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Whale Heritage Site logo

Whale Watching in Hervey Bay

Welcome to Hervey Bay. A haven for humpbacks, and a must-do bucket list item for any wildlife lover. The world’s first Whale Heritage Site, Hervey Bay is scientifically recognised as a rare stopover site for migrating humpback whales, making it an eco-experience uniquely different from any other whale watching destination along the east coast of Australia (and the world).
Like thousands of tourists each year, Hervey Bay is where the whales choose to stop, stay and play during the cooler months of their annual winter migration. These intelligent and inquisitive creatures utilise the calm, subtropical waters of Platypus Bay to rest, relax and nurse their young, before heading back to their feeding grounds in Antarctica for summer.

Famous for our close encounters, Hervey Bay has gained international recognition as one of the best places in the world to get ‘mugged’ by whales. Bouncing back from the brink of extinction, Hervey Bay’s unique connection with humpback whales has blossomed over decades of eco-tourism in the area. Proudly known as Australia’s whale watching capital, we truly are the best place for an up-close and personal experience with these gentle giants.
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The journey

Thousands of Humpback whales pass by our coastline each year during their annual migration; from their feeding grounds in the Antarctic to their breeding and nursing grounds in tropical north Queensland.

It is here that pregnant females give birth to their 5-meter long (and 2-tonne!) calves. The gestation period for humpbacks is approximately 11-months and once born, calves accompany mum on the annual migration, nursing until at least their first birthday.

It is a constant journey, either north or south, depending on the time of the season. But there is one special place on Australia’s east coast where the whales stop to take a break – Hervey Bay. 

It’s here in our Whale Heritage Site, where the whales rest, and calves practise the incredible behaviours whale watchers yearn to see, from breaching, spy-hopping to tail slapping.

Did you know? Twenty years of scientific research has proven that Hervey Bay is the only genuine stopover in what is one of the longest mammal migration journeys on the planet – a 10,000-kilometer round trip from the southern ocean to the tropics and back again.

Join us from mid-July until October

Many describe coming face-to-face for the first time with these graceful 40-tonne giants as a spiritual experience. Because they are relaxed (and not migrating), the whales are just as interested in ‘people watching’ as we are whale watching – sometimes spending hours eyeballing, slapping, spy-hopping and breaching within arms length of the boats.

Hop on board and join our fleet of specially designed vessels this winter, and see what all the fuss is about. Our fleet offers eco-certified encounters, departing daily from Hervey Bay’s Great Sandy Straits Marina between July and October each year, respectfully observing the thousands of east coast humpback whales in the protected waters of our marine park, in the lee of K’gari (Fraser Island).

Eco-experiences range from intimate all-day sailing expeditions, to half-day trips catered for all ages and abilities. From underwater viewing rooms, to hydraulic lift platforms with optional whale immersion excursions, our dedicated crew is there to help you experience these magnificent creatures in the best (and safest) ways possible.

Devoted to sustainable whale watching practices, our experienced and passionate fleet operates together as one big team. Respectfully abiding by the highest industry standards and regulations, Hervey Bay’s fleet is there to get you to the heart of the action – and ensure you have a whale of a day out on the water.

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Blue Dolphin Fraser Island Eco Adventure Sail

Blue Dolphin Marine Tours is Hervey Bay’s leading eco-tour operator. Whales, Dolphins and Sunset Sails…

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Hervey Bay Whale Watch Quick Cat II

Quick Cat II was operated by Brian and Jill Perry for 30 years who founded…

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Spirit Of Hervey Bay Whale Watching Cruises
Spirit Of Hervey Bay Whale Watching Cruises

Spirit of Hervey Bay is your best choice for a first rate whale watching experience….

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Remote Fraser Island Experience and Whale Watch Encounter – Tasman Venture
Remote Fraser Island and Whale Experience – Tasman Venture

Experience the unique and untouched remote west coast of Fraser Island (K’gari) and enjoy up…

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Tasman Venture Whale Watching Hervey Bay
Tasman Venture Whale Watching Hervey Bay

Experience the trip of a lifetime aboard the luxurious and fast 20 metre catamaran, Tasman…

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Blue Dolphin Exclusive Whale Encounter
Blue Dolphin Exclusive Whale Encounter

Be one of the few, not the many, to experience their award winning Exclusive Full…

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Whalesong Cruises – Whale Watching in Hervey Bay
Whalesong Cruises – Whale Watching in Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay’s premium mid-sized whale watching and cruise boat, with a strong focus on ecological…

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Pacific Whale Foundation Eco Adventures Australia
Pacific Whale Foundation Eco Adventures Australia

An international NGO and world ecotourism leader, Pacific Whale Foundation has been working to save…

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Remote Fraser Island Tour – Tasman Venture

Be one of the few to see the untouched and unique side of this stunning…

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Blue Dolphin Champagne Sunset Sail

Blue Dolphin Marine Tours is Hervey Bay’s longest running and only award winning sailing tour…

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Hervey Bay Dive Centre
Hervey Bay Dive Centre

The Hervey Bay Dive Centre is Hervey Bay’s premier marine and dive tour operator. -Tourism…

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Fraser Island Whale Watch Cruise
Fraser Island Whale Watch Cruise

Experience an unforgettable up-close wildlife encounter with the majestic humpback whales, on a Fraser Island…

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Freedom Whale Watch and Dive Charters
Freedom Whale Watch and Dive Charters

Freedom III is a 17 metre Power Cat perfectly suited to luxury whale watching in…

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Whalesong Cruises – Hervey Bay Sunset Cruise

Whalesong is a modern, environmentally friendly and multi-functional boat, providing tours out of Hervey Bay…

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Whalesong Cruises – Fraser Island Beach and Barbecue Cruise

Specialising in whale and dolphin watching, Whalesong Cruises provide so much more with ‘A Taste…

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Boat Club Adventure Cruises
Boat Club Whale Watch Hervey Bay

Boat Club Whale Watch and Adventure Cruises provide excellent value whale watching and day tours,…

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Make sure you follow us on Instagram and Facebook and tag us when you visit!

#visitfrasercoast #whalesherveybay

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The world’s first Whale Heritage Site

Hervey Bay’s reputation as Australia’s whale watching capital was made official in October 2019, when the region was dubbed the world’s first Whale Heritage Site by the World Cetacean Alliance.

This 6, 000 square-kilometer area, covers about 20 percent of the Great Sandy Marine Park, spanning from Rooneys Point, across to Burrum Heads, and as far south as Big Woody Island. The area is part of the wider Great Sandy Biosphere, awarded reserve status by UNESCO back in 2009.

Today’s Hervey Bay whale fleet operates in the renamed Great Sandy Marine Park under strict regulations, aimed at ensuring the thousands of whales that come into Hervey Bay each year are protected – and that they keep coming back in greater numbers.

Joined by a select few ecologically significant sites for cetaceans worldwide, including The Bluff in South Africa, and Dana Point in the USA, our heritage-listed waters puts us on the map as a gold standard destination for eco-tourism, paving the way for sustainable whale watching practises worldwide.

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The world’s first Whale Heritage Site

To qualify, a Whale Heritage Site must ensure the highest standard in respectful human-wildlife interactions, as well as showing active engagement by the local community and their tourists with marine life through art, music, science, education and other heritage and cultural events.

“These sites will become places where people respect, celebrate and protect cetaceans and their habitats long into the future.” WCA Honorary President, Jean-Michael Cousteau

As well as amazing personal experiences on the water, visitors can experience our unique connection to the humpbacks through various art installations, including the 30-tonne statue of one of our region’s most beloved whales, Nala, outside The Discovery Sphere along Main Street, Pialba.

In 2019 for the World Whale Conference, Artists Cave Urban and the Fraser Coast community, created a stunning bamboo art piece that you can find at the Hervey Bay Visitor Information Centre. This eco-friendly creation aims to inspire change while protecting the cetacean habitat from ocean-destroying plastics.

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Hervey Bay Whale Festival

Whales are also celebrated annually during the month-long Hervey Bay Whale Festival, which features six back-to-back signature cultural events over two weekends in Hervey Bay.

The festival lineup in 2021 includes the popular Blessing of the Fleet and Paddle Out for Whales (pictured), plus a stellar program of new and revamped events, including Song to the Ocean, Seafood Festival, and the much-loved Whale Parade and Family Day.

The annual festival commemorates the beginning of another whale watching season here in Hervey Bay, and celebrates our unique connection to these incredible animals through artistic displays, live music, parades, workshops, food and other action-packed activities suitable for the whole family.

To view the full program for this year’s festival (July 29 – August 8), click here

Hervey Bay Fun Facts

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From the blog