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Top Whale Watching Opportunities: Tours and our favourite vantage points in Port Macquarie

Posted by Discover Media Australia on 10 June 2018
Top Whale Watching Opportunities: Tours and our favourite vantage points in Port Macquarie

Written by Pix Jonasson for Discover Media Australia

The Port Macquarie region makes for the perfect coastal holiday to watch migrating whales along the NSW coast.

Each year between May and November, the Port Macquarie coastal region is a haven for whale watching. After a full summer of feeding in Antarctica, approximately 16,000 humpback whales migrate north to sub-tropical waters where they mate and give birth before making their return trip south. Given the relatively close proximity to the "whale highway", Port Macquarie offers so many opportunities, both by boat and land, to experience the breathtaking migration of the whales.

As a visitor in the beautiful Hastings area, there are numerous areas within a short drive or walk for you to see whales. There are two commercial whale watching companies based in Port Macquarie, Port Jet Cruise Adventures where you will undoubtably get the best whale experience. If you are unable to embark on the boat encounters then there are other fabulous opportunities along the Coastal Walk to view the passing of these majestic mammals. Some of our favourite spots are mentioned here:

  1. Port Jet Cruise Adventures
  2. Coastal Walk Location #1 - Gaol Point Lookout
  3. Coastal Walk Location #2 - Windmill Hill
  4. Coastal Walk Location #3 - Rocky Lookout
  5. Coastal Walk Location #4 - Harry's Lookout
  6. Coastal Walk Location #5 - Tacking Point Lighthouse

  
See the whales by boat

1.     Port Jet Cruise Adventures

Waverider and Discovery 1 - whale watching in Port Macquarie, NSW

A little about the venue

Port Jet Cruise Adventures offers some of Port Macquarie's best whale watching, with a fast ride out there so you can spend the most time with the whales. There are two boat options to choose from but both options will give you excellent viewing opportunities. The Wave Rider (first boat option) was purpose built with an onboard hydrophone which allows you listen to the whales in real-time through the vessel's surround sound system! Discovery 1 has a walk around deck up front where you can get beyond the cabin and see the whales with an unobstructed view. Both tours include: Up to 1 ½ hour tour - Adults $60 Kids $45 Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun

What makes the venue special?

The Wave Rider was purpose built with an onboard hydrophone so you can listen to the whales in real time through the vessel's surround sound system!

Location

Port Macquarie Waterfront, Short Street, Port Macquarie NSW 2444

Suitability

No age restrictions - Max 18 passengers whale watching (May to November)

Parking

Limited street parking

Amenities

Room to stand, take photos and have full view of the whales - Comfortable seats - Very stable boat (less likely to cause seasickness)

Toilets

On board marine toilet

Contact details


The Coastal Walk

The Port Macquarie Coastal Walk starts at Westport Park and follows the coast south to Tacking Point Lighthouse, a distance of 9.1 kms one way. Walkers will see beautiful coastal scenery, walk through rainforest and along beaches and have the opportunity to spot whales. The walk is mostly easy grade and can be divided into four sections:

  1. Westport Park to Town Beach 2.0 km
  2. Town Beach to Flynns Beach Surf Club 2.2 km (including Windmill Hill)
  3. Flynn's Beach Surf Club to Shelly Beach car park 2.2 km
  4. Shelly Beach car park to Tacking Point Lighthouse 2.7 km

Be sure to wear sunscreen (even in winter), wear a hat, bring a water bottle and a pair of binoculars. And most importantly, don't forget your camera!

 

View the whales from a distance - Coastal Walk locations (from North to South in Port Macquarie)

2. Gaol Point Lookout

Gaol point lookout - Port Macquarie, NSW

A little about the venue

Goal Point Lookout at Lions Park is a newly renovated and beautifully designed lookout.

What makes the venue special?

Gaol Point Lookout offers whale watchers a north facing vantage point which is particularly advantageous when the whales are making their way south again after the northern migration. The lookout also has a stunning outlook over Town Beach Park, the Hastings River and Town Beach.

Location

Lions Park, Stewart Street, Port Macquarie

Suitability

Outdoor venue

Parking

Limited parking at lookout, street parking also nearby.

Amenities

A beautiful sandstone wall and seating with landscaped gardens and information signage about Port Macquarie's history.

Toilets

No public toilets available here, but they are nearby at Town Beach Park and Town Beach.

 

3.    Windmill Hill

View from Windmill Hill in Port Macquarie NSW

A little about the venue

Windmill Hill Reserve is a formally landscaped and paved area overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This reserve is one of the most popular venues for whale watching.

What makes the venue special?

This location has stunning ocean views, formal landscaped gardens, shrubs and a private grass area.

Location

Pacific Drive, Port Macquarie

Suitability

Outdoor venue

Parking

Limited street parking

Amenities

Walking path (forms part of a coastal walk), and soon to be upgraded picnic table and park seating.

Toilets

No public toilets available


4.     Rocky Beach Lookout

Rocky Beach Lookout

A little about the venue

Rocky Beach Lookout overlooks the Pacific Ocean. This reserve is another very popular venue for whale watching and where you will likely find the whale spotters for the two whale watching companies with their binoculars and two-way radios.

What makes the venue special?

This location has stunning ocean views, shrubs and a grassed area.

Location

Pacific Drive, Port Macquarie

Suitability

Outdoor venue

Parking

Limited free street parking

Amenities

Walking path (forms part of a coastal walk), picnic table, park seating

Toilets

No public toilets available
 

5.     Harry's Lookout

Harry's lookout in Port Macquarie NSW

A little about the venue

Harry's Lookout is an informal escarpment area with beautiful coastal views over Shelly Beach and the ocean. The lookout is located within the 8.75 hectare coastal bushland reserve which is accessed by a shady bushland ramped walkway from Pacific Drive.

What makes the venue special?

There are sweeping ocean views with a flat open space to view the whales. The entrance to the lookout area from the walkway is framed by an archway creating an interface between the cool shady bushland and the startling blue of the Pacific Ocean. The lookout area features a large wooden table with side bench seats and king and queen seats at either end that seat up to twenty and a smaller timber table that seats up to four. The vista and location of Harry's Lookout also provide a popular venue for private wedding ceremonies.

Location

Pacific Drive, Port Macquarie

Suitability

Outdoor venue

Parking

Limited street parking

Amenities

20 seat picnic table, 4 seat picnic table

Toilets

No public toilets available
 

6.    Tacking Point Lighthouse

Lookout at Tacking Point in Port Macquarie NSW

A little about the venue

The Tacking Point Lighthouse (together with Tacking Point Surf Life Saving Club) offer magnificent views of Lighthouse Beach and surrounding areas.

What makes the venue special?

This is another favourite vantage point to spot whales as it's the furthest easterly position on our Port Macquarie coastline. The many viewing areas give you access to see far south and spot those whales approaching on their northern migration.

Tacking Point Lighthouse is Australia's thirteenth oldest lighthouse. It was built on a rocky headland about 8 kilometres south of Port Macquarie in 1879 by Shepherd and Joseph William Mortley, to a design by the New South Wales Colonial Architect, James Barnet. It is operated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and is classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW).

Tacking Point was named by explorer Matthew Flinders in 1802 during his 1802/1803 circumnavigation of Australia. Its nearest lighthouses are Smoky Cape Lighthouse at South West Rocks to the north, and Crowdy Head Lighthouse to the south.

Location

Matthew Flinders Drive, Lighthouse Beach, Port Macquarie

Parking

Limited off street parking

Amenities

Seating available

Toilets

No public toilets available at Tacking Point Lighthouse, but they are located at nearby Lighthouse Beach.

 

Camden Haven

About 45 minutes south of Port Macquarie, in the Camden Haven area is Kattang Nature Reserve, which is accessed via Laurieton and across Dunbogan Bridge. Here you will find the majestic Perpendicular Point with its spectacular vertical cliffs plummeting 40 metres to the sea below. The reserve is surrounded by rock platforms, with the Camden River estuary to the north. The Flower Bowl Circuit (2kms) is an easy walk with stunning coastal views or try the Perpendicular Point Walk (3.6km return) with panoramic views.

 

Need some more inspiration?

Pick up a copy of our latest free discover magazine locally (look out for the stunning whale tail cover captured by local photographer Jodie Lowe):

Discover Winter 2018

For more info on public spaces, go to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's interactive map

Check out these other pages on our website:

Whale Watching

Our Region

At the Beach

Eating and Drinking

Things to Do

Or connect with us on Facebook or Instagram:
 

Author: Discover Media Australia
About: Locally owned and operated by local husband and wife Andrew and Lucy Kowalewski, Discover Media Australia (DMA) is your go-to for tourism advertising and marketing.
Tags: Things to Do Whale Watching Coastal Walks

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