Whale watching

Whale watching Phillip Island and surrounds

Looking forward to see whales around Phillip Island but you’re not sure where to look for them? Have you seen a whale but you’re not sure how to share your sighting?

Here are some tips to help you spot whales:

From May to October humpback whales and southern right whales can be seen along the Victorian coastline.

Whale sightings in the area are often posted on several Facebook pages: Two Bays Whale Project, Phillip Island Whale Watchers, and Wildlife Coast Cruises.

Most updates are near to real time and often include tips on where the whales could be seen from. For your best chance of seeing whales, keep an eye out on these Facebook pages and be ready to grab your binoculars and head out to the lookouts to spot the whales yourselves.

Remember to look after the coastal environment by watching out for wildlife on the roads, and by keeping to the tracks. If you’re lucky to see whales, please share your sighting by reporting you sighting on ‘PodWatch’ https://www.dolphinresearch.org.au/report-sightings-page/ or call Wildlife Coast Cruises on 1300 763 739.

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

Whale discovery trail brochure

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.

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 check website for details.

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