aerial view of humpback whale in the ocean
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The Best Whale Watch Tours in South West WA: A Local’s Take 2024

Hey there! I’m Wendy, a Perth local who adores everything our beautiful state offers. I love to take advantage of the incredible wildlife experiences that are in our backyard. I want to share one of the most incredible activities in Western Australia – whale watching in the South West!

I’ll cover everything you need to know to make your whale watching tour unforgettable. From the best time to go, what to pack, and even the ethical considerations to keep in mind, I’ve got you covered. I’ll also delve into my personal experience, so you’ll get a first-hand account of what the tours are like.

This post may contain affiliate links (of companies I book through). This means I may receive a small commission if you book through them. You can read the disclaimer for more information.

Whale Watch Tour Options

Here is my break down of the top 3 companies:

Tour 1: Naturaliste Charters

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars with over 770 reviews on TripAdvisor

aerial view of the bremer bay orca tour boat naturaliste charters

My favourite whale watching tour company! The boat is spacious with observation decks providing panoramic ocean views. We saw a pod of humpbacks, and they put on quite a show, breaching and tail-slapping right next to the boat.

Pros:

  • Comfort and Amenities: The boat was very comfortable, featuring multiple viewing decks. There were restrooms and a galley stocked with complimentary beverages and snacks.
  • Accessible: The boat can accomodate wheelchairs and prams on board. 
  • Expert Guides: The crew were knowledgeable, filling us in on all sorts of whale facts. The commentary was interestung too. Naturaliste Charters is the longest running whale watching company in the Southwest.

Boat Size: 20m catamaran

Depart: Augusta (May to August) & Dunsborough (August to November)

See Prices & Availability Direct Here

Tour 2: All Sea Charters

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars with over 600 reviews on TripAdvisor

whale watch tour boat with all sea charters

This family-owned company is also well regarded and receives glowing reviews.

Pros:

  • Personalised Experience: Small number of passengers –  carrying a maximum of 23.
  • Accessible: The boat can accomodate wheelchairs via a ramp.
  • Great Crew: Knowledgeable guides that are passionate about their job.

Boat Size:  16m Conquest

Depart: Augusta (May to August), Busselton & Dunsborough (August to November)

See Prices & Availability Direct Here

Tour 3: Whale Watch Western Australia

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars with over 200 reviews on TripAdvisor

Tours departing from Dunsborough and Busselton operate by All Sea Charters.

Cons for all tours:

  • Limited Availability: The tours operate within a specific time frame. This may not align with your travel plans.
  • Weather Dependent: Like any boat-based activity, tours are subject to weather conditions. This may result in last-minute cancellations.
  • Ocean Sickness: If you suffer from sea sickness, take motion sickness medication.

See Prices & Availability Direct Here

Best Time to Go

If you’re keen on seeing humpback whales, your best bet is between August and November. These playful giants are known for their acrobatic displays. You can often see them breaching and slapping their tails and fins on the water. For southern right whales, the window is slightly narrower, usually July and August.

If you’re flexible with your timing, go during the week, particularly in the morning. Not only are there fewer boats around, but the seas are often calmer.

humpback whale tail in ocean

Preparation & What to Bring on Whale Watch Tours

A little prep can make the difference between a good experience and an extraordinary one. Here’s what you should consider:

What to Wear

  • Clothing Layers: The weather can be changeable out at sea, even if it’s a sunny day on land. I recommend wearing layers – like a t-shirt with a light jacket or windbreaker that you can put on or take off.
  • Footwear: Comfortable, non-slip shoes are a must. You’ll be moving around the boat, and the last thing you want is to slip while trying to get that perfect whale shot.
  • Sun Protection: Even on overcast days, the glare from the water can be intense. Don’t forget a good hat, sunglasses, and, of course, sunscreen.

Essentials

  • Binoculars: While the whales often come quite close to the boats, binoculars can enhance your views.
  • Camera: You’re going to want to capture this adventure, so bring a camera along. If you’re using your phone, make sure it’s fully charged or bring a portable charger.
  • Water and Snacks: Some tours provide refreshments. But it’s always good to have some water and a few snacks on hand, especially if you’re travelling with kids.

For Those Prone to Seasickness

  • If you are prone to seasickness, consider taking an over-the-counter remedy. Trust me, you don’t want seasickness to ruin this incredible experience. My daughter was ill on our Orca Tour in Bremer Bay.

For the Kids

  • If you’re bringing young children, pack activity books or small toys. They are handy for moments when the whales are playing hard to get.
  • Life jackets for kids are generally available on the boats, but it’s always good to check in advance.

Optional but Helpful

  • A small backpack: To keep all your essentials in one place.
  • A reusable water bottle: Let’s keep it eco-friendly!
aerial view of whale on a whale watch tour in south west wa
Whales Swimming, off the coast of Dunsborough by Tourism Western Australia 

Ethical Considerations

As incredible as these experiences can be, we must protect these majestic creatures and their habitat.

Responsible Tour Operators

Choosing a responsible operator is the most critical step in ensuring an ethical whale-watching experience. Look for companies that adhere to strict guidelines to minimise stress to the whales. This usually includes maintaining a specific distance from them and not chasing them. Naturaliste Charters holds an Eco Tourism Accreditation.

Minimise Impact

Even on a well-regulated tour, individual actions can have an impact. Be mindful of noise levels, and dispose of any waste properly to keep the ocean clean. Many tour operators now put in place eco-friendly practices. Naturaliste Charters do not use any single use plastics on their tours.

Final Thoughts on Ethics

While the allure of seeing these gentle giants up close is undeniable, remember we are visitors in their home. An ethical approach to whale watching ensures the well-being of the whales and the sustainability of this experience.

See Prices & Availability Direct Here

Conclusion

If you’re a local or a tourist here, I recommend this awe-inspiring activity. It’s a magical experience that leaves you with an appreciation for marine life.

I’d like to invite you all to share your own experiences or questions in the comments section below. I’m eager to hear your thoughts and tips! Also join our friendly community in our Facebook Group.

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Flights ✈️

We fly Virgin Australia domestically due to their competitive prices and fantastic customer service, and fly with Qatar Airways to Europe.

Accommodation 🏩

We mainly use Booking.com for accommodation as they consistently have the lowest rates with free cancellation on most properties.

For pet sitting in Western Australia and worldwide, we are members of Trusted Housesitters. Free accommodation for pet and house sitting.

Car Rental 🚘

To compare rental car company prices, we use Discover Cars, an award-winning car rental comparison website. They offer competitive pricing in over 10,000 locations worldwide and are highly rated.

Campervan/RV Rental 🚐

DriveNow is a good resource to compare campervan hire in Western Australia as it includes all the large companies like Britz, Maui, and Jucy as well as smaller ones.

Travel Insurance 🌏

Cover-More and Travel Insurance Direct are our preferred travel insurance companies for domestic and international travel.

See this Travel Insurance for Australia guide for more information.