Adventure | Beach | Family 17 May 2017

Your Guide To Whale Watching in Port Stephens

Port Stephens is a spectacular spot to kick back, relax and enjoy the beauty of life. The whales seem to agree, which is why they love to splash and leap into the air while passing by blissful Port Stephens on their 10,000km annual breeding migration.

Every year over the winter months (between May and November) some 25,000 majestic Humpback whales make the journey from the cool waters of Antarctica to the warm tropics of Far North Queensland. Along the way they pass up and down the coast of New South Wales, giving locals and visitors a spectacular show along the way.

There’s a few ways you can enjoy the spectacle in Port Stephens, which is why we’ve rounded up our pick of the best whale watching vantage points, tours and activities.

Why see the whales in Port Stephens?

Just two hours north of Sydney, Port Stephens and the Newcastle region is a great place to start your whale watching adventure. This region is one of the most diverse with relaxing resorts, wildlife and outdoor activities to keep the whole family entertained.

Explore towering dunes and majestic rocky headlands, World Heritage parks and coastal rainforest. The Port Stephens region is also home to pods of bottlenose dolphins, a lively koala habitat and a little penguin breeding colony. Most importantly is a favourite playground for the migrating whales due to its calm waters.

View the whales from a headland

For one of the best vantage points in the region, take a short hike up to the Tomaree Head Summit in Tomaree National Park. From up high here you’ll surely spot a whale or two on their migration north. Best of all, this hike is free to do and the return trek is only 2.2km in length, which should take one or two hours to complete. 

The views from the summit are unparalleled. You can even see as far as Cabbage Tree and Boondelbah islands, but don’t forget your binoculars! They will certainly come in handy when whale watching from dry land. Make sure you also keep an eye out for the 100 bottlenose dolphins that call this area on the NSW North Coast home. If you’re not visiting during whale watching season, you can view the dolphins year-round.

You can take a virtual tour of the Tomaree Head Summit walk captured with Google Street View Trekker here.

Alternatively, spot the whales breaching and spy-hopping from the Barry Park whale-watching platform, which is located at the southern end of Fingal Bay Beach.

Picturesque view of Tomaree Head Summit Walk Port Stephens New South Wales

Get up close with a whale watching cruise

If you’d like to get up close and personal, float alongside these majestic mammals as they splash and play with their young. There are plenty of whale watching tour operators in Port Stephens that leave from the Nelson Bay marina.

One of our favourite’s is Moonshadow Cruises who offer the largest and most luxurious vessel in the region. The crew will keep you warm, dry and hydrated while you spend a few magical hours out at sea soaking in unforgettable moments with the whales as they pass through the region. 

Couple whale watching at the Moonshadow Cruises Port Stephens New South Wales

Where to stay while whale watching in Port Stephens

Naturally we believe Oaks Pacific Blue Resort is the ideal base to explore the region. Located in the heart of Port Stephens, the resort is the perfect base for families, groups and couples with self-contained apartments and the largest pool in the Southern Hemisphere. Yep, our huge pool wraps around the entire resort and you can swim epic laps, race to the finish or simply float round.

Oaks Port Stephens Pacific Blue Resort with huge pool that wraps around the entire resort