One of Australia’s favourite whale watching destinations is the South Coast! Over recent years, whale numbers have risen substantially along the NSW South Coast, particularly in Jervis Bay and its surrounds. Covering around 5,000kms annually, this whale migration is among the world’s longest journeys undertaken by any mammal. It is a truly spectacular sight and something we should all experience at least once in a lifetime. It’s almost impossible not to be amazed by the size and beauty of these creatures and this wonderful natural phenomenon. Download the wild about whales app to track the migration and discover the Shoalhaven’s top whale watching spots.
Land based viewing: Point Perpendicular
Jervis Bay sits in the middle of the whale migration path, granting our region an extended whale watching season. During May-November, visitors can spot humpbacks, southern rights, minkes, and pilots, among other whale species. If you get really lucky and keep your eyes peeled, you might even sight some orcas too! Point Perpendicular Lighthouse, located at Beecroft Peninsula’s southern end, is an excellent spot to perch and enjoy the day. The historic lighthouse showcases a nice glimpse into the area’s seaside heritage and a sense of nostalgia. The location offers sweeping views of Jervis Bay, where female whales and calves often play in the crystal clear waters. Stay nearby in the bay’s main hub of Huskisson or relax near the sparkling white sands of Callala Bay.
Land based viewing: Warden Head, Ulladulla
Can you sense a little theme here? Lighthouses are excellent places to sight clusters of whales and Warden Head Lighthouse in Ulladulla is no exception. Only 5 minutes from Ulladulla, grab take away from Native or Treehouse Cafe and enjoy stunning coastal scenery at Warden Head.
During migration season, whales can be seen up close from this vantage point, so bring your phone for amazing Instagram moments. With plenty of walking tracks close by leading to tall headlands, the surrounding area is bursting with other fantastic viewpoints. Nearby you can also make your way to Rennies Beach and Bannisters Head which are two other local hotspots. As a guest at Bannisters by the Sea, you might spot whales from the pool bar, restaurant, or even your room!
Land based viewing: Penguin Head, Culburra Beach
The waters of Culburra Beach rest north of Jervis Bay and whales are often sighted heading both north and south. Begin your whale watching adventure at the northern end of the beach at Crookhaven Heads. (You might not be that shocked to learn that there’s a lighthouse here too!) After your first sighting, stroll southbound along Culburra Beach to Penguin Head for a scenic walk. Both platforms offer sweeping views from Shoalhaven Heads in the north to Currarong in the south, showcasing the seascape. Some of the local Culburra Beach accommodation options even offer up incredible ocean views, where you might get the chance to spot a pod of whales direct from the comfort of your holiday home.
Land based viewing: Cape St George Lighthouse
On the opposite side of Jervis Bay, you’ll find Booderee National Park – home to Cape St George Lighthouse. This ruined landmark is a fascinating piece of Shoalhaven history, offering excellent sea views from the lighthouse site. Stand at the cliff’s edge and be captivated by the whales as they make their way to their new homes. A great time to come is in October, where mums are usually coming back with their beautiful newborn calves. Sightings have also been made from nearby Cave Beach, which is also a popular camping spot.
Boat based viewing: Jervis Bay Wild
Jervis Bay plays a unique role in the annual whale migration, becoming somewhat of a resting point for the mammals. Mum and baby whales use the bay area as a creche, a halfway point to play, learn, and relax on their journey. Spot these amazing whale clusters, including newborns, metres from the beach or farther out at sea on a boat tour. This bay is unique in NSW, offering calm, still water close to the shore where whales can be observed. Jervis Bay Wild offers year-round eco-cruises with experienced guides, providing whale watching enthusiasts the opportunity to explore the clear waters. Having an expert by your side during the adventure is invaluable, as they share insightful knowledge about whale behaviours. Additionally, you’ll most likely also spot dolphins, seals and penguins who love to swim and play around the boats.
Boat Based Viewing: Dolphin Watch Jervis Bay
Another operator that can guide you through the pristine bay is Dolphin Watch Jervis Bay. Don’t let the name fool you, these guys also run whale watching tours in addition to dolphin watch cruises. You can embark upon whale specific tours or just head out on a Best of Jervis Bay Eco Cruise to experience it all in one hit. Their famous vessel, the Spirit of Jervis Bay has 5 different viewing platforms to ensure that you don’t miss out on catching a glimpse of our stunning sea life. Better yet, book your own private yacht with Jervis Bay Sailing Charters and go on a whale watching adventure in ultimate luxury.
Boat Based Viewing: Ulladulla Fishing Charters
If you happen to be further south during your visit, book a sight-seeing tour with Ulladulla Fishing Charters. Heading out onto the waters around Mollymook, Narrawallee and Ulladulla will provide you with stunning views of Pigeon House Mountain and Ulladulla Lighthouse (also known as Warden Head) as well as the opportunity to get witness all our wonderful sea residents. Humpback whales are a common sighting and the small-sized group tours mean that you’ll be able to enjoy unobstructed views of the marine life.
Swim and Snorkel with Whales: A Magical Underwater Adventure
During the whale migration season, Dive Jervis Bay is offering the opportunity for visitors to experience these beautiful creatures like never before. Here’s your chance to really get up close and personal with the whales and create a holiday memory that all your friends will be crazily jealous of! Whales are super curious animals, sometimes approaching boats and divers to see what they’re doing. And on this 4-hour tour, you’ll get to really experience them in all their glory as you ride onboard with the experts, navigating the water to find the best spots to dive in for a swim. If this snorkelling trip is something that interests you, click here for more details about the guidelines of this tour. Don’t forget to pack your GoPro and underwater case, you’ll definitely want to document this epic adventure!