FEW SIGHTS ARE AS AWE-INSPIRING AS THE MIGRATION OF SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALES. DISCOVER THE BEST EXPERIENCES TO CATCH A GLIMPSE OF OR EVEN GET UP CLOSE TO OUR OCEAN’S GENTLE GIANTS IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA.
With some of the best whale watching spots right here in South Australia, find out where to see them from June to September and what whale watching tours will get you up close and personal on Kangaroo Island, the Fleurieu Peninsula and the Eyre Peninsula.
1. Kayak next to whales with EP Cruises, the Great Australian Bight, Eyre Peninsula
Imagine paddling next to majestic whales as the sun sets over the ocean. Sounds like a dream, right? Head to the Eyre Peninsula, a quick 90-minute flight from Adelaide to Ceduna and discover one of the most unique whale watching experiences in Australia with EP Cruises. Departing from Fowlers Bay, less than two hours from Ceduna, you’ll venture out into the stunning bay on kayak at sunset or sunrise with an experienced local guide. Chances are, you’ll be joined on this once-in-a-lifetime experience by some of the biggest names on the Eyre Peninsula, Southern Right Whales, as you kayak around the bay.
2. Kangaroo Island Ocean Safari, Kangaroo Island
The waters surrounding Kangaroo Island are always brimming with wildlife and come May to October, Southern Right Whales join the local marine life on their annual migration. Hop aboard Kangaroo Island Ocean Safari for a spectacular 75-minute coastal and wildlife tour visiting places like Dolphin Cove, Kangaroo Head and Snapper Point. See whales set against the magnificent ancient coastline from the comfort of a Gemini Waverider that carries up to 12. You’ll also spot dolphins, seals and seabirds as you cruise around the island.
3. Big Duck Boat Tours, Victor Harbor
Just an hour south of Adelaide lies one of the best whale watching spots in Australia, Victor Harbor. Jump on the 90-minute Southern Ocean Adventure Tour with Big Duck Boat Tours and spot whales, seals, sea lions and dolphins set against the picturesque Fleurieu Peninsula coastline. Departing from the iconic Granite Island Causeway, voyage through the waters between the mainland and the island before stopping at Seal Bay to see New Zealand Fur Seals and Australian Sea Lions lounging in the sun. Venture further and pass by Wright island, the Bluff, Shark Alley and the spectacular cliff coastline of Kings Beach and Waitpinga as you learn about the whaling history of the area. Seabirds abound in this remote area and pods of Common and Bottlenose Dolphins can often be spotted playing or feeding. From June to September, there’s a good chance you’ll catch a glimpse of Southern Right Whales as they migrate from Antarctica to the warm waters of Encounter Bay.
Back on solid ground in Victor Harbor you’ll also find some of the best vantage points in South Australia to watch the annual whale migration. Top spots include The Bluff, Encounter Bay and Freeman Lookout further on in neighbouring Port Elliot.
4. Untamed Escapes, Eyre Peninsula
Experience every aspect of the Eyre Peninsula in style as it becomes home to up to 120 whales on a three-day whale extravaganza with Untamed Escapes. Departing from Adelaide, join your small group of up to 10 other travelers as you board a flight for Ceduna - the closest town to South Australia's Head of Bight. Before long you will be witnessing this natural wonder from water level with a two hour sea cruise, then returning to land and checking into your beachfront villa accommodation. Day two will see you ticking off some bucket list items - travelling along the famous Bunda Cliffs (the world's longest stretch of uninterrupted sea cliffs) and stopping for your mandatory Nullarbor roadhouse selfie. By this point you would have seen the whales by water and by land, but day two is your opportunity to take to the skies and truly experience their migration from all angles. Day three will see you taste test the best that the Seafood Frontier has to offer, stopping in at Oyster haven Smoky Bay before dipping your hands below the waterline to pluck and shuck your own lunch.
5. Chinta Air Tours, Eyre Peninsula
Take to the skies and see Southern Right Whales like never before at one of the world’s most renowned whale-spotting locations. After a quick 90-minute flight from Adelaide to Ceduna, journey three hours by car to the beautiful Head of Bight and jump on a scenic flight with Chinta Air. You’ll travel over breathtaking rugged coastline and be stunned by the sheer scale of the Bunda Cliffs before flying right over the Great Australian Bight Marine Park where whales and their calves can be found frolicking in the waters below. Southern Right Whales migrate to the region between June and September every year to birth and rear their young, making for some magical wildlife encounters. Departing from the Nullarbor Roadhouse, tour options range from 20 minutes to a full hour.
6. Australian Coastal Safaris, Eyre Peninsula
Explore the Eyre Peninsula and visit some of the best whale spotting locations in South Australia on a five-day wildlife adventure with Australian Coastal Safaris. Whales, dolphins, sea lions, fur seals, white-bellied sea eagles, little penguins and rare species of albatross are some of the incredible wildlife to be spotted on the first stop of this tour with an ocean cruise across picture perfect Fowlers Bay. You’ll even have opportunity to eves-drop on the giants of the deep as a hydrophone is dropped over the side of the boat to listen to the chatter of humpback whales. Next stop is Head of Bight, where you’ll see Southern Right Whales frolicking in the shallows, before venturing further to Bunda Cliffs for another opportunity to witness the whale migration as well as stunning views of the awe-inspiring 120-metre-high limestone cliffs formed more than 65 million years ago. Journey to the bottom of the Eyre Peninsula where even more wildlife and natural wonders await as you explore Port Lincoln National Park, Smoky Bay, Perlubie Beach, Streaky Bay, Point Labatt, Murphy’s Haystacks, Talia Caves and Elliston and more.
7. Head of Bight Interpretive Centre, Eyre Peninsula
One of the most popular places to see these gentle 90-tonne giants of the sea is at Head of Bight on the Eyre Peninsula. Journey to the iconic Nullarbor and discover the Head of Bight Interpretive Centre and the most significant nursery ground for Southern Right Whales in the world. At the height of whale season, up to 100 whales can be spotted in the waters of Head of Bight at any one time, with 170 whales including 68 calves passing through these waters in 2018 alone. Follow a cliff-top boardwalk to a viewing platform from where migrating whales can be seen in the deep blue waters below. Bring your binoculars for a better look.
8. South Australian Whale Centre, Fleurieu Peninsula
Come winter, the picturesque seaside town of Victor Harbor draws nature lovers from all over to catch a glimpse Southern Right Whales on their annual migration. Victor Harbor is also home to the South Australian Whale Centre, a hands-on interactive centre where you can learn all about the giants of the deep and get whale watching tips from the local experts. Located in a heritage-listed railway building, the centre brings together a unique collection of historic treasures and marine, cultural, and aboriginal heritage displays.
While you’re in town, pack your binoculars and take a self-guided tour to spot mothers and calves at The Bluff and Encounter Bay. Starting at Horseshoe Bay, head across the headland to Knights Beach where you'll find the Harbour Master's walk. Follow a cobblestone path past Lady's Beach, Rocky Bay and Green Bay before reaching Knights Beach. From here, take a trail to Freemans Lookout where you'll experience some of the region's best whale watching. Other areas along the coast for whale spotting include Port Elliot and Middleton.
Dreaming of more aquatic adventures? From diving with sharks from the safety of a cage to splashing with playful sea lions without in the wild, dive into the top 8 swimming safaris in South Australia.