If you’ve lived in Sydney long enough, chances are you have a few treasured whale watching memories. It’s one of the many things the city is blessed with and a winter activity Sydneysiders excitedly look forward to. From May to November each year, more than 40,000 humpback and southern right whales make their way along Sydney’s coastline as they migrate from Antarctica to the Pacific. While the gorgeous humpback whales are far more common in our waters, if you’re lucky, you can catch a glimpse of other species like orcas, blue whales and minke whales.
So grab your woolies and have your cameras at the ready, here are 9 of the very best spots for whale watching in Sydney.
1. Barrenjoey Lighthouse, Palm Beach
Part of the expansive Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, the Barrenjoey Lighthouse sits on the most northerly part of the Palm Beach peninsula in the Northern Beaches. The walk up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse is a pretty short and easy bush walk with amazing views of Palm Beach and its surrounds and endless lookout spots. Once up at the lighthouse, you shouldn’t have much problem spotting whales from 100m above sea level. The walk takes about 30 minutes with moderate level of fitness required.
2. South Head, Watson’s Bay
South Head is popular for it’s ocean cliffs, picturesque lookouts and of course the Insta-famous Hornby Lighthouse. It also provides ample opportunity to spot whales in the colder months. ‘The Gap’ located in the South Head peninsula, is perhaps the best spot to get your whale watching on. You can also climb the 113-metre-tall lighthouse to get a glimpse of the resident humpbacks. Even if you don’t spot a whale, the brilliant ocean views and the scenic South Head Heritage trail walk are sure to make up for it.
3. Cape Solander, Kamay Botany Bay National Park
Located in the Kurnell area of Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Cape Solander is a popular whale watching spot. So much so that they have an exclusive whale watching platform in the area so you don’t have to look very far out to sea to see these majestic ocean creatures as they’ve been known to swim as close to 200m from the coast. If you’re really keen to catch a sighting of the migrating whales, June and July would be your best best.
4. Bondi Beach
Bondi isn’t just about hipster cafes and trendy beach culture. There are a number of whale watching spots in the area, perhaps the most popular of them being the top of the cliffs at Ben Buckler. You can also spot the gentle mammals on the horizon along the Federation Cliff Walk or from the lookout but you’ll need to get as high as possible for the best vantage points.
5. Cape Banks, La Perouse
La Perouse has it all. The iconic Bare Island Fort, epic spots for sunset lovers and lovely little bushwalks scattered around the area. It’s also a pretty underrated location for whale watching. The Cape Banks walking track offers brilliant views over Botany Bay and a chance to spot some whales away from the crowds.
6. North Head, Manly
North Head has so many lookout spots for whale watching you’ll have a hard time settling on one. From Shelly Beach to the paved Fairfax walk, you can catch these glorious creatures in their natural habitat. North Head also offers amazing views across Sydney Harbour National Park towards South Head.
7. Malabar Headland National Park, Maroubra
The Malabar Headland National Park offers rugged bushwalks, coastal views and a number of fishing and whale watching options. The coastal walking track is a brilliant spot to view whales coming up along the coast. Walk along Boora Point or Western Escarpment walking tracks and keep your eyes peeled for whales in the distance. With sprawling ocean views and endless blues around, it’s a fascinating area of the city to visit.
8. The Coast Track, Royal National Park
There’s so much to see and do at the world’s second-oldest national park, you can never really have enough. From sandstone cliffs to waterfalls, it’s a world of its own. In this diverse region of NSW, you can also do a bit of whale watching. Between Bundeena and Otford, enjoy some of the most amazing coastal lookouts from the cliffs. And if you don’t get a sighting of the whales, there is plenty more wildlife to spot like sea eagles, silver gulls, and terns.
9. Long Reef Point, Collaroy
One of the great short walks north of Sydney, there are amazing coastal views, city views, and picturesque golf-course views too. Oh, and there are also a couple of secret beaches to come across as well. This is an absolute gem on the Northern Beaches and a great spot to do some whale watching. If whales are not on the horizon, then don’t forget to explore the rock platform for all kinds of other equally fascinating marine creatures.