Special Occasions

See our range of Special Occasion options, such as Weddings, Ashes scatterings, Hens Parties, Bucks Parties, Business meetings, Training Sessions, Research work.

If you are looking for something special we will be able to assist!

Sunshine Coast Pelagic Bird Watching Trip August 2017

sunshinecoastbirds blog.

Humpback spy-hopping. Pic by Rick Franks
Prolonged, multiple and unusually close encounters with multiple Humpback Whales were the highlight of the pelagic bird watching trip off the Sunshine Coast on Sunday August 27, 2017. No particularly unusual birds were encountered due to relatively calm conditions, though winter records of Tahiti Petrel and Sooty Tern were interesting.
Humpback Whale
Hopes were high with a forecast of winds from the right direction (E-SE) at 15 knots as we departed Mooloolaba Marina at 6.35am on another clear winter day. A Sooty Oystercatcher on the rocks at the Mooloolah River mouth was unexpected. This was the second pelagic foray on our 17m boat, Crusader 1, operated by Sunshine Coast family company Sunshine Coast Afloat. The deep-hulled vessel ploughed effortlessly through a swell of up to 2m that had been whipped up by strong winds offshore in the preceding days.
Humpback Whale with calf
We spotted quite a few Humpback Whales on the way out and a couple of small groups of Hutton’s Shearwaters, along with the first Wedge-tailed Shearwaters of the season. After a few stops we reached the shelf at 9.10am at 400m, 32 nautical miles offshore: 26.42.174S; 153.42.680E. We had an excellent encounter with a pod of Humpbacks in 300m and that set the pattern for the whole time we were out on the shelf, with whales frequently in sight and often venturing close to the boat. It is unusual to find Humpbacks out on the shelf and to see so many this day was quite extraordinary.
Providence Petrel
The first Providence Petrel soon appeared as began laying a berley trail and we were to have small numbers of these about while we off the shelf.
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel
Wilson’s  Storm-Petrel
Several Wilson’s Storm-Petrels put in an appearance along with a few more Wedge-tailed Shearwaters.
Hutton’s Shearwater
A single Tahiti Petrel was unexpected at this time of the year. A couple more Hutton’s Shearwaters flew by.
Sooty Tern – Pic by Malcolm Graham
Two Sooty Terns were seen distantly and Crested Terns were constantly about the vessel. A Tiger Shark was seen to surface briefly.
Humpback Whale head’s encrusted barnacles
The Humpback Whale encounters got better and better with the huge mammals on several occasions swimming under the vessel in clear view. These interactions culminated in a superb performance by an adult female and attendant adult male which in unison spy hopped several times, raising their massive, barnacle-encrusted heads above the water within a few metres of the boat to check us out.
Humpback Whale – Pic by Rick Franks
The whales were so close that my prime 400 lens was of little use; thanks to Rick Franks for some of these images. It was as well that the whales put on a show because the forecast fresh south-easterlies did not materialise, with a gentle breeze struggling to reach 8-10knots despite the vigorous swell. After drifting 3 nautical miles eastward to 800m, we turned around at 12.45pm to head back.
Humpback Whale

We saw plenty more Humpbacks and more Hutton’s Shearwaters, some not far from shore. We managed reasonable views of most shearwaters and there did not appear to be any Fluttering among them.

Offshore Bottle-nosed Dolphins

We had a nice encounter with a large pod of Offshore Bottle-nosed Dolphin, including a small juvenile.

Brown Booby

We found a Brown Booby perched on a trawler as the winds picked up quickly, sharply and belatedly.

Eastern Reef-Egret

We returned to the marina at 3.40pm, spotting an Eastern Reef Egret perched incongruously by the swimming pool of a canal home. Again, all aboard were impressed by the comfort, space and amenities of Crusader 1, along with the enthusiasm of its crew.

PARTICIPANTS: Greg Roberts (organiser), Toby Imhoff (skipper), Zoe Williams (deckhand), Chris Attewell, Duncan Cape, George Chapman, Jo Culinan, Robyn Duff, Rick Franks, Malcolm Graham, Matteo Grilli, John Gunning, Jane Hall, Mary Hynes, Russ Lamb, Davydd McDonald, John Merton, Trevor Ross, Eske Ross, Jim Sneddon, Raja Stephenson, Ged Tranter, Jamie Walker, Chris Watts, Chris Wiley.

SPECIES: Total (Maximum at one time)
Providence Petrel 25 (5)
Tahiti Petrel 1 (1)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 15 (3)
Hutton’s Shearwater 22 (6)
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel 10 (2)
Brown Booby 1 (1)
Crested Tern 70 (20)
Sooty Tern 2 (2)
Pied Cormorant 2 (2)
Humpback Whale 80 (9)
Offshore Bottle-nosed Dolphin 25 (10)

10 Key Things you need to consider to get the best from this Whale Season

At Sunshine Coast Afloat we have tried to make it easy for you to “Come, Stay & Play” on the Sunshine Coast, and in particular Mooloolaba this Whale Season  We ourselves have two very special Whale Watching options to choose from.  We can also organise accommodation, even pet friendly accommodation, recommend restaurants and other things to do during your stay.  Consider us your “One Stop Shop” for your next trip to Mooloolaba!

1. WHERE TO GO TO SEE THE WHALES?

There are obviously a large number of locations along the Southeast Coast of Australia every whale season that offer excellent whale watching opportunities. From land based lookouts on Stradbroke and Moreton Islands to the many and varied whale watching operators taking passengers out to see these amazing mammals. Mooloolaba, the pearl of the beautiful Sunshine Coast, is located approximately one hour north of Brisbane. One of the key advantages it has is recognition as the safest bar crossing between Brisbane and Gladstone.  This is important as it means direct access to the coral sea at all times, regardless of tides, and without the issues we so often see on the news about vessels in trouble during bar crossings. Mooloolaba has a natural bay shape, accentuated by the Northern tip of Morton Island and the Southern tip of Fraser Island. It creates a semi-protected area in which the seas tend to be a lot smoother and more comfortable. That is important for both the passengers on boats and the whales. A lot has been made over the years of the ideal conditions off Harvey Bay in its protected waters there. Mooloolaba is rapidly gaining a similar reputation for good reason. Add in the fact that you are as mention just a hour from Brisbane, and for people further afield can fly direct into the Sunshine Coast Airport. Sure, we are very biased on where to go, but when you take all factors into account Mooloolaba should be up very high on the list of best whale watching locations in Australia!

2. WHEN TO GO?

The most common question we get is ” from when to when is whale season?”. This obviously varies from location to location a bit, but we will start to have the odd whale sighting from the start of June on most years. These early sightings are both special and frustrating at the same time. The chance sightings (and they are really that, chance sightings only we feel) are always super exciting. But at the same time, the reason these whales are here early is because they after either faster or more in a hurry than the bulk of the pods. That tends to mean you will see them swimming but very rarely are they in a playful mood. And given the vastness of the bay it can be very difficult to actually find these small groups so early in the season. Many an early whale watching trip is spent searching without getting a satisfactory result for those aboard. For this reason Sunshine Coast Afloat generally do not start their season until the start of July. A full month later. Our view is that our customers have come for “Whale Watching” not Whale Searching”! The true bulk of whales are really here even later. August, September and even (Early to mid) October are usually the premium months for whale watching. We judge our season end on the number of whales in the area as we enter the 2nd half of October. With the increasing whale population, the end of the season is becoming later  each year, but generally speaking, November whale watching is very much the same as June whale watching, and not something we offer our customers. as such our season tends to finish at some point in October.

3. WHERE TO STAY?

Quality accommodation at Saltwater Villas on the Sunshine Coast

For Mooloolaba Whale Watching trips, we can certainly take the hassle out of finding accommodation for you. There are a myriad of accommodation options to choose from on the Sunshine Coast. Many located right in Mooloolaba giving you walking access to most things. Some are “Pet Friendly” as well. Depending on your needs just advise us if you need somewhere that can cater for families, or a couple or even singles.  Many offer massages and other forms of retreats as part of their accommodation packages. The Sunshine Coast is geared towards ensuring holidaymakers have more than just a room and bed to make their holiday special! We deal with most if not all accommodation providers and are happy to assist you with making the right choice.

4. WHICH BOAT OR COMPANY TO CHOOSE?

There are a few key points to consider when planning a whale watching trip. No doubt for some the key aspect will be the financial budget allocated for the experience. Mooloolaba has a number of operators offering whale watching and even swimming with the whales trips. Each operator has it own way of operating and this allows you to choose the one best suited to your personal preferences.  The more budget focused groups are catered for by Whale One in Mooloolaba. With a large vessel taking up to 120 people at a time they are able to offer prices smaller operators cannot match. At the other end of the spectrum is Sunreef’s swimming with the whales. Small group of 12 to 14 people, are fitted with wet suited and shark repelling electronic devices and accompanied by highly experienced dive masters on these very special trips. The much higher costs and care associated with such trips make this the upper end of the price market of course. At Sunshine Coast Afloat we offer a combination of the two. , or  We like to be able to offer you choice.

Sunshine Coast Afloat has 2 options for your Whale Watching tours! Cruisy and comfy and fast and fun!
  • “Whale Watching without the crowds” Small groups of no more than 23 people of a very large 55 foot ex commercial vessel – Crusader 1, with drinks and light snacks included, for a 3 hour whale watching cruise.

OR

  • “Extreme Whale Watching” even smaller groups of no more than 10 people for 2 hours on a high end, high speed,  jet boat, getting as close as possible to the water and the whales as possible without actually getting into the water!

Our whale watching trips are aimed and those looking for what we believe to be the best value for money in whale watching. Maximum comfort, the best possible service, and unobstructed “rail side” viewing positions at all times, close to the water. We believe this is as close as you can get to a private whale watching tour without the high cost that that would otherwise cost you. Whale watching is special, regardless of whether is the first time you do it or if it’s a regular outing for you. We feel that either way you should have a high quality experience that provides fantastic memories!

5. HOW TO BOOK?

With Sunshine Coast Afloat all you need do is choose which trip option you think suits best, then what method is your preference. You can book directly with the us online, or if you prefer the more personal touch simply phone us ( 0412 155 814 ). Either method is designed to be easy and comprehensive. You will receive an online email confirmation of the booking, and the day prior to the tour a reminder SMS. Both have all relevant information on times and locations. Give yourself time to head out. by that we mean if you take a break of 4 days, don’t leave your whale watching trip to the last minute. If weather forces that trip to be cancelled you have left yourself no option for an alternative trip. We recommend booking for as early as possible in your trip. That way you can always move things around should mother nature not cooperate with your initial planning! Whale watching is done out on the ocean which can be unpredictable. Give yourself flexibility in days and times to account for that. No operator likes to cancel any trip, but its about your safety, comfort a enjoyment after all!

6. WHAT TO WEAR?

Comfortable clothing is key. We do recommend layered clothing, after all, it’s winter and that means it can get cold quite quick. But this is the Sunshine Coast, and warm sunny days are still the norm in winter. Make sure you protect yourself from the sun as you will want to be grabbing that rail side view.  If you are heading out on Hela-Va Jet getting rugged up is not so important as you are in an enclosed vessel with a lot of glass for part of your journey. And even when the doors are open you are still very much protected. The whales can often get REALLY close, and their blow spray can get you! Its both wet and a bit smelly! No one ever complains at the time, but if you are wearing that brand new expensive outfit, it may be less funny the next day! Keep that in mind.

7. WHAT TO PACK?

Obviously a camera is an absolute must. We always love to see our guests photo’s so a share by social media or email is fabulous! A hat and sunscreen is always a good idea. There is sunscreen aboard our vessels, but it may not be your preferred brand or kind. Pack a light coat as well. Wind out on the water in winter can be surprisingly chilly at times! And finally sunglasses (ideally polarised). Good sunglasses will pay for themselves in one trip when whale watching. Whales are big, really big. So there is a lot of the whale under the water regardless of what they are doing. Good glasses let you see so much more! But have a strap so that if they fall they stay around your neck and not on the bottom of the ocean….

8. SEASICKNESS PREVENTION

If you are heading out on the water we ALWAYS recommend taking motion sickness tablets.  It doesn’t matter if you have never been sea sick before. Some of the world’s best skippers still get sea sick from time to time! Whale watching means you are focused on a much more detailed area than you would be just cruising. This can sometimes make people normally fine feel very queasy very quickly. Sea sickness is no fun. It will really ruin a great trip very quickly. For the sake of taking a couple of natural motion supplements such as Kwells, Travacalm or the like it really isn’t worth the risk. Check with your pharmacist for their opinion of the most effective prevention, and we highly recommend you take one or two the evening prior to your trip, and one or two more just before boarding. That way it’s in your system and we find it has by far the best results.

9. BE PREPARED

Our crew/staff are extremely knowledgeable about the vast majority of available information regarding humpback whales, and are there to assist you. However, it’s always good to know a few basic facts about Humpback Whales so you can tell your kids, ask more questions, and generally appreciate and enjoy these magnificent animals more so. One easy way is to simply follow our blogs during the season. We will be providing heaps of  interesting and often amazing information about these marvellous mammals.

10. Have fun

One of our mantra’s at Sunshine Coast Afloat is “Whale Watching is a team effort“. By that we mean that these stunning animals are for the most part under water, and can be difficult to initially spot. 20 sets of eyes are far more effective in spotting them than just the 2 sets of our crews! Keep an eye out and shout out if you think you have spotted something! The quicker we find them the more time we are able to spend watching and enjoying them. Remember, there are only a few of you aboard and the more we help each other the more fun we all have! OUr goal is to give you the best possible experience. Your “job” is to help us make that possible!

Like the idea of a cruise with a difference?

We hope to, with this blog post explain, why you should have your next adventure with us, at Sunshine Coast Afloat.

Simply put, if you love the sun, salt and sea then look no further than Sunshine Coast Afloat!

For starters, if anyone knows a good time it’s our team! We have extremely experienced guides and state of the art equipment – this combination leads to the ultimate, enjoyable way to see the beautiful Sunshine Coast. Together with this we offer an amazing range of water-based activities, all of which can be modified according to the conditions of the day. And every budget is catered for! We offer deep sea fishing & crabbing charters, whale watching, ocean jet boat thrill rides, bucks and hens parties, guided kayak fishing tours, coastline & canal cruises, water taxi services and much much more!!

To give you a taste of exactly what to expect when booking, we’ve received some great feedback from just one of our amazing recent experiences – A bucks cruise that took place on Saturday 25th March 2017.

The boys that booked this adventure brought along their surfboards, drinks and a massive breakfast cook up – things that are all encouraged when booking with us at Sunshine Coast Afloat. Toby and Rob were the skippers that looked after the boys on this trip. Touring them around Mooloolaba and even taking care of the breakfast cook-up so the boys could make the most of the surf! Each and every party can be catered the way you want, with this one really focusing on the boys and just having the best and most chilled out day possible! They had such a great time they are considering making it an annual outing!!

Cooking a Breakfast Feast on the BBQ on Crusader 1.
Cooking a Breakfast Feast on the BBQ on Crusader 1.

Another great thing about Sunshine Coast Afloat is that if you have an idea, just ask us and we will find a way to make it work! We pride ourselves on finding ways to organise and alter the trip the way you wish; whether that’s bringing your own music, drinks, food ect. We want you to have the most memorable day, so we will go to all lengths to make this happen!

Another recent review after a fishing charter:

“We had an excellent experience with Sunshine Coast Afloat! Not only would we recommend them to others but we would happily go again. The staff were super helpful and happy to chat and get amongst the people. Great knowledge of fish and awesome enthusiasm! Personally what impressed me the most was the attention to safety and the pride they took in keeping the boat clean”

Felicity Tripp 2017 (Google Review).

Sunshine Coast Afloat were the winners of the 2014 Sunshine Coast Business Awards, and runners up in 2015! It was a privilege to receive the top prize and realise our efforts and promises were paying off!

We will do everything possible to ensure you will have an amazing time!

Sunshine Coast Afloat is our new brand name.

The well known, existing brand names – Fish n Crab Deep Sea Charters, Mooloolaba Jet boat and Coastline Cruises will become products moving forward, rather than stand alone brands. The change has been brought about through 2 main drivers.

  1. Social Media. Social Media is a key component of any modern business. It all seems great to have constant updates etc, but when you think about the various social media forums – Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram, Snap chat, Pintrest, LinkedIn etc etc, you start to get a feel for the almost full time job that it is just to keep all of them going for a single business. Imagine that for 3 (Well, 4. See the next point). Add on websites, brochures, advertising, Tourism and business memberships costs and you can imaginer it can quickly become rather overwhelming!
  2. New Product Offering. Guided Kayak Fishing tours is another new addition to our services. Its becoming very apparent that Kayak fishing is not a flash in the pan phenomenon but a true and rapidly growing sport here in Australia. The Sunshine Coast has some of the best estuary fishing for this in Australia, and there is a clear need for the service. We believe that we have been able to put together the best value kayak fishing offering in Australia! Check it out here!

All in all, we are about to bring the next level of marine and water based tourism experiences to the beautiful Sunshine Coast!

Still not content with just offering the same standard trips as you can find pretty much everywhere else, we remain fully focused on making sure that we do things the way you (and we) really want them to be. Fun, adventurous, adrenalin filled or clam and relaxing. Sunshine Coast Afloat is a one stop location where you will be able to choose the activity that suits you perfectly all secure in the knowledge that from the very moment you find us to the the time you get back home you will have been looked after the way you deserve!

Sunshine Coast Afloat – For whatever floats your boat!

Experience an intimate private cruise on the open water!

We believe that if the weather permits, the best way to see the sun setting over the beautiful Sunshine Coast is from the ocean! The Glasshouse mountains, the stunning coastline and the lovely Mooloolaba foreshore all combine to provide a setting that just has to be seen to be believed! With a maximum number of just 23 passengers aboard one of the largest charter vessels on the Sunshine Coast, you will feel like royalty on your private trip! And shouldn’t we all experience that once in a while!

Book a private cruise with up to 22 of your favorite people, and enjoy being out on the water and actually heading out of the rivers and canals!

Priced to most budgets,  you will be able to choose from BYO everything to having every aspect catered for!

Most common cruises are 2 and 3 hours in length, but custom trips are also catered for!