An Honest Orca Whale Watching Bremer Bay Review 2022

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Two companies provide orca whale watching Bremer Bay tours, Whale Watch Western Australia (Bremer Bay Killer Whales) and Naturaliste Charters. We chose and booked with Whale Watch WA due to the reviews, recommendation from a friend and being family-owned and operated.

Bremer Bay is a small fishing community located in Australia’s Southwest. The orcas, known for their majestic leaping abilities and incredible hunting skills, attract tourists worldwide. They can be seen in the Bremer Bay Canyon from January to the beginning of April.

Orca Whale Watching Bremer Bay Review

Seeing orcas in the wild has been a lifelong ambition, so I was so excited that we had eventually booked our tour to see the Bremer Bay orcas. I’d read up all about the tour, along with what to expect during our time on the cruise, so I felt prepared.

killer whales ortcas swimming alongside boat
Orcas swimming alongside our whale watch cruise in Bremer Bay

Whale Watch Western Australia Vessels

Whale Watch Western Australia has two vessels for whale watch tours; a large A$2.5 million 25m catamaran (Steep Point) and their brand new eco-friendly small boat, Whale Watch 1.

small boat uesd for whale watchibg moored to a wooden jetty
Whale Watch 1 moored in Bremer Bay Harbour

We were booked on the luxurious MV Steep Point, but I received a call the night before informing us there was something wrong with it, and they would be taking out the smaller Whale Watch 1 instead. We were disappointed as we were looking forward to experiencing this purpose-built open ocean whale watch cruiser but decided to go and not change dates.

large white catamaran with whale watch written on the front
MV Steep Point in Bremer Bay Harbour

Arriving for your Orca Whale Watching Tour

You need to arrive at the Bremer Bay Boat Harbour thirty minutes before departure and check in at the mobile van in the car park. Here the staff will take your temperature before allowing you onto the whale watch tour.

mobile van with adverts for whale watching australia
Mobile Van for Whale Watch Western Australia

There was plenty of seating on board as Whale Watch WA doesn’t fill up the boast completely to allow passengers more comfort. The back was more open (a good place to be if you suffer from motion sickness), the middle has the least movement, and the front is for the adventurous (this is where we chose!). The plastic blinds are zipped up while the boat is heading out and back to the Bremer Bay Canyon to avoid you getting windblown and wet.

orca up close in the southern ocean
Orca Whale Watching Bremer Bay

The journey to the Patch (Bremer Canyon)

After a safety briefing, we were on our way. The crew advised that the ocean conditions were “calm and perfect”, but it was a bumpy ride out of the harbour and continued to be quite a rough journey. The Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean, can be dangerous and turbulent, and the open expanse of the ocean create an environment that is ideal for gigantic waves. Luckily, the Bremer Bay Orca patch, where hundreds of Killer Whales & other cetaceans congregate each year to feed on giant squid, is located just 20 nautical miles (37 km) off the coastline of Bremer Bay. The Patch is at the apex of three canyons – Bremer, Hood & Henry Canyon.

lots of orcas close up
We saw a few different pods of orcas on the tour

Bremer Bay Orcas

The Orcas visit this area to hunt for squid who are weak from breeding and an easy target for Orcas and Sperm, Pilot and the rare Beaked Whales. Vast amounts of krill are found in these canyons, which attract a variety of marine life which then lures larger cetaceans and the apex predator of the ocean, the Orca.

The squid the Orcas hunt are giant and colossal squid, which can be up to 14 m in length and weigh up to 750 kg.

We were in prime Orca territory along the continental shelf after around an hour on the zippy Whale Watch 1. It didn’t take long before we saw our first pod of orcas of the day – Lucy and her family. Giovanni swam up close to the boat, and the family seemed fascinated by the vessel, completely surrounding us. Being so low and close to the water, we had incredible views of these majestic creatures and could really appreciate how big they were.

two killer whales seen from a boat tour
It was amazing how close you felt to them on Whale Watch 1

Family pods are led by the eldest female, the matriarch, who has the knowledge and experience to pass on to the younger members. Not far behind is usually her son. It’s incredible to see the size of a male Killer Whale’s dorsal fin – as large as a man and weighing up to ten tonnes!

Orcas can live up to 100 years, with females living the longest. Most families stay together for duration of their lives, and you will often see families joining up to hunt together.

During the next four hours, we saw families of orcas as they hunted for food. The sightings of oil on the top of the water told us that they had recently caught a giant squid and their movement throughout the day depicted that they were on the hunt for a whale in the deep waters.

The crew have a lot of experience, are knowledgeable and provide a commentary on what the orcas are doing. During the cruise, photographs are taken for research as well as a complimentary souvenir to guests. All their research and identification data are provided to Curtain & Murdoch Universities, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, and the Federal Government.

an orca swimming under the water
Not the best photo but an orca swimming under the boat!

Food onboard

The Orca whale watching tour includes welcome boarding drinks, morning and afternoon tea, an all-day buffet with prawns, fish and chicken tenders, cold meats, pies, pastries, and fruit. Soft drinks, water, tea, and coffee are also provided.

On the return journey (if your stomach can handle it), you can have a glass of sparkling wine or a beer to celebrate this fantastic Orca experience.

Unfortunately, as we were on the smaller boat, we missed out on the buffet and welcome drink. Instead, the crew brought around fruit, cake, biscuits, muesli bars, a wrap, crisps and cheese and biscuits. A water bottle was provided when we first boarded, but no other drinks were served until the return journey when a glass of sparkling wine or beer was offered. However, the incredible experience of being so close to the orcas outweighed the lack of buffet. After all, we were paying to see these apex predators not the food.

close up two orcas from whale watch western australia
Photos are included in the ticket price

Where to buy Tickets for the Orca Whale Watching Bremer Bay Tour

You have several options where to buy tickets for this tour. You can either book direct or via a third party. We usually book through Viator or Get Your Guide as they often offer free cancellation up to 24 hours prior, which alleviates the stress associated with travel these days.

Other Marine Life in Bremer Bay

Here are some other species you may see on your Bremer Bay Orca whale watching tour:

  • Sperm Whales
  • Pilot Whales
  • Beaked Whales
  • Dolphins
  • Sea Lions
  • Migratory Antarctic Sea Birds
  • Sunfish
  • Sharks (including Great Whites)
orcas swimming in the ocean

What To Bring on your Orca Whale Watching Bremer Bay Tour

Photos of the day are included in the tour package, which you can download, meaning you can enjoy the experience without worrying about taking pictures. However, we took a camera to record a few of the Orcas and family memories.

Other things to bring with you include:

  • sunscreen – I like this one by La Roche Posay (Chemist Warehouse often have it on sale)
  • hat – I’m always in my NY Yankees cap from City Beach
  • sunglasses to reduce the glare – Sunglass Hut has some trendy designs and brands
  • jacket (it can be cool at sea)
  • your refillable water bottle – Choice recommends the Oasis insulated drink bottle (see them here in Myer)
  • binoculars – to spot the orcas first (I buy camera equipment etc. from Digidirect)
orcas in bremer bay

Tips for your Bremer Bay Orca Tour

  • Take seasickness prevention tablets as most people do suffer on this tour (see your doctor for a prescription)
  • Arrive on time (boarding gate closes five minutes before departure)
  • Look for birds – find the birds, and you will most likely see the killer whales (scavenging for food left behind after a hunt)
  • Tours are subject to minimum numbers and weather/ocean conditions, so try to be flexible with dates
  • You need to be mobile to get on and off the boat and move around it in choppy conditions (tour is not suitable for young children, elderly, heavily pregnant, or any mobility problems)
  • Ask questions – the crew are knowledgeable
  • Wear rubber-soled shoes (so you don’t slip)
  • If you feel queasy, look at the horizon

We believe that the Bremer Bay Orca Whale Watching tour is worth the cost and highly recommend it. It’s a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we hope you will be able to witness this apex predator in its wild natural habitat for yourselves!

photo of an orca close to a boat tour with people taking photos
This photo shows how close we were to the orcas as they came up to the boat

FAQ

Can you see orcas from the shore at Bremer Bay?

No you cannot see orcas from the shore at Bremer Bay. The only way to see them is on a whale watch cruise.

Where can I see orcas in Bremer Bay?

You can see orcas in Bremer Bay on a whale watch cruise only.

What is the best time of day to see orcas in Bremer Bay?

The best time of day to see orcas in Bremer Bay is in the morning when the ocean is usually calmer but you can still see them in the afternoon before the tour returns.

How far is Bremer Canyon from Bremer Bay?

Bremer Canyon is about 70 km off Bremer Bay. However, the orca cruises take you only 37 km from Bremer Bay where the Killer Whales spend most of their time hunting. The area is only 10 km in size, on the edge of the continental shelf, and is a favourite feeding location named The Patch.

Where can you whale watch Orcas in Western Australia?

The most reliable place to whale watch Orcas in Western Australia is in Bremer Bay. You will need to join a tour though as they cannot be seen from shore.

When can you see Orcas in WA?

You can see Orcas in WA in January through to the beginning of April in Bremer Bay.

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An Honest Orca Whale Watching Bremer Bay Review 2022

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2 thoughts on “An Honest Orca Whale Watching Bremer Bay Review 2022”

  1. What an action packed day and a fab experience, one you are unlikely to forget. I think you covered off all the questions that people may have about the tour. A real informative post Wendy.

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