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Whale and dolphin experiences in Byron Bay

Cruising with Out Of The Blue Adventures

Byron Bay is one of those rare places on earth where you come for a visit and never, ever want to leave. And with good reason.

Up there with the best of them is the opportunity to observe two of the ocean’s most magnificent creatures, whales and dolphins, in their natural habitat.

While they can often be seen from shore or while frolicking in Byron’s legendary waves, an unforgettable way to get up close and personal is through the range of boat cruises offered by Out Of The Blue Adventures.

We caught up with Dean Fuchs, who co-founded the eco-tourism venture in late 2017 with his partner Sally Brown, to find out what inspired Out of the Blue – and what activities are on offer.

A Unique Ocean Adventure

Out Of The Blue tours are one of the more memorable ways to explore Cape Byron Marine Park, which covers the spectacular 35km stretch of coastline from Ballina to Byron Bay, and Ballina’s Richmond River.

As lifelong ocean lovers who are just as passionate about spending time in or on the water as they are about its preservation, Dean and Sally started the cruises to give people a chance to connect with the aquatic world in a truly spectacular way.

Apart from the thrill of seeing people’s eyes light up, they want to educate guests about the region’s “marine life, ecosystem and vulnerable species while delivering a unique and memorable ocean adventure”.

The whale watching cruise, for instance, is unique in Byron Bay, and is a huge drawcard. As Dean explains:

“We are a cruise company with a specific purpose-built eco vessel designed for a 360 degree viewing experience. That, combined with the whale watching element and the fact we have a marine biologist as a tour guide makes for a first-class experience.”

Choice of Cruises

Out Of The Blue Adventures can be enjoyed by everyone because its cruises are safe, fun and informative. They cater to a broad mix of people including families, couples and mature-age travellers.

Dean says while overseas and interstate visitors love the experience, a surprisingly large number of guests are Byron locals keen to see the coast from a different perspective.

It’s time to take a look at the selection of personalised adventure tours.

A Humpback Whale Breaching in Byron Bay

1. Byron Bay Whale Watching Cruises

Season: June to end of October
Duration: 2-2.5 hours cruising
Size: small groups of up to 20 max
Transfer: Free pick up and transfer back to Elements of Byron
Price: $99 per adult / $70 per child (under 12yrs). Includes delicious homemade snacks and drinks (book online)

The whale is the earth’s largest species, so it’s no wonder we’re so captivated.

Did you know that a fully grown humpback whale can weigh more than five adult elephants, the largest land mammal? And that during mating season, the male humpback produces whale songs?

This cruise departs from Ballina’s Richmond River and enters the stunning waters of Cape Byron Marine Park. Enjoy the spectacular coastline between Ballina and Cape Byron, the most easterly point of Australia’s mainland, while listening to the whales ‘singing’ using a specialised underwater hydrophone.

Viewing these marvellous animals so intimately in their natural environment during their annual migration is nothing short of magical, as Dean reveals:

“Legally, we can’t approach within 100 metres of the whales, but at times they come right up to us. To hear them trumpeting and spraying water in our face, or breaching, is such a beautiful experience.”

Thanks to the speed and low-profile of the company’s eco vessel, it’s not uncommon to view different groups of whales in a single trip. One of the biggest highlights is the interpretive tour given by a marine biologist who shares her in-depth knowledge of the whales, area and history of whaling.

Dolphin Spotting on the Ocean Safari

2. Byron Bay Ocean Safaris (Dolphin Tours)

Season: December-May
Duration: 2.5 hours cruising
Size: small groups of up to 20 max
Transfer: Free pick up and transfer back to Elements of Byron
Price: $129 per adult / $99 per child (under 12yrs). Includes delicious homemade snacks and drinks (book online)

Undoubtedly one of the best ways to see Byron’s stunning coast, the ocean safari winds its way out from the mouth of Ballina’s river through to the Cape Byron Marine Park.

You will cruise past Byron Bay’s most photogenic gems as the vessel navigates Australia’s most easterly point. Local highlights include the Lennox Head sea cliffs, Seven Mile Beach, Tallow Beach, the Byron lighthouse and Dean’s personal favourite, the rocky formations of Broken Head.

Against this idyllic backdrop is the chance to interact with one of the ocean’s friendliest ambassadors, dolphins.

While Out Of The Blue does not guarantee sightings, they say chances are high. Byron Bay has 300 resident dolphins, as well as a number of semi-permanent and transient ones. They’re playful and will often surf the waves of the hull. If you’re lucky, they’ll get so close you can reach out and touch them.

To support increasingly vulnerable local dolphin populations, the company is proud to sponsor marine conservation and research projects spearheaded by Dolphin Research Australia.

On the ocean safari, you’ll also encounter other marine life such as turtles, sea birds and jumping fish. Again, the resident marine biologist shares her valuable insights on the wildlife and important aspects of marine conservation.

Sunset on the Richmond River Scenic Cruise

3. Richmond River Scenic Cruise

Season: year round
Duration: 1.5 hours cruising
Size: small groups of up to 20 max
Transfer: Free pick up and transfer back to Elements of Byron
Price: $65 per adult / $50 per child (under 12yrs). Includes homemade snacks, beer & wine (book online)

For an amazing nature adventure of a different kind, join Out Of The Blue on its scenic river cruise. Here, you will explore the tranquil waters of the Richmond River around Ballina Island.

The river is abundant in flora and fauna, including dolphins, and boasts mangrove forests. There’s plenty to keep you amazed and intrigued.

And if you’re expecting a leisurely put-put up the river, be warned. There are plenty of heart-surging moments. As Dean puts it:

“This is a little different to normal river cruises. We travel into the area where the river meets the sea. I put on a bit of fun music to give our guests a thrill with the swell and waves.”

Adding to the richness of the experience is the information on local Indigenous history and other fascinating insights from Out Of The Blue Adventures’ marine biologist and tour guide.

Want to create your own exclusive charter and incredible ocean adventure with friends and family? Have an event you’d like to celebrate in style? You can with Out Of The Blue Private Charters. Tailored to your specific needs, the boat hires are ideal for corporate events or private groups.

For more information on any these experiences, call Out Of The Blue Adventures on +61 407 522 422 or email [email protected]

Looking for other ways to connect with nature in Byron Bay? Check out a week in Byron Bay: nature and serenity.

Want more inspiration for things to do in Byron Bay? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Byron Bay.

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