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?
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.
- “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.
- “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!