Ever wondered why everyone raves about whale watching in Jervis Bay? Well, our resident writer Amii partnered up with Jervis Bay Wild Cruises to see if it’s really worth the hype.
If you are planning a trip to the NSW South Coast then be sure to check out our full guide on Things to do in Jervis Bay. With the whitest sand beaches in the world, a trip to Jervis Bay will certainly make you feel like you’re a world away from Sydney. If you’re interested, you can pre-book your Jervis Bay whale watching tour.
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What makes whale watching in Jervis Bay special?
Most places along the New South Wales coastline offer whale watching cruises that go into the open ocean to catch a glimpse of a whale.
But with a Jervis Bay whale watching cruise, you are sheltered from the ocean in the stunning bay’s 120 square meter calm waters.
This means the boat tour is a lot calmer and it’s easier to spot humpback whales chilling in the bay area and teaching their calves to breach and dive. Just imagine the photos you could capture on a Jervis Bay whale watching tour?!
Best time to go whale watching in Jervis Bay
Whales migrate from their feeding grounds in the cold waters of Antarctica to their breeding grounds in the warmer waters off Australia’s coastline. The annual migration starts around May and they make their way back in November.
The best time to spot migrating humpback whales off Jervis bay’s dramatic coastline is between June and August when most whales have made it to our shores.
What to bring whale watching in Jervis Bay
As it is Winter, there are several things you should bring with you on a whale watching cruise:
Even though the Jervis bay Wild Tour mostly stay in the shelter of the bay, it can still be very cold on the deck of the boat. I recommend wearing a warm jumper and weatherproof coat so you can spend as much time whale watching rather than warming up on the inside deck.
If you have climatized as much as I have then the Winters here are very cold and my little ears can get numb, especially in the wind when the boat is travelling faster.
If you are holding your phone poised for spotting whales, your hands may feel a little numb so pack some gloves and you will be prepared to get your perfect shot.
Jervis Bay Wild Tours stick to calm waters but it can still be choppy. Make sure you wear sensible flat shoes so you can safely stand and walk about the deck.
Sunglasses and Sunscreen
Most expats likely never had to worry about sunscreen in the Winter in their home countries, but in Australia you do. Believe it or not, we caught the sun on an overcast cold Winter’s day when we went on the Jervis bay wild tour.
Whether it’s on your phone or a high-tech DSLR, you will want to have a camera ready to capture the majestic humpback whales if you are lucky enough to get up close in the Jervis Bay Marine Park.
I’m pretty lucky that I don’t suffer from seasickness but if you do, make sure you take your medication or candied ginger or peppermints so you can just enjoy the tour
I would add that I joined the 10:30 am tour so I had a fresh coffee for energy and warmth before boarding. However, I was pleasantly surprised that Jervis bay Wild offered free complimentary tea and coffee throughout the tour.
What was the experience actually like?
The Jervis Bay whale watching tour is an unforgettable experience, even on a cloudy day the pristine waters and spectacular views are amazing. I had an awesome cruise and was lucky enough to have a whale sighting four times, spot bottlenose dolphins and a cute penguin!
I will walk you through my tour with Jervis Bay Wild.
Boarding the boat
Jervis Bay Wild take off from Portside Cafe in Huskisson Harbour. There is 2-hour free parking on the wharf (the tour lasts for 2 hours) and plenty of cafes to grab breakfast before the tour. The boarding queue and service desk are well signposted and the boat crew scan your QR code emailed ticket before boarding.
Secret tips while onboard the boat
The Jervis Bay Wild boat is quite large with 4 seating areas, the back, inside the main area, the front deck and a tiered seating deck up the front to provide the best views.
Top Tip: The majority of people run to the front of the boat to be the first to spot a whale and it can get crowded. I would recommend staying at the back section of the boat as you can see uninterrupted views from both sides and the back. When the captain sees a whale, they tend to get closer and then turn the boat sideways to keep a respectable distance. So if you are less crowded at the back of the boat, you will have more chance of getting a prime position next to the barrier.
The tour was sold out and there were around 90 people on the boat but it did not feel packed, especially at my favourite position at the back of the boat which we shared with only 8 other people. Inside the main cabin, you will find a complimentary tea and coffee station plus a bar to buy other soft drinks or snacks like chips and biscuits.
The Beautiful Whales
We were lucky enough to see four whales on the tour and it was incredible! What I loved about Jervis Bay Wild is that the boat crew would explain on the loudspeaker how they are tracking a whale. They would spot a whale’s blow in the distance and watch the direction and speed it moves and then try to match the same knot speed and direction with the boat. They explained there are normally between 4 and 7 minutes before humpback whales come back up for a breath so would ask us to watch for the blow and try to get closer.
Anywhere along the New South Wales coast, you can see the humpback highway and might spot the blow and then a fin in the distance. But with the Jervis Bay whale watching, you can get up close without having to endure choppy waters. We were so close to one that a child shouted ‘mummy, the whale has been scratched’ as we could see a big scratch on the side when it breached.
Since moving to Australia, I’ve always been in awe of the majestic humpback whales that migrate every year and get so excited when I spot one.
On the boat, you feel everyone shares that excitement and heads turn whenever someone gasps or shouts ‘wow’!
Expect to see dolphins as well!
Jervis Bay Wild also offers dolphin watch cruises but we were lucky enough to see six extremely playful dolphins! Jervis bay marine park has over 80 resident bottlenose dolphins so whichever tour you book, you are sure to spot one.
The six we saw kept swimming under the boat and jumping out of the water. The pristine waters in the bay meant you could see them under the water before they even jumped which was amazing. Dolphins really love to put on a show. There’s a reason this line is in Finding Nemo; “Oh, Look at me, I’m a flipping little dolphin. Let me flip for you”.
At one point when everyone was quietly waiting for the whale to appear again, we heard a sharp cry from the water. The captain explained it was a fairy penguin out feeding and sure enough we saw the cute little penguin head pop up out of the water! Bowen Island in Jervis Bay National park is home to around 10,000 little fairy penguins and you can often see them swimming in the bay at feeding time.
Jervis bay is also home to a lot of other marine life like fur seals, sharks, rays and bird life you can see all year round. The company we went with also offer the super popular Jervis Bay Passage Tour that takes you to the remarkable sea cliffs and through ancient sea caves so you don’t just have to wait for the annual whale migration to do a boat tour!
The Jervis Bay whale watching tour lasted two hours but with all the excitement, I felt like it flew by. I would one hundred per cent recommend whale watching in Jervis Bay, especially if you are prone to seasickness, this could be calmer than going on a cruise from Sydney.
I was in Jervis Bay on a camping trip and would recommend the Holiday Haven White Sands campsite as it is right next to Huskisson beach. You can wake up for sunrise and walk one minute from your camper to the beach and see the stunning bay turn red, pink then orange and we even spotted a whale snoozing!
We ate breakfast at the heritage Huskisson Bakery and Cafe before the tour. Let’s be honest, one of the best things about travelling around Australia is the cute little bakeries in every town, it’s a requirement to try every sausage roll and pie right?
And don’t forget to check out our popular guide, 25 Best Things To Do In Jervis Bay. In this guide, we share the best Jervis Bay beaches, dolphin watching tours, national parks and so much more to visit on your next trip to the South Coast.
Jervis Bay Whale Watching Tour
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This article is written by Amii Freeman, our resident writer at Londoner In Sydney.
Hi I’m Amii! I’m from Darlington in the North East of England. I moved from London to Sydney in 2019 for a slower pace and to be by the coast, without having to give up my love of cities. My passion is in film and TV, I screen-write and act as much as I can. In my spare time I love trying new food, exploring new places, kayaking, hiking and cycling.Follow me on Instagram @amiifreeman!