Whale watching guide to Merimbula and the Sapphire Coast of NSW
The Sapphire Coast of NSW has been called an unspoilt Coastal Wilderness for good reason. There are miles of unspoilt beaches and thousands of acres of national park along the coastline. This makes for an unforgettable encounter with nature. This is a short guide to whale watching based in Merimbula and the Sapphire Coast.
One of the biggest natural migrations occurs on the ocean off the East Coast of Australia: Every year, the “Humpback Highway” sees up to 30,000 humpback whales to migrate firstly up to the warm waters of the Barrier Reef where their calves are born; then the southern migration begins back down to the Antarctic. On their way south with their young calves, the humpbacks stay close to the east coast, often visiting the many bays and sheltered waters along the way.
The Sapphire Coast of NSW from Bermagui down to Eden in NSW with its many extended cliffs and headlands protruding out into the ocean, brings this spectacle in close to nature lovers and whale-spotters along the coast. This stretch of coastline is one of the only areas on the East Coast where you can witness whales feeding before their trek south to the Antarctic. The many headlands and elevated viewpoints along the Sapphire Coast offer some of the best land-based whale spotting available in Australia.
Spectators are treated to incredible aerial displays as these huge creatures (up to 40 tons in weight!) launch themselves out of the water, only to be copied by their calves in competition. Other antics include pec-slapping and tail-flapping, sometimes heard clearly from the shore!
Whale Watching Season
The main whale watching season for the Southern Migration is August to November, however recently they have been spotted as early as mid-July. The season peaks at the end of October, with the whale watching Festival in Eden.
Whale Watching From Land
There are many vantage points to spot whales along the Sapphire Coast, ranging from Bermagui, down to Tathra, Merimbula, Eden and Green Cape near the Victorian border.
Merimbula, known as the heart of the Sapphire Coast, is a perfect central location to explore the many land whale watching locations in the area. Some of the most ideal whale watching vantage points are within easy walking distance from our Cabins.
For an interactive map to check our land vantage points, click here http://www.sapphirecoast.com.au/directory/?mk=whale-watching-location
The first is either directly from our front lawn at Beach Cabins Merimbula or at the end of Short Point. Our elevated position allows you to see the whales at Short Point Beach or passing the headlands of Tura Beach and Short Point.
The second is a large viewing platform at the end of Long Point. You can access either via an easy 2 Km walk from our Cabins or a short walk from the end of Cliff St.
The third vantage point is from The Wharf Restaurant and Aquarium the views from here overlooking the bay towards Pambula are excellent and there are often sightings of whales close in.
Best time of the day for land-based whale watching
Early mornings and later in the afternoon are good times for spotting whales from land as there is less glare on the water. Also, on the East coast the morning sun lends a hand by backlighting the "blow" from the whales as they come up for air.
Whale Watching Cruises
To get right up close to these magnificent mammals; you could also go on one of the whale watching
- Cat Balou Cruises which operates out of the wharf in Eden
- Or you can hop on a boat at Merimbula Marina.
The benefit of these cruises is that the whales are relatively close to shore. You should encounter whales within a very short space of time once out through the heads.