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Whale Watching in Sydney

Love whales? If you’re an animal lover then you can’t beat a whale watching experience while in Sydney. Check out our guide to Sydney’s whale watching season.

Whale Watching in Sydney -


Whale Season Timing

The official whale watching season starts in early June and runs until November with the most number of whales coming through in early/mid winter. During this period, more than 16,000 of these beautiful creatures will pass by the Sydney coastline. The official ‘season’ covers the time where whales migrate north for the winter and then return south for the summer. When they are heading north in early/mid winter, the whales are closest to the coast and more likely to be seen from land. When they head back south from the end of the winter/spring they travel further out to sea and are a little harder to spot making the latter part of the season-best for cruising.


What type of whales can I see?

You are most likely to see Humpback whales in Sydney although sometimes you may also spot a Southern Wright Whale. Humpbacks are the most playful of all whales, which is why they are the easiest to spot. It’s far less likely to see any other species due to their lower numbers although other species such as pilot whales and killer whales do also follow the same migration routes.


Where can I see whales from land?

Sydney is a fantastic place to view whales from the land due to its expansive coastline and great vantage spots from the multitude of headlands and coastal nooks along the way. Close to Mad Monkey in Coogee Bach there are a number of spots where you might be fortunate to see a whale and the most convenient are the headland areas on either side of Coogee beach. If you want to travel a bit further afield we recommend the Gap headland near Watson’s Bay which has a number of great vantage points with expansive ocean views which are perfect to spot whales on their migration.


What can you see from land and sea?

Whales are creatures of nature and their behaviour is not predictable. With luck, you may see whales fin slap, dive or even breech (jump out of the water). From the shore you’ll likely want to bring your binoculars if you want a close up as otherwise you’re most likely to get just a glimpse of the whale as they splash about. From the sea you’ll be able to see the whales moving under the water and get a closer look as they come out of the water to breathe or play. Just to note that cruises can go as close as 100 metres to a whale but won’t go within that distance to respect the whales natural habitat.


Whale watching cruises

If you want the best chance of successful whale watching in Sydney, then it’s definitely worth considering booking a whale-watching cruise as the cruise operators are experts on knowing how to find the whales and aim to get you a close up view of these beautiful creatures. Cruise lengths and what the various operators provide vary so be sure to do some research before booking. Remember that it will likely take some time getting from Sydney harbour out into the open water so factor in about 20 mins travel time each way before you would be in a position to see any whales. We recommend a larger boat if you’re sensitive to travelling on the open waters as that will provide a smoother ride and minimize the chance of sea sickness.


When is the best time of the day to see Whales?

To be honest there’s no one set time you’re more likely to see them so it’s really up to your schedule however it’s probably easiest around the middle of the day when the sun is high, and there is great visibility. For photography, you may get better shots in morning or afternoon light when the light is softer.


When is the best time of the day to see Whales? - Whale Watching in Sydney




Mad Monkey Coogee Beach is your dream hostel in Sydney to explore Coogee Beach and surrounds. We’re located right on the waterfront so just a stone’s throw away from the sand, surf and swimming, as well as tons of great bars and restaurants including FNKY MNKY located on the first floor of the hostel.
Our beachside hostel is sparkly clean with super friendly staff available to help with anything you need, and don’t miss the Mad Monkey social atmosphere that we are famous for. Our unique accommodations offer everything from traditional dorms to apartment-style lodging with private living rooms.

WHERE TO STAY IN COOGEE BEACH? - Whale Watching in Sydney


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About the Author

Mad Monkey is Southeast Asia’s leading hostel operator — born in Cambodia with more properties in Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Laos, and the Philippines. We pride ourselves in creating meaningful and sustainable travel experiences for our guests, whilst promoting socially responsible tourism.