Experience the Perfect Whale Watching Tour, without the crowds!

See for yourself why so many agree that this is how Whale Watching tours should be done!

Join us at Sunshine Coast Afloat for an intimate, personalised whale watching experience that will leave you in awe. Come aboard with the original “Whale Watching without the Crowds” operator and be assured of absolute rail-side viewing positions at all times.

So few people and so much space! you don’t have to worry about feeling crowded or squashed on this trip.

With a maximum of only 23 passengers on board, you can relax in large, luxury lounge seating and enjoy the company of our knowledgeable crew who are always ready to answer your questions about the whales. Our modern marine toilets and sound system add to the comfort and ambiance of your trip, while our fully licensed vessel, Crusader 1, provides a spacious and comfortable environment for whale watching.

Join us for a safe, clean, and memorable whale watching experience that puts your enjoyment and safety first. With limited bookings available, especially during the peak season from mid-August to late October, we recommend booking early to secure your spot on a tour that has won Tripadvisor awards for the past 11 years.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to witness these magnificent creatures up close and personal. Book your Whale Watching Tour with Sunshine Coast Afloat today and see why more and more people are choosing Mooloolaba as their go-to destination for whale watching on the East Coast of Australia. 

We look forward to having you on board with us!

2 whales rising at the same time
This Mum and Calf Humpback whale were checking out Crusader 1 as much as we were watching them!


Please note- This tour operates from begin July to late October only!

Wondering what the weather might be like? A great place to get an idea up to 7 days out is Seabreeze! or BOM or Willy Weather. Of course please remember that these sites are generalised and focused on the Beach conditions, and as such may not accurately reflect what is happening in the protected waters in the river and canals.

If you have questions relating to this or any of our other tour offerings, our FAQ’S PAGE might be able to assist as well. Of course you can always contact us by phone, email or text. 

We include light snacks and soft drinks as part of the tour.

Please note that other impacts such as phone and agent bookings, weather and other unforeseen things could impact on the availability at the same time as you are requesting the charter online. Our Terms and conditions are available on this webpage ( Click here to view them now ) and will also be emailed to you as part of the booking confirmation.

Sunshine Coast Afloat (Now Cavalier Cruises) is located within Tank Bathhouse, and operates from the Pontoon located at the rear of the premises at 209 Brisbane Road Mooloolaba Qld.

For a GPS use “Sunshine Coast Afloat” or “209 Brisbane Road Mooloolaba Qld”.    In iPhone Maps “Sunshine Coast Afloat” is far more accurate.

Please DO NOT park your car here on the service Road, but rather in the FREE public car-park next to the BP service station across the road. 

The location is the corner of Incana Court and Brisbane Road. This parking is free and unlimited in time, and only a 2 minute stroll (100m) from the departure point.

Once parked please wait near the top of the ramp until instructed by the skipper that it is safe to come down the ramp and board the vessel.

Whale Watching without the crowds Tours

2 whales rising at the same timeKey Details:

DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION The Pontoon at Bridge Seafoods, 209 Brisbane Road (Service Road), Mooloolaba( Sunshine Coast), Queensland. Australia
DEPARTURE AND RETURN TIMES July And Early August (Early Season) MAY be extended to a 4 hour trip due to the greater distance that may be required to be travelled to have the best chance of seeing whales early in the season.

The departure times are 8:30AM, with a return at 11:30AM possibly 12:30PM. And afternoon departure time of 1PM, returning at 4PM possibly 5PM

Mid August through till Late October (Peak Season) will be a 3 hour trip.

The departure times then are Morning 9AM with a return at 12PM  And and afternoon Departure time of 1PM returning at 4PM

DEPARTURE NOTE Please arrive 30 minutes prior for a prompt departure.Please ensure you have checked in via the Covid Safe link sent with your confirmation or with the QR code at the departure location. We cannot depart until EVERYONE has properly checked in.
WHAT TO WEAR & BRING Comfortable clothing, enclosed shoes (NO BLACK SOLES & NO STILETTO HEELS PLEASE!), hat and sunglasses. Bring a rain jacket just in case. Drinks can be purchased aboard. NO BYO DRINKS! We reserve the right to check bags and other items to ensure drinks are not brought aboard.

You are welcome to bring your own food with you or have it catered as we do not supply food this year! (Some light snacks will be supplied)

Please note that Crusader 1 is a NON-SMOKING vessel.


Professional and experienced crew. Self serve Iced water on arrival.
Self Serve Iced Water aboard.

Bar available for purchases.

Light snacks

Absolute Railside viewing positions at all times!
NOT INCLUDED FOOD                            BYO DRINKS
DRINKS                        PRIVATE BOOKING


Lots of Humpback Whales to watch off our bow
These guests had so many Humpback Whales to watch. Many just off our bow!

Over the past decade, the Sunshine Coast has established a reputation as THE location to go for fantastic whale watching on the East Coast of Australia. No doubt aided by it stunning coastline, it’s continued focus on natural clean environments and it’s location just over an hour North from the Brisbane CBD. Local operators have noticed more and more people are going Whale Watching from Mooloolaba! A large, natural bay is formed by the coastline itself together with Moreton Island and Fraser Island. It creates an ideal place for mother to care for and teach their calves in water that is generally much deeper that the shallower waters further North. Add in the fact that Mooloolaba has long been recognised as one of, if not the safest Bar crossings, and you have a perfect combination for awesome, fun and safe time out on the water watching the humpback whales play! All these factors together with great tours on offer see the Sunshine Coast now offering some of the best Whale Watching opportunities in Australia! So perfect a setting and location is the Sunshine Coast for whale watching overall, Mooloolaba is now one of the few places in Australia, even the world, which offers swimming with the whales ( also often referred to as snorkelling with the whales).

Whale watching image taken from aboard Crusader One of Sunshine Coast Afloat - AMAZING SHOT WITH 2 WHALES, ONE BREACHING!

An Amazing shot taken by a customer showing 2 whales with one breaching!

This growing popularity has over time seen the number of operators trying to enter the Sunshine Coast Market increase quite dramatically at times. Unfortunately many have not been able to provide the experience customers expect as their focus was often more on packing people in on their boats over the relatively short season. It’s certainly not uncommon for whale watching boats to have well over 100 people aboard with operators trying to make the most of the short season. On these crowded boats we would see most people trying to look over the shoulders of other people. Or if they were lucky enough to finally get to the rail, have the whales on the opposite side of the boat instead! (Murphy and his law in action!).

Of course the world changed quite dramatically in 2020 with the Covid-19 pandemic, and many of us are now far less comfortable in crowded situations. This has really impacted a lot of operators. And the traditional packed-to-the-rafters approach is now often being viewed as something to avoid.

Interestingly this fact has actually just proven what we at Sunshine Coast had already been trying to do for about 8 years. This almost traditional crowded approach was clearly great for many people, but, as with everything times are always changing. It had became apparent to us at Sunshine Coast Afloat that people were wanting a more intimate, personalised, private-feeling experience. Our customers were making it very clear to us that the biggest thing they were after was to be able to ENJOY SEEING the whales. What good is glimpsing the whales from between others. Every time they would head out with us, the fact that they were always able to have an unobstructed railside view was they said the absolute best part of the trip. And of course if the whales swam around or under the boat they were able to walk to the other side and again have a railside position! That’s right, ALL passengers can stand on just one side and still have room on our boat! 

Sea Turtle Checking out the whale watching on Crusader 1
Sea Turtles Checking out the whale watching on Crusader 1 are a regular occurance!

We are often asked by customers how we can head out with so few people when other companies are clearly needing to have a lost more people on their vessels to make it viable. Whale watching for us is certainly a key part of our company income. But it’s not the only thing we do. We run many other types of cruises and activities during other times of the year, which means we are able to work with much less people than we would be able to if we had to rely on the short whale watching season alone.

Sure, we do charge a little more than some other operators. And no, we cannot run half price specials (Luckily we have never had to do that either) as small passengers just does not give us that sort of flexibility. But we are always extremely conscious of making sure we offer fantastic value for money! Add in the fact that we include some light refreshments as well. And of course a crew that is both extremely knowledgeable about the whales and takes the time to talk to you on a personal level. It all makes for a trip that our customers clearly feel is the best trip they have had! That’s our reward as it makes us both incredibly happy and proud to get that feedback from our customer in reviews and in person!


Crusader 1 returning from a Whale Watching Trip
Crusader 1 returning from a Whale Watching Trip
  • Crusader 1 is a very large, ex-commercial (so super safe for ocean activities) vessel, completely refit across 2020 and early 2021 for high quality charter operations, all with passenger comfort foremost in mind.  At 55 foot in length, every passenger is assured of a comfortable, uncrowded railside view, even along a single side! Never be blocked out again from seeing what you paid to see!
  • Whale watching tours are conducted with a maximum of 23 passengers, to ensure beyond doubt that everyone always gets the perfect unobstructed railside view!
  • The vessel is completely setup up for whale watching operations with double the amount of seating needed for the passengers.
    • Set up for whale watching means zero obstructions to get in your way! No side walls or windows or posts.
    • Most of the seating is railside to get you as close as possible to the whales at all times.
    • The bow is accessible and available for those special moments when the whales (and dolphins) swim around the vessel there.
    • 2 toilets aboard (both in the centre of the main deck) means there is no waiting at all!
    • A large 3m centre table with seating allows you to enjoy any food you might bring with you in comfort.
    • And our new bar allows you to buy drinks at very affordable prices.


A mother humpback slapping her tail to call her calf just off Mooloolaba

It’s all about getting out on the water and SEEING – It is called Whale Watching, not whale glimpsing! – the whales. Regardless if the whales want to come really up close or decide to stay a bit further away. When you see them you will agree that being able to see this astonishing marine wildlife, completely in it’s natural environment, is something that makes this planet truly wondrous!

Some of our most amazing moments, when time seemed like it stood still, were when something amazing was happening a couple of hundred meters from the boat. A mother calling her calf with massive tail slaps on the water. The calf totally oblivious, playing and learning to breach ahead of our vessel in Mooloolaba Bay. Truly a moment that was so spectacular, so emotional or so unexpected, that everyone aboard felt extremely privileged to be in the area! Every year whale watching creates new magic moments. Moments we would love to share with you!

Our crew will take the time to talk to you about what to expect on the day and answer any questions you may have. We often have whale researchers aboard as well who are more than happy to share their knowledge with our customers. They will also be operating the drinks bar so that you can enjoy the tour with your favorite drink in hand (and we are proud of the fact that our prices are almost always below that of land based venues!).

Whales regularly swim up very close!
Whales again getting really up close to our boat!

Humpback whales are not only beautiful but also playful and curious creatures. You will be in awe of the spectacular breaching, close encounters, magical songs and tail slapping. Seeing whales in the wild is always an amazing, awe-inspiring experience. We are all hoping for one of those “Super amazing” trips where the whales “Mug” the boat and often make it difficult for the boat to even leave the area. Our customers are, understandably, always waiting in anticipation for that something extra special. That moment or whale display that will instantly be forever in their memories.

Whales swimming up very close to Crusade 1
Whales regularly swim up very close to Crusade 1 enabling our passengers to get the most amazing images up close!

Many people do a whale watching tour as a so-called ‘bucket-list’ experience. And, more often than you would think, that’s exactly what happens. But, those amazing moments are so special for a reason. They don’t happen ALL the time. But whale watching is not just about the close-up special or magic moments.

Each year more and more whales take part in the annual Whale migration up the East Coast of Australia. (to be fair they do travel up the West Coast also!). The numbers are now reaching levels where amazing whale encounters are becoming far more common place when compared with only a few years ago. 

TripAdvisor 2022 Travellers Choice Award

Everyone at Sunshine Coast Afloat prides themself on being extremely dedicated and  responsible to our guests (and the whales!). Not only will we always provide you with an extremely safe, clean and well appointed vessel, we will, on all whale watching trips, limit vessel capacity to ta maximum of 23 people to ensure that you have a safe, comfortable and memorable experience as well as a guaranteed rail-side position at all times.

Our highly qualified and trained crew are on board to assist in making sure every aspect of your cruise is executed with your enjoyment and safety the absolute focus at all times. From the moment you step aboard they will ensure you have nothing more to do than to sit back and enjoy yourself.

No doubt this is why we have, for the last 9 years won the top Tripadvisor awards each year!


Standing on the Bow of Crusader 1 gives a magic close up view of humpback whales swimming around the boat!

Please note- This tour operates from late June to Mid October only! This tour runs for 3 hours during the main part of the season, 4 hours in the early season!

We include light refreshments and, if needed, use of binoculars as part of the tour.

COVID Whale Watching – for detailed information on how we’ve adjusted our tour to be COVID Safe and for updated terms click here.


Wondering what the weather might be like? A great place to get an idea up to 7 days out is Seabreeze! or BOM or Willy Weather. Of course please remember that these sites are generalised and focused on the Beach conditions, and as such may not accurately reflect what is happening further out to sea or in the river and canals.

No Crowds Whale Watching Tours aboard Crusader 1
Whale Watching  - Sunshine Coast Afloat
Two large Humpback Whales playing alongside Crusader 1
Whale Watching from Crusader 1
Fishing Charter - Sunshine Coast Afloat
Whales regularly swim up very close!
Whale watching image taken from aboard Crusader One of Sunshine Coast Afloat - AMAZING SHOT WITH 2 WHALES, ONE BREACHING!
Whale watching image taken from aboard Crusader One of Sunshine Coast Afloat - A WHALE BREACHING CLOSE TO THE SHORE OF ALEXANDRA HEADLANDS.
Whale watching image taken from aboard Crusader One of Sunshine Coast Afloat - 2 WHALE TAILS IN PERFECT SYNC.
Whale watching image taken from aboard Crusader One of Sunshine Coast Afloat - A WHALE BREACHING CLOSE TO THE BOAT.
Whale watching image taken from aboard Crusader One of Sunshine Coast Afloat - LOVELY SPYHOP BY THIS WHALE.
Whale watching image taken from aboard Crusader One of Sunshine Coast Afloat - A WHALE BREACHING JUST OFF MAROOCHYDORE.
2 whales rising at the same time
Sea Turtle Checking out the whale watching on Crusader 1

Tour Reviews

5.00 based on 16 reviews
October 18, 2016

“Whale Watching Privilege”
Reviewed on trip advisor on the 26th August
An amazing experience. The charter boat is 55 ft which sounds quite big but, when you are 15 nautical miles out to sea, past the huge tankers and cargo ships, it seemed pretty small.
We had checked the marine forecast and the sea conditions seemed a bit marginal but the trip was on so off we went at 8am.
We travelled a good hour without seeing any thing and a few people got a bit seasick. The boat was rocking and rolling by this time. Disappointment was about to creep in when the skipper said “whales 200 metres ahead”. All seasickness was instantly forgotten as everyone oohed and aahed at a display put on for us by a mother and her calf. These humpback whales are enormous. 40 tonne whale, 23 tonne boat. Get the picture!
For at least a half hour these whales put on a display we will never forget. Tail flukes crashing, spouts showering everyone on board ,heads out of the water in unison and even swimming under the boat.
The mother and calf didn’t leave us! We had to return to port as we were already at least an hour over time.
The skipper said he had not encountered such an interactive pair of whales in a long time. As we headed back to shore, I looked back and I’m sure those 2 big spouts from their blow holes was a farewell.
And then the tears started!

October 18, 2016

“Absolutely amazing whale watching experience”
Reviewed on trip advisor on the 18 August via mobile
We went whale watching mid August for the hubby’s birthday and had such an amazing time. The guys on board really knew their stuff and were able to find the whales quickly and bring them super close to the boat. We had about 5 whales around the boat doing all sorts of tricks for most of the duration out at sea. The whales really put on a performance and there were happy smiles all around. Very relaxed environment, beautiful boat and the perfect size to feel safe but still get very close. Sunshine Coast Afloat only take a maximum of 22 people which allows for a more personal experience and plenty of room to view the whales from either side of the boat. The guys on board had coffee waiting which was a bonus and put such a lovely spread of food out for lunch. I really can not thank them enough for making our day as special as it was. We had two small children with us aged 10 and 11 and they had such a great time. My husband has been whale watching 3 times before with a different company and said they did not even come close to being as good as this one. True value for money. Highly recommended. Could honestly go on for days on how awesome they are.

October 1, 2020

Reviewed on Facebook on the 30th September
Had a fabulous afternoon out & couldn’t believe how many whales we saw! Lovely people, informative chatter, & a very comfortable boat with plenty of space to move around. Have been whale watching here previously but our trip with Sunshine Coast Afloat was so much better – the limit on passenger numbers makes the whole experience much more personal. Thank you – we’ll be back!

October 1, 2020

Reviewed on Facebook on the 30th September
Great size group with plenty of space to see the whales.
Very friendly staff.
Highly recommend.

October 1, 2020

Reviewed on Facebook on the 28th September
We had an awesome day out Whale Watching.
Staff were all helpful and friendly. Boat was so comfortable, and we spotted so many whales sitting out the front of the boat, we could’ve been the only people on there. Thanks!

October 1, 2020

Reviewed on Facebook on the 27th September
Fantastic Whale Watching cruise!
Very friendly staff and informative.
Guaranteed to see whales and without all the crowds.
Have been on a few different Whale Watching cruises and this was BY FAR my favourite.

October 1, 2020

Reviewed on Facebook on the 26th September
Amazing day out with Sunshine Coast Afloat today.
THe whales put on a Fabulous show!
Fantastic staff and very welcoming!!
Definitely recommend this with 5 stars!

October 1, 2020

Reviewed on Facebook on the 26th September
Best by far!
Family owned and operated great experience.
Up Close and personal.
Highly recommend these awesome people!

October 1, 2020

Reviewed on tripadvisor on the 6th September
Spectacular day on the water.

We had such a beautiful cruise! Jerry was soo accommodating.
Happy to answer any questions the kids or we had.
Lovely day out.
The skipper was great, getting us a comfortable distance to the whales and respecting the distance between us.
Great day.

October 1, 2020

Reviewed on tripadvisor on the 8th September
Top morning on the Ocean

Great day on the water with a really friendly crew.
Awesome whale sightings and memories made.

October 1, 2020

Reviewed on tripadvisor on the 9th September
Whale watching without the crowds

We had an amazing day.
The guys at Sunshine Coast Afloat were amazing.
We saw some very playful whales.

October 1, 2020

Reviewed on tripadvisor on the 11th September
Great whale watching

Had a great day today, enjoyed seeing many whales and a few dolphins on our morning cruise.
Definitely recommend Sunshine Coast Afloat, their boat is open sided so everyone gets a clear view (no windows or walls to block view, but with a roof to protect from rain) easily spotting whales from wherever you sit, and you can still move around because they only take about 22 maximum passengers.
We would love to go again.

October 1, 2020

Reviewed on tripadvisor on the 14th September
So many whales!

Lovely people, very informative, & a comfortable boat which is very easy to move around in.
Saw lots of pods of whales which was amazing!
Highly recommend Sunshine Coast Afloat as our whale watching experience with them was more comfortable & personal than previous trips we have been on.
Will definitely be supporting this local business in the futures

October 1, 2020

Reviewed on tripadvisor on the 15th September
Whale watching

Had a fantastic day- saw at least 20 humpbacks frolicking off Mooloolaba.
Boat was spacious and not overloaded.
Clear sight to the whales from anywhere.
Jerry the host was very friendly too.

October 1, 2020

Reviewed on tripadvisor on the 15th September
Fabulous day

Such a great experience and what a friendly and fun.
We saw some fantastic whales and the conditions were great.
A big thank you too because we got lost and you patiently helped us find you.
Excellent service.
Would highly recommend this family run business with the personal touches.

October 1, 2020

Reviewed on tripadvisor on the 25th September
Great service, whales an awesome trip out.

We went out on a whale watching cruise with Sunshine Coast Afloat on Friday 4th September.
What an amazing experience! Right from the get go we were greeted with smiles and enthusiasm by Patti and Jerry (Owners).
We boarded, the immaculately kept, Crusader 1 and set off for our morning adventure.
A run through safety procedures by first mate Flinn and a bar crossing skillfully handled by our skipper Sam and we headed out to where the whales were.
What a treat! We were gifted with a rare whale mugging.
The whales almost touching the boat at times as we bobbed around unable to move while they inquisitively checked us out.
There were many “Ahhhh” moments and memories made.
Thank you guys for an unforgettable experience that was definitely value for money.

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