Itinerary: Whale watching
Pack your binoculars to experience the majesty and grandeur of these oceanic giants. This epic 6-day drive showcases the best places to whale watch all along the NSW coastline. Humpback whales and southern right whales sail north for warmer waters throughout June and into July, and return southwards from around September to November.
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Stop at the Coffs Coast, Port Stephens, Sydney and Jervis Bay. Marvel at the whales’ size and grace as they glide past panoramic coastal lookouts or get up closer on a whale-watching tour. Take a guided tour to learn more about the migratory paths, complex underwater love songs and acrobatic communication of these awe-inspiring creatures. You can drive this journey in sections or take a longer time to do its entire length.
Experience the annual whale migration in coastal national parks between June and November. Find the perfect vantage point to enjoy the migration and plan your next coastal adventure at the Wild About Whales website.
Day 1: A guaranteed fluke
Start your adventure in Cape Byron State Conservation Area, which sits at Australia’s most easterly point and is a sensational location for whale watching. Follow the coastal walk to the Cape Byron Lighthouse, looking out for the majestic whales which often frolic just a hundred metres offshore. To get closer, join a whale watching tour or go kayaking from the beach. Spend the night in a classic beach cottage such as Partridge Cottage and Geoff's Shed or Thomson’s Cottage.
Enjoy spectacular coastal views along the Cape Byron walking track that takes you on a hike through rainforest, beach, grassland and clifftops to the lighthouse.
Cape Byron Lighthouse is closed until further notice to protect the health and safety of our visitors and staff. Cape Byron Lighthouse sits on Australia’s most easterly point, a shining light over Byron Bay. Take a guided tour, find out about shipwrecks and enjoy spectacular views.
For a classic Aussie beach holiday in unique accommodation, head to Partridge Cottage at Byron Bay. It’s a great base for a weekend getaway or longer holiday.
Thomson Cottage sits on the edge of the rainforest with stunning views of ‘The Pass’ in Byron Bay. Hidden away, this beach accommodation is the perfect getaway.
Day 2: Whale watching headquarters
Continue down the Pacific Coast to Coffs Coast Regional Park, where the Solitary Islands coastal track winds past rocky headlands that are perfect for whale watching. Don’t miss Arrawarra Headland and Woolgoolga Headland, which the locals have nicknamed ‘whale watch headland’ for a reason. Continue on to Bongil Bongil National Park, for a night in the spacious, self-contained beach house of Tuckers Rocks Cottage.
Solitary Islands coastal walk traverses 60km of beaches and rainforest on the Coffs Coast. Enjoy whale watching, birdwatching and swimming on your journey from Red Rock to the coastal village of Sawtell.
Soak up views of Solitary Islands Marine Park from Arrawarra Headland and Beach near Coffs Harbour. Fishing, surfing, swimming – it’s all here waiting for you to enjoy.
Woolgoolga Beach and Headland has the best whale watching in the Coffs Region, plus great surfing, fishing and picnics and scenic views.
Bongil Bongil National Park, near Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast is a great spot for fishing and barbecues, great for a day trip or school excursions. It is also home to a large population of koalas.
Free park entry
- Things to do
- Places to stay
- North Coast
Day 3: A sea of possibilities
Drive to the holiday haven of Port Stephens and explore Tomaree National Park, where the easy walk to the top of Tomaree Head offers panoramic views across the north coast and surrounding ocean. Stop at the picnic area for more chances to catch whales gliding past the headland. You can also spot the majestic mammals from Fishermans Bay foreshore, the Wreck Beach walk or in Worimi National Park, where you can see the huge Stockton sand dunes and camp on the beach.
Take a guided tour along Tomaree Head Summit walk, absorbing views of Port Stephens and the north coast. When you reach the summit, enjoy a relaxing lunch on the bench by the lookout.
Fishermans Bay foreshore close to Anna Bay and Nelson Bay on the north coast, is a great spot for family picnics, swimming, kayaking, rockpool walks or whale watching.
The short walk to Wreck Beach offers a private alternative to the beaches of Port Stephens, with opportunities for picnicking and whale watching.
Day 4: Harbouring spectacular views
Head into Sydney, where the harbour headlands and jagged coastline are lined with scenic vantage points. In Sydney Harbour National Park, check out Middle Head, North Head and Hornby Lighthouse near Watsons Bay. Further south, whales swim as close as 200m to Cape Solander in Botany Bay, one of Sydney’s best places to whale watch. If you stay around Sydney Harbour, book a night in charming Steele Point Cottage in Vaucluse. In Sydney's northern beaches, Barrenjoey Lighthouse has views across the ocean and back to Pittwater.
The historic Hornby Lighthouse is near Watsons Bay in Sydney Harbour National Park. Walk the easy track to the lighthouse for magical views and great whale watching.
Middle Head is one of Sydney Harbour's seven headlands. Enjoy scenic views of Sydney Harbour from the lookout or take a guided tour of the historic fort and military relics.
North Head, Manly, offers scenic views, scuba diving, drift dives, walking and picnicking only a ferry ride from Circular Quay.
Head to one of Sydney's best whale watching spots. Cape Solander, located in the Kurnell section of Kamay Botany Bay National Park is an unbeatable lookout during whale watching season.
Barrenjoey Lighthouse stands at Barrenjoey Head at Palm Beach on Sydney's northern beaches. Built in 1881, this heritage lighthouse is an iconic Sydney attraction.
Day 5: Charter your own adventure
Continue south to Jervis Bay National Park, where each year, more whales are sighted in the calm, protected waters. Watch them from the deck of a charter boat or try your luck from the white sands of Hyams Beach. You should also check out Cape St George Lighthouse, Caves Beach and the Perpendicular Lighthouse. Spend the night in nearby Nowra.
Hyams Beach trail, also known as the Bird Spotter’s walk is great for birdwatching in Jervis Bay National Park. Continue the walk to Seamans Beach for a refreshing swim.
Day 6: Wild rock
It’s a long drive to Ben Boyd National Park, near Eden, where the wild, rocky coastline is an inspirational place to whale watch. See gracious humpback whales glide through Twofold Bay and visit Davidson Whaling Station to learn more about the area's whaling history. In early November, this stretch of coast is backdrop for the Eden Whale Festival. Spend the night in Green Cape Lightstation Keepers' Cottage - heritage accommodation with breathtaking views.
Ben Boyd National Park spans 47km of rocky coastline and sheltered inlets. Located near the whale watching town of Eden on the far South Coast of NSW, its crystal clear waters are perfect for snorkelling and swimming.
Park entry fees apply in the Green Cape area of the park (south of Eden).
- Things to do
- Places to stay
- South Coast
Take a guided tour at historic Davidson Whaling Station – discover how killer whales helped the Davidson family. And when you're done, finish the day with a picnic at the nearby beach.
Enjoy a weekend at the heritage Green Cape Lightstation Keepers' Cottages in an area that's home to countless shipwrecks. Enjoy whale watching, walks and amazing views.
- 6 days