Whale Watching in Queensland

From mid May to November each year, one of the biggest mass migrations in the world takes place and thanks to conservation efforts, experts are expecting a record number of whales to make their way north. From Tweed Heads to Cape Moreton, the Queensland coast is full of ideal locations to watch these underwater acrobats do what they do best.

To help you make the most of the whale-watching season, we’ve compiled a list of the top three places across the QLD coast to view the gentle giants of the sea. While it’s possible to glimpse a whale from land at every location outlined below, there’s no better way to get up close and personal than by hitting the water.


1. Gold Coast

If we ran a competition for the best whale-watching location, the beautiful Gold Coast would be in with a serious chance. With whales coming within a kilometre or two of the beach, it’s one of the ultimate spots in Australia to catch these beautiful creatures in their habitat. It’s also one of the only locations along the entire East Coast of Australia where whales are heading in both directions from mid August. If you’d like a front row seat of the action, then consider a cruise or catamaran straight to Humpback Highway. If ‘cheap and cheerful’ is more your style then you’re in luck! You can catch the whales on their journey north with your feet in the sand and a drink in your hand – chances are the action will unfold right in front of you on the beach. You could also watch them from the comfort of your very own temporary home (aka your high-rise hotel with water views). Keep your eyes peeled for large splashes of water and big spouts of mist.

Find out more about Gold Coast whale-watching experiences here.


2. Moreton Island

With anywhere from 14,000 to 16,000 humpback whales expected to pass by this island every year, you’d be crazy not to take part in the action. Less than 40 kilometres off Brisbane’s shores, Moreton Island is the third largest sand island in the world. Not only will you get to watch some of the biggest mammals in the world, you’ll also be sharing the island with more than 180 species of bird, native animals including bandicoots, bats and gliders and 40 species of reptiles. Phew!

With beautiful offshore reefs and shipwrecks waiting to be explored, this is also the perfect location to set up camp – literally! There are five campgrounds along the beach. A local tip is to head to Cape Moreton where you can watch humpbacks as well as dolphins, sharks and turtles swim in the crystal clear water.

Find out more about Moreton Island whale-watching experiences here.


3. Mooloolaba

Looking for a whale-watching experience with a difference? Do you feel the need for speed? Well we’ve got the experience for you! 100 kilometres north of Brisbane, Mooloolaba is the perfect location to kick back or alternatively, kick the excitement up a notch. Buckle up and hang on tight because you can view humpback whales off the Mooloolaba coast via jet boat. No boat gets you closer to water level than a jet boat – it’s the closest you’ll get to swimming alongside these gentle giants. Known as one of the safest swimming beaches along the Sunshine Coast, Mooloolaba Beach is the perfect spot to catch a glimpse of the action from the shore with the family. Try your luck seeing colourful fish and underwater creatures by taking a snorkel and mask down to the beach.

Find out more about Mooloolaba whale-watching experiences here.


Fun Facts

  • Whales feed by swallowing their weight in water. They completely engulf swarms of plankton or fish by swallowing surrounding water.
  • Moby Dick was real. Herman Melville based his idea for Moby Dick on real events and a real whale named Mocha Dick.
  • Whales love to sing to communicate and also just for fun!
  • Humpbacks are acrobatic creatures, breeching completely out of the water.


>> View all our whale-watching experiences across Australia


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>> Top 5 whale-watching destinations in NSW