Hervey Bay on the southeastern coast of Queensland, Australia, is indisputably one of the world’s best places to view humpback whales as they make their migration from Antarctica to the Great Barrier Reef. The calm, protected waters around Fraser Island create the perfect training ground for humpback whales to teach their young behavioral norms, like how to breach, slap their fins on the water, and spurt torrents of water from their blowholes. Located about 3.5 hours north of Brisbane, Hervey Bay makes for a great weekend excursion (or 2-day stop) to see the whales and to also visit nearby Fraser Island, the largest sand island on the planet.
When to Visit Hervey Bay
The best time to see the humpbacks is during the Australian winter, from July to November, and most whale watching tour operators nearly guarantee that you will see them during this period. If you are visiting in late July or August, do also check out the annual Oceans Festival that is held to celebrate the arrival of the whales while raising awareness for whales and marine conservation. There are great accommodation options within Hervey Bay and also on nearby Fraser Island.
Whale Watching Tours
In Hervey Bay, there are many incredible whale watching experiences to choose from, and all that are listed here are certified ecotourism operators in the bay. No matter what operator you choose, the vessel captains are commonly in radio communication among themselves to spot where the whales are playing out in the bay.
Blue Dolphin: an intimate sailing catamaran that caps occupancy at 24 people.
Tasman Venture: tours to the remote side of Fraser Island; whale sightings at close range without other vessels nearby.
Hervey Bay Dive Centre: get in the water with these gentle giants.
Pacific Whale Foundation: tours curated by marine naturalists and scientists that have researched the whales for over 30 years.
Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours: founded to respect and educate visitors about the local environment and the culture of the Butchulla people.
There is no shortage of whale sightings in the Australian winter months in Hervey Bay, and the experience is unique as the whales stay here for months to teach their young survival tactics and a display of acrobatics. Hervey Bay also functions as a hub for ventures to explore the 120-kilometer-long sand island of Fraser Island and should not be missed!
Featured in Outdoor Project.