Whale Watching Central Coast

Humpback Whale

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The Central Coast has around 60km of ocean coastline, so plenty of vantage points offer excellent views of whales during their migration.

Find out below everything there is to know about whale watching on the Central Coast:

  • When is the best time to see whales
  • What whale species you may see
  • Where are the best places to spot whales
  • Which Central Coast cruises offer whale watching experiences

Best Time of Year to See Whales

Humpback Whale

Mid June to mid July is the absolute best time to see whales on the Central Coast. 

The ocean looks like a humpback highway and that's when you see the best acrobatic displays.

Here's the complete timeline of their migration: 

Between May and November, thousands of whales travel along the east coast of Australia.

From mid May to July, these majestic creatures migrate north from the Antarctic waters to warmer waters to mate and give birth.

At the beginning, very few whales go by. But their number builds up day by day and by the end of June, hundreds of whales pass the coastline each day.

Humpback Whale

In August, the last whales migrate north and some whales are starting to return south. 

From September to mid November, whales including mothers and calves migrate south. 

During the southern migration, whales are far away from the coastline because they follow the southerly currents further offshore.

But mothers and calves are usually close to the coast.

Is whale watching better in the morning or afternoon? There are no general rules – every day is different.

What Whale Species You May See

Most whales you see off the Central Coast coastline are humpback whales.

Humpback whales are the main species of whale migrating past the coast – and they're the most entertaining!

You can, though to a much lesser extent, spot southern right whales. Minke whales are also there but are elusive.

Very rarely you may spot blue whales and orcas.

Top Spots for Whale Watching on the Central Coast 

Enjoy whale watching from one of these great viewing platforms: 

1. Crackneck Lookout

whale-watching-central-coast-crackneck-lookout

Crackneck lookout in Bateau Bay is an ideal location to see whales.

There are great ocean views east and north toward Shelly Beach and The Entrance.

It’s a perfect spot to picnic and spend an hour or two.

The lookout is spacious and has a large grassy area, sitting benches and picnic tables. You can lay a picnic rug on the lawn and chill.

After spotting whales and picnicking, enjoy a bushwalk along The Coast Walking Track to Bateau Bay (2km) or Forresters Beach (1.5km). The walking track traverses Crackneck Lookout.

Wheelchair Accessibility: Medium access. Assistance may be required.

Dogs: Not allowed.

Nearest cafe: Local Hero Coffee Brewers, 562B The Entrance Rd, Bateau Bay. 2km from Crackneck Lookout.

Getting to Crackneck Lookout

Crackneck Lookout is located in Bateau Bay in Wyrrabalong National Park. 

You can drive directly to the lookout. There are many free parking spots. Crackneck Lookout is right beside the carpark.

GPS coordinates: -33.393851, 151.482508. Check directions on Google Maps.

2. Captain Cook Lookout

Whale Watching Central Coast - Captain Cook Lookout

Captain Cook Lookout in Copacabana provides some of the best whale-watching experiences.

You can be sure to spot whales here, particularly if you visit in June or July.

The views of the coastline are stunning. You can see all the way to Terrigal to the north and Macmasters Beach to the south.

Wheelchair / Pram Accessibility: The north-facing Winney Bay Lookout is next to the carpark and is wheelchair accessible. But the best whale-watching views are from Captain Cook Lookout, which is at the top of some stairs.

Dogs: Not allowed.

The nearest cafe: Artie's Place at Copacabana Surf Life Saving Club, Copacabana Surf Life Saving Club, Del Monte Pl.

Getting to Captain Cook Lookout

Follow Del Monte Pl in Copacabana to the top of the headland and take the turn-off between houses 107 and 109.

There's free parking, but it can sometimes get packed in the peak season. You'll be able to find parking a bit further along the street.

The viewing platform is a few metres from the carpark at the top of some stairs.

GPS coordinates: -33.487638, 151.443707. Check directions on Google Maps.

3. Gerrin Point Lookout

whale-watching-central-coast-gerrin-point-lookout

Gerrin Point Lookout is situated along the Bouddi Coastal Walk.

The lookout provides terrific ocean views. A great spot for whale watching.

To the left, you can also see the beautiful Maitland Bay beach in Bouddi National Park.

Gerrin Point Lookout is fairly small and can get busy when many bushwalkers are out enjoying a walk. So best go there mid-week and avoid the school holidays if you prefer a quiet spot.

But plenty of spots along the walk also offer excellent views. 

Wheelchair / Pram Accessibility: Not accessible.

Dogs: Not allowed.

Nearest cafe: Killcare Beach Kiosk at Killcare Surf Life Saving Club. 81 Beach Dr, Killcare.

Getting to Gerrin Point Lookout

Gerrin Point Lookout is a 1.3km stroll from Putty Beach along a boardwalk. There are stairs to climb at the start, but the rest of the walk is easy.

Park at the end of Putty Beach Rd in Killcare Heights. Parking is $8 for the day (National Park fees).

GPS coordinates: -33.528297, 151.373822. Check directions on Google Maps.

4. Terrigal Haven

whale-watching-central-coast-terrigal-haven

Terrigal Haven is an ideal place for whale watching and enjoying some eating and shopping too. Boutique shops, cafes and restaurants are located a few metres away in Terrigal.

The best spot to see whales is at The Skillion.

The Skillion is a steep cliff that faces the ocean. There's a lookout on top with amazing coastal views.

You can climb stairs to get to the top or walk on the lawn.

Wheelchair / Pram Accessibility: Not accessible. 

Dogs: On the leash. There's also an off-leash area around the headland beside the Skillion.

Nearest cafe: Cove Cafe at Terrigal Haven. There are plenty more cafes in town a short walk away.

Getting to Terrigal Haven

Terrigal Haven is located in Terrigal. There are many free parking spots.

GPS coordinates: -33.447962, 151.450754. Check directions on Google Maps.

5. Norah Head Lighthouse

Whale Watching Central Coast Norah Head Lighthouse

Norah Head Lighthouse in Norah Head is one of the best vantage points to watch the whales go by.

The lighthouse was built in 1903 and is now a relaxing place to visit.

Besides whale watching, you can tour the lighthouse and have a stroll.

Enjoy walking along the beach and through the nature reserve. Like surfing? The beautiful Soldiers Beach is metres away.

Wheelchair / Pram Accessibility: The walkway along the lighthouse is paved and wheelchair accessible. There are also toilets.

Dogs: On the leash.

Nearest cafe: General Store Norah Head at 8 Bush St.

Getting to Norah Head Lighthouse

Located at 40 Bush St in Norah Head. There’s a large, designated free carpark.

GPS coordinates: -33.282370, 151.573842. Check directions on Google Maps.

6. Bouddi National Park Side Trails

whale-watching-central-coast-bouddi-national-park-side-trails

Want to see whales somewhere isolated without too many people around?

Secluded viewing spots are situated on three headlands in Bouddi National Park. But some bushwalking, albeit easy, is required to get there.

Sidetracks along the Bombi Moor Firetrail lead to headlands with some of the best spots for whale watching.

The trails are exposed, so it's a nice, warm walk in winter when the sun is out.

The Third Point Trail is the first trail you come across along the Bombi Moor Firetrail. The 81 Trail is the second, and the 78 Trail is the last.

Follow any side tracks to the cliff line (watch out for the cliff edge).

Wheelchair / Pram Accessibility: No wheelchair or pram access.

Dogs: Not allowed.

Nearest cafe: Looloo's Coffee Shack at Macs, 675 The Scenic Rd, MacMasters Beach.

Getting to Bouddi National Park Side Trails

Drive to the end of Grahame Dr in Macmasters Beach. There's plenty of free parking.  

From the carpark, follow the Old Quarry Trail. After one kilometre, you'll see the Bombi Moor Firetrail intersection. Follow the Bombi Moor Firetrail to the left. 

You'll come across the Third Point Trail after 70 metres and the 81 and 78 Trails after 600 metres. 

The total distance there and back is 6.5km (if you walk all three side trails).

GPS coordinates: -33.509778, 151.412340. Check directions on Google Maps.

Whale Watching Cruises - Central Coast

Prefer to join a boat tour to get up close to whales? 

You have two tour options on the Central Coast:

Terrigal Ocean Tours

A family-run business, Terrigal Ocean Tours can take you up close to whales. 

They leave Terrigal Haven daily between May to November. The whales' migration route is close to Terrigal Haven, so it's just a short trip aboard the vessel. 

There's a marine expert on board to answer questions and help identify species. 

Tours go for an hour. 

The minimum age is 5. 

Fantasea Cruising

Fantasea Cruising offers 2.5hr cruises from Palm Beach, with a free transfer from Ettalong Beach across Broken Bay.

They guarantee you'll sight whales and will offer a free return trip if you don't. They state that they spot whales 99% of the time.

The vessels are custom-built, so you get a great viewing area. And the guides are informative.

NRMA Members Save 20% on Whale Watching Cruises.

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