Swim with humpback whales on the Sunshine Coast

Unique Queensland winter whale experience.

Avid whale watchers can get up close to migrating whales when Sunreef Mooloolaba’s swim with humpback whales experiences return to the Sunshine Coast. 

RACQ member and Sunreef owner Dan Hart said his team were looking forward to hosting guests during the four-month season from 8 July–23 October.

"Swimming with these gentle giants of the deep is an almost indescribable privilege and something you will remember forever," Mr Hart said.

"It is very special – I love hearing everyone's reactions as well – as soon as people spot them you can hear everyone squealing excitedly through their snorkels."

Mr Harts said the three-hour tour, which complied with national whale watching guidelines as well as Sunreef's own strict code of practice, provided a unique and intimate experience.

"Once everyone has been kitted out with a wetsuit and snorkelling gear at our dive centre, we jump aboard the boats, either one of Sunreef's own vessels Wild One or the brand-new Tsunami, which have been customised for swimming with whales and we head out.


"Each trip starts with a full briefing on what to expect and safety procedures before heading out the river mouth.

"Then it's all eyes on the water. The whales generally swim along the same path, what we call the whale highway, which is about 15 nautical miles off the coast but we often can encounter them much closer.

"We look for the tell tail ’blow’ which is water that is projected between three and six metres high from two blow holes (or nostrils) between the whale's snout and dorsal fin.

"Then, once a whale or pod of whales is sighted, we follow them at a safe distance for a while before positioning the boat more than 100m away and putting it in neutral. 

“If the conditions are determined safe by our trained crew, swimmers will be allowed into the water with a guide and a floating safety line attached to the boat.

"From this point it's all up to the whale – it is a natural experience and it is 100% on the whale's own terms."

Mr Hart said, despite delays due to COVID-19, 2020 was shaping up to be a big year for whale watchers.

“This year will see an expected 35,000 humpback whales migrate through Sunshine Coast waters, which could attract about 25,000 people to take a closer look and participate in a whale watching or swim with whales experience,” he said.

“While final numbers of guests for the season will depend on the continuing easing of COVID-19 restrictions, we are always super excited to welcome the whales and to give guests the opportunity to get closer to them.

“While all of us humans have been restricting our movements, no one told the whales, so their migration is on track with other years.

“We are already seeing good numbers of whales including some calves and expect this to continue throughout the season.”

"I just can't wait to get in the water with them again. It's such a unique experience that every time it's just like my first all over again.”

RACQ members save on the Sunreef swim with whales experience