Nelson Bay
Dolphin & whale watching

Dolphin & whale watching
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Top activities in Nelson Bay

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Our most recommended Nelson Bay Dolphin & whale watching

Port Stephens: Dolphin Watching Cruise

1. Port Stephens: Dolphin Watching Cruise

Take a cruise around magnificent Port Stephens Harbour on one of the biggest boats in the bay. Keep an eye out for the resident Bottlenose Dolphins as you head out beautiful Port Stephens Marine Park. Take in the sights of Tomaree and Yacaaba Headlands, Shoal Bay, Nelson Bay, and the Eastern Harbour as you sit back and relax on the deck area. If you feel like getting a bit wet, feel free to use our boomnet. Enjoy entertaining and informative commentary on board. If you feel like indulging in something a little different, there is a licensed bar on board that you can choose to purchase from. 

Port Stephens: Dolphin Watch Cruise with Swimming & Slides

2. Port Stephens: Dolphin Watch Cruise with Swimming & Slides

Spend a magical 2 hours looking for dolphins off the coast of Nelson Bay and get some time to splash about in stunning blue water. Choose from a morning, afternoon departure and be entertained by the informative commentary as you go on search of beautiful resident dolphins on the Port Stephens harbour. Get stunning views of the Eastern harbor, including spectacular Tomaree and Yacaaba headlands. Relax on the deck with a drink and snacks purchased at the licensed bar. Laugh your way around the harbor as you make use of the large boom net and water slide.

Anna Bay: Irukandji Entry and Shallow Water Shark Encounter

3. Anna Bay: Irukandji Entry and Shallow Water Shark Encounter

The shallows encounter offers you the opportunity to get close to sharks and rays in a natural lagoon-style habitat. Get to know the true nature of these animals in a safe and educational environment. When you arrive at Irukandji you will be greeted by staff members who will guide you through the whole process, from learning how to interact safely with the animals to providing you with all the equipment needed to enter the water and meet the animals. Choose from the option of wearing your own clothes in the water and just getting your feet and ankles wet, or renting a wetsuit for an extra $18 to wade deeper or sit down in our natural style lagoons. You can choose to go barefoot or cover up your toes with a pair of wear and keep souvenir socks. At the lagoons, you will be given a feeding stick and food for the sharks and rays, and then guided around to the different pools by a knowledgable fish keeper. Each of the pools is home to different species of fish with specific food and information provided at each one. You will get to reach in and interact with the animals as they swim around in their aquatic homes. Irukandji features 2 large, deep, natural-style lagoons housing a variety of different animals. In the Fingill lagoon, you’ll meet a whole bunch of friendly and curious rays who will glide over your feet and eagerly snatch the food from your sticks. Reach down to pet them and feel the different textures of their skin. Then over at the Tropical lagoon, meet a few more rays plus a variety of shark species including zebra sharks and brown-banded bamboo sharks. You can interact with them while listening to the keepers as they give educational talks about sharks, rays, and marine conservation. During our Big Shark Talk, our friendly fish keepers will invite you into the shallows as they bring up our large Tawny Nurse Sharks and Whitetip Reef Sharks. Afterwards, you can rinse off under a warm shower and towel down before heading in for a cruise around the gift shop for a large range of sustainable gifts, cute fluffy toys, snacks and cold drinks.

From Sydney: Port Stephens Dolphin Cruise & 4WD Sandboarding

4. From Sydney: Port Stephens Dolphin Cruise & 4WD Sandboarding

Enjoy the scenic drive from Sydney to Nelson Bay. Experience a dolphin watching cruise. Explore and sand board the famous Stockton Sand Dunes at Birubi Beach and visit one of Port Stephens’ wineries. Day Tour includes: Express Premium coach transfers from Sydney to Port Stephens and return Dolphin watching cruise 4WD and sand boarding See the Worlds Largest Coastal moving Sand Dunes at Anna Bay. Visit Port Stephens Winery Complimentary bottled water

Nelson Bay: 1.5-hour Guided Whale Watching Cruise

5. Nelson Bay: 1.5-hour Guided Whale Watching Cruise

We get you up close & personal with the very best of what Port Stephens has to offer. We move quickly, but safely & smoothly through the water, allowing you to comfortably enjoy the beautiful Marine Park. We’ll also be on the lookout for pods of Oceanic Dolphins, you may have the chance to see penguins, sea birds, seals and much more. Travel onboard the fast 40ft power cat Envision, focusing on a thrilling and fun ride on the water. With a small number of guests your experience will be relaxed, personalised, and crowd-free.

Port Stephens: Koala Sanctuary General Admission Ticket

6. Port Stephens: Koala Sanctuary General Admission Ticket

Important Note: Construction of a $2M expansion to the Koala Hospital has commenced and will conclude in September / October 2024. There may be some disruptions caused by this construction that could impact your stay with us at the Sanctuary. We plan to, where ever possible, minimise construction impacts to avoid as much inconvenience caused. Spend a few hours or a whole day at Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary learning about Australia’s beloved koalas and the threats they face. Walk amongst the beautiful Australian bush and see koalas in their natural environment doing what they do best – sleeping and eating.  Sanctuary Story Walk is a meandering 250-meter pathway offering an immersive educational experience of the koala and its habitat. The koalas at the sanctuary have been brought there for treatment and rehabilitation after injury, with the aim of returning them to the wild if possible. At the Koala Hospital veterinarians care for koalas requiring treatment and general check-ups. The Sanctuary SKYwalk is a 225-meter-long pathway with viewing platforms raised 10 metres into the tree canopy. The unique tree top perspective is a great photo opportunity. You may even find yourself eye-to-eye with a cuddly koala – always remember, look but don’t touch, they are wild animals. Due to the natural setting of Port Stephen’s Koala Sanctuary you may spot echidnas shuffling around on the ground around the walkways. If you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of an adorable brush tail possum hanging out in a tree hollow as well. After you have experienced all the attractions Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary offers, finish with a visit to Fat Possum Kiosk. Grab a snack, coffee or treat and browse a variety of souvenirs and gifts. Proceeds go towards the continued conservation effort of koalas and their threatened habitat. Visiting Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary entails a round-trip walk of about 1km in length. All pathways and elevated viewing platforms are easily accessible and designed for all ages and abilities. Some limited bench seating is provided along the Sanctuary Story Walk.

Irukandji Entry Pass & Stingray Snorkel (12+)

7. Irukandji Entry Pass & Stingray Snorkel (12+)

When you book a stingray snorkel you will have the opportunity to experience encounters with sharks and rays across two different lagoons and a bunch of smaller pools. Your ticket includes a shallow water encounter where you can feed and pet a variety of species of sharks and rays whilst wading on the sandy shores of the lagoons. You’ll be given food for the animals so they will come and find you and let you pet them. Then you’ll also get the extra special experience of swimming in the deep water of Fingill lagoon and gliding around with amazing rays. When you first arrive at Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters you will be led by a friendly team member to prepare you for your encounter. You’ll be suited up with a wetsuit and snorkel ready for your adventure. The guide will be there throughout your whole 30 minute snorkel to offer information, education and assistance during your activity. You’ll be immersed in the deep water while rays and stingrays up to 200kg will glide past you and under you. You’ll be mesmerised by their grace and serenity of their underwater world. After the snorkel you will be free to wander the aquarium and check out the animals in the different pools. There are a variety of sharks at the tropical lagoon that you can pet and feed, as well as the rays. Your whole encounter will leave you with a newfound appreciation for these gentle, elusive creatures and with a deep sense of stewardship for the ocean. Afterward, you can rinse off under a warm shower and towel down before heading in for a cruise around the tropical aquarium Watch the clownfish flounce busily around the local flora and the lionfish proudly cruise around their home. Check out the souvenir shop for a large range of sustainable gifts, cute fluffy toys, snacks, cold drinks, and hot coffee.

Port Stephens Small Group Dolphins & Dunes Combo

8. Port Stephens Small Group Dolphins & Dunes Combo

Travel over the Sydney Harbour Bridge towards the North Coast region of Port Stephens. With crystal clear waters, Port Stephens boasts over 26 pristine beaches, National Parks, diverse marine life and allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Embrace the local atmosphere and grab a bite to eat for lunch (own expense) at one of the many cafes at Nelson Bay.  Join a dolphin watching cruise as you search for local bottlenose dolphins within the bay. Meet the crew and relax on the spacious viewing decks, help yourself to free tea or coffee or enjoy a drink from the licensed bar. You will have the opportunity swim in the boom net attached to the boat so make sure to bring your swim suit and a towel. Next go to Stockton Beach where you can dip your toes in the ocean before jumping on board a big 4WD vehicle to go over the huge dunes to find the biggest dunes possible for all the sand boarding you can handle.

Irukandji Entry Pass & Zebra Shark Snorkel (6+)

9. Irukandji Entry Pass & Zebra Shark Snorkel (6+)

See the beautiful zebra sharks as they swim around their home in the tropical lagoon! You’ll also get to see giant shovel nose rays, brown banded bamboo sharks and even more as you cruise around the heated lagoon. Start your journey when you arrive at Irukandji to meet your guide and change into the wetsuits provided. They will get you suited up with snorkel gear and some wear and keep socks to keep your toes covered (you can even take the Irukandji souvenir socks home with you after), and then take you over to the lagoon to meet the animals. You’ll get to experience both a shallow water encounter where you can feed and interact with a variety of species of sharks and rays in two seperate lagoons, as well as a small group snorkel in the heated tropical lagoon. The snorkel runs for around 20 minutes and you’ll be guided the whole time by a knowledgeable and experienced zoo keeper. Swimming ability is necessary, however if you’re aged under 12yrs you’ll need to have a parent nearby to assist you if required. The supervising adult will need to either hire an $18 wetsuit and wade waist deep, or purchase the same Zebra Shark Snorkel pass. During the snorkel you’ll see an array of beautiful animals swimming around you and under you. It’s a beautiful experience not to be missed! Don’t forget to bring your underwater camera to capture some of the memories. After the snorkel you are free to spend as much time as you wish in the shallow water of the lagoons petting and feeding the sharks and rays. Wander around to the outdoor pools and meet more creatures such as eels, baby sharks and various species of fish. There are hot showers available to rinse off after your encounter and a great souvenir shop to browse through and maybe pick something to take home as a token of your special time at Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters.

3HR Whale & Dolphin Watch Cruise Port Stephens

10. 3HR Whale & Dolphin Watch Cruise Port Stephens

Join us onboard IMAGINE as we sail out to view the incredible migrating Humpback Whales for an experience of a lifetime (sails hoisted when conditions permit) Most the days the whales will put on a show for you ... with breaching, pectoral slaps or even muggings! With a maximum capacity of 47 passengers, 360° viewing and informative commentary provided by our friendly and knowledgeable staff, you'll sure to have an intimate and personal experience. During the cruise you may also see some Australian Fur Seals, Common & Bottlenose dolphins. Complimentary tea/coffee is provided and there is a fully licensed bar available for purchasing beverages and snacks. * Guest amenities on board * Fully enclosed downstairs cabin * all cruises subject to sea conditions * minimum numbers apply * we accept children of all ages on our cruises

Nelson Bay

Nelson Bay

Frequently asked questions about Nelson Bay Dolphin & whale watching

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What people are saying about Nelson Bay

Overall rating

(3 reviews)

Crew were brilliant very welcoming and all had good knowledge of the area and marine life. Captain narrating as we cruised around the bay was a nice touch very informative with a great delivery. Would highly recommend this activity to anyone great value for money with spectacular scenery and the added bonus of the dolphins 🐬.

Really enjoyable. Yan was great and we had a lovely day. Wine tasting was very rushed but it was a nice place - maybe consider cutting it out of the itinerary or extending the stop a bit more.

Overall good. Unfortunately only saw a few dolphins, but we still had something like that on board with the slides and the net. The crew was great

Great trip and I was most impressed with the care taken to let the dolphins do what they wanted without influencing their actions.

Awesome!!! Captain was entertaining a nd very knowledgable abot location if dolphin. Boomnet and slide made it even better