Come Whale Watching “without the crowds” from Mooloolaba

Mooloolaba now offers the best and closest thing to a private whale watching experience you will get anywhere ! As amazing as the whale watching can be in Harvey Bay, the Sunshine Coast is rapidly becoming “The GO-TO” destination for Whale Watching in South East Queensland. And for good reason! It offers the safest (and therefore most comfortable and reliable) Bar crossing between Brisbane and Gladstone. A stunning Bay with good protection from Fraser and Moreton Islands. All only an hour’s drive from Brisbane! So perfect a setting in fact, that Mooloolaba is now one of the few places in Australia, even the world, which offers swimming with the whales ( also referred to as snorkelling with the whales).

If you are looking for a totally personalised and near private whale watching trip, Sunshine Coast Afloat is your best choice! With a maximum of 23 passengers on a massive 55 foot boat, you will always get the perfect view!

Two large Humpback Whales playing alongside Crusader 1
Whale Watching on Crusader 1 in 2016

Sure, it’s always amazing when you get to see the whales. But let’s face it, doing so while trying to catch a glimpse over the top of 2 or more people in front of you isn’t really that much fun. it can be difficult, sometimes near impossible to get that rail-side position on many whale watching operations. And understandably so, as many of these businesses make their living from that short period of time. The crowded boats have their place, but we feel that if we all loved being crowded with others that much, public transport would be WAY more popular! But the reality is that we all prefer our own space – like in our own car – whenever possible.

Sunshine Coast Afloat operates a wide range of activities allowing us to keep passenger numbers to the bare minimum. Our entire focus and goal is to give you a truly intimate encounter with these gentle giants of the ocean. You will always able to take pictures or video without the heads of other people in the way.  Well, this whale watching tour is exactly what you are looking for! The luxury of no crowds. The ability to see the whales properly the way you imagined it should be!

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. Local whale watching companies such a Whale One have long had this market almost exclusively to themselves, and have done an amazing job in promoting the Sunshine Coast, and Mooloolaba in particular as a whale watching destination hot spot. With the growing number of visitors to the Sunshine Coast, the number of operators is now also beginning to increase. New vessels and offerings are becoming more prevalent, and this can be linked directly to the increased number of whales and whale encounters. Sunshine Coast Afloat has taken a more niche approach to this large and growing market, with very personal select tours that offer the perfect blend of privacy, safety and professional knowledge. In fact, until recently Sunshine Coast Afloat had the only “High Speed” or “Extreme” Whale watching tour on offer!

A whale showing off and waving to Crusader 1 on a beautiful day on the Sunshine Coast

This Whale Watching tour uses Crusader 1. A large, open deck vessel which allows easy full walk around access. Even to the bow of the boat, where you can often watch the dolphins play and follow our path. And watching the whales swim underneath you from there is an experience altogether special and unique! You WILL ALWAYS have that rail side position. Ready for that perfect photo or that unobstructed view. With a only small numbers of passengers at any time, our guests enjoy total visibility and proximity to whales, dolphins, as well as the many other kinds of marine life we encounter. And with undoubtedly the most up-close and close-to-the-water viewing decks of any whale watching vessel on the Sunshine Coast, this tour offers a very special and personal day out on the water with these inquisitive, majestic animals. Add to this our friendly and professional staff, and we can guarantee you will enjoy an incredible day of whale watching. Come and get up close and personal with these gentle giants of the sea. Encounter pods of dolphins and turtles that are regular sightings here on the Sunshine Coast.

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 display that will instantly last in their memories forever. You know, 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.

Two whales playing together alongside Crusader 1 just off Mooloolaba

It’s about getting out on the water and seeing – regardless if the whales want to come really up close or decide to stay a bit further away, the astonishing marine wildlife 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!

Please note- This tour operates from 1st July to 31st October only!

We include food platters, non-alcoholic drinks and if needed use of binoculars as part of the tour.

Please note that no funds will be deducted until we have been able to also confirm the availability of the requested charter. This because 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.

DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATIONThe Coast Guard Pontoon, 50 Parkyn Parade, Mooloolaba ( Sunshine Coast ), Queensland. Australia         SEE MAPS BELOW
DEPARTURE TIMEPlease arrive 30 minutes prior for a prompt departure.
RETURN TIMEVaries based on departure time. Tour is 3 hours long.
WEARComfortable clothing, enclosed shoes, hat and sunglasses. Bring a rain jacket just in case. Don’t forget your CAMERA! Alcohol is on a BYO basis.
Professional crew.Marine Wildlife
Light Refreshments.Rail side position guarantee
Alcohol (BYO OK)

The “Coast Guard & Boat Ramp” Pontoon (located between the 2 boat ramps),
51 Parkyn Parade Mooloolaba Qld.

(Click on the RED 
icon on the above map for more information)

We depart from the “Coast Guard & Boat Ramp” Pontoon. (Pontoon is located between the 2 boat ramps).

For a GPS use 51 Parkyn Parade Mooloolaba Qld. These are the units across the road from the ramp.

Please DO NOT park your car in the Boat trailer areas here but rather find a park along Parkyn Parade where parking is free and unlimited in time. Cars parked incorrectly in the Boat ramp car park are likely to be towed.

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

Departure location for Sunshine Coast Afloat (includes Fish n Crab Charters and Coastline Cruises



 Please arrive 20 to 30 minutes PRIOR to your noted departure time. We would hate for the tour to depart on time should you be late and we have not heard from you! Depending on the departure time you may need to ensure you have enough time to find a car park.
Please do not wait on the pontoon itself as the crew will be mooring the vessel on its arrival and we safety is paramount for all.


Once securely and safely moored, the crew will ask you to board the vessel. Make your way up towards the cabin, placing any bags in the locker seat that will be open and waiting.


We are heading out to sea so each and every person aboard must sign in on the ship register, and marked off by the crew. To this end see the skipper (at the cabin window) and he will indicate the passenger log for you to complete. Have a balance to pay for the day? This is where and when you do that part too.


Most tours have Coffee and tea provided aboard. Once the paperwork has been done for you, make yourself a coffee or tea (all waiting for you on the large table) and have a look about the boat to get comfortable. The Coffee and tea will be put away by the crew as we exit the river so make sure you have yours well before that!

Safety First

As required by maritime legislation, the crew will have to do a safety briefing before we hit the open ocean. Much like on a plane any time you fly, we do need your attention for the couple of minutes it takes. We all hope and expect the information we are providing never to be needed, but its always best to be forewarned and prepared.

Pushing off

One of the few times we need you to be seated, out of the way of lines and other items. Just until the crew have cleared them away and the skipper is heading forward.

Crossing the Bar

Recognised in maritime as one of the potentially more dangerous things that happens aboard a vessel, this is the 2nd time the crew will ask everyone to be seated. Once through (It only takes a minute or 2) the ocean conditions will take effect.

Searching for whales

We only really run our tours in the most active period of the whale season. Afterall we all want to be watching whales, not searching for them the entire time. Of course they are underwater for most of the time, and the Coral Sea is a large area. We ask all passengers to join in to keep an eye out for the distinctive “Blow” that is usually the first sign of whales.

First sighting!

The first of what will often be 2 or 3 different pods on the tour. The crew will provide information on the whale behavious and other relevant facts during the tour. We cannot get closer than 100m to the left or right of the pod, or 300m to the rear of front of them. Once we are in position the hope is that the animals natural curiosity will bring them to us!


All good things must come to an end. We try to keep the return trip as short as possible to give us as much time with the whales as possible. On average the return trip takes about 30 minutes all up. Make yourself comfortable on the lounges ort seats, or ask the skipper if you can sit on the bow of the vessel. In the right conditions you will often see dolphins swimming along with Crusader 1 in the bow wake.

Back home

Of course as we re-enter the bar, and during the mooring of the vessel, the crew will ask all passengers to be seated again for safety. Once moored securely back on the pontoon the crew will assist you to disembark the vessel.
Two large Humpback Whales playing alongside Crusader 1