Noosa Whale Encounters

In the winter of 2022, I discovered that you didn't have to go to Tonga to swim with humpback whales. You could do it right here in Noosa with Noosa Wave, just off Gympie Terrace!

Noosa Wave's brand new, cheery yellow boat seats around 25 passengers, and on this overcast day, there were 11 swimmers and perhaps 8 who were going to remain on board. Our skipper Andrew explained the safety features of the boat and important things like how to flush the marine toilet, then it was time to leave!

After expertly navigating our vessel across the shifty sands of Noosa Bar, Andrew took us along the picturesque coastline of Noosa National Park before turning the boat around to look at the waves crashing around the jagged rocky cliffs of Hell’s Gate. Then we headed out towards the horizon, all eyes peeled for dolphins, turtles and of course, whales.

We stopped for a couple of minutes at a spot off the coast where a friendly bottlenose dolphin had stolen the show the day before. But nope, no dolphin, no whales. Then we kept going a bit further out and still…nothing. By this time, I was starting to think that we might not see anything and have to come back another day.

Then…whoosh…a spout! A fin in the air. And then a cheeky tail, slapping the surface of the water. The humpbacks were here!

Our swim guide Fin (isn't that the best name ever?) told us to get ready, and one by one we slipped off the side of the boat quietly into the water. The whales – three of them – were swimming under the boat, surfacing every so often to show us their magnificent tails, their great white bellies and tips of their big barnacled noses. Those in the boat – who opted to stay dry – went into a photographic frenzy.

The group in the water rushed over towards the trio of humpbacks, a clumsy jumble of arms, legs, fins and snorkels. But it wasn’t necessary – this particular group were curious about us, inquisitive enough to keep circling us and the boat so eventually you didn’t even have to move in order to view them gliding past gracefully below or beside you.

The entire time, they sung their song, comprised of a mournful keening sometimes, spirited chirps and often, playful barks – almost like puppies. We heard snatches from the boat, and underwater, their music was far louder. Their constant singing helped us locate them and made it abundantly clear that they were the masters of their watery domain.