As the colder weather kicks in around Adelaide, the list of things most people want to do outside dwindles. But the exciting news is that Whale Watching season has begun! From late May right up until October Southern Right whales return to the shores around Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor area.
Only an hour’s drive from Adelaide, the southern Fleurieu Peninsula is a whale watcher’s paradise so get some warm clothes, some binoculars and head down for a day’s whale watching with the family.
The first arrivals in Encounter Bay are usually expected in mid-May, and are eagerly awaited by whale watchers who hope to catch a glimpse of the huge beasts from atop the cliffs, beaches and headlands of the area’s stunning coastline.
Thousands of visitors flock to the seaside resort town of Victor Harbor, keeping staff at the SA Whale Centre’s Information Booth very busy fielding their enquiries. In some years, the whales have attracted up to 400,000 people to the area over the winter months.
The SA Whale Centre has an online Whale Sighting Log giving visitors details of when and where the whales are before they get to the area and the best places to sight them. The Centre located in Victor Harbor is currently closed for major renovations but the whale sighting log is still being maintained. They also have some great tips for where to spot whales, how to identify them and what the different whale behaviours mean.
For example, did you know that a whale breaches for a number of reasons which can be to communicate, dislodge parasites, get a higher view, drive off predators or just play. Humpback whales can actually clear their entire body out of the water! Amazing to see!
One of our KiA families lives down in Victor Harbor and Matty has shared his favourite spots to spot whales below.
The Bluff Encounter Bay
The Bluff at Encounter Bay gives you one of the best vantage points for whale watching. The walk to the top isn’t too strenous and can be easily done by families. At the top you get a 360 degree view over the whole bay which is perfect to spot the migrating Southern Right Whales. Pack your binoculars and walking shoes and if you are lucky you might get to see a Humpback whale as well. No toilets here, but there are cafes on the esplanade just before you reach The Bluff car park.
Nakurami Kondoli (whale lookout) Encounter Bay
This look out is located at the end of Kings Beach Road in Encounter Bay. It’s a newly built platform and has a walking trail back towards the bluff. To the right of the platform is part of the Heysen trail, which takes you to Kings Head which has some stunning cliff views. This one is a great place to stop for some whale watching on the family walk.
Freeman Lookout Port Elliot
Freemans Lookout is definitely one of our favourite spots for whale watching, not only are there frequent sightings the lookout itself has seats, a telescope and information boards. There are also cafes not too far away in Port Elliot so perfect for that before or after whale watching coffee.
Bashams Beach Middleton
Bashams Beach is located in Middleton and is one of the popular spots locals go to look for whales. It’s got a great viewing platform with binoculars and is part of the whale nursery so whales and their calves are often spotted here. Theres also a toilet here and the encounter bike way passes this spot so it’s a great spot to stop off on the family bike ride.
Hayward Court McCracken
One of our favourite spots to whale watch is on Hayward Court in McCracken. This spot is stunning and overlooks the Bay in Victor and Olivers Reef (which is one of our favourite spots for rockpools, click here to read that post). We also love this spot as the whales are known for coming in close here which makes for some amazing photos.
The SteamRanger passes between the grassed area and the beach so not only is it a great spot for the whales, it’s also awesome for watching the trains. You do need to cross the train tracks to get down to the beach though so kids need to be supervised.
Petrel Cove Encounter Bay
Petrel Cove is one of the most popular hot spots for whale watching in the Victor Harbor region. Not only is this spot great for whale watching, it’s also the start of the encounter bikeway and part of the Victor Harbor Heritage Trail which is a family friendly 1.7km walk from Petrel Cove to Kings Beach Road.
The Whale Centre’s Information Booth, website and Whale Information Hotline on 1900 WHALES or 1900 942 537 all offer the latest updates on sightings in Encounter Bay and across the state. Whale watchers can also collect a free Whale Information Booklet from the Centre during the season, which includes a detailed map of Encounter Bay to help locate the whales quickly.
Or if you’re after something up close and personal check out Big Duck Boat Tours who offer a 90-minute Southern Ocean Adventure Tour that departs from the Granite Island Causeway.