Experience a wildlife encounter like no other with whale and dolphin watching in Perth.
From the 35,000-strong migration of humpback whales forming WA's Humpback Highway each year, to the friendly dolphins frolicking in the waters of Rockingham and picturesque estuaries of Mandurah - Perth can comfortably stake its claim as one of the best whale and dolphin watching destinations in Australia.
WA is home to a wide range of whale species, being particularly known for the thousands of humpbacks and blue whales which migrate annually along the coast of the state.
Whale watching lovers can get a glimpse of these majestic mammals on a variety of whale watching tours; most operators run these tours from August to December each year, while the Perth Canyon Blue Whale Experience cruise runs from March to May.
The best time of year for dolphin watching is between September and May, where you can spot playful dolphins frolicking in Mandurah's estuaries, in the sheltered waters of the Shoalwater Island Marine Park in Rockingham, off the coast of Ocean Reef and Sorrento, and sometimes even in the Swan River around Perth City.
Here are 6 of our favourite places for dolphin and whale watching in Perth.
Whale Watch Western Australia (Fremantle and Perth Canyon)
Whale Watch Western Australia is owned and operated by a family of whale lovers, providing a highly entertaining and educational experience with onboard commentary. They offer whale watching cruises year-round at various locations in WA. In Perth, they offer humpback whale watching tours from September to December and blue whale tours from March to May - the only guaranteed blue whale tour in Australia.
The beautiful and elusive blue whale is the rarest to ever be seen or photographed, and the largest creature to have ever existed, so spotting one is a truly humbling sight! Perth is one of the few places in the world where you can see blue whales in their feeding grounds, making for a truly unique experience for visitors and locals to Perth.
Find out more at www.whalewatchwesternaustralia.com.
Rottnest Fast Ferries offer a two-hour whale watching cruise off the coast of Hillarys Boat Harbour, where humpback whales can be sighted in the waters from July/August until the end of November. On board, a certified marine biologist from AQWA (The Aquarium of Western Australia) will give informative live commentary, sharing expert local knowledge and interpretation of whale behaviours.
Why not combine your whale watching adventure with a visit to AQWA, located only a few minutes from the Rottnest Fast Ferry stop. A Whale Watching & Aquarium Package through Rottnest Fast Ferries includes the two-hour whale watching cruise from 10.30am plus entry to AQWA after the tour, making for a convenient and fun day out, especially when combined with the delicious fare and beautiful scenery of Sorrento Quay.
Rottnest Fast Ferries Whale Watching Cruises operate most days from early September to late November, and can be booked at www.rottnestfastferries.com.au.
Come aboard the 70ft charter boat, Lady Grace, for a whale watching experience with a tasty difference. Apache Charters offers Fremantle Lobster Tours, for a great day out catching the iconic Western Rock lobster behind the offshore reefs. Depending on the season, you can also spot dolphins, seals, sharks and whales. While sightings are not guaranteed, this is a unique experience in itself. For more information, head to www.apachecharters.com.au.
After you finish your tour, head into Fremantle for more unique urban adventuring. This eclectic area was named in the Lonely Planet Best In Travel Top 10 in 2016, and is renowned for its historic streetscapes, art and music, delicious fish and chips, and the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Fremantle Prison.
Jump aboard Rottnest Express' purpose-built, high-powered vessel Eco Express for an adventure to remember with the Adventure Boat Tour. The tour comprises of a 90-minute circumnavigation (weather dependent) of the rugged coastline of the beautiful Rottnest Island, as you witness the unique beauty of its abundant flora and fauna up close.
Expect to witness the magnificent humpback whales from September to November, as well as other amazing animals in season such as New Zealand fur seals. Enjoy expert commentary and an up-close-and-personal Rottnest Island experience to remember - book yours now at rottnestexpress.com.au.
Encounter dolphins up close as you cruise the Mandurah canals in style with Mandurah Cruises.
Mandurah is home to the largest residential population of Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins in Western Australia, and these charming, cheeky and friendly animals are a regular sight in the canals and estuaries of the area.
Mandurah Cruises offer two dolphin watching options - the 1-hour Dolphin & Scenic Canal Cruise with an optional true-blue Aussie fish and chip lunch to enjoy onboard, and the 1.5 hour Dolphin Island Adventure, crossing the expansive Peel-Harvey Estuary and Dawesville Cut.
The latter includes a Dolphin Guarantee, so if you don't spot any dolphins on your first cruise, you can cruise again for free. For more information or to book online, visit www.mandurahcruises.com.au.
Located just 45 minutes south of Perth, Rockingham is renowned as Perth's marine playground: the area is home to the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, which includes Penguin Island, named for its colony of tiny, adorable fairy penguins. It's also a great spot for fishing, water sports, and not only dolphin watching but also swimming with dolphins!
Located on the shores of beautiful Shoalwater Bay, Rockingham Wild Encounters offer a range of eco cruises, including the multi award winning Swim with Wild Dolphins Cruise, and the action-packed Dolphin, Penguin and Sea Lion Adventure Cruise.
There are over 200 local bottlenose dolphins living in the waters of Rockingham's bays and islands, and with the dolphin cruise operating for over two decades, the tour operators have built up a close bond of friendship and trust with the dolphins. They won't be bothered by your presence as they show off their underwater prowess and you enjoy each other's company.
The Dolphin, Penguin and Sea Lion Adventure Cruise is also a treat; explore the wildlife sanctuary zone to see nesting ospreys & sea birds, visit rare Australian Sea Lions at Seal Island, and be awestruck by the elegant pelican colony living in a nearby pelican rookery.
This cruise includes penguin feeding, free time to enjoy Penguin Island and return ferry transfer. Both tours are loved by Perth locals and visitors alike, and shouldn't be missed!