Humpback whales follow a seasonal migration pattern that brings them to Hervey Bay in the Australian winter (July–October), peaking in August/September. Ultimate Whalewatch runs from the beginning of July to the end of October or whenever the last whale leaves, with guaranteed whale sightings on every trip between July 16 through October 9. If you don’t see whales, you’ll get a free return ticket good for up to one year.
Humpback whales are wild animals in their natural habitat, so there is no set schedule to their activity. You could see a whale any time of day or night. Ultimate Whalewatch tours are available at 7:00am, 11:00am and 2:30pm. Choose the trip that best suits your schedule and preferences.
Ultimate Whalewatch is a small-group, interactive ecotour with a maximum capacity of 40 people. This means no crowds, no jostling for space, and plenty of photo opportunities. Everyone has 360-degree panoramic views at water level to see the whales up close and personal.
Every whalewatch is different. More than 21,000 humpbacks migrate to Australia’s eastern coast and over 30% of them stop in Hervey Bay between July and October. That’s a lot of whales for a relatively small area, resulting in some of the best whale watching in the world.
Adult humpback whales are about 13-15 metres long and weigh 35-40 tonnes!
Regulations and Pacific Whale Foundation’s own Be Whale Aware guidelines prohibit the vessel from approaching within 100 metres of a whale. Whales can approach us, however, and often come right up to the vessel. We call these encounters “whale muggings” and it’s a great time to take a selfie.
It’s very rare not to see any whales on a Hervey Bay Ultimate Whalewatch. However, no worries if that happens. Whale sightings are guaranteed on every trip between July 16 through October 9 and you’ll get a free return ticket good for up to one year. You can also check out our Live Sightings map for whale and dolphin sightings from the previous seven days.
Hydrophones are microphones that our crew lowers into the water so that you can hear whales singing (typically called “whale song”).
Hervey Bay Ultimate Whalewatch is about a three-hour tour. Ocean Defender is a speedy vessel, so we’ll get you out to the whales faster than any other tour operator.
Accessibility & Safety
Yes, there are full size, walk in toilet facilities onboard.
No. The vessel is not wheelchair accessible.
Children must be 6 years of age and older for this tour.
Whalewatching is as safe as any boating activity, however you do so at your own risk. Our crew are all lifeguard and First Aid/CPR certified, and there is plenty of safety equipment onboard. This tour is not recommended if you have neck or back concerns, or if you are pregnant.
Free snack and cold drink included in your ticket price. We also recommend Café Balaena for lunch either before or after your tour.
No, smoking is not allowed at all on the vessel.
Our state of the art vessel, Ocean Defender, is an ultra-stable, smooth-riding catamaran with comfortable, forward-facing seats. However, some people do experience motion sickness while at sea. If you know you are prone to experiencing motion or seasickness, we recommend taking the appropriate anti-nausea precautions before your trip. Once we are in the protected waters of Platypus Bay, we are sheltered by K’gari in most circumstances – meaning the waters are generally calm.
Check-in & Things to Bring
You’ll check-in at Shop 1, Great Sandy Straits Marina for your Ultimate Whalewatch. Boarding is 30 minutes prior to departure time.
For your safety and comfort, we recommend flat, closed-toe footwear, jacket or rain gear, and sun protection. You should also bring your camera and money for souvenirs.
Free snacks and soft drinks are included in your ticket price. We also recommend Café Balaena for lunch either before or after your tour.
Yes, you can use your underwater or GoPro camera, but drones are not allowed.
Refunds & Cancellations
The weather in Hervey Bay can be unpredictable at times, but most conditions will not affect your whalewatch. If the Captain decides to cancel a trip due to weather or any other factors, you will receive a full refund.
You’ll receive a full refund if you cancel more than 48 hours prior to your scheduled departure. Otherwise, reservations are non-refundable.
Payment & Proceeds
As a registered Australian charity, every whalewatch ticket supports Pacific Whale Foundation’s non-profit Research, Education and Conservation programs. You also help us protect marine wildlife and their ocean habitat with purchases from our Ocean Store (Shop 1, Great Sandy Straits Marine) If you’d like to donate, click the button below.
On your Ultimate Whalewatch, you’ll get a free full-colour Whalewatch Guide. You can also purchase PWF logo shirts, hats, postcards, and other unique items and gifts at our Ocean Store (Shop 1, Great Sandy Straits Marina)