Whale watching

Whale watching Phillip Island and surrounds

May to October is the time when Humpback Whale and Southern Right Whales migrate from Antarctica along the Victorian coastline up north to warmer waters off Queensland for calving, before returning south to Antarctica in Spring.

On Phillip Island and the Bass Coast you have the opportunity to take advantage of land, sea and air based opportunities to view these majestic creatures on their journey.

Whale discovery trail brochure

Did you spot a whale?

Call in your sighting to the Whale Hotline on 0487 745 066, and be part of a long term whale monitoring research project. 

And complete the online form located at REPORT DOLPHIN AND WHALE SIGHTINGS

For the latest sightings you can check the Whale Sightings 2017 Google Map for the Phillip Island region or check with the Phillip Island Visitor Information Centre at Newhaven.

Latest Sightings for Phillip Island

Would you know how to tell the difference between the whales?

Humpback whales (Megaptara novaeangliae) have the characteristic white ventral (under) side, long flippers, a small dorsal (back) fin and a rounded blow. Southern Right whales, on the other hand, are generally black in colour, lack a dorsal fin, have rounded flippers, and have a V-shaped blow. Did you know that the blow was originally called ‘spout’ as people thought they blew out water? The blow appears like water because the warm air is released from the whales’ lungs at high pressure and condenses in the cold air.

Southern Right Whales (Eubalaena australis) are smaller but heavier than the Humpback whales. They are nearly black in color and move slower. They can sometimes be seen in quite shallow waters within  100 metres from the coast.

Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) occasionally visit the waters around Phillip Island as seals make up an important part of their diet. These whales are the fastest swimmer of all the cetaceans and can reach speeds of more than 50km/h while hunting.

Guide to identifying whales

guide to identifying whales - tony pyrzakowski illustration

Viewing opportunities

Take to the water

Join Wildlife Coast Cruises on their Winter Whale Cruises for a chance to see and learn more about these majestic creatures.

The 4-hour Winter Whale Cruises run on departing Cowes at 9.30am.  Check website for latest timetable.

Bring a pair of binoculars and a warm jacket, and see if you can spot a whale or two. As well as searching for the great whales, whale watchers will have a very high chance of seeing playful dolphins and will also visit Seal Rocks to enjoy the spectacle of thousands of fur seals frolicking, gaze at beautiful sea birds like the shy albatross with its awe inspiring 2.5 metre wingspan and take in the spectacular coastal scenery of Phillip Island including The Nobbies, Pyramid Rock and Cape Woolamai. The cruise includes morning tea and a hearty lunch of soup and sandwiches.

The Wild Oceans EcoBoat Adventure Tour which weaves its way beyond the island’s shores on a high speed tour of the rugged coastline. Adventurers can expect encounters with Australia’s largest fur seal colony at Seal Rocks along with spectacular views of the Summerland Peninsula’s cliffs and the explosive blowhole at The Nobbies. From June through to September, nature lovers will also have the added possibility of a breathtaking close encounter with migrating humpback whales. The 90-minute Wild Oceans EcoBoat Adventure Tour departs daily at 1pm from Cowes.

Take to the air

Phillip Island Helicopters provides scenic flights across the Island and are always on the lookout for migrating whales.

From land

The following points provide good viewing options of the southern coast line and areas where whales migrate.

Cape Woolamai

Pyramid Rock

Surf Beach

The Nobbies and Summerlands area

whale watching from land sites on Phillip Island