Marine magic: Five of the best Sydney whale watching tours

By Jay Chabon

Grab a camera and get your sea legs on!

It’s whale watching season in Sydney.

Take a boat tour to get up close and personal to these majestic mammals.

Passing iconic harbour landmarks on the way out to the heads will be just a warm-up to the whales’ show-stopping moves…

Want to experience one of the most spectacular sights nature has to offer?

Hop aboard and cruise the high seas on a Sydney whale watching tour.

Thousands of whales make their way past the harbour city during a migration from southern summer feeding grounds to northern breeding areas, making May to November whale watching season in Sydney.

Getting up close to these massive, majestic mammals is an awe-inspiring experience.

The ocean’s largest creatures love to show off too, with show-stopping moves including breaches, head lunges, tail extensions and even pec slapping!

Here’s five of the best boat tours to take you there.

Captain Cook Whale watching tour
Above: Captain Cook Whale watching tour.

Captain Cook Whale Tours

Captain Cook Cruises says while the 2014 Sydney whale watching season was amazing, 2015 is on course to break all records, as sightings are increasing every year.

The Captain will also educate you on how the gentle giants move, with its online glossary of typical whale behaviour, from the “spy hop” to “tail cocking” and “pec slapping”.

Sydney Eco Whale Watching
Above: Sydney Eco Whale Watching. Image copyright Australian Spirit Sailing Company 2006.

Sydney Eco Whale Watching

Take it slow with an intimate, small group experience.

Sydney Eco Whale Watching four-hour tour on board the yacht Katrina caters for only 12 passengers at a time.

The crew aims to provide whale watchers with lots of personal attention to help make the tour a “powerful, spiritual experience”.

Sydney Eco Whale Watching has 15 years experience in whale watching tours.

What a great way to watch the whales frolic and play.

Above: Fantasea whale watching cruise
Above: Fantasea whale watching cruise


Boasting Australian-owned, family-operated credentials, Fantasea promises a friendly welcome from an informative host on a cruise past iconic Sydney landmarks, before heading to the best spots to enjoy and photograph the natural beauty a whale has to offer.

Leaves from Darling Harbour and Circular Quay.

Image above: Whale Watching Sydney
Above: Whale Watching Sydney

Whale Watching Sydney

Jet out in fast and exciting style in Totally Wild, a boat built to the same design as an offshore rescue vessel.

Or take it steady in the modern comfort of Ocean Dreaming II, engineered to smooth out the bumps at sea and provide plenty of whale watching deck space.

Choose from two or three hour journeys, or luxuriate on a four hour trip aboard the Explorer. Whale Watching Sydney cruises depart from Darling Harbour or Circular Quay.

Go Whale Watching

Ever heard a whale sing? Travel with the crew from Go Whale Watching and you can do just that.

Take a ride on True Blue, a custom-built 16 metre catamaran with three, unobstructed 360-degree whale viewing decks, plus an underwater hydrophone to hear the mystical marine creatures singing their siren-like songs of the deep.

Or take Sensational, a vessel newly launched in 2015 that carries just 20 passengers and offers 360-degree, water-level viewing, allowing an “up close and personal” experience with the whales. Two and four hour tours depart from Darling Harbour.

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