I've always heard that whale watching is one of those 'once in a lifetime experiences' that everyone must try, so when I had a visitor come to town and suggest this as a fun day out, I was more than happy to join in.
We went with Go Whale Watching run by Merimbula Marina as they were advertising their services with Groupon deal site - who doesn't love a bargain? Leaving from Darling Harbour, we boarded the True Blue along with 75 others which made it feel more cramped than intimate. This custom-built 16 metre boat is practical and comfortable though, with three unobstructed 360 degree viewing decks as well as an indoor lounge cabin.
After squeezing inside and receiving safety instructions from the Skipper, we were off! During the ride out into the open water we passed many of Sydney's famous landmarks, including the Harbour Bridge, Luna Park, Circular Quay, the Opera House, and the mansions of Rose Bay which made impressive scenery and a fantastic photo opportunity.
At this point, sea sickness had not crossed my mind in the slightest but after 45 minutes we came to a halt. I carefully made my way upstairs from the lower deck to get a better view and almost immediately the skipper shouted '10 o'clock!' to us while pointing to a mother Humpback and her calf. It was pretty amazing to see them so quickly - apparently some members of crew stay behind on the headland to spot and communicate across the whales' location. I must admit, I was sort of expecting a dramatic breach up close but as this is rare, I'm not too disappointed.
After all the excitement, I realised that moving was a terrible idea. I was always that kid who loved the fast and high rides at theme parks but to this day, I cannot stand the Pirate Ship. The swinging back and forth flips my stomach and sends me on a nauseous downwards spiral every time. The rocking of the boat was doing exactly that, and by the time I made it back downstairs, well, you can guess what happened. The skipper was a star though and took time out to give me water and to find me a quiet place to sit.
We did travel further out and spot more whales, but as I was too ill to participate, I'll take my visitor's word for it that the second half was just as thrilling. The prices are reasonable, and there was plenty of tea and coffee on offer during the 3.5 hour cruise. I would do this again, though earlier into the migration season instead of early November. Perhaps I should also be better prepared with sea sickness medication...
NB. If you don't happen to witness the whales, Merimbula Marina's Whale Guarantee ensures that you get your next trip free.