Swimming with whales in Hervey Bay

How far would you go for a holiday?

Some very special tourists travel 5,000 kilometres every year just to visit Queensland’s beautiful Hervey Bay. Of course, we’re talking about humpback whales. From July to November, huge numbers migrate from Antarctica to sub-tropical waters, to mate and give birth.

Hervey Bay, off the Fraser Coast, is the best place in Australia to see these gentle giants of the sea. The sheltered waters provide both a pit-stop and playground on the whales’ long journey — and the perfect opportunity for humans to have a humpback encounter. Tasman Venture offers two whale-watching tours daily, departing from Hervey Bay’s Great Sandy Straits Marina. The fully-guided cruise is a wonderful way to engage with whales. Specialised viewing platforms and an underwater viewing room mean you’ll have the best possible opportunity of a memorable meeting with these curious and playful creatures.

But there is a way to dial up the excitement — as long as you don’t mind getting wet. Hervey Bay Dive Centre was the first operator in the region to offer humans the chance to take a dip with humpbacks. Snorkels, masks, fins and wetsuits are provided for the “Swim with Whales” experience: a full day adventure that could see you share the calm waters of the bay with these massive and graceful marine creatures. When whales are encountered — and if they appear curious enough to get close — a buoyed rope called a “mermaid line” is extended from the stern of the boat. Ten at a time, swimmers inch out along the line and wait for the chance to see the whales up close, in their natural environment. It’s pure exhilaration!

And if you come to Hervey Bay to play with whales, you’ll want an accommodation that’s close to the action. Oaks Resort & Spa sits right on the esplanade — just a stroll from the water, as well as shops, restaurants and cafes. One, two and three-bedroom apartments offer views over the big blue bay or the resort’s sparkling swimming pool. Each apartment is spacious, super-comfortable and equipped with everything you need for an extended holiday. If you’re in need of some post-whale encounter pampering, then the in-house Spa Botanica has a menu of relaxing therapies on offer.

Whether it’s whale season or not, a visit to the Fraser Coast will deliver amazing holiday memories. The region is just three hours’ drive north of Brisbane or a 90-minute direct flight from Sydney.