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Swim with Minke Whales in the Great Barrier Reef

Yacht Experiences

Swim with Minke Whales Down Under

Each year in Australia, during the months of June and July, minke whales migrate to a stretch of reef south of Lizard Island known as Ribbon Reefs. Thanks to their inquisitive nature, an opportunity presents for incredible close encounters with these captivating creatures.

When to go:
01 June – 15 July

Based out of Port Douglas, explorer yacht BELUGA is no stranger to cruising the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. With a vested interest in reef conservation and local marine life, her owner, captain and crew have developed a relationship with the Queensland based Minke Whale Project, an organisation that carries out research into dwarf minke whale biology and behaviour, the social and economic values of the whales and the sustainable management of swim-with-whales tourism.

During this BELUGA yacht expedition, you’ll be joined by a guest researcher from the Minke Whale Project who you’ll have the opportunity to assist with gathering data, tagging and identifying individual whales. You’ll also be accompanied by dive masters who specialise in encounters with minke whales and who strive for their protection.

First Sightings

Board BELUGA in the marina of Port Douglas, a scenic 50-minute drive north of Cairns International airport. Once settled in, get to know your expert minke whale dive guides over lunch as they talk you through the full itinerary and give you a brief insight into what to expect from close encounters with these extraordinary creatures.

As you reach the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, you’ll prepare for your first dive or snorkel with the minke whales at a world famous site named ‘Steve’s Bommie’, preceded by an in depth briefing. Steve’s Bommie offers incredible diversity and density of marine life and alongside the minke whales you can expect to see reef sharks, rays, schools of trevally, anemone fish, stone fish, nudibranchs and vibrant corals.

Minke whale images by John Rumney

Swim with Minke Whales in the Great Barrier Reef Swim with Minke Whales in Australia
Diver with Minke Whale

Eye to Eye Encounters

Cruise to Ribbon Reefs and deeper into minke whale territory where there is a good chance you’ll have an eye to eye encounter with one of these majestic mammals. You’ll also have the opportunity to head out for a spot of sustainable reef fishing on board BELUGA’s 40-foot chase boat (aptly named MINKE) or you can get to grips with her variety of water toys, ideal for exploring the reef in more depth.

Another day of diving or snorkelling will take you to Cod Hole and Shark Alley, where you’ll not only be on the look out for whales, but for giant cod fish, whitetip and blacktip reef sharks. As evening falls, relax on a secluded beach where the BELUGA chef and crew will set up an alfresco barbecue. Tender back to the yacht under the stars and marvel at the abundance of king fish and lemon sharks attracted by BELUGA’s underwater lights.  

A morning spent on Lizard Island will see you exploring one of its 24 beaches or following in the footsteps of Captain Cook as you climb to the island’s highest peak known as Cook’s Lookout. Later, make use of BELUGA’s chase boat to venture north to the outer reefs such as Jewell and Hicks, where you can try your luck fishing for pelagic species such as mackerel and sailfish, or partake in some exploratory diving to seek out your final glimpse of the majestic minke whale.

With only a limited window to experience the migratory wonder of the minke whales, this yacht expedition offers a truly rare and wonderful opportunity.

This yacht experience starts from 99,000 USD for a 5 night / 6 day charter for up to 8 guests. 

Discover more about motor yacht BELUGA.

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