Whale Watching Cruise Review: Gold Coast

One of the incredible wildlife experiences you can enjoy while you’re on the east coast of Australia is whale watching. Watching these majestic beasts in their home environment, gliding elegantly beneath the surface before breaking the surface to blow, tail slap, spy hop or most spectacularly, breeching is awe-inspiring.

Last week, as a belated Father’s Day gift, my Dad and I took to the waters off the glittering Gold Coast and hopped aboard the Whales In Paradise vessel and went searching for these magnificent creatures that lurk in the deep.

Canal Cruise

As the only whale watching adventure to take off in the heart of Surfers Paradise, we first had to make our way through the canals before passing The Spit where most of the other similar vessels depart from before hitting the open ocean.

We got to see architectural royalty of the rich and the famous as we glided past their waterfront properties and spied their luxurious vessels and helicopter pads.

Luxury Boat
Luxurious vessels and opulent houses lined the canal

There were at least two prolific, well-known people whose houses we gazed upon in envy before moving past their cute little island communities before we had spectacular views of that gorgeous Gold Coast skyline. Look how those high rise glass windows shine for you!

Big House
More Expensive Houses
Whales In Paradise
The Whales In Paradise vessel
Gold Coast Canal
And then some
Gold Coast Skyline
The gorgeous Gold Coast skyline

Next up, we passed through the marina where there was even more luxury that the nearest I could get to them was to gaze upon them. Oh, magnificent vessels, how I wish I could cruise upon your luxurious luxury, even only for a little while. Okay, focus woman.

Gold Coast Marina
The marina and a church

Reaching the sandbar that bridged the gap between the sheltered canals and the open ocean was a ride in of itself. We were asked to hold on, and they weren’t kidding. It was bumpy AF which was an absolute joy! Boing, boing, boing.

Deep Blue

Making it past the treacherous waters, we were now in whale territory. Spending a few minutes getting out into deeper waters, we met up with a couple of other vessels who were also looking for free willy in the hopes that we could milk off their observations.

We did spot one of the giant marine animals tail slap, but it was a one time deal. The other two vessels stayed for a handful of minutes before heading back to the home office.

Meanwhile, our watercraft went to stake out other areas of the deep blue. We saw a few of them shooting water out of their blowhole in different places and spread apart but nothing nearby.

Slap Happy

Then BOOM! Pectoral fin slap, 11 o’clock! Uber squee! And it was close too! Now, we’re cooking with gas! Ooh, wait, there’s 2! Double uber squee!

Whale Watching
Pectoral Fin Flap Slap

A few slaps of the fins on the water to make themselves known, then the beautiful creatures of the deep got tired of the humans and went on their merry way.

Whale Watching
Whale putting its hand up for roll call
Whale Watching
Slap Happy

The Waiting Game

Moving to a few more locations, we saw even more whales relatively close breaking the surface of the water and blowing puffs of water out of their noggin’ and snapped a few more photographs of those bad boys.

There was quite a lot of waiting around for the creatures of the deep to come and say hello from the watery side and a bit of travelling to different locales to try out another part of the ocean, but there were no super close encounters of the curious kind.

The Last Hurrah

The skipper who had been doing double duty giving us our commentary along the canal and of the whales whilst driving the boat had told us our time was almost up. Aww, man.

And then, alas, within minutes before we had to turn tail and say adios to the ocean and all its mysteries, what should pop up out of it right by our vessel. A big ass whale mommy and it’s tiny little whale baby!!! Ooh, ee, aah, this is what we came for! SUPER CUTENESS GALORE!

Whale Watching
Mommy and baby arriving just in the nick of time!

Dad and daughter humans on the front of the boat watching a curious mommy and unidentified gendered baby whale breaking the surface was utterly delightful.

Whale Watching
Little baby!!!

I suspect that because of its size in proximity to its mom, baby was only recently ejected from its mommy’s birth canal. But then again, I’m no baby whale expert.

Still, it was a delightful surprise and having them show up so curiously close to us at the 11th hour of our whale watching adventure was a fantastic way to cap off a slow start and middle.

Farewell Creatures Of The Deep

We stayed for a few minutes after mom and baby swam away before heading back. On the way back, we saw two whales breaching in the distance, and wished they were doing that while we were out there, but still in awe of the magnificent creatures that live just off the coast.

Arriving back at the jetty windswept and covered in ocean spray, we were a little disappointed that much of the cruise was absent of the animals we sought to find, which was of no fault of the lovely Whales In Paradise crew.

But we were delighted that the last few moments on the deep blue we were grace with the presence of a curious mother and her very new to the world baby.

Even with the lack of close encounters of the underwater mammalian kind, it was still a fun adventure out on the water.

Dad and I thoroughly enjoyed the canal cruise and seeing the homes of the deep-pocketed, the gorgeous Gold Coast skyline and the multi-million dollar boats at the marina.

We enjoyed bouncing up and down on the ocean waves and seeking out the whales as we gazed upon skyline and mountain ridgelines from out on the deep blue.

All in all, it was a fun to experience whale watching on the Gold Coast and we are keen to do it again with the hope seeing even more of these massive underwater beasts.

Whales In Paradise Review

Crew & Service

Rating: 8 out of 10.

The Whales In Paradise crew were friendly and professional. There weren’t many interactions with them, but of the few there were, I had a pleasant experience.

As part of the cruise, they offered tea, coffee and biscuits. They also had other refreshments such as soft drinks aboard that you could chow down and slurp on at an additional cost.

I took up their offer and had some green tea. It wasn’t the most pleasant of the greens, and it was uber hot, which is good if you like it that way. I prefer my lukewarm and doing absolutely nothing to up the temperature of my body.

They also provided sea sickness tablets that you can grab for a tidy fee of $3 if you require them.


Rating: 8 out of 10.

The Whales In Paradise boat not the fanciest of whale watching vessels, but a whale watching adventure is less about the boat and more about the experience of seeing giants of the deep surfacing off the coast.

That being said, it was spacious and clean. There are one and a half decks that you can view from: the main cabin, the front deck and the half top deck.

The main cabin which was covered and soft roll close plastic windows that were all open for viewing and some were closed for the long sections of travel. The front deck was fully open, so you could feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, and the half top deck had a hardtop to so you could have the best of both worlds.

Whales In Paradise
Whales Of Paradise Boat


Rating: 7 out of 10.

The overall experience was slightly disappointing. The crew was friendly and informative, the vessel was clean and spacious, we loved seeing the skyline and the houses of the rich, we weren’t seasick, and we had fun bouncing along the waves as we made our way to deeper water.

Unfortunately, the namesake of the experience was whale watching, and through no fault of the crew, the wild whales swimming past the Gold Coast weren’t as curious as we had hoped they would be.

We saw numerous puffs of water ejecting into the sky as they blew water out of their noggin’s, but they were quite far away. There was one instance where we saw a tail slap, but then nothing for quite some time. There were a few that came quite close, and a couple that did pectoral fin slaps, but quite a lot of waiting around.

Right at the end though, just before it was time to call it a day, a curious mother and her baby appeared right next to us, and that was a magnificent and magical experience. We were both gladdened that they had decided to stay for a good few minutes checking us out.

I just wished we had had a few more of those close moments with other whales. Or even a breach, although those are rare.

Even though the whales weren’t feeling it on that particular day, the rest of the experience was fun and memorable, and I’d be happy to go with Whales In Paradise again.

Whale Watching
We had a whale of a time.

More Gold Coast:

The Gold Coast is part of the South East Queensland region. Click here to see what else South East Queensland has to offer.

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