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Whale Watching Without a Boat at Cabarita Beach and Hastings Point Lookout

Home > Gold Coast > Beaches | Free | Fun Things To Do | Lookouts | Outdoor
by Maureen Durney (subscribe)
Having finally hung up the chalk after a very long teaching career, my new career is: travelling, blogging and writing from the beautiful northern end of the NSW coast. You can read about my progress at www.maureendurney.com Life is Good!
Published July 28th 2016
Watching Whales, Without The Motion Sickness
Armed with a good pair of binoculars or zoom lens, and a calm day, whale watching just got a whole lot easier for those of us who are motion-challenged. If you, like me, have waves of nausea washing over you at the very mention of being on a boat in the ocean, here is how you can see whales without the agony of motion-sickness.

Between June and October whales are on their migration path from southern to northern waters, where they use the warmer water to feed, and breed the next generation of majestic mammals, and then head back to the cooler waters in the south. According to Australian Geographic, almost 60% of the world's whale population uses the migratory path along the eastern and western coasts of Australia, putting us in the enviable spectator's chair when it comes to whale watching.

whales, ocean, Tweed, Gold Coast, dolphins,
Is there a whale out there?


Gold Coast-ies and Northern River-ites are in an ideal position to spot the great creatures of the sea as they migrate up and down the coast. Australian Geographic rates the area between the Tweed and Byron Bay to be among the top 8 places in NSW to spot the mighty whale. According to Australian Geographic, Migaloo, the renowned white whale, was first photographed off Byron Bay in 1991, and possibly again on July 26, 2016.

One way to get up close and personal with whales is from the deck of one of the many whale-watching tours that abound along the migration path. But if you are prone to motion sickness, all you'll see from the inside lower deck is the brown paper bag you'll be wrapped around, feeling like you'll die at any minute, or at least hoping the end is near to put you out of your misery. How do I know this? Because I've been there and done that, and when anyone mentions whale watching I immediately start sweating, as the colour drains out of my face and I look for something to steady myself on.

But recently, while enjoying lunch on the very 'stationary' deck of the Cabarita Beach Surf Life Saving Club just south of the Gold Coast, a pod of whales made their way northwards, and as luck would have it I had my camera with me. I wasn't lucky enough to see the whales breaching, which they don't always do anyway, but I did see them exhale air which looks like a fine spray of water erupting from the ocean. It was an almost spiritual experience to know that I was witnessing the migratory journey of these gentle giants of the sea.

cabarita Beach, whales, ocean, views,
The view from Cabarita Beach SLSC


Cabarita Beach, whales, ocean, views
Cabarita SLSC - Friday, Saturday & Sunday


whales, ocean, Cabarita Beach,
Ah, there they are - you can just see the spray


Another great location to see marine action is the beautiful Hastings Point Lookout about 25 kilometres south of Tweed Heads. Here you can kick back and watch the dolphins play in the surf, or maybe even spot the mighty whale while relaxing on the point. All you need is a deck chair, hat, binoculars, zoom lens and a good book, and you won't mind how long you have to wait. Or as one enterprising young man found, a drone was the perfect way to relax while sending the drone out to get the photos.

Tweed Coast, whale watching, Hastings Point Lookout,
The Tweed Coast - the perfect place to relax while watching for whales


On the day I visited the lookout there were lots of people relaxing on deck chairs and picnic rugs, patiently waiting for a sighting of the whales. The sea was calm, there was a warm sun shining above, and most people seemed happy just to be relaxing while watching the dolphins play in the water below. The highlight was seeing a pod of dolphins catching the waves, surfing into the shore with the grace and agility that would make Mick Fanning envious.

whales, ocean, Cabarita Beach, Tweed Coast,
A pod of dolphins surfing below the wave


If a whale watching tour is not an option for you, then pack your beach-chair, a book and your binoculars and head for the Tweed Coast. Cabarita Beach SLSC is an ideal location if you want a little more comfort where you can watch for whales while sipping on a beverage or two, or enjoying a sumptuous, but very affordable lunch. The view is spectacular, even if you aren't lucky enough to see a whale. But if you're okay with a picnic lunch, then you can't go past Hastings Point Lookout where you're sure to be entertained by dolphins, while waiting to see the amazing whales that are sure to pass by, as long as the sea is calm.

dolphins, Hastings Point, surfing,
Watching dolphins play at Hastings Point Lookout
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Why? Watching whales without the motion sickness
When: June to October
Where: Cabarita Beach and Hastings Point Lookout
Cost: Only if buying lunch or drinks; otherwise, pack a picnic lunch
Your Comment
Well this is definitely on my to do list, it sounds like a lovely spot to spend a few days away. I went on a whale watching boat once, didn't even see a dolphin, let alone a whale. :) cheers Marie.
by MPG Narratives (score: 2|620) 438 days ago
Great Article Maureen. Sadly they don't come near our beach.
by Di Hill (score: 2|406) 479 days ago
I love this article. Can't wait to take chair and picnic lunch to Hastings Point in the hope of seeing dolphins and whales.
by Anaya Carroll (score: 1|79) 479 days ago
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