Over recent years, whale numbers have risen substantially along the NSW South Coast, particularly in Jervis Bay and its surrounds. With a huge journey that averages around 5,000kms each year, this movement of whales is one of the longest migratory voyages of any mammal on earth. 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 left in awe by the size and beauty of these creatures and this wonderful natural phenomenon. Get wild about whales app to follow the migration from home and read on to see some of the best whale watching spots the Shoalhaven has to offer.
Land based viewing: Point Perpendicular
Jervis Bay geographically sits right in the middle of the whale migration path and as such, our region is lucky to experience a lengthy whale watching season each year. From May to November, visitors can often spot a variety of different whale species including humpbacks, southern rights, minkes and pilots. If you get really lucky and keep your eyes peeled, you might even sight some orcas too! One of the best spots to perch for the day is Point Perpendicular Lighthouse, which lies at the southern end of Beecroft Peninsula. The historic lighthouse showcases a nice glimpse into the area’s seaside heritage and a sense of nostalgia. The location provides beautiful, sweeping views of Jervis Bay where female whales and calves have frequently been spotted frolicking amongst 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? Generally, speaking, lighthouses are excellent places to sight clusters of whales and Warden Head Lighthouse in Ulladulla is no exception. Conveniently located just 5 minutes from the main strip of Ulladulla, we recommend grabbing some take away lunch from Native or the Treehouse Cafe and heading to Warden Head for some incredible scenery of the rugged coastline. During the migration season, it’s often possible to see the whales quite closely from this vantage point so definitely bring your phone along for some awesome Instagram moments. With plenty of walking tracks close by that lead to tall headlands, the surrounding area is also bursting with other fantastic viewpoints. Nearby you can also make your way to Rennies Beach and Bannisters Head which are two other local hotspots. If you happen to be a guest at Bannisters by the Sea, you might even experience a whale sighting from the pool bar, restaurant or even your very own room!
Land based viewing: Penguin Head, Culburra Beach
The waters of Culburra Beach rest just north of Jervis Bay and whales can often be 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 for the day, take a leisurely stroll southbound along the full length of Culburra Beach and end the walk at Penguin Head. Both viewing platforms showcase a seascape that stretches all the way to Shoalhaven Heads in the north and Currarong in the south. 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. Not only is this ruined landmark an interesting piece of Shoalhaven history, the site of the lighthouse also boasts excellent views of the sea. 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 as it becomes somewhat of a resting point for the mammals. In particular, mum and baby whales use the bay area as a bit of a creche – a place to play, learn and relax at a halfway point on their journeys back home. These wonderful clusters of whales with their newborns can be spotted just metres from the beach or further out at sea on a special whale watching boat tour. The bay is in fact, the only place in NSW where the whales are in calm, still water, so close to the shore. Jervis Bay Wild operates all year round and provides an extensive list of eco-cruises where experienced guides take whale watching enthusiasts out onto the crystal clear waters. It’s great to have an expert with you along your adventure as they can offer up a wealth of insights about whale and other marine life behaviours. In addition to whales, 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!