The whale watching season in Queensland runs from early-mid June and ends late October.  We at Sunshine Coast Afloat start our Whale Watching Cruises in July, once we know the whales are here in larger numbers and we are not spending a lot of our cruise time searching for them.

Like any activity that is venturing into an uncontrolled environment, all sightings and action on the day is governed by the whales themselves and if they want to play.

Humpback whales in Queensland have one of the longest migratory journeys of any mammal.  We are talking 5,000 km, over three months each year.  They swim north to birth their calves and teach them life skills, before returning south to chilly Antarctica.

Humpback whales might be marathon swimmers, but they are not sprinters, clocking up a leisurely 5-15 km/hour on their migration north.

The season brings something different depending on the time of your visit.  The whales journey: –

Between July to September is when mating takes place, and it is a great time for whale watching as the males often but on great displays of beaching and fin and tail slapping to impress potential mates. Males have also been known to gather in groups in order to sing to and attract females.


June – July                        –  The whales tend to be out wide and on a mission to get up north so we don’t see a lot of them from shore.  It is the last year’s mothers and calves and the immature whales that reach Queensland waters first, followed by the mature whales then the pregnant females.

August – September     –   Pregnant females give birth to their babies in the warm northern waters.  Newborn calves start learning how to survive and communicate – mugging, spy hopping, tail slapping.  This is an ideal time to be viewing all this action.  Whales heading south begin to arrive in our waters. The mature whales arrive first, with some still courting and mating.

Mid-September–October — The mothers and new calves arrive. This is a great time to go whale watching if you want to spot a beautiful baby humpback swimming along and suckling with its mother.  We see lots of breach action as the calves master their new moves.  More pod formations, at least mother and calf and possibly a male escort.

November – January    –  The whales head back to the Antarctic, first the pregnant females, then the immature whales, followed by the mature whales, and finally the mothers and calves. They feed on krill and stock up on blubber to enable them to sustain their next annual migration north.

February  – March         –   The normal sequence of events is that last year’s mothers and calves head off first, followed a couple of weeks later by the immature whales, then a couple of weeks later by the mature males and females.

April                                    –  The pregnant female whales follow the others after having fed for longer to support themselves and their young throughout the journey.

The average human baby might weigh 3.5kg, but the average humpback whale calf weighs over 900kg!

The whale migration isn’t just interesting for visitors, but researchers too, who’ve been studying their behaviours closely and we are lucky enough to be part of the ongoing research, having scientists and researchers from Humpback & High-rises on board who are more than happy to share their findings with our guests.

If you’d like the chance to experience the magic of humpback newborns playing alongside their parents this whale watching season, and also the older humpbacks breaching and tail slapping, feel free to give us a call on 0412 155 814 or email us on – [email protected]  You can also book online if you wish.




Here are some fun facts to school you up on these magnificent creatures!

There are thought to be roughly 40,000 humpback whales in the world. With half of these expected to glide through the Sunshine Coast’s waters this winter.


  • The female humpbacks are longer than the males. A female can measure up to 50 feet long, with their tale up to 18 feet wide!
  • The average weight of the humpback whale is 45 tonnes. That’s equivalent to over 20 cars, or 1000 children.
  • Humpback whales usually live to between 45- 50 years.
  • They have very sensitive skin that is easily sunburned so don’t stay above the water for that long.
  • They have no sense of smell or taste, but have incredible hearing ranging over many kilometres for communicating and finding food.
  • The whale’s tale is like human fingerprints – each has unique and different characteristics.
  • The males’ tales are usually covered in battle scars as a result of the fierce competition for available females. This is the easiest way to tell the difference between male and female! The easiest way to tell the difference between a male and a female!
  • The Humpback Whale has two blow holes – one for each lung. Each of its lungs is the size of a small car.
  • Baby humpback whales, known as calves, are fed over 400 litres of rich milk each day, which is the consistency of condensed cream.


  • Humpback whales’ have a huge appetite so can devour up to 1800 kgs of krill per day!
  • During mating season, humpback whales will fast for months at a time, so they can focus on migration and mating.
  • Female humpbacks usually get pregnant in Queensland’s warm waters, and return the following year to give birth. Their calf will not survive if it is born into the freezing waters of the Antarctic.
  • Humpback whales are the most acrobatic of all the whales, and can often be seen playing in the water and putting on a show!
  • The tale is used as a form of non-verbal communication through a tail slap…which can be heard underwater several hundred metres away.
  • Each pod communicates through its own dialect, and sings its own whale song. These songs can be heard up to 32km away and can be up to 20 minutes long. The whales are known to repeat the same song over for hours.
  • Adult whales can hold their breath under water for over half an hour.

Nothing compares to the thrill of seeing these giant creatures up close in their natural habitat. Let Sunshine Coast Afloat take you on a whale watching experience of a lifetime

Hope you’ve enjoyed these fun facts and if you want to learn more, head over to our website: –




This winter, you might just be lucky enough to see more than “just” humpback whales visiting the Sunshine Coast during this winter’s migration.

The Sunshine Coast is once again anticipating the arrival of record numbers of Humpback Whales for their annual migration. Between May and November, over 20,000 Humpback Whales Migrate past our shores. These Whales are looking to make Queensland’s warm waters their temporary mating and birthing ground.

Whilst the Humpback whales are by far the most frequently sighted species during the migration time,  you may just be lucky enough to spot one of these other fascinating whales.

Orcas, commonly known as killer whales, are lured to the Sunshine Coast’s waters during the winter months thanks to the abundance of food on offer…with a favourite being the humpback and minke whales! Orcas prey on these whales, and with thousands visiting our shores, it’s highly likely there’ll be some Orca pods lurking in the background!

Here are some facts about these fascinating creatures to help you spot one on your whale watching tour.


  • Orcas are black and white, with a white eye patch
  • They can weigh up to 6 tonnes, and range from 23 to 30 feet in length
  • Their average lifespan is 50 to 80 years
  • They have a diverse diet, feeding on fish, marine animals and even other whales
  • Lucky for them however, there is no other animal that preys on them!
  • They are a toothed whale
  • Orcas can be found in each of the world’s oceans and in a variety of marine environments


  • They’re extremely intelligent and highly social animals
  • They hunt in pods – family groups of up to 40 individuals
  • Their sophisticated hunting techniques and vocal behaviours are often specific to particular groups and passed across generations
  • Contrary to popular belief, wild killer whales are actually not considered a threat to humans – they’ve only ever been aggressive towards humans whilst kept in captivity!
  • Unlike most other species of whales, Orca whales do not appear to follow a regular migration route each year, instead driven by the availability of food
  • Orcas are not actually whales, but in fact the largest of the dolphins!


Dwarf Minke whales migrate along Australia’s East Coast annually as well.  Gathering at the Great Barrier Reef for a few months over winter. Smaller than the humpback, they are distinguished by their unique colouring’s, particularly its white pectoral flippers with black edging.
These whales will be passing through the Sunshine Coast between June and August, so you may get lucky and spot one on your whale watching tour!


  • Dwarf Minke Whales are smaller than the humpback, but can still grow up to 8 metres in length
  • They are distinguished by their unique colouring’s, particularly its white pectoral flippers with black edging
  • The dwarf minke whales show up every winter on Great Barrier Reef, where they spend a few short months.
  • Queensland is the only area in the world where humans can interact with this species
  • Dwarf Minkes are reliably spotted during the winter months on the outer edge of the northern Great Barrier Reef, where they spend a few months
  • They have one calf each year which is almost 2 metres long at birth. That’s longer than the height of a baby giraffe!
  • They can live to 60 years old
  • The white and grey markings on the side of a minke whale are unique to each whale, much like fingerprints are to humans
  • They are one of the fastest types of whales, and can travel at speeds of more than 30km

Keep your eyes peeled for these white and grey whales when you’re out on your whale watching tour!

The rarest of the four, the Southern Right Whale is currently considered endangered. However, their population is on the rise, and so too are sightings! They follow a similar migration pattern of the humpback and dwarf minke, visiting the Sunshine Coast’s warm waters over the winter months for mating and giving birth.

These playful and inquisitive animals have been known to swim right up to boats to check out what’s going on. They also like to put on a show with mum and baby performing acrobatics for amazed whale watchers!


  • Adult Southern Right Whales range from 14-18 metres in length
  • These large animals weigh up to 80 tonnes – that’s the equivalent of 8 adult elephants
  • Their mating season is from June – August, which is when there’ll be the greatest chance of spotting on one the Sunshine Coast
  • Compared to other whale species, their heads is disproportionately large, making up roughly one third of the whale’s body.
  • Unlike other species, the southern right whale does not have a dorsal fin.
  • They have a dark greyish/black skin tone, with white patches on its throat and belly.
  • The exact lifespan of these animals is unknown, but it’s estimated to be between 50-100 years


  • Like the humpback and dwarf minke, the Southern Right Whales also primarily feed on krill, plankton and other tiny crustaceans.
  • Their migration patterns are similar to that of the humpback, spending their feeding season in the colder Antarctic waters, and migrating north up Queensland’s coast for mating and birthing.
  • These whales are skimmers and can be seen swimming at or near the surface of the water.
  • Southern Right whales are fairly active and can be seen performing acrobatics in the water
  • They’re a very social, and have been known to approach boats and vessels to observe them and the people.
  • But they’re also gentle giants, appearing to be thoughtful when interacting with humans and small animals by limiting their activity, to ensure they do not cause injury to others.
  • Unlike other species, male whales to not typically fight with one another or show jealousy when it comes to mating.

 With as few as 12,000 Southern Right Whales spread through our oceans, they are the rarest of the whales you’ll likely spot in the Sunshine Coast’s waters. But, with their population on the rise and sightings becoming increasingly common, your chances of seeing these playful giants are better than ever before! Keep your eyes peeled.


Exclusive Private Charter Hire – Mooloolaba

Make you next function or celebration on board Crusader 1 as a private function.  We are all about tailoring your cruise to suit your desired outcome.  We can offer BYO food and drinks or suggest catering options.

If you’d like to throw a “shrimp” or “snag” on the barbie, that too is an option you might want to consider.  Seafood or grazing platters, we can offer for you to enjoy what appeals to you and your guests.

Be welcomed aboard by our friendly crew who are there to look after you while you take in the views of the Mooloolaba Bay, coastline, rivers and canals.

Crusader 1 is a large (55 ft) open deck vessel so you can immerse yourself in the outdoors but if need be, we can close her off with clears.

Head up the front on her bow and relax on bean bags, or enjoy a range of different seating on the deck.

Sit back, enjoy your family and friends and we take care of the details.

All our cruise packages can be found on our website – www.sunshinecoastafloat.com.au




Family Fun on the water

The water temperature is heating up already on the coast so we should be starting to see some good variety of fish coming through in November.

We headed out yesterday on a little “Half Day,”  5 Hour fishing trip.

Decided to cancel Saturdays trips as the forecast and actual were up around 25-30 knots.  The general consensus was that our guests wanted to leave at 11.00 am and be back at 4.00 pm.  Usually not a great time of the day for fishing but this trip is more about being out on the water, enjoying throwing in a line and just having some fun.

Turned out to be lots of activity – hooked onto over 50 fishing in that time, not a lot of keepers but we were on the spot and it’s all about hooking on, learning and fun.

Sarah booked her parents on for this trip as a gift.  They had a Bacon & Egg Burger freshly made and ready for them when they arrived and a coffee to wash it down with.  This was devoured while we were waiting for other guests to arrive.

They took home a couple of good sized fish for dinner and looked like they thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

Conditions were magnificent – blue skies, a light breeze, no swell – ideal.

Spanner Crabbing is closed now until late December so it’s all about the fishing and fun till then.

If you are after a few hours on the water with lots of laughs, check out our 5 hour fishing charter



Private Christmas Party Boat Hire

Looking to celebrate the end of year?  How does a “Private boat cruise” vessel for the day or evening sound?

Our Skipper and Crew are on hand to help make your cruise as enjoyable as possible.

Once you decide to book, tell us “what floats your boat” and we will do our best to make it happen.

We are about making it as fuss-free as possible.

We offer relaxed sunset cruises with seafood or grazing platters or you might prefer a bit more up beat evening cruise with drinks and dancing.

Lunch and day cruises are also available – this might include a swim or playing around on some floats in the water.

What one of our recent guests had to say about their recent cruise.

Christine to Sunshine Coast Afloat

Massive SHOUTOUT to Paddy, Nick and Jesse from Sunshine Coast Afloat for the most stress free event I have organised yet for my Social Group… Paddy looked after me with all the booking details and Nick and Jesse kept us safe and well entertained on the water. We will definitely be booking again 💓

If you would like to know more – Call Paddy on 0412 155 814 or head over to our Cruises page on our website – www.sunshinecoastafloat.com.au



Mooloolaba’s Christmas Light Cruises

Christmas light canal cruises have been a tradition for Mooloolaba for years now.  Throughout December, we offer a 1.5 hour evening river and canal cruise to view the Christmas lights, displays and decorations of homes and boats along the canals in this festive season.

These popular, family-orientated cruises are an ideal way to enjoy the evenings with family and friends on board Crusader 1.

Join in the Christmas cheer, dress up, sing along to carols and admire all the wonderful effort people have gone to decorating their houses and pontoons.

This light spectacular of the Mooloolaba, Minyama & Buddina canals is something not to miss

If you would like to check out our availability, head over to Sunshine Coast Afloat


The count down is on till the end of year and the “Silly Season” is not far away.

Looking for a “wind-down”, “some fun”, “chill time” or simply any excuse to P-A-R-T-Y?

Cruises for all occasions

We can help.  We structure our cruises around your needs and how many people you are catering for.

  • Have the boat to yourselves
  • Have a crew member look after your needs
  • Enjoy a few drinks
  • Throw on a BBQ
  • Have a swim
  • Bring your own music
  • Decorate the boat
  • BYO to fully catered – your choice
  • Drop off your stuff and we’ll chill it and clean up for you

How does it get any better than that?

Something that sounds interesting?  Saturdays are filling up fast – only two left till the end of the year.


Christmas Lights Canal Cruises

We are also going to offer Sunset Christmas Lights Canal Cruises this year.  This is a fabulous way to spend an evening.  bring the children out, listen to some Christmas Cheer and enjoy seeing all the light displays in the Mooloolaba Canals.

Paddy is always happy to assist but you can also check out options available on our website – www.sunshinecoastafloat.com.au

Crusader 1 can now offer a wider range of options for your cruises!

Coastline & Canal Cruises –  Head out into the Bay, up the coastline and into the Mooloolaba canals.  We take a maximum of 23 passengers on these trips.  Why not expand on this and maybe have a swim, or even put on a BBQ.  Make it a great fun time on the water.

River & Canal Cruises –  Cruise the still waters of the Mooloolah River and canals.  A maximum of 45 passengers on these trips.  Ideal for finger food and drinks.

Christmas Lights Cruises –  Both Crusader 1 and Hela-Va Jet will be doing Christmas Light crises throughout December this year.  The decorations are going up already so we are hoping everyone gets involved in the Christmas spirit.

We are not licensed so alcohol is on a BYO basis.

Food options are available – from BYO, we can cater for you or you have it catered yourself.

We try and adapt our cruises to suit your occasion.  Bring your own music and you can even decorate Crusader 1.

Head over to our Website to check out all the options now available or phone Paddy on – 0412 155 814 to have a chat.

Until next season!

Our #whale watching season has come to an end, and we have waved goodbye to the Whales for another season!

We would like thank everyone who has joined us on our tours this year, and hope it was a highlight for you.

As you know, we only operate in “Peak” season so we are cutting it off now and are grateful for all the wonderful experiences we have been able to share with our guests.  We had received the most wonderful testimonials and recommendations so hopefully we can have you back on board next year.

A big “Thank You” to all our passengers, our hard working crew and of course the thousands of whales who called past Crusader 1 to say hello or goodbye.

Wanting one last look at one of our trips: – https://youtu.be/2sccJdZR-88

We now look forward to being able to help you celebrate the year end with corporate Cruises, Christmas Cruises, Mooloolaba Christmas Light Canal Cruises and of course the big Boat Parade held on 22nd December.   If you are interested in any of these check out our cruises on www.sunshinecoastafloat.com.au or call Paddy on 0412 155 814 to find out more.