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Whale jumping

The Gold Coast has the longest whale watching season in Australia. Between June and November you can see whales travelling the ‘Humpback Highway’, as this stretch of coastline is known. You never know what’s in store when you go Gold Coast whale watching. We’ve stood on Point Danger and watched a pod of whales cruising so close to shore you could hear the blow as they squirted water into the air. If you’re really lucky, you might see a mother and calf, a breaching humpback leaping high into the air, or whale tails slapping the top of the ocean. Seeing whales up close is an amazing experience.

Whale Watching
Whale watching on the Gold Coast

No matter what you see when you’re on the Gold Coast watching for whales, one thing is guaranteed. The thrill and excitement of seeing that first whale will stay with you long after you return home. Here are half a dozen ways to spot whales on the Gold Coast, whether you want to take to the ocean on a whale watching tour with Whales in Paradise, watch whales while you eat lunch or see them from the shore.

Whale watching at Burleigh

Escape the heat and crowds and retreat into cool rainforest at Burleigh Head National Park where you can watch for whales as you wander the rocky coastal headland path. Pacific Ocean views peek out from behind pandanus groves along the walk to Tumgun lookout where you can spot humpback whales frolicking in sparkling waters during winter and spring.

Walking at Burleigh Heads
Spot whales from Burleigh Head National Park

Whale watching at The Tropic

People come to The Tropic to see and be seen and enjoy the jaw-dropping view from the outdoor terrace. Order a few drinks and ocean king prawns served with dry vermouth butter, shell­fish oil, and basil to share. Later in the season, when whales venture closer to shore, is the best time to whale watch here. Even if you don’t see any whales, you’ll still have a great time at The Tropic.

The Tropic Gold Coast
Spot whales from the deck at The Tropic
King prawns at The Tropic
King prawns at The Tropic

Whale watching at Point Danger

Point Danger is a headland on the Queensland and New South Wales border with sweeping views of the Humpback Highway. Whether or not you see any whales, the view from here is superb and the states’ borders are marked for ‘one-foot-in-each-state’ selfies. In winter, you will almost certainly spot whales passing through. Dolphins also frolic below the headland throughout the year. For breakfast or lunch with a view, the upstairs seating area at Café Dbar offers prime whale watching opportunities.

Breakfast at Cafe Dbar
Breakfast with a side order of whales at Cafe Dbar

Whale watching at Southport

Southport Surf Club was the first surf club to open on the Gold Coast in 1936 and has seen plenty of whales passing by over the years. The best spot to see them is from the outdoor deck, ideally with a chilled beverage in hand, while you enjoy the view.

Whale watching at Greenmount

Greenmount Hill, a 30 metre high headland covered with pine trees and lush foliage, forms a picturesque border between Coolangatta and sleepy Rainbow Bay. A paved trail winds around the headland and has several viewing platforms where you can watch for whales. Later in the season is best for whale watching at Greenmount.

Go for a walk at Coolangatta
Watch for whales at Greenmount

Gold Coast whale watching tour

Whales in Paradise offers tours from Surfers Paradise throughout the season and specials are also available. It can be a good idea to hold off booking until a day or two beforehand so you know what the weather is going to be like.

Disclosure: The writer travelled with assistance with Destination Gold Coast. Her favourite whale watching spot is Point Danger, especially when the whales swim past close to shore with their babies.

Looking for some Gold Coast accommodation? Read our reviews of the Hilton Surfers Paradise, Oaks Calypso Plaza, The Darling, Surfers Paradise Marriott, Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, The Star Grand, voco Gold Coast, Wyndham Hotel Surfers Paradise, AVANI Broadbeach Gold Coast Residences, Rydges Gold Coast Airport, Oaks Gold Coast Hotel, JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa, and the retro La Costa Motel. If you’re visiting the Gold Coast, don’t miss our Ultimate Guide to the Gold Coast.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.