miss out
I've always said to myself, I really must go and see the whales. It's so easy for any of us living here in the Gold Coast and Brisbane, it's a mystery how I have still not gone whale watching. We've all seen whales on TV and in documentaries, but to actually see a humpback or minke would be amazing, except every year, it gets to November and the whale season has finished and I realise I've missed out, yet again.
gold coast whale watching
Gold Coast Whales & Nerang River Cruise


So very happy to say, I've done it. Yes this week finally, we've been whale watching on the Gold Coast. We hopped on-board with Whales in Paradise, which made it easy, as we had friends visiting from Sydney coming along too, so they just walked to join us from their Surfers Paradise hotel on The Esplanade. Whale watching tours go every day, generally from June to November and apparently the Gold Coast has the longest viewing season on the East Coast, with this stretch nicknamed the Humpback Highway.
gold coast whales
Surfers Paradise from Whales in Paradise boat deck


Gold Coast House Watching
Before starting any whale watching, we went Gold Coast house watching on the Broadwater canal, which was hilarious. It was almost like the photos of Women's Day celebrity pages came to life. Some fantastic houses, some architecture that we wondered really - what were they thinking and some houses with so many toys on show (a speed boat, a yacht, jet skis) we just had to laugh. We even got some landscaping ideas for our garden as clearly money was not an object, with most of these Gold Coast real estate properties.

Of course other than the private homes of the wealthy along the waterways, there were views of Palazzo Versace, where we all wondered what it would be like to camp out in one of their three bedroom condominiums with its rooftop terrace and personal spa for a few days. Starting our tour with Whales in Paradise and sailing at this pace down the Nerang River, it dawned on us, just how totally different the views and perspective we were getting of Surfers Paradise and Main Beach and well known spots like Marina Mirage and Southport Yacht Club.
Gold Coast whale cruise
Sailing in Style


Be camera ready for whale watching moments
We had booked with Whales in Paradise because of their 100% Guarantee whale sightings or your money back and because Whales in Paradise is a local family owned business, I always think it's worthwhile supporting family businesses. We had heard from friends that had already been on the lower deck at water level was the place to start and they were right. The catamaran we boarded was called Mahi Mahi and it was purpose built so that the whales aren't intimidated by the boat's size. It seems like a huge amount of planning goes into seeing whales, even though to us passengers, it looked seamless and easy to just board and sail out and bingo, find some whales, but that's what they always say about professionals making it look easy isn't it.

The day we sailed we struck it lucky, we had a day of perfect Gold Coast winter weather, not a cloud in the sky and not a wisp of wind, though a bit of a chill, so layers of clothes were the order of the day and definitely don't forget the sunnies. After sailing from the Nerang River out to the sea, it seemed as if we saw one whale almost immediately, we saw it tailslap and spout and breech, we couldn't get our phones and cameras out quickly enough as the crew told us it was a humpback. We couldn't tear our eyes off looking for more whales after our first sighting; this was definitely one boat of very excited people. We all got to calm down though, as it was another 15 minutes before our next sighting, when we saw a whole pod of whales to the left of the boat, is that port or starboard I can never remember.
gold coast whale watching
Gold Coast whale first sighting


The whales seemed to come to the boat out of curiosity, we could even see barnacles on one whale. They are such a majestic animal but yet so playful we couldn't tear our eyes away. Someone thought they saw a whale calf, which the crew told us are born at 4 metres in length and drink up to 400 litres of mother's milk a day plus the mother whale has to squirt the milk directly into the calf's mouth until it's strong enough to suckle. Those of us mothers that were passengers, were just exhausted by those statistics.
gold coast whale watching
Photo's galore of Gold Coast whales


Whales in Paradise then moved to a second spot, where they explained that on their daily sightings, they and local scientists look to classify individual humpback whales, by photographing the whales, as they can tell individual whales by the different set of marks and pigments on the bottom of their tail fluke. I never knew the tail of a whale was called a fluke.
To top off our whale watching experience, some dolphins started to show off in the distance behind the boat, we just couldn't have asked for more, though some of us ran out of storage on our memory cards as we had taken just so many photos. It seemed as if our time on the Mahi Mahi had gone so quickly but yet we had been on board for over three hours.
gold coast whale watching
Is that whale port or starboard?


Gold Coast Whale Watching Options
There are two Whales in Paradise cruises a day, starting at 9am and 2pm. We did ask a few of the crew and they advised us, that they really didn't see any difference in the number of whale sightings between morning and afternoon, so whenever you decide to go, choose either time that suits you. Why we left it so long to go whale watching, I will never know, but once is not enough and this might need to be an annual winter event for our family. Who knew, whale watching tours from the Gold Coast have been going over 10 years but finally we can say, yes we did it but remember, you've only got 5 more months, before the Gold Coast whale watching season ends.
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Why? Seeing a whale in real life its inspiring
When: Daily - 9am and 2pm - June to November
Phone: 07 5538 2111
Where: 42 Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise, Qld
Cost: $95 adult, $250 family
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