Whale watching

Whale watching Phillip Island and surrounds

May to August 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.

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

For the latest sightings you can check the Whale Sightings 2016 Google Map for the Phillip Island region or check with the Phillip Island Visitor Information Centre at Newhaven.

Latest sightings Phillip Island and Surrounds

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 of Cowes or San Remo jetty.

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 Winter Whale Cruise runs on Saturdays and Sundays, departing Cowes at 9.30am and returning at 1.30pm. Cruises operate June to 7th August. 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 Wild Oceans EcoBoat Adventure Tours run for 60 and 90 minutes.

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

whale watching from land sites on Phillip Island


Video Link to Seven News Story on Whale Migration at Phillip Island Saturday 18th July 2015