Whale watching in Brisbane is available during winter and spring months: June, July, August, September, and through to late October.
Not many whales come right into Moreton Bay, especially early in the season when the whales are on their way north to their breeding grounds in northern Queensland.
Most Moreton Bay whale watching is done at the northern end of the bay as it opens out at the top of Moreton Island.
The other places where you can see whales during the season, are on the far side of Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island.
This area is part of the Humpback Highway that runs up the east coast of Australia.
Visitors to Brisbane during the whale watching season have several options to choose from to get out and see the magnificent humpback whales:
- Brisbane whale watching cruises and tours – Tangalooma Whale Watching & Whale Watching from Redcliffe
- Watch whales from lookouts on land – best option for Brisbane is Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island.
- Whale watching flights – some helicopter flight operators offer this option. It is extremely expensive but would be a huge buzz!
Brisbane Whale Watching Cruises & Tours
There\’s whale watching all along the east coast of Australia during whale watch season. From Brisbane you could drive north to Sunshine Coast or head south to Surfers Paradise or Coolangatta on the Gold Coast for more options.
However, when you are staying in Brisbanee there are some fantastic and very different options righ here.
There are only two licensed whale watch operators within Moreton Bay listed below.
Tangalooma Island Whale Watching Cruises
First choice is Tangalooma Island Whale Watching Cruise Options. Tours usually start around the 3rd week of June and run through to late October each year. Exact dates change depending upon the whale migration.
These cruises departing daily from Holt Street Wharf, Pinkemba – with an option for more time at the resort by taking the 7am transfer or the more leisurely 10am transfer.
Unlike other whale watching cruises, this is a whole day adventure. First you take the Tangalooma catamaran out to Tangalooma Island Resort. There you can enjoy the facilities at the resort until it is time to board the whale watch cruise.
The resort facilities include 2 swimming pools, the stunning beach area and if you are really game there may be time for some snorkelling on the Tangalooma Wrecks a little further north of the resort.
Also within the resort is the Tangalooma\’s Marine Education and Conservation Centre, where you can discover more about the local marine animals and history of locals interaction with these creatures.
The actual whale cruise is about 3 hours in length and includes a light lunch, it leaves around 12 noon and returns in time for the 4pm transfers back to the mainland. There\’s commentary from a qualified marine biologist about the whales and other marine life in Moreton Bay.
If you really want to get the most out of your trip, there is an option to stay longer on the island and enjoy the wild dolphin adventure a (and feeding) returning to Brisbane around 8pm.
Departures from Holt Street Wharf are at 7.00am or 10am, whale watch cruise leaves from Tangalooma Island Resort at 12noon, returning around 3pm. The return trip to Brisbane leaves Tangalooma around 4pm, unless you are staying on for the Dolphin Adventure Tour.
You can drive yourself to Holt Street Wharf where there is the option for paid parking in a secure compound near the wharf. Alternatively, transfers from hotels can be arranged for an extra fee.
Whale Watching From Redcliffe
Second choice for Brisbane Whale Watching is Whale Watching from Redcliffe on MV Eye Spy. Tour season is usually from around 3rd week of June through to late October or early November.
Captain Kerry, famous for her promotion of local tourism, heads up Brisbane Whale Watching.
The custom built catamaran MV Eye Spy departs from Redcliffe Jetty daily during the Brisbane whale watching season. Boarding at 9.30am the cruise departs at 10am and returns to Redcliffe between 2.30pm and 3pm.
During the cruise you can enjoy morning & afternoon tea included and there\’s also an option to have cold buffet lunch (optional extra, which can be booked ahead). Extra drinks and snacks can be purchased on board too.
Hotel transfers are available at extra cost from Brisbane hotels and Sunshine Coast hotels.
Alternatively, you can drive yourself to Redcliffe (it is about 30 to 45 minutes from Brisbane CBD depending on the traffic) and there is free parking about 100m north of the jetty.
Tickets are available for Adults, Children (4 to 14 years) & Students/Seniors.
Children 0 to 3 are welcome but not catered for.
Brisbane Whale Watching Round-Up
A few quick tips, if you want some more check out the links below.
We can have lovely days in winter, but when you are on the water it can get a bit cool if the wind is blowing. Make sure you take both warm clothes and sunscreen!
Pack your cameras (video & still), plenty of spare batteries and an extra memory stick or two. Attach the straps so you don\’t lose them overboard too 😉
Why this order for these two Brisbane whale watching options?
Tangalooma is first option, purely because of the diversity in experiences you can have with this tour. Whale watching, resort time and if you want to add it in, you can package in the Dolphin Adventure Tour. Tangalooma is a very special place and you will have a truly unforgettable day trip.
On the other hand, Redcliffe whale watching is also a good option. It is however, fully boat based with no land content. It is shorter, so you can get back to Brisbane and enjoy the late afternoon and evening, which will suit some visitors.
Either way, seeing humpback whales up close in the water is a truly special trip, which you really cannot appreciate until you have experienced it. It will definitely be a highlight of your Brisbane holiday and a precious memory for years to come.
It is highly recommended that you book your trip ahead of time, and best to book your trip in the early part of your stay, just in case it has to be rescheduled.
All cruises are subject to weather conditions. These operators are experienced and will make alternative arrangements should the weather not be suitable for your cruise.