From May to December, whales are commonly sighted on their annual migration along the New South Wales coast and it is possible to see them up close from Sydney. Seeing whales up close is a bucket list activity for many people and those who have done it have described it as a deeply moving and a humbling experience.
It is actually possible to see whales not far from Sydney Harbour, and on occasion they have been known to swim and rest in the Harbour itself! Most whales take advantage of a strong ocean current that is only 3 nautical miles (5.6 kilometers) from the NSW coast, which makes it possible to see them quite close to land.
As the southern states of Australia begin to head into winter (from April to August), whales retreat to the warmer waters of the north to breed, only to return south with their calves when the southern ocean begins to warm (from September to December).
Humpback whales have a longer migration season than the southern right whale and are more commonly sighted as they journey up or down the coast. Other whales that you may encounter include minke whales, killer whales (orcas) and pilot whales. Pods of common or bottlenose dolphins can often be spotted playing in and around Sydney Harbour as well.
A Sydney whale watching tour will take you past and beyond the sights of Sydney Harbour and close to the migrating whales. While whale sightings are never 100% guaranteed, you’ll still get to experience one of the world’s most beautiful harbors and see the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the city skyline and the many other attractions that make this harbor city so appealing.
Other population locations to go whale and dolphin spotting in the Sydney region include the fishing village and beach resort of Port Stephens and Nelson Bay in the north and the stunning wilderness area of Jervis Bay to the south.