I’ve travelled around the world, but this was the best whale watching tour I’ve ever been on. Experience the best of Hervey Bay’s humpback whales on this catered tour on a fully-equipped catamaran.
Most of my childhood dreams usually include whales and dolphins. As a little curly-haired girl, my bedroom walls were covered with breaching whales and pods of dolphins, on my bed was an armful of whales and dolphin toys, and my shelves were full of books on marine life. This childhood passion has followed me into my adult life and now, every chance I get, I try to weave in a whale watching trip wherever I am.
My first whale watching trip was in Iceland, where I saw the shy Minke whale off the coast of Reykjavik. They were shy for a good reason since they are still hunted just south of the whale watching area. This trip was an eye-opening experience. How could this horrendous act still be happening? Who was supporting this industry? I was lucky enough to have chosen a tour operator, Elding, that actually cares for the whales. On this trip, I learned that certain tour operators will breach certain minimum distance laws that protect the whales and then encourage tourists to try whale meat at local restaurants they run! What a sham! This made me so furious.
Ever since then, I’ve looked for tour operators with a heart who seek to educate visitors about whales and provide a unique experience all the while respecting these magnificent mammals. Blue Dolphin Marine Tours in Hervey Bay embodies all of these traits. My expectations were already high before going on the tour, but they smashed them out of the water. Pun intended. I had such a great time, that I went out with them twice in as many days!
Peter, the skipper and owner of Blue Dolphin Marine Tours, shares his wealth of knowledge on the whales as part of his well-organised tour on his lovely catamaran.
I have to admit, that I organised my recent trip to Australia around this whale watching trip. Hervey Bay boasts some of the best whale watching in the world from July to November. Humpback whales return to these waters each year so you’ll see plenty of mothers nurse their young and bulls search for new mates before heading back down to Antarctica to feed during the warmer months.
If you want to get up close to these awe-inspiring majestic creatures, then you must check out Blue Dolphin Marine Tours for a truly unique experience.
What to Expect
I felt a mixture of both nerves and excitement leading up to the first whale watching trip. As with all nature-based tours, there is no guarantee on what sightings you’ll have and the nature of those sightings.
At 7:15 am, I arrived at the marina ready for the full-day tour. On both days, the tour was at full capacity with 24 passengers, plus two crew members. After receiving an introduction to the tour, the facilities on board, and safety measures, we gently cruised out of the marina.
As we headed into the bay we could choose either to sit on the cushions up top on the deck or sit below and enjoy the marina disappear behind us.
Shortly after departure, Peter joined us on the deck and shared a few insights about the whales including their migratory patterns and eating habits.
Did you know that humpbacks eat 1 tonne of krill a day?!
Peter also pointed out that while our vessel was 8 tonnes, these humpback whales can reach up to 34-55 tonnes in weight and that’s still only the fifth largest whale! While Blue Whales can reach up to 30 metres in length and weight 120 tonnes!
With 28 years of experience with marine mammals including being a Seaworld trainer and saving many stranded marine mammals, there is no question Peter cannot answer.
As we continued to head further out in the bay, Peter was on constant lookout for activity. Soon enough he spotted a mother and a very playful calf. The calf began slapping its pectoral fin before mum joined in and showed her calf how it’s done. The power and sound alone of the splash was awesome!
There are a lot of mothers and calves in the bay which makes whale spotting a somewhat easier task as the calves can’t stay submerged as long as their mothers.
By 11 am, I was starting to feel peckish which was perfect timing as Cassie, a crew member, came around with a massive platter or sweet baked goods.
On both days the whale watching seemed to pick up right around lunchtime. None of us could peel ourselves away from the heat run we witnessed, where two males were chasing down a mother and her calf. There was a lot of loud grunting of frustration from the males as the mother was able to shake of the males from their tail.
One very cool aspect of the tour is the ability to hear the male humpback whales singing with the use of the Hydrophone. Click on the player below to hear their beautiful song.
After a delicious buffet lunch, the whales seemed to become more curious about us. We turned off the motor and two whales began to circle us, swimming around, underneath us and spy hoping to get a better look at us. They exposed their beautiful bellies, pectoral fins, and tails as they twisted their body effortlessly and gently through the water.
When they came around the back of the boat, I rushed down to sit on the stairs that were almost water level. What a feeling! I’ve never been so close to whales before. It was truly magical being able to get so close to them on their terms and making eye contact with them is indescribable. The only way I can explain it is that a connection was made.
Around 3 pm we started to head back to the marina before afternoon tea was served. Along the way, we spotted a very energetic pod of Humpback dolphins who were leaping out of the water and playing amongst themselves. I’d never seen nor heard of Humpback dolphins before (characterized by their humps and elongated dorsal fins) so it was a real treat and perfect end to a wonderful tour.
Don’t Forget to Watch My Vlog 🙂
The whale watching tour with Blue Dolphin Marine Tours is a full-day experience which departs from Great Sandy Straits Marina at 7:30 am and returns around 3:30 pm. Depending on how much activity there is in the bay you may return later. At the beginning of the tour, Peter asks if anyone has any commitments that require them to be back on time, if not, then the tour may arrive back in the marina as late as 5 pm. In my opinion, this flexibility is such a great feature of the trip.
The catamaran is fully equipped with everything you need for the day. Even down to the sunscreen! Most importantly, there is also a full walk-in toilet, lots of storage space for bags, and places to sit both above and below deck.
While there is plenty of food served throughout the day, additional snacks and drinks can be purchased onboard.
No need to bring bottles of water, there is plenty of filtered water, tea and coffee onboard.
If you need, there is even a complimentary transfer available to get you to and from the marina.
Make sure you bring your camera, hat, sunglasses, and non-slip shoes to get around on deck. If you prefer, you can also go barefoot which is even easier.
Adults go for $150 AUD, children up to 14 years are $120 AUD and families of 2 adults and 2 children are $480 AUD. Group booking discounts are available.
And to share all those amazing whale pics, there is even free Wifi on board!
Planning a trip to Hervey Bay?
Where to Stay in Hervey Bay
During my four days in Hervey, I stayed at a wonderful new Airbnb overlooking the Great Sandy Straits and only a 2-minute walk to the marina. The room had a huge spa tub, large balcony, outside kitchenette, TV, Wifi, and a plush bed.
Airbnb has numerous options from as low as US$30 per night. Get it even cheaper by getting $34 off your first stay using my referral link.
Getting to Hervey Bay
From Melbourne, I flew with Virgin Australia to Hervey Bay via Sydney. Since Hervey Bay is a small airport, there are only two airlines that fly there. I did see, however, a new airline advertise direct flights from Melbourne starting in 2018, so look out for that too.
Got more time? Take a day trip from Hervey Bay
- Hervey Bay, the Great Sandy Strait and Fraser Island Dolphin Watching Cruise from Hervey Bay (Operated by Blue Dolphin Marine Tours)
- Fraser Island Day Trip from Hervey Bay
- Fraser Island 4WD Tour from Hervey Bay
- 2-Day Fraser Island Tour from Hervey Bay
- Hervey Bay Scenic Flight
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Over to you!
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Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.