Whilst it’s pretty amazing to see the magnificent creatures up close and personal from a whale watching boat, you don’t actually have to leave the shore to see the Humpbacks in Port Stephens – just ask the locals!
That’s what I did.
Not being a local myself, I was interested to find out where I could spot the whales from the land so I asked around and the locals revealed some sneaky vantage points
- Mt. Tomaree summit– If you haven’t seen the view from the summit of Mt. Tomaree in Shoal Bay you need to stop whatever you’re doing and see it now. Yes, the 30-45 minute walk is a little steep (I don’t know how some people run up and back!) and when you reach the summit your breath is taken away in more ways than one, but I think everyone who has seen the view from the top (and felt the refreshing breeze on their sweaty back) can agree it’s well worth it. If the 360 degree views of the bay, sand dunes, and National Park isn’t enough of a reward, during whale season (May-Nov) there’s a good chance you’ll spot a Humpback (if you aren’t too busy taking selfies). A red face and sweat patches doesn’t make for a good photo, snapchat the whales instead! Tip from a local: “Bring your binoculars. There’s no specific spot to look…just scan the outer waters and be patient. It’s a pretty beautiful spot to sit and wait” – Janelle G.
- Boat Harbour– I didn’t know about this one until a whale-savvy Boat Harbour resident filled me in on a “local secret”. She revealed, “Walk up the headland at the end of Blanch Street. This is a popular viewing spot amongst locals and we see a whale nearly every time and they are usually quite close” – Emma K.
- Birubi Beach– I have only been to Birubi a couple of times but it is one of my favourite beaches in Port Stephens because of its vastness and the dolphins (I’ve seen them nearly every time I’ve been). But according to the locals I should have also been looking for whales! Tip from local: “Quite often I see the whales from the café at Birubi. Just find a nice spot in the sun with a coffee and sit and watch patiently there’s a good chance you’ll see one” – Nat C.
- New Viewing deck at Barry Park – A brand new viewing deck has just been built at Fingal Bay’s Barry Park and I have seen a whale from it already! (I love walks and lookouts).
- How to find it: It’s just a short walk up the hill from Fingal Bay Beach. When you’re almost at the top of the hill, follow the track through the bush to the headland.
- It was such a sunny day when I visited and there were quite a few people out and about, walking along the coastal boardwalk through the trees or having picnics on the grass whilst spotting whales.
- Shoal bay beach– It doesn’t happen very often but I have been told by some shop owners at Shoal Bay that sometimes whales are spotted from the sandy shore. “If you’re lucky you’ll see a mother and calf making their way home between the headlands” – Deb J.