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Where To See Whales On Hamilton Island

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Mon 20 May 2024

During the winter months, you can see whales all throughout the Whitsundays including Hamilton IslandAs one of the most famous islands in the Whitsundays, Hamilton Island attracts all types of travellers. Whether you want adventure, relaxation, luxury, or laid-back island vibes, this idyllic paradise has it all. 

If you're visiting Hamilton Island during the winter months, the presence of whales in the ocean is a huge draw! You can spot these majestic creatures on boat tours, private charters, or even just by whale-watching from the shore. Here is a guide to seeing whales on Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays!

woman in a hat looking over the balcony of a hamilton island resort

When Can You See Whales On Hamilton Island?

Whales come to the Whitsundays every year between June and September, so you can potentially see whales on Hamilton Island at this time! Every winter, thousands of whales leave the cold Antarctic waters and journey up to 10,000km north along Australia's East Coast. The warm, tropical waters of Hamilton Island and the Whitsundays are the perfect place for whales to relax, give birth, and nurse their young. They tend to hang around here for a few months while their babies grow, and then in September they begin the migration back south to return to Antarctica for summer. 

humpback whale tale emerging from the ocean in the whitsundays

Where To See Whales On Hamilton Island

Between June and September while Humpback Whales are nursing their young in the Whitsundays, you can see whales on Hamilton Island from various coastal lookouts or on boats at sea. There are 3 main ways to see whales while you're visiting Hamilton Island: sightseeing from land, joining a boat tour, or hiring a private charter

Boat tours and private charters give you the best chance of seeing whales around Hamilton Island because you'll be out in the whale's habitat! Experienced skippers generally know where to find whales and you can sail past them while you're on the water (keeping a 300m distance of course as per national park regulations). But you can also try to spot them from the land! Note that whales are wild animals and you're never 100% guaranteed a sighting, but just be patient and there is a chance you will spot some.

whale swimming in the ocean around the whitsundays

Best whale-watching locations on Hamilton Island

While staying on Hamilton Island, you may be able to spot whales from a coastal lookout or even from the balcony at your hotel! Whales swim all throughout the turquoise waters of the Whitsundays, so if you just spend some time gazing out to sea you may spot these beautiful creatures breaching or slapping their fins and tails on the surface. 

Accommodations with ocean views give you a convenient vantage point for whale watching on Hamilton Island. Or you can hike to a panoramic lookout point such as Passage Peak, which gives you a much wider view of the ocean. Some people have even reported seeing whales from Catseye Beach, so you can really spot whales from any coastal location around Hamilton Island if you're lucky!

people admiring the views at passage peak lookout on hamilton island

Boat tours from Hamilton Island

Boat tours depart Hamilton Island daily for the Great Barrier Reef, Whitehaven Beach, and other Whitsunday locations. Any tour that takes you out on the water during the winter months has the potential to bring you near some whales! The longer you spend at sea, the more likely you are to see whales. Tours that travel to the Outer Reef or overnight trips from Hamilton Island have ample time on the ocean where you can possibly spot whales during your day's activities. 

Check out our favourite tours from Hamilton Island!

explore vessel cruising over the great barrier reef

Private charters from Hamilton Island

Private charters offer a more customisable experience at sea. There are no formal whale-watching tours from Hamilton Island, so the next best option for those who are determined to see whales is a private charter. Your captain may not be a whale expert, but they will be super knowledgeable about the Whitsundays and its surrounding islands and reefs. You can plan the charter itinerary around whale watching and have a really good chance of spotting marine life! And again, overnight charters give you even more time for cruising the waters and spotting whales. 

travellers relaxing on a private boat charter from hamilton island

What is the best way to see whales when visiting Hamilton Island?

The best way to see whales when visiting Hamilton Island is on a private boat charterYou can spend as long as you want out at sea and cater your itinerary to whale watching. Organised boat tours have a set itinerary, which gives the captain less leeway for going whale watching. And looking for whales on land is harder because you're much further away, and you have to just hope that the whales come close enough to shore for you to spot. That said, there is still a chance of seeing whales on a tour or from Hamilton Island's coastal locations!

But on a private charter, you have much more flexibility for whale watching. You have some influence over the itinerary and the length of the charter, and you have a knowledgeable local skipper guiding your vessel. Tell the crew onboard that you really want to see some whales and they will do their best to find some of these ocean giants in the Whitsunday waters. 

sailboat cruising in the waters past hamilton island whitsundays

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