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Best Whale Watching Tour in Hervey Bay: Everything You Need to Know

by Michele
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Best Whale Watching tour in Hervey Bay
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Want to experience the best whale watching tour in Hervey? This guide will show you how to choose the right tour, when the best time is to go and what to bring with you. This is my ultimate guide to the best whale watching tour in Hervey Bay.

I’ve travelled around the world to see whales, but the whale watching tour I went on three times and what I’m about to share with you was the best.

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.

How to Pick the Best Whale Watching Tour

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.

Whale Watching tours from Hervey Bay

Ever since my Iceland trip, 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.

Best Time to go Whale Watching in Hervey Bay

To increase your chances of experiencing the best whale watching in Hervey, you should plan your trip from late July to November. During this time the calm waters between Hervey Bay and Fraser Island become a sanctuary for humpback whales, many of which will be nursing their calves.

Hervey Bay is one of the best and most exclusive destinations for whale watching that won’t disappoint.

Whale Watching Tour Review

Best Whale Watching tour in Hervey Bay - view from the catamaran

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.

Whale Watching

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!

Best Whale Watching tour in Hervey Bay - Humpback whale Pectoral Fin Best Whale Watching tour in Hervey Bay - Mother and Calf pectoral fin
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.

Best Whale Watching tour in Hervey Bay - Baby Humpback Whale Breaching

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.

Best Whale Watching tour in Hervey Bay - humpback diving Best Whale Watching tour in Hervey Bay - humpback whale's mouth Best Whale Watching tour in Hervey Bay - humpback whale dorsal fin Best Whale Watching tour in Hervey Bay - humpback blowhole

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.

Best Whale Watching tour in Hervey Bay - Humpback whale showing stomach

Best Whale Watching tour in Hervey Bay - Humpback Whale Underwater view

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.

Best Whale Watching tour in Hervey Bay - Humpback dolphins playing

Watch the full whale watching video

Essential Info

Where to start the whale watching tour

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.

What to bring on the whale watching tour

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.

How much is the whale watching tour?

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?

Book your tour with Blue Dolphin Marine Tours.

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.

Planning a trip and need travel insurance? Get a free quote from World Nomads here.

Got more time? Take a day trip from Hervey Bay

Visiting Australia? Don’t miss these travel guides!

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Whale Watching Hervey Bay

Over to you!

Do you have a question about visiting Hervey Bay or whale watching? Ask me below!
Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.

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1 comment

Tom October 2, 2017 - 03:14

Thank you for the great post Michele. I’ve been on the Blue Dolphin whale watching tour and I agree, it’s really a great experience. Keep up the good work.

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