Can you do the Eden Wildlife Cruise when it is not whale season?

Established on the back of the whaling industry, the southern New South Wales town of Eden is now recognised as one of best places to see whales on their annual migration between Antarctica and Australia.

But if you happen to be in Eden outside of the whale season (which runs from May to the end of October), is it still worth going on a nature cruise?

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Eden Wildlife Cruise

Cat Balou Cruises

We happened to be in Eden in February – a great time for enjoying the beaches and snorkelling, but not so good for whale watching!

Finding ourselves with a spare morning, despite the lack of whales, we decided to try our luck on the Eden Wildlife Cruise run by Cat Balou Cruises. They also run whale watching tours in whale season.

If you have never been to Eden before, it sits on Twofold Bay, a stunning natural harbour made of dramatic coastline, long beaches and crystal clear water. It is a spectacular place to be on the water.

Eden Coastlilne

Why we love Wildlife Cruises

Whales or not, you don’t have to twist our arms to hard to get us on the water. We love nature cruises for a few reasons.

First, you never know what you are going to see. We have spotted whales, dolphins, seals, and eagles on previous cruises, but you can see unusual things too. From Dugongs, and a beautiful albatross to a tuna feeding frenzy, we love the anticipation of seeing something unusual or unexpected.

Next, there is nothing like seeing the land from the water. Coastal hikes and lookouts are great, but seeing the land from the water always offers up a unique perspective on the landscape.

And we love hearing from local guides. You get some great insights into local history and wildlife.

Hammerhead Shark
Hammerhead Shark

Eden Wildlife Cruise

It was a glorious day for our cruise, the high winds and big seas that had been around for a couple of days had been replaced with sunshine and calm water.

The 2 hour cruise starts from the harbour at Snug Cove, the main wharf area in Eden. We were patiently waiting where we thought the departure point was when we got the phone call no one wants – the tour operator asking where we were.

Thankfully we were only waiting slightly in the wrong spot. A quick walk to the back of the Eden Welcome Centre and a minute later we were boarding the boat.

You are getting aboard  a large multi-level cruiser with lots of great vantage points. If you like being up front, there are a couple of outdoor forward viewing areas where you can keep watch for any approaching wildlife.

Pod of Dolphins at Eden
Pod of Dolphins
Dolphins at Eden
Eden Dolphins

What did we See?

The safety talk and a quick rundown on what we might see had barely finished before a pod of 4 or 5 dolphins swam straight up to the boat and started playing at the bow.

Only minutes before, the crew had said the local bottlenose dolphins had been a bit hard to track down lately, so they were as speechless as we were that they had appeared in the first 5 minutes of the tour.

YouTube video

Cruising with Dolphins

We have spotted dolphins on cruises before, and they tend to hang around for 2 to 10 minutes and it is always an exhilarating experience. So, you can imagine our joy as this pod followed the boat for the first hour of the cruise. It was amazing!

Whenever we looked down, 3 or 4 of them were swimming along with the boat, turning on their sides to look at us looking at them, and playfully weaving between the port and starboard bow.

They followed us from Snug Cove, around Lookout Point, along the length of Aslings Beach and around Worang Point. It was one of the longest encounters we have had with dolphins.

Sea Eagle
Sea Eagle

Sharks & Eagles too

If we had seen nothing else on the cruise besides the dolphins and the great coastline including views of Mount Imlay and Boyd Tower, we would have gone home happy. But there was more to come.

We also spotted several sea eagles sitting in the tea trees that lined the coastal cliffs. It was only when one of them took off that you really appreciate how big they are. Only wedge tail eagles are bigger.

The final highlight on the water was spotting a small hammerhead shark. We were lucky again, often when they get near the boat they dart off, but this 2m long shark happily cruised near the surface for several minutes.

Its dorsal fin often broke the water, and it got just close enough to us that we could make out its distinct rectangular head. Photos were tricky through the glare of the water but it was exciting to see.

Mount Imlay
Mount Imlay and Eden Lookout Point

Final Thoughts

Anyone who has been on a nature tour before knows the warning… you never what, if anything, you will see. That said, we were certainly pleased with the results of our tour.

The waters in Twofold Bay are fairly sheltered so you can expect reasonable conditions (but always take precautions if you are prone to getting motion sick), the boat is spacious, and the crew were friendly and knowledgeable.

We also thought the Eden Wildlife Cruise was reasonably priced. There are children, concession and family fares available too.

We can only imagine how much fun seeing whales in Twofold Bay would be, but even if it is not whale season, heading on to the water to see the local wildlife is still worth doing.

If you enjoyed this story you might also like:

Things to do in Narooma | Things to do in Jervis Bay| Big Duck Wildlife Cruise

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Eden Nature Cruise
Eden Nature Cruise
Eden Nature Cruise
Eden Nature Cruise
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