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Whale watching on the Gold Coast | Deals and tips for the 2019 season

Where and when to spot these magnificent beasts on the Gold Coast.

Watching whales as they migrate along the east coast of Australia is a spectacle like no other. These beautiful creatures captivate us as they swim, lifting and slapping their tails and fins and blowing jets of water through their blowholes.

Queensland’s Gold Coast is prime for witnessing whales as they journey up or down the coast to breed and give birth to their calves. While seaside vantage points work a treat to catch them, there’s something unsurpassable about sailing alongside humpback and southern right whales while on a cruise.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, we know a few deals that can get you onboard to watch the migration affordably.

Best for whale watching and sightseeing:

Half-Day Whale Watching and Canal Cruise

Half-Day Whale Watching and Canal Cruise from Viator

Highlights:

  • Watch humpback whales at play for just $99
  • Listen to interesting commentary from a marine naturalist
  • Small group sizes with a guaranteed rail side position
  • Glide along the Gold Coast canals past luxury homes

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Best for guaranteed whale sightings:

2.5-Hour Whale Watching Tour on Spirit of Gold Coast

2.5-Hour Whale Watching Tour on Spirit of Gold Coast from Groupon

Highlights:

  • See majestic humpback whales in their natural environment for $59
  • Receive a free return voucher if whales are not sighted
  • Chance to view dolphins, birds, sea turtles and other marine life
  • Includes a whale photographic keepsake booklet to commemorate the experience

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Best for learning about humpback whales:

3-Hour Whale Watching and Marine Research Adventure

3-Hour Whale Watching and Marine Research Adventure from Groupon

Highlights:

  • Enjoy a three-hour trip for $69 looking for the world’s largest mammals
  • Participate in research activities such as using the hydrophone to listen to underwater sounds
  • Choice of a sunrise tour for the calmest waters or a mid-morning departure
  • Take away a brochure with a summary of information about humpback whales

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When is whale watching season on the Gold Coast?

While whale watching season on the Gold Coast runs from May to November every year, the best time to catch the migration is between June and October.

Between May and July you’ll find the whales making their way north to breed, and from August onwards you’ll see them heading back south with their young.

The most common breeds you’ll witness are humpback whales and southern right whales, though if you’re lucky you may also spy killer whales (orcas) or false killer whales.


What is the best time for whale watching on the Gold Coast during the season?

The peak periods of activity for whale watching on the Gold Coast are slightly before and slightly after breeding. If you’re looking to increase your chances of seeing them, mid-June to July and mid-September to October are the ideal periods to do this.

Another good way to see when the whales will pass by Byron Bay and the Gold Coast is to keep an eye on when they pass Sydney.


Whale watching cruise companies in Gold Coast compared

Cruise name and length Departure point Inclusions Price (from) Book with
Gold Coast Dive Adventures 3-hour tour Runaway Bay
  • Snacks and hot drinks
  • Brochure on humpback whales
$49 per child

$69 per adult

Groupon
Spirit of Gold Coast Whale Watching 2.5-hour tour Main Beach
  • Complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits on arrival
  • Photographic keepsake booklet
$39 per child

$59 per adult

Groupon
Whale Watching and Canal Cruise 3.5-hour tour Surfers Paradise
  • Complimentary coffee and biscuits
$69 per child

$99 per adult

Viator
Whales in Paradise 3.5-hour tour Surfers Paradise
  • Complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits
$69 per child

$99 per adult

RedBalloon
Gold Coast Adventures 2.5-hour tour Surfers Paradise
  • Free morning tea and muffins
  • Free undercover parking
  • Whale documentaries onboard
$69 per child

$99 per adult

RedBalloon
Sea World Whale Watching 2.5-hour tour Sea World
  • Underwater microphones to hear the whales sing
$79 per child

$89 per senior

$99 per adult

Gift it Now
Gold Coast Whale Adventures 2.5-hour tour Main Beach
  • Muffins and morning tea onboard
$39 per child

$55 per adult

ExperienceOz

Latest deals on whale watching in Gold Coast

Adrenaline Adrenaline

Up to 40% off water sports activities

Valid on select dates and activities like whale watching, sailing, jet ski, scuba diving, kayaking, parasailing, fishing and more. Destinations are Sydney, Perth, Gold Coast and Melbourne. T&Cs apply.

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Stephanie Yip

Stef is the Travel Editor at finder.com.au and has been writing about travel for over a decade. She's visited over 50 countries and has had some incredible experiences, including hot air ballooning over Cappadocia, hitchhiking across Romania and seeing the Northern Lights (twice!). And while she’d never say no to a luxury escape, she's far more likely to stretch her travel dollars as far as they can go by keeping her ear to the ground for unbeatable travel bargains. And she'll tell you all about them, too! Stef has had articles featured on Travel Weekly, Escape and Hostelworld.

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