How far would you go for a holiday?
Some very special tourists travel 5,000 kilometres every year – just to visit Queensland’s beautiful Hervey Bay! Of course, we’re talking about humpback whales.
From July to November, huge numbers migrate from Antarctica to sub-tropical waters to mate and give birth. Hervey Bay, off the Fraser Coast, is the best place in Australia to see these gentle giants of the sea. The bay’s sheltered waters provide both a pit-stop and playground on the whales’ long journey – and the perfect opportunity for humans to have a humpback encounter. There is no staring contest quite like the one that whale watchers experience with Hervey Bay’s humpbacks. To have a creature the size of a school bus eye you with curiosity is an unforgettable moment.
And you can expect money-back guaranteed sightings with Hervey Bay’s passionate and dedicated whale fleet. While the whales will always put on a great show, there’s a range of cruise experiences on offer from different operators.
The largest boat in the fleet, Spirit of Hervey Bay, offers guests six viewing decks spread over as many spacious levels. This means the best vantage points and all the personal space you need for serious whale watching. See the 40-tonne marine creatures up close– from above and below–with underwater viewing windows and an open-air top deck. Spirit of Hervey Bay runs two half-day trips daily during the season – including courtesy bus pick-up and drop-offs. Plus, they offer a money-back guarantee if no whales are sighted during your trip.
Tasman Venture began whale-watching cruises in Hervey Bay back in 1991 and runs two whale-watching tours daily, departing from Hervey Bay’s Great Sandy Straits Marina. The fully-guided cruises are a wonderful way to engage with whales, without sacrificing an entire day. Tasman Venture’s large and fast catamaran is fully licensed and equipped with a 360-degree viewing deck – plus a rear deck that can be lowered to get you closer to the whale action. The vessel also has easy wheelchair access; underwater viewing rooms; on-board wi-fi; hydrophone (for listening to whale songs); and a comfortable air-conditioned cabin for those hot or cool days. Each cruise includes morning or afternoon tea. The company’s sister ship, Island Venture, also offers a full-day Remote Fraser Island and Whale Experience, where the more adventurous can test the waters by swimming with these majestic giants. Tasman Venture guarantees sightings during the season – and offers a courtesy bus pick-up and drop-off.
Swimming with whales is a truly breathtaking experience, one that you can have in Hervey Bay at this time of year! ?For more details, visit http://bit.ly/FraserCoastWhales
Posted by Queensland Weekender on Thursday, 22 August 2019
Hervey Bay Dive Centre is a family-run business that boasts the region’s only solely dedicated whale swim tour. M.V. Arcadia is a 12-metre Cougar Cat that boasts a fast, safe and comfortable ride – with a maximum capacity of 33 passengers. Guests can enjoy the walk-around lower deck; upper viewing deck; fully-licensed facilities; and the comfort of a full-sized toilet. “Swim with Whales” is an up-close, ¾ day whale encounter that includes guaranteed sightings between August 14-October 14, or your money back. The tour also includes morning tea; lunch and afternoon tea. In the right conditions – when gentle, relaxed whales are nearby – swimmers inch out on a 20-metre ‘mermaid’ line attached to the stern of the boat. It’s an amazing opportunity for humans to take a dip with humpbacks and capture some memorable underwater vision. Snorkels, masks, fins and wetsuits are provided for the experience: a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that could see you share the calm waters of the bay with these massive and graceful marine creatures.
M.V. Amaroo is a purpose-built whale-watching vessel and offers a half-day cruise departing each morning and afternoon from the Boat Club, Hervey Bay. The comfortable and stable ship is fully licensed and features an air-conditioned cabin, three viewing decks and an underwater camera, so you don’t miss any of the action. For every paying adult ticket, one child (under 14 years old) will enjoy the cruise for free. A courtesy bus can pick you up and drop you back to your accommodation – plus morning or afternoon tea is served during the cruise.
For multiple viewing options, hop on board Quick Cat II. The vessel features five viewing decks split over three different levels – so it’s easy to capture the best #instaworthy angles. And with more than 30 years in the industry, the Hervey Bay Whale Watch team is highly experienced in the fine art of finding humpbacks at play. The vessel’s 360-degree downstairs viewing deck is ideal for prams and wheelchair access – so no one misses out on the adventure. Enjoy a half-day whale watching cruise, departing Hervey Bay each morning and afternoon (including courtesy bus pickup/drop-offs) – with whale swimming on the cards during the right conditions. You can also combine your cruise with a packaged deal that includes a visit to Fraser Island with Fraser Explorer Day Tours … or a Whales & Lunch at Fraser Island’s Kingfisher Bay Resort.
The M.V. Whalesong 2 was built in 2010 and designed for eco-friendly whale watching. The use of smaller, more modern engines means Whalesong saves fuel and therefore limits its carbon emissions. The wide, water-level decks allow for great viewing as well as wheelchair access for all guests onboard. There’s also a comfortably sheltered cabin catering for all weather conditions; a hydrophone; free wi-fi; morning, afternoon tea and lunch. The licensed bar has drinks for purchase too. After all, whale watching can be thirsty work! Whalesong offers half-day whale watching tours, departing daily each morning and afternoon. Or you can choose an extended morning cruise and spend a little longer with the gentle giants of the sea.
Offering the most intimate cruise experience in the fleet, the Blue Dolphin Marine Tours team takes a maximum of 20 guests for a full-day whale-watching adventure. Onboard, you are almost at eye level with the whales. Enjoy being away from the crowds and the chance for a more personal encounter with inquisitive humpbacks. The luxurious 11.6-metre catamaran was launched in 2011 and is equipped with wide decks, undercover seating, a full walk-in bathroom, and a hydrophone to listen to the whales as they cruise by.
With over 30 years of experience in Hervey Bay and nearly four decades of marine animal research and conservation, Pacific Whale Foundation offers shorter, three-hour tours departing thrice daily during the season. The low-profile, eco-friendly Ocean Defender vessel – with 360-degree ‘whale’s eye’ views – offers personalised whale watching and swim tours. A maximum of 38 passengers means there’s plenty of room to move. Enjoy interacting with the onboard whale researcher, listen to live whale songs on the underwater hydrophone, hear expert commentary from one of the certified naturalists, and play your part in ongoing research conducted by the foundation in Hervey Bay. Plus, the tour offers guaranteed sightings and free snacks and soft drinks.
No matter which whale experience you choose, you can be sure that your humpback encounters will be among the most cherished of your holiday memories. And when you come to Hervey Bay to play with whales, you’ll want accommodation that’s close to the action. Oaks Resort & Spa sits right on the esplanade – just a stroll from the water as well as shops, restaurants and cafes.
One, two and three-bedroom apartments offer views over the big blue bay or the resort’s sparkling swimming pool. Each apartment is spacious, super-comfortable, and equipped with everything you need for an extended holiday. If you’re in need of some post-whale-encounter pampering, then the in-house Spa Botanica has a menu of relaxing therapies on offer. Whether it’s whale season or not, a visit to the Fraser Coast will deliver amazing holiday memories. The region is just 3 hours’ drive north of Brisbane or a 90-minute direct flight from Sydney.
The Freedom III is a 19-metre catamaran, with 360-degree whale viewing split across all three levels, and a water-viewing level. A day out on the water on the Freedom III is guaranteed to be a great day out, with morning and afternoon tea, and a tropical buffet lunch all provided. There is also a fascinating information session on the journey out, as well as courtesy bus pick up and drop off. Did we mention that the Freedom III is also fully licensed?