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10 Things to Know BEFORE Whale Watching in Perth

10 Things to Know BEFORE Whale Watching in Perth

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So you’re ready to see some magnificent marine giants up close, are you? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

Daniel grew up in Perth and whenever we go back to visit his family, we love heading out onto the water to see whales. We are hypnotized by these gentle giants’ grace and beauty and will jump at any opportunity to see them during their epic migration. 

This isn’t a year-round event though. You need to time it just right and make sure you’re well-prepared to make the most out of your whale-watching experience – but don’t worry, we have you covered! We have created this guide with absolutely everything you need to know before going whale watching in Perth from the best tours to what to bring!

1. About Whale Watching in Perth

A whale watching boat sits at distance from a mother and baby humpback whale in Perth
Mother and baby humpback whales!

Before we dive into the details of whale watching in Perth, let’s start with some basic information about the stars of the show: the whales themselves!

Perth is home to a variety of whale species, but the most common ones on whale watching tours are humpback whales. There is also a chance to see blue whales here at certain times of the year along with the occasional orca, southern right whale, sperm whale, beaked whale, or minke whale.

Humpback Whales

Humpback whale in Perth
A humpback!

Every year these magnificent creatures embark on an epic journey from their Antarctic feeding grounds to the warmer waters of Western Australia to breed before heading back again. Over 45,000 humpback whales make the journey here, resulting in the largest humpback whale migration in the world!

Hundreds of humpbacks cover a distance of approximately 5,000 kilometers (3,107 miles), during their migration, with peak sightings off the coast of Perth between September and November. 

Ranging from 13 to 20 meters (39 to 60 feet) in length and weighing 30 to 45 metric tons, humpback whales love to show off their acrobatic skills, including breaching and tail-slapping.

2. When is the Whale Watching Season in Perth?

Humpback whale tail in Perth
How cool is that!

The main whale watching season in Perth occurs from September to December when the humpbacks come by the Perth coast on their way back to Antarctica. This is when you are most likely to witness these amazing creatures in their natural habitat and may even see some mothers with their calves!

Blue whales are much more elusive and may only be seen for a short period between March and May. They head to Perth Canyon to feed during their migration, which is quite far off of Perth’s coast. For this reason, most tour companies don’t offer tours out to see the blue whales, especially because there is a very rare chance of actually seeing one once you get out there!

It is much better to plan to go on a whale watching tour during the humpback season from September to December when you are basically guaranteed to see whales! In fact, the tour we went on had a 100% guarantee that we would see whales or we could book another cruise for free!

Related Read: Perth is also a great location to go swimming with dolphins. You can read all about this incredible experience here!

3. What is the Best Month to go Whale Watching in Perth?

Humpback whale tail Perth
Perfect day for some whale watching!

While you’re likely to spot humpback whales throughout the season from September to December, we think the best time to go is September. During this time, you’re likely to witness humpback whales breaching, tail-slapping, and engaging in other awe-inspiring behaviors. You may also see some southern right whales during this time!

September is also the time when mother whales often swim with their calves, providing a heartwarming sight as you watch them bond and frolic in the ocean. I loved seeing the moms and babies together!

4. What Time of Day is Best for Whale Watching in Perth?

Humpback whale dives down off the costa of Perth
Getting ready to breach!

Most whale watching tour companies in Perth offer multiple departure times, but if you’re looking for the ideal time to embark on your adventure, consider the morning tours. The morning hours not only offer a cooler and more comfortable experience, but we’ve found that the lighting is also better for photography.

Plus, the water tends to be calmer and the whales are more active during the early hours.

5. What are the Best Whale Watching Tours in Perth?

We’ve narrowed it down to the absolute best whale watching tours in Perth options below!

Whale watching tour with FREE professional photos and whale sighting guarantee

A hump back whale arm breaches the water off the coast of Perth
Wow!

Get ready to get up close to these majestic giants on this two-hour whale-watching cruise departing from either Augusta or Perth. The June to August departures are from Augusta (3.5 hours away from Perth), while the September to December departure dates are directly out of Perth. So make sure to double-check that the departure location is correct when you are booking!

We went on the cruise departing from Perth last September and had a blast! The anticipation on the boat was palpable as we set sail and it wasn’t long before we spotted the first humpback in the distance. We saw so many whales on this tour, but the star of the show was the mother humpback who was teaching her newborn calf how to breech. It was such an unforgettable moment to witness!

This tour provides state-of-the-art whale-watching vessels equipped with underwater cameras and hydrophones, so you can see what the whales are doing underwater and even hear them! Hearing the whales communicate with one another was so neat and something we have never experienced on any other whale watching tour.

What we love about this tour is that they not only have a naturalist guide on board but also a photographer to snap fantastic pictures during your tour which are then sent to you afterward. This means you can just be present in the moment and not have to worry about taking any pictures.

Plus there’s a 100% whale sighting guarantee or you can join another cruise for free!

This highly-rated experience (check out all of the 5-star reviews here!) is only $95 AUD. If you’re seeking some luxury, there is an option to upgrade to the Captain’s Lounge for an additional fee. If you’re interested, you can inquire about this through Viator after booking.

Budget-friendly whale watching experience with hotel pick-up and drop-off

Humpback whale blows from its hole on a whale watching tour Perth
So cool!

If you are looking for a fun and affordable whale watching tour from Perth, consider this 2-hour whale-watching experience.

This vessel boasts a capacity for 200 people and features 3 viewing decks, including a comfortable air-conditioned cabin, ensuring that everyone has a front-row seat. What sets this tour apart is its efficiency – the boat is not only spacious but also faster than many other vessels, minimizing travel time and maximizing your time with the whales.

This cruise also has a marine scientist on board, so you can learn all about these gentle giants from a pro! There’s also a whale sighting guarantee so in the rare case you don’t see whales, you can come back again for free

The ticket price includes convenient pickup from select hotels in Perth, making your journey to the whale-watching hub hassle-free. The tour is designed for those seeking an affordable yet unforgettable experience, making it ideal for families, friends, or solo adventurers. It is also a mobility-friendly cruise.

This tour costs $75 AUD, which we think is a great deal for everything it includes. It runs from September to November on select days of the week, so make sure to book in advance to avoid missing out!

Affordable small boat whale watching cruise with transport

Humpback whale spine shows as it swims through the water of Perth
They are so big!

Another popular whale watching cruise from Hillarys Boat Harbor is this 2-hour adventure. It’s also really affordable at only $65 AUD and super convenient with included coach transfers to the harbor. 

This boat is limited to only 80 passengers and the cruises depart at 12:30 pm every day except for Tuesdays and Thursdays from September to mid-November – the perfect time to see some humpbacks!

If you don’t happen to see any whales on your tour (which is pretty rare), this tour has a whale sighting guarantee to return for a free cruise again on a different day.

For an extra $30 AUD, you can upgrade your experience to include entrance to the aquarium too. Your cruise includes live commentary from a certified marine biologist but we feel like you can never learn enough about the ocean, so head over to the aquarium to continue learning and exploring!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

6. Are Perth Whale Watching Tours Eco-Friendly?

Perth Whale
Look at them go!

All of the tours we talked about are offered by tour operators in Perth who have been in business for a long time and are committed to protecting the whales and their habitat. The tours we highlighted are run by Marine Tourism Accredited Businesses.

Many tours also offer live commentary from certified marine biologists. These individuals have dedicated their lives to learning about these fantastic creatures and their natural environment and they are keen on passing on their passion and knowledge.

7. Can you See Other Wildlife on a Whale Watching Tour in Perth?

Humpback whale swims through Perth
So amazing!

These whale watching tours in Perth are not just a time to rendezvous with whales – you might be lucky enough to see other marine life that graces the shores of Western Australia. 

As the boat cuts through the waves, keep your eyes peeled for playful dolphins, who like to surf alongside the vessel. I get so excited every time I get to witness their acrobatic displays!

And don’t forget to look up from the water from time to time. The sky is full of seabirds, from albatrosses to comical seagulls. We learned that when seabirds gather on the water’s surface, there is a good chance that fish are underneath, which marks a potential whale watching spot!

You may encounter seals basking in the sun or bobbing curiously in the water. And in the shallower depths, keep a lookout for the occasional sea turtle gliding through the ocean!

8. Are Whale Watching Tours Suitable for Kids?

A humback whale tail on a whale watching tour in Perth
Oh yeah!

Absolutely! Whale watching tours in Perth are a fantastic family-friendly activity. Kids are guaranteed to be enthralled by the sight of these massive mammals and can learn a lot from the experienced guides on board. 

Some tour operators also provide kid-friendly amenities to ensure a fun and educational experience for children of all ages. If you are traveling with kids, we strongly recommend doing this whale-watching tour and adding on the aquarium visit for a day full of fun ocean activities!

Related Read: If you’re looking for more fun activities to do in Perth, check out these great day trips!

9. What Should You Wear/Bring Whale Watching in Perth?

Perth whale tail in ocean
Fun!

I recommend closed-toe, non-slip shoes as the deck of the boat can get slippery! Sunscreen and a hat are a must. Even if whale watching takes place during the cooler months, you are never safe from the sun down under!

Don’t forget your camera! Whether it’s the majestic breach of a whale or the playful antics of dolphins, having a camera at the ready ensures you capture the magic. Just make sure you don’t drop it, as the crew won’t be jumping in if your phone flies overboard – it’s swimming with the whales now!

Don’t underestimate the ocean breeze either – I like having a light sweater or jacket for the cooler morning air. And I was super glad I brought my sunglasses, as the glare from the water can be quite intense.

Lastly, if you are prone to seasickness like me, make sure you also take some medication with you. The waves can be a bit choppy at times and you don’t want to spend your day feeling sick!

10. Is Whale Watching in Perth Worth It?

A humpback whale tale off the coast of Perth
Yes!

In a word, yes! Whale watching here is an experience unlike any other and one of the best things to do in Perth. The sheer majesty of these gentle giants as they play in the ocean is a sight to behold.

The pristine coastline of Western Australia provides the perfect backdrop for these magnificent creatures, and the memories you’ll create during your whale watching adventure are sure to last a lifetime!

Other Activities to do While You’re in Perth

A rescued penguin on Penguin Island, Perth
A rescued penguin on Penguin Island, Perth
Bailey with a beer at Gage Roads Brewery, Fremantle, WA
Gage Roads is one of my favorite breweries!

Taking a whale watching tour is just one of many fun things we like doing in Perth! This city is Daniel’s hometown, so we know it well! As such, we’ve compiled this list of our top activities.

  • Visit Penguin Island – Penguin Island is just a 45-minute drive from Perth and is home to around 1,200 wild penguins along with nature trails, beaches, and places to swim and snorkel. You’ll need to take a ferry to the island – unless you want to kayak there instead!
  • Rottnest Island – If beautiful secluded beaches, lazy island life, and adorable quokkas sound like the perfect day, exploring Rottnest Island is a must! This island is actually really easy to get to, you can book a 25-minute ferry ride from Perth or take an island tour which includes biking and snorkeling for a full day of adventure. 
  • Learn to surf – Perth is the ideal place for beginner surfers! We recommend Go Surf Perth for classes. If you’re a novice surfer heading out on your own, our favorite beach is Cottesloe. For a bit more of a challenge, one of the most reliable surf breaks is Trigg Beach.
  • Check out an adventure park – Perth is a great destination for adrenaline junkies like me! For the only cable wakeboard park in WA, head to Perth Wake Park. If an amusement park is what you’re looking for, Adventure World has you covered. And to cool off in summer, Outback Splash is the place to be!

Where to Stay in Perth, WA

The Westin Perth hotel room with a view
Photo credit: The Westin Perth

Since there are so many activities in Perth within the CBD (Central Business District), I recommend staying in the heart of the city So, if you need some help narrowing down your options, these are our top picks for each budget range.

The Westin Perth – $$$  

A mix of classy and contemporary, The Westin Perth is the place to stay when you’re looking for a touch of luxury. The prime location in the heart of Perth puts you within walking distance of the trendy Elizabeth Quay area as well as lots of restaurants and cafes. You can also use the hotel’s infinity pool or its signature restaurant run by iconic Australian Chef Guy Grossi.

Rooms at the Westin Perth start at around $400 AUD per night and can be booked online.  

Pensione Hotel Perth – $$ 

A nice mid-range option, the Pensione Hotel Perth is a refurbished boutique hotel with 98 rooms. It’s close to Elizabeth Quay, major shopping centers, the Swan River, and Northbridge. You’ll feel like you’re stepping into the 1960s with restored furniture and décor from the time filling the lobby.

The staff members are really friendly, and rooms are reasonable at under $150 AUD a night. To snag this deal, reserve your stay at Pensione Hotel Perth in advance.

Hostel G Perth – $ 

You don’t need to pay big bucks to stay in Perth’s CBD. Hostel G Perth has dorm rooms for around $60-$70 AUD or private rooms for around $100 AUD. You’ll have a huge common area with movies on TV, a kitchen, and a great atmosphere with travelers of all ages.

We really like hostels because they are affordable so you can travel longer and you might even meet some new friends to hang out with! Grab a room using Booking.com or HostelWorld.com.  

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie during a beer and wine tour in the Swan Valley, Perth
Thanks for reading!

There you have it! A complete guide to whale watching in Perth. We hope this blog helped to answer any questions you may have had and has gotten you excited for your whale watching adventure!

If you are heading to Australia, make sure to have a look at some of our Australia guides including our top blogs such as these:

5 BEST Pinnacles Tours from Perth – By a Local!

12 Best Tours in Perth, Australia – from a Local!

7 BEST Margaret River Tours from Perth to Make Your Holiday Effortless

2 Days in Melbourne – How to Spend the Best 48 Hours in the City!