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REVIEW: Whale Watching on the Gold Coast – Whales in Paradise

Today we went on a whale watching adventure with Whales in Paradise, the departure terminal is located in Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise.  To be honest, I expected that I’d enjoy “seeing the whales” but had no idea how much fun it would be for young children and that actually seeing the whales was just one part of a major adventure.

We went along with our friends to try to cover this from all angles… me and our combined four children aged 4 to 6 would of course cover off the “fun angle” with our love of everything new and exciting.  My friend Kristy is a walking Trivial Pursuit card deck with a pretty impressive history of whale watching tours.  Her job? To tell me how Whales in Paradise measure up to the other tours.

I’ll say from the outset, when I read that the tour was 3 hours and 15 minutes, my heart sank just a little, I was fearful that myself and the kids wouldn’t quite cope with staring into the ocean for one eighth of a day but I’m happy to report that, when done right, “whale watching” is much more than that.

The way I see it, there were 4 components to the adventure.

The Whale Watching Adventure

The Scenery

Who says sitting there watching the scenery is something just for grown ups?  The first installment of our adventure was a fantastic view of Surfers Paradise.  The kids enjoyed seeing boats, bridges, helicopters and the most amazing homes (one currently being built with a helicopter pad).  These homes were spectacular and only slightly out of our price range *cough*.

Gold Coast tours

If you happen to be heading out on a Whales in Paradise tour in the near future, you might be lucky enough to see one of the sets of the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Whilst it was particularly exciting for the kids and I to see an island with “real” pirates, I was grateful that Johnny Depp wasn’t standing on the beach in his pirate swimwear, I like Kristy and I was a little worried that she’d swan dive off the side of the boat should our teenage idle suddenly appear.

Pirate Movie on the Gold Coast

Surfers Paradise from this angle was absolutely stunning.

The “fun ride” aspect

As we ventured into the Pacific Ocean, the throttle went down and part 2 of our adventure started. Enter the quasi-theme park ride.

Bouncing along the waves had the kids in happy fits of laughter and made me wish I’d attached some rubber grip type material to my backside.

Whale watching Brisbane

With the bouncing and the splashing (you won’t get wet if you avoid the back area) it was just like a ride at the Ekka!

Whale Watching Brisbane

Exploring the boat

The boat was amazing and besides the fantastic informative and entertaining commentary provided by the Whales in Paradise crew, the boat design is a great reason to do a tour with this particular company.

There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, the boat is roughly the size of a large whale, ensuring that the whales aren’t intimidated by the boat, and therefore more likely to come over and play with you.

Whales in Paradise

Secondly, if you’re on a larger boat you’re obviously up higher, on a boat of this size you have a nice close view to the action.

But if you’re going along with children, part 3 of the entertainment is actually getting to move around the boat and explore the different views.

Sit up on the front of the boat, the top deck, look out the sides and the back.

It sounds like such a small thing, this change of scenery kept the kids easily amused during the “non-whale watching” part of the tour.

Whales in Paradise Whale watching

The staff were fantastic and even called the kids up to have a drive of the boat.

whale watching cruises for kids gold coast

Seeing the Whales

Part 4 of the entertainment and the reason we were all there… to actually see the whales.

These big black amazing animals put on an amazing performance for us, right next to our boat.  One rather curious young whale (a calf from memory), even swam under the boat quite a few times.

Whales in Paradise review

In Australia we have laws to protect these creatures, one law made me temporarily unhappy… “thou shalt not go withing 100 metres of the whales”.  As the boat stopped, our wonderful tour guide explained the laws and we saw some spurts in the distance.

Then he explained two things that immediately gave me hope.  Firstly, whales can’t read, so fortunately for us they don’t know about the 100 metre rule.  Secondly, as we explained above, the boat was designed to ensure the whales aren’t intimidated by the boat so they are more likely to come up close for some people watching.

Whales in Paradise

In regards to the Whales, you really have to see it for yourself, but watch our really short video for an idea of what you might see!

About Whales in Paradise

As mentioned, the Whales in Paradise departure terminal is situated on Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise.  Head to the “river” end of Cavill Avenue (i.e. away from the beach).

Whales in Paradise

Ticket prices

Head to their website for ticket prices, they have a 100% guarantee on their tickets!  Whilst it’s unlikely, if you don’t see whales on your tour you’ll receive another tour at no charge.

Food, drink and facilities

You CAN take food on-board and they also sell some snacks and drinks.  They have a toilet on-board and there is also plenty of shade.

At the start of the tour the staff offer travel sickness medication for a price of $2, be warned if you’re the designated driver… whilst I didn’t notice it on-board at all, upon leaving the boat I was a little drowsy (a side effect from the travel sickness tablets).

In Summary

The whale watching season on the Gold Coast runs from late May through to November, we had a fantastic time with Whales in Paradise and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them… thanks for a wonderful day!

Visit the Whales in Paradise website.

Does your child love the ocean and want to be Spirit of a Whale Warrior? Check out our article here!

Photo of author

Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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