Top Sydney Whale Watching
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From May to December, there are so many migrating humpback whales swimming along Sydney’s shores, you might even spot one from Sydney Harbour. Maximize your chances of seeing these majestic giants with these top tips on whale watching in Sydney.
When to Go
Sydney’s whale-watching season typically runs from May into December, when thousands of whales migrate through the area. There are two distinct watching periods: from May to August, as the whales head north to breed, and from August to December, when they head south with their calves to feed in the Antarctic.
What You’ll See
The most commonly sighted whales are humpbacks—some 20,000 of them traverse Australia’s eastern coastline during their annual migration. You can also spot minke whales, orcas, pilot whales, and southern right whales, as well as common and bottlenose dolphins around Sydney, and if you’re visiting later in the season you might even see some whale calves swimming and playing alongside their mothers.
How to Go
To maximize your chances of seeing whales, set sail on a Sydney whale-watching cruise and explore the open Pacific Ocean with the help of a naturalist guide. Tours by speedboat or cruise boat typically set out from Sydney Harbour, Circular Quay, or Darling Harbour; last between two and four hours; and sometimes include breakfast or lunch on board.
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Cruise the ocean waters off of Sydney to look for humpback and southern right whales as they migrate between Antarctica and the Great Barrier Reef from May to November. Your whale-watching experience starts out of Sydney Harbour and heads to the open ocean on a custom-built catamaran with large viewing windows and spacious decks that provide excellent sightlines. Often, dolphins, sea birds and other marine animals make an appearance during the nearly 2.5-hour whale-watching tour.
Experience a close encounter with humpback whales without having to leave the city on this thrilling 2-hour speedboat tour from Sydney. Hop on-board the city’s fastest commercial ship and blast off across Sydney Harbour, past iconic landmarks like Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Leave the city behind and speed out into the Pacific Ocean, where you’ll have chance to spot majestic whales swimming and playing in their natural environment.
Enjoy a whale-watching cruise that begins with a breakfast or barbecue lunch onboard the boat while in the calm waters of Sydney Harbour. After breakfast or lunch, your boat glides past Sydney Head into the Pacific Ocean in search of the humpback and southern right whales that migrate along this coast from May to November. Keep an eye out for whales and dolphins as you learn about them from your naturalist guide, who provides fascinating commentary about Australian marine life during your tour.
Take in views from one of Sydney's best vantage points, the revolving restaurant at Infinity at Sydney Tower, which perches on top of Sydney Tower, 88 stories above the ground. Choose from an à la carte menu to customize your 2- or 3-course meal, enjoying an elegant meal while overlooking the stunning Sydney skyline. This sophisticated restaurant offers an intimate, stylish fine dining experience, with contemporary Australian-French fusion cuisine.
Take in panoramic views of top Sydney landmarks as you cruise through Sydney Harbour en route to Taronga Zoo. Your package includes round-trip cruise from Circular Quay to the zoo, and a ride on the Sky Safari Gondola, which whisks you uphill from the boat dock to the main entrance of Taronga Zoo. From the gondola, get an early peek at some of the zoo's inhabitants, such as giraffes, big apes, and native animals like kangaroos and koalas.
Go behind the scenes at the Sydney Opera House for a fascinating look at this Sydney icon. Your knowledgeable guide leads you through the World Heritage–listed building on a walking tour, sharing entertaining stories about the revered performance center's history and providing access to off-limits parts of the house.
Soak in 360-degree views as you dine on a delicious buffet lunch or dinner at the Sydney Tower Restaurant's revolving restaurant. From your vantage point high above the streets of Sydney, the views change as the restaurant slowly revolves during your meal. Large picture windows frame iconic sights like the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay and, in the distance, the Blue Mountains. Enjoy a lunch, dinner or even a degustation tasting a range of tasty dishes that is sure to please everyone in your party.
Located on shoreline of Sydney Harbour, Sydney Taronga Zoo is home to thousands of fascinating animals, including Australian natives such as the koala, kangaroo, and platypus. With your admission ticket, you gain entrance to the zoo along with the Sky Safari cable car, which gives you the chance to look down into the animal enclosures and enjoy sweeping views of Sydney Harbour Bridge and the city skyline. Check the schedule for daily keeper presentations, or book an animal encounter or guided tour (own expense) for a more in-depth experience.
Experience the majestic World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains on a small-group full-day tour from Sydney. Enjoy sweeping views of the Blue Mountains and sites including the Three Sisters and Jamison Valley. Hop onboard the Scenic Railway (or other rides) at Scenic World, enjoy a chef-prepared lunch (dietary requirements accommodated), and visit Featherdale Wildlife Park to see kangaroos and other native Australian critters. Then, cruise by boat back to Sydney Harbour on the Parramatta River.
Enjoy the comforts of a 4-hour luxury whale-watching cruise from Campbell's Cove in Sydney. Head across Sydney Harbour and past the Sydney Heads into the pristine waters of the Pacific Ocean to look for humpback and southern right whales on their migration through the Southern Hemisphere. Your naturalist guide shares informative commentary about the whales throughout your tour. Enjoy an included barbecue lunch buffet served on board and accompanied by unlimited drinks. You’ll travel with a small group limited to 10 people, which provides a more personalized experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
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What Whale Watching in Sydney are taking additional safety precautions?
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These hidden gems in Sydney may have limited interaction with crowds:
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