A freelance writer who can't resist good food and exploring new places. Visit my blog at www.travelchook.com
Published October 10th 2011
As the noble humpback glides to the surface with its beautifully arched jet black body glistening in the sunlight, I am mesmerised. It is humbling to be in the presence of the grand humpback whale. Sliding through the ocean with a grace and ease that is breath- taking to watch, it is difficult to believe this sleek creature of the sea evolved from land mammals some fifty million years ago.
I gaze silently in awe at these creatures frolicking in the ocean, utterly captivated as they begin exhaling by blowing clouds of white spray high into the air. There is something wonderfully spiritual about watching these gentle giants of the ocean.
The 'Mahi Mahi', a spacious modern boat perfectly suited to whale watching cuts through the Pacific Ocean off the shores of Surfers Paradise. I am on the Sunset Whale Watching Cruise run by 'Whales in Paradise'.
Watching the sun go down from the back of the Mahi Mahi
As I stand on the front of the boat clutching the railing, wind riding through my hair, I see my first 'breach' in the distance. A mighty whale launches exuberantly from the sea, high into air revealing the pure white of its gently curved belly. It seems suspended in air for a few moments, before it crashes back into the sea with an almighty splash. Just when I think I cannot believe my eyes, it happens again and again.
I have my camera in my pocket, but I am hypnotised by the breaching whale and cannot move a muscle. This arresting creature has me completely under its spell. I know that humpbacks are playful energetic creatures, but to see such bountiful irrepressible energy right before my eyes is awe- inspiring. Just personally, I'd like to know their secret.
These whales are departing the balmy Gold Coast waters to return back to the icy seas of Antarctica. It is a long slow journey, but one which they seem to do with gusto.
Even when a whale is almost submerged you can always identify it from a distance by its unmistakeable blow. Photo by J.Adler
As the sun begins its dramatic descent the 'Mahi Mahi' starts the journey home. Whales in Paradise provide afternoon tea, coffee and biscuits as well as on optional licensed bar and snacks. But I am too busy watching the glowing orange sun slide down the moody blue sky. Cruising back through the waterways, the stunning sunset is a fitting finale to an extraordinary afternoon.
The beautiful Mahi Mahi
Whales in Paradise runs a very smooth operation with crew who are professional, friendly and knowledgeable. The part of the cruise that goes through the waterways is made quite fascinating by the Skipper's engaging commentary about the rich and famous who live in the mansions along its expensive shores.
Gary - Whales in Paradise Skipper on the Mahi Mahi
When Anthony Ardern, owner of Whales in Paradise originally invited me to experience his whale watching cruise, I was expecting that of course I would be the one doing all the 'watching'. But after I ask Anthony to describe one of his own most memorable experiences, I begin to wonder.
It was glassy conditions when the whales came swimming right up and around the vessel for close to one and half hours, "Anthony explained. "We could see a whale gliding beside the boat, its eye moving, watching different people on board. We just turned all the engines off. It was really a case of just whose watching who."
This is my first season of whale watching, and one thing I know for sure, is that it will not be my last.
Whales in Paradise - Photo by J.Adler
Offering either a Gold Coast or Brisbane Departure (including return transfers from Brisbane) Whales in Paradise runs Whale Watching Cruises daily from June through November. Cruises are three and a half hours long and the boat departs from Surfers Paradise (wharf behind the Vibe Hotel) at either 9am or 2pm for the Sunset Whale Watch.
Passenger numbers are limited which I found made this a very personalised and relaxed experience.