If you’re looking for an exciting and luxurious whale watching tour in Hervey Bay then check out Blue Dolphin! Setting sail on a catamaran around Hervey Bay you will experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be just a few metres away from the magnificent humpback whales that Hervey Bay is known for!
Why Choose Blue Dolphin Tours To See The Whales In Hervey Bay?
During the whale watching season several boats head out from Hervey Bay each day to see the majestic humpback whales. There are lots of whale watching companies to choose from, and at first I was overwhelmed trying to pick the best day trip.
After a fair bit of research, I chose Blue Dolphin Tours because:
- Blue Dolphin offers the most intimate whale watching tour in Hervey Bay. The boat has a maximum of 24 guests, so it never feels crowded. Having small passenger numbers onboard means you always have a great view from anywhere on the boat with totally unobstructed views! It also contributes to a more personalised experience, plus you can easily manoeuvre around the boat to get the best spot to see the whales!
- Blue Dolphin has a sea level in-water viewing platform at the back of the boat which means you can get even closer to the whales!
- Blue Dolphin is one of the only companies offering a full day out at sea – most other companies just offer a morning or afternoon trip. Therefore you get incredible value for money and of course – more time with the whales!
- You get to experience a luxury sailing catamaran that has won several awards! Not only that, but the sailing vessel is eco-friendly and has a low carbon footprint.
- Blue Dolphin offer complimentary pick-ups and drop-offs to your hotel accommodation in Hervey Bay.
What Does Blue Dolphin Tours Provide?
- A delicious healthy and filling buffet lunch with complimentary drink. Morning and afternoon tea are provided on board and consist of soup, muffins, fruit platters, cake and tea and coffee. For sure you won’t go hungry when on a Blue Dolphin tour – honestly the food was just fantastic!
Blue Dolphin also cater to diets such as vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free!
- Plenty of seating outdoors and indoors (perfect if you want a break from the sun, or if there is a rain shower!).
- Peter the skipper has over 30 years experience in working with marine mammals. He shares lots of his knowledge with the group and gives commentaries throughout the whale watching encounters which is really great. I definitely learnt a lot about whales from listening to him!
- The staff are extremely friendly, professional and so passionate about the whales.
- There is also a hydrophone onboard so you can listen to the whales!
- Free Wifi onboard so you can upload your photos and videos straight away!
- There is also the option to buy additional alcoholic drinks onboard if you wish.
Going On A Blue Dolphin Tour Outside Of Whale Season
Don’t worry if you are visiting Hervey Bay in the months of November to July outside of the whale watching season, as Blue Dolphin runs tours year-round! When the whales aren’t in Hervey Bay, Blue Dolphin offer very reasonable Sailing Adventure Trips to World Heritage Listed K’gari (Fraser Island) as well as Champagne Sunset trips!
K’gari (Fraser Island) Sailing Adventure Trip
The K’gari (Fraser Island) Sailing Adventure Trip lasts 4 hours and you’ll get to spot dolphins, and possibly even sea turtles and dugongs! Not only that, you’ll get to sail to the south west coast of K’gari (which is the largest sand island in the world!), and go for a swim near one of the sand banks if it’s warm enough!
The K’gari Sailing Adventure trips depart at 8.30am and cost A$100 for adults, A$65 for children.
Champagne Sunset Trip
The Champagne Sunset Trip is a 90 minute sailing trip around the Great Sandy Strait. Enjoy the sunset with a glass of champagne in your hand whilst enjoying views of K’gari (Fraser Island) and Hervey Bay. This is the perfect way to relax after a long day, with all-inclusive drinks and delicious canapés and nibbles waiting for you!
The Champagne Sunset Trips depart at 5.15pm in summer and 4.30pm in autumn/spring. It costs A$80 for adults and $50 for children.
Blue Dolphin also offer Private Sailing Charters if you are looking for a really unique and exclusive experience!
What Is The Blue Dolphin Sailing Boat Like?
The Blue Dolphin catamaran is extremely comfortable – it’s very spacious and modern. The staff take excellent care of the boat and it is really clean.
The viewing platforms are really large and extend all the way around the boat, which is great so everybody has the chance to have unobstructed views – perfect for those photos and videos! They even have an in-water viewing platform at the back of the boat so you can stick your go-pro in the water like I did for the shot below!
Whale Watching In Hervey Bay – What Makes It Special?
Hervey Bay in Queensland is known as the humpback whale watching capital of the world and the world’s first Whale Heritage Site! Every year from mid July to the end of October the calm waters of Hervey Bay become a sanctuary for the graceful humpback whales. The whales come back year after year – and will often come right up to the boat to check you out – it is unlike anything else you will encounter in your life!
Around 40,000 whales make the annual migration up from the Antarctic waters to the warmer waters on Australia’s East Coast – many of them to give birth, before heading back down to the Antarctic. This 5,000 km journey takes the whales several months – it is the longest mammal migration in the world!
In other popular whale watching spots in Australia, the humpback whales can be seen just passing by on their migration. But what makes Hervey Bay so special is that the waters here are calm and protected, so many of the whales stay for a good amount of time in the bay.
The whales use Hervey Bay as a resting place to recuperate from the first half of the tiring migration up from the Antarctic, a place to teach and nurture their young until they grow big enough, and they also use it as a place to stay to gain enough energy for the long journey back.
The calm waters at Hervey Bay are due to the bay being protected by K’gari (Fraser Island), making it a favourite place for the whales to look after their new-born calves until they adult. Platypus Bay – where the boats go out to, is only about 20 metres deep, meaning the waters are safe as there are very few predators (such as orcas and sharks) for the calves and young whales – another reason why the whales favour this area as a place to relax until the calves grow bigger.
Here in Hervey Bay as the whales are relaxed, they will very often come up to the boats to have a good look and to interact with the people onboard! They often exhibit different behaviours in Hervey Bay to when they are migrating.
When they are migrating, they are on a mission – they have a journey to complete. Think of Hervey Bay as their holiday destination.
How Close Can You Get To The Humpback Whales?
The Marine Park Law states that all boats must stop and turn off the engine at a distance of at least 100 metres from the whales. Then it’s up to the whales if they want to swim towards you.
As whales are naturally curious creatures, when they are in Hervey Bay they often will come towards the boat and exhibit inquisitive and unique behaviour such as spy-hopping (popping their head out of the water) or ‘mugging’ the boat (where they just slowly circle the boat) so they can get a closer look at you. Believe it or not, the whales are just as curious about us as we are about them!
The whales will often get so close (within a few metres of you) and you can sometimes even look right into their eyes – it’s honestly incredible! I was so surprised how close the whales got: they came so close that you could see every little detail on their faces and body!
Sometimes the whales won’t swim right next to the boat, but they’ll exhibit behaviours such as pectoral fin slaps against the water, tail slaps or even breaching out of the water! All of these behaviours are just incredible to witness and photograph!
Being so close to these magnificent creatures honestly feels so special – even if you’re not an avid whale lover. Many of the whales are around 12 metres long, and it is really mesmerising to see how big yet how graceful and majestic they are.
Blue Dolphin Whale Watching Tours Hervey Bay Timing
The Blue Dolphin catamaran leaves Great Sandy Straits Marina at 7.30am each morning during whale season. The day lasts roughly 8 hours but the day can extend longer depending on whale sightings!
The trip officially runs from 07.30-15.30 but often you may get back to the marina an hour or so after if there has been a lot of whale action!
Peter will always ask at the beginning of the day though if anyone needs to be back at the marina by 15.30, so if you do need to be back at that time, just let Peter know and he will ensure you are all back for that time! Most people are happy to get back late though as they are having such a good time onboard!
My Experience Whale Watching With Blue Dolphin Tours Hervey Bay
I first went on a Blue Dolphin whale watching trip in 2018, and I did my second trip in August 2022.
Both times, within half an hour or so we had spotted our first pod of whales about 100 metres away. It was incredible to watch them, especially for many people onboard it was their first time to see whales.
Throughout the day, several pods of whales approached us and came so close – we could even feel the spray of water from them as they were coming out of the water!
Blue Dolphin’s sailing catamaran has steps at the back of the boat and a viewing deck at sea level so you can be really close to the whales and sit with your legs in the water as the whales swim underneath you! I was sat on these steps and a couple of whales came so close I was literally at arms length from them, it was incredible! It was truly one of those moments that catches your breath and you remember forever.
Usually during August is when you will see the mother whales and their calves – on my first trip we saw a baby whale which was so amazing! The baby whales are super fun to watch as they are trying to learn how to breach!
On both trips we even saw a few dolphins, and we managed to spot a minke whale on my last visit!
The staff onboard Blue Dolphin were so lovely and experienced and really cared about us having the best day possible. They were also super knowledgable, explaining about the different types of whales, their migration and why it is so important to keep our ocean clean as rubbish dumped into the oceans is killing these beautiful, gentle and trusting creatures.
Pete the skipper came round and spoke to everyone individually, checking how they had enjoyed the day, which was really nice of him.
What To Bring On A Blue Dolphin Whale Watching Tour In Hervey Bay
- jacket – winter mornings can get chilly, plus sometimes it can be windy!
HUMPBACK WHALES – HERVEY BAY
When To Book A Whale Watching Tour
Book your tour with Blue Dolphin at least a couple of weeks in advance as tours can often be sold out every day during the whale watching season!
Naturally, weekends and school holiday dates book out quicker, so go mid-week if you are flexible with dates. Remember there are only 24 seats onboard Blue Dolphin, so as soon as you know the dates you’ll be in Hervey Bay, book your tickets online.
Don’t wait until you arrive in Hervey Bay as there may not be availability! And you absolutely can’t come to Hervey Bay in winter and miss out on seeing the whales!
Is A Whale Watching Trip In Hervey Bay With Blue Dolphin Worth It?
You’re bound to have a great time if you head out whale watching with Blue Dolphin! Just one look at the hundreds of five star reviews they have received on Trip Advisor will show you just how great their tours are. Everyone on our trip left the boat really happy and had a fantastic day.
The team onboard Blue Dolphin are just fantastic. Often it’s Peter and Cassie onboard – Peter will be driving the boat and spotting the whales, and Cassie will be looking after the guests, preparing food, drinks, and getting her camera out to get great shots of the whales. The two of them work seamlessly well together and you always feel looked after and in safe hands.
The Blue Dolphin trip isn’t just one of the best whale watching tours in Queensland. It’s one of the best whale watching tours on the planet in my opinion. I know for sure any other whale watching destination I visit just won’t compare to how my experience in Hervey Bay with Blue Dolphin was.
I had been on whale watching tours elsewhere round the world and they didn’t even compare to this. In Hervey Bay we saw so many whales throughout the course of the day and they were a million times closer than at whale watching tours in other parts of the world. It was really a once in a lifetime opportunity to get so close to these incredible gracious mammals.
My first trip with Blue Dolphin was 4 years ago and I recently just came back from another trip with them. There are many people who come back onboard Blue Dolphin year after year, which just goes to show what an unforgettable experience they provide.
The cost for the Blue Dolphin Whale Watching trip is A$170 (A$140 for children) and it is worth every single cent.
Where Is Blue Dolphin Tours Located In Hervey Bay?
The Blue Dolphin Tours depart from Great Sandy Straits Marina in Urangan, Hervey Bay. Click here for the Google maps location.
Parking is free at the marina all day and there are a few restaurants here if you fancy stopping for dinner or a glass of wine after your trip!
How To Get To Hervey Bay
Hervey Bay is located 300km north of Brisbane. The easiest way to get to Hervey Bay is by flying into Hervey Bay airport (50 minute flight from Brisbane), or by car (3.5 hours drive from Brisbane).
This is much quicker than going to Hervey Bay by public transport as the Greyhound bus takes a long time (6.5 hours from Brisbane).
Like this article on Blue Dolphin Hervey Bay – Is This The Best Whale Watching In Hervey Bay? Pin it for later!
Catrina is a Travel Writer, SEO Specialist and ex-Flight Attendant based in Sydney, Australia. She has visited 85 countries and lived in several – including Italy, Australia, United Arab Emirates and England. Her work has been featured in a variety of popular travel publications including Fodors, Escape, Australian Traveller and Bear Grylls, as well as several international aviation and travel companies. The majority of her work however features on her own website – 24hourslayover.com where she has written over 500 travel articles!