Spirit of Gold Coast Whale Watching Family Review + Discount!
If you’re on the Gold Coast and looking for a great family-friendly school holiday activity during whale-watching season, Spirit of Gold Coast will get you out to the whale-action – fast!
When we were offered the opportunity to go on a Spirit of Gold Coast whale watching tour, we leapt at the chance – and we were so glad we did! What an exciting morning of whale watching thrills we encountered on this brilliant adventure to the deep blue sea!
Spirit of Gold Coast whale watching tours depart every day during whale watching season (June to early November) from Mariners Cove Marina on Sea World Drive. The departure point is just five minutes drive from the Surfers Paradise city centre. There is free parking in the Marina Mirage shopping centre car park, and from there it is a short walk up the Mariners Cove Marina to the boat, right next to the heli-pad. Be sure to arrive by 9am to check-in, in good time for departure at 9:30am.
Our whale watching boat for our two and a half hour cruise was a big, beautiful blue and white catamaran. Friendly crew were there to welcome us, and checked us in. Then we eagerly boarded the Spirit Of Gold Coast via a gently sloping walkway ramp.
If you have a pram, don’t worry – whale watching is very kid-friendly – you can bring the pram along too! Just let Spirit staff know when you book so that they can help you with it when you arrive.
Before we settled down in one spot, we decided to take a quick look around the boat. There were three main viewing platforms on board.
First we climbed up a solid set of stairs (easy for young children or the elderly to manage) to the top viewing deck – the captains control room level.
Inside you were welcome to relax on plush lounges, or you could sit outside where there were several benches, protected from the strong Queensland sunshine by a canopy.
Next we decided to have a look at the main inside cabin downstairs, The inside cabin was very spacious, and had lots of comfy padded seats and large tables for passengers to sit at.
A canteen here was serving a free morning tea with biscuits – a very refreshing start to the day! The canteen was also licensed, so beer and wine were available to purchase, as well as snacks and souvenirs.
I bought the kids a toy whale each, to help them remember this special day. Super-cute and cuddly with the Spirit Of Gold Coast logo on their tummies, these plush toys have become a firm favourite with the girls!
We went outside to take a look at the front of the boat, which you accessed using a small flight of stairs. The front viewing deck of the ship had lots of benches to sit on, or railings to hold onto. This turned out to be a popular place to be when the whale action got going later, as it gave free access to so many directions to watch whales.
More families were boarding by now, but there were plenty of seating and vantage points for everyone to make themselves comfortable for the cruise.
Then the boat set off, pulling away from the Marina and heading up the Broadwater towards the sea, and whale sanctuary.
Everywhere, the crew’s professional attention to detail and safety was evident – from their safety talk at the start of the cruise, to their constant monitoring of safe passenger movements around the moving boat – right down to their care of the few unfortunate passengers who later found themselves a bit sea-sick. This was obviously an experienced and capable crew.
We had decided to settle down up on the upper viewing deck to enjoy the sea breezes, and it was a lovely cruise out. The captain gave a fascinating running commentary all about the Gold Coast waterways and surrounding areas.
As we headed out to the beautiful open sea, almost straight away we were delighted to be informed that that there were dolphins swimming nearby! Sure enough, there they were – it was so thrilling to see wild dolphins frolicking together. What a great start to the cruise!
In no time at all, the first pod of Humpback Whales were spotted, not far from our boat. The boat slowed to a stop and everyone on board cried out in excitement as a massive black fin pounded the surface, soon followed by a tail sliding up, then into the water. It was a fantastic sight that took our breath away – whales!
Soon another pod was spotted, and another off behind that – surfacing, blowing air out of their blowholes, arcing through the water – it was September, and whale season was in full-swing.
The captain kept the boat slowly moving forward at the same pace of the whales, but not encroaching on their space at all. Sometimes the whales themselves would choose to swim over to the boat to check us out! What a thrill it was to see these massive, beautiful creatures so close up. They were obviously not worried about our boat being in their ocean at all – one even popped his head right up to get a better look at us!
Here’s a short video of some of the whales surfacing near the boat.
The crew commentary was both interesting and informative. We learned so much about the fascinating life of whales – their family lives, movements from Antarctica up to Australia, what and when they ate, and of course how they raised their young. There wasn’t much we didn’t know about whales by the end of the cruise!
Whale watching really is such a fabulous activity for families. The kids not only had a brilliant time, but they also learned all about the importance of whale conservation. They can now appreciate first-hand why it is so important that we all do our best to protect and preserve whales, and their precious environment.
Although it’s hard to imagine NOT spotting any whales, if you don’t see any of them on your cruise, Spirit Whale Watching guarantees to give you a free whale watching trip until you do! That way, they ensure that you do get to experience a whale sighting with them.
Eventually it was time to move on from where we had been wandering from one whale pod to another, and the captain decided to take us back along the coast line – parallel to the Surfers Paradise beach. We soon spotted a whale cow and her calf, and we slowly kept pace with them at a respectful distance.
The kids and I made our way down to the front of the boat for a better look at her. The children decided to sit down on the deck, gripping the rails so that they could be closer to the water. Suddenly, a pod of dolphins joined the boat, playing and diving right at the front of the boat, directly in front of the children – it was such a wonderful experience to be in the company of these gloriously joyful creatures for several minutes. We had to tear our attention between the playful dolphins and the slowly progressing whale mother and baby!
Here’s a video of the dolphins playing and swimming at the very front of the boat, and the whale mother and calf off to the side of the boat.
Finally the time came to head back, although I think we all would have kept going along with these beautiful marine animals all day, if we could have! The captain asked everyone to wave good bye to the mother and calf, and we turned from the sea back into the Broadwater.
We settled back for the cruise back in, everyone happily chatting about the wonders they had seen during the tour. It felt like we were back at the Mariners Cove Marina in no time at all!
There was a professional photographer on board during the whole cruise. He had taken photographs of everyone prior to boarding, but had also been taking photos of all the whales we had seen from the top of the boat during the trip – so if you didn’t catch the perfect whale-moment with your own camera, you had the option of buying one of his excellent professional shots.
The boat docked and we all disembarked using the secure gangway to get back onto the jetty. We farewelled the crew, thanking them for their excellent service. We had been very well looked after for the entire whale watching cruise.
We were sad the trip was over as we had had such a good time, but we knew that we had many new and wonderful family memories to take along with us to keep for a lifetime. What an amazing adventure we had experienced with Spirit Of Gold Coast Whale Watching!
Stop Press! We have a school holidays special for you!
We’ve heard the Gold Coast whale action at the moment is just crazy, so we have a great special for you to join in the fun!
Spirit of Gold Coast Whale Watching are offering adults at kids prices for Let’s go Mum! fans – that’s just $59 (instead of $99!) per adult – just mention “Let’s go Mum!” upon booking.
You can book using their website here:
Let’s Go Info!
Spirit of Gold Coast Whale Watching
Child $59 (3-14yrs inclusive)
Family of 4 $236 (2 adults,2 children)
Seniors & Students $79
Mariners Cove Marina (next to Marina Mirage) ,
Berth 95, Arm D, next to Helicopter Pad,
Seaworld Drive, Main Beach, Gold Coast
How to get there
By car: Free parking is available at Marina Mirage car park.
Daily tour times
Arrive at 9am for check-in.
Tours depart at 9:30am (returns at 12pm)
You can find out more at the official Spirit Whale Watching website here
All prices are accurate for September 2016
We reviewed this tour as guests of Spirit Whale Watching, however all opinions are my own
Have you ever been on a whale watching tour anywhere, or do you plan to? Comment below!