The top things to do in Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay is a stunning coastal town with so much to do! Come join a whale watching cruise from Australia's best whale watching location or hop over to Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island known for its lakes, wildlife and rainforest.

The top things to do in Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay is a stunning coastal town with so much to do! Come join a whale watching cruise from Australia's best whale watching location or hop over to Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island known for its lakes, wildlife and rainforest.

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Top 10 Things to do Hervey Bay

Known as the unofficial 'Whale Watching Capital of Australia', Hervey Bay on the central Queensland coast, is a laid-back and sunny seaside destination that provides all the relaxation and aquatic-focused benefits of some of the country's bigger-name destinations without all the excess crowds.

Featuring some truly spectacular stretches of coastline teeming with marine life as well as the incredible duo of both Lady Elliot Island and Fraser Island close by, it's an ideal getaway destination for those who love the combination of water, sunshine, peace and quiet on their holidays.

As a result, there's plenty of opportunities to get out on the water for some fun. While whale watching is an obvious calling card as a large number of these gentle giants pass through during their annual migration each year, there's far more to Hervey Bay than this.

Divers will love Hervey Bay for its range of extremely accessible dive sites and snorkelling opportunities, while those who prefer their fun above water can take part in the likes of scenic cruises, waterskiing, kayaking, surfing and swimming. Add to this some charming coastal history and plenty of greenery to explore inland, and you've got a great all-around travel destination that checks all the boxes.

With all of the above in mind, here's our list of the Top 10 Things to do in Hervey Bay & surrounds.

1. Whale Watching

Location:Various departure points, Hervey Bay, QLD

Hervey is one of the world's most important social hubs for humpback whales who use the region as a safe and calm resting place during their annual migration between April and October. A Hervey Bay whale watching cruise is an must-do experience in Queensland.

is a hotspot for whale viewing experiences to an extent that is has become an ingrained part of the region's culture.

A safe and calm resting place for whales is essential during their annual migration, and during the period between April and October Humpback whales can be found in large numbers using the Bay as a resting ground to recharge their batteries, relax and play.

This playful condition of the whales – along with easy access from the many coastal berths Hervey Bay offers – thus makes it extremely easy to get some of Australia's best up-close whale encounters as they are typically in a relaxed mood, and their inquisitive nature means they'll often approach the vessels of their own free will.

If you're looking for the chance to experience this wonderful natural phenomenon for yourself, there are several quality options available each with different itineraries and with their own perks, and you'll thus be spoiled for choice here.

The likes of Tasman Venture, Freedom Whale Watch, Quick Cat and Spirit of Hervey Bay all offer quality whale watching tours that can be combined with other options to include the likes of dolphin spotting or trips to Fraser Island on the itinerary as well.

Clear and spacious viewing decks that provide uninhibited views of the whales make for a wonderful viewing experience out in the open air, while some come with underwater viewing windows providing the chance to get a below-the-surface vantage point from which to see these massive mammals from a wholly new perspective.

They're well-organised operations that typically feature modern and purpose built whale watching vessels with plenty of seating that will have you out on the water and up close with the whales in no time.

Further insight into the habits, diets and lifestyles of the whales are is provided by a combination of expert commentary delivered via onboard speaker system, as well as the enthusiastic staff who are very knowledgeable about all aspects of whales in general - it's obvious that all-things-whale run through Hervey Bay's veins.

Throw in some extra trivia and tidbits on the whales and the region as a whole added in for good measure, and you'll come away with an entirely new level of appreciation for these peaceful creatures.

During the trip whales can often be seen travelling with their calves alongside the boat, while the skippers will endeavour to work together with other boats to share spotting locations and travel to the most active groupings of whales.

Seeing the agility of these huge animals breaching and splashing is an awe-inspiring sight, and the sheer quantity of whales in the Hervey Bay region means that you'll almost always encounter substantial amounts of active Humpbacks as well as other wildlife such as dolphins and even dugongs along the way.

xFor added peace of mind, a whale sighting guarantee is also often offered as part of the package that provides a free return ticket on the rare occasion that whales can't be spotted.

In short, if you're going to be in Hervey Bay during the 7-month window of the whale's migratory season, heading out on a whale-watching cruise should be at the top of your list – its raw natural beauty in a nutshell and one of Hervey Bay's true calling cards.


2. Fraser Island

Location: Approx. 30km off shore from Hervey Bay

Most top Aussie travel towns and cities have at least one trademark natural calling card that set each of them apart, and the Hervey Bay region's offering is one of Australia's most impressive.

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world just off the coast of Hervey Bay. The island has world heritage rainforests, freshwater creeks and lakes, coloured sands and stunning golden beaches. It's no wonder this is one of top things to do in Queensland.

variety of Aussie nature's biodiversity and geography at work.

It's a World Heritage site for a reason; throughout its roughly 120km-long stretch, there are a range of sights, colours and features that make it a veritable “region” in itself – sprawling sand dunes famed for their multicoloured hues, numerous inland freshwater lakes, lush forested areas and an array of distinctive wildlife are just some of the wonders of Fraser Island.

With no notable major townships on the island, and owing to its protected nature, Fraser Island remains relatively untouched by the negative influences of mankind despite being such a popular travel spot – as a result, all of its natural offerings are pristine and unadulterated, and all tourist operations on the island are conducted with an eye towards respectful eco-tourism.

The island is largely draped in vegetation which makes for endless opportunities for exploration, while over 40 freshwater lakes provide the chance for refreshment bordered by picturesque surrounds.

Add to these distinct architectural features such as its heritage-listed lighthouse at Sandy Cape and the beach Shipwreck of the S.S Maheno and Fraser Island offers a nearly endless array of things to see and do that makes a multi-day stay on the island all but essential.

Wildlife also plays a large part of sightseeing here, and Fraser Island is famously home to the Aussie dingo which has become something of an icon of the island. Birdlife also features prominently on Fraser, with hundreds of species of various kinds of owls, parrots and birds of prey adding both an additional visual and aural highlight to the island's atmosphere.

In the water, meanwhile, Fraser Island also delivers – dolphins can be found in abundance, while both the beaches and the island's lakes serve as home to turtles. If you're lucky, you may even encounter the rare dugong swimming in the waters just offshore.

Getting to Fraser Island from Hervey Bay is a relatively straightforward affair – there are regular ferry/barge services that run from River Heads roughly 20 minutes south of Hervey Bay can take 4WD-capable offroad vehicles as well as passengers across from the mainland in roughly 30 minutes.

It's once on the island itself that navigating your way around can become something of a chore to the uninitiated; high-clearance 4WDs are the only type permitted, and as a result paid tours to Fraser Island are exceptionally popular.

Those looking to book a tour from Hervey Bay to Fraser Island will be spoiled for choice, as multiple quality tour operators such as Fraser Island Adventure Tours, Whalesong, Fraser Island Explorer Tours and Nomads Fraser Island all provide itineraries for exploring this slice of island beauty.

Tour itineraries range from shorter half-day trips to comprehensive multi-day adventures either with camping or eco-friendly accommodation options, with the extended tours encompassing all of Fraser's essential highlights such as “sand highway” 75 Mile Beach (voted one of our Top 10 Beaches in Australia by the public), Lakes Mackenzie and Wabby and the Champagne Pools, Eli Creek and more.

Varying levels of inclusions and optional extras in terms of food and activities differ by operator – simply browse through the top options recommended above and you'll no doubt find a plan that fits both your interests and budget levels.

Fraser Island isn't just a must for those visiting the Hervey Bay region – its many wonders make it well worth the trip from all over Australia and a strong contender for one of the country's best island adventures.


3. Champagne Sunset Cruise

Sit back & relax while you cruise around Hervey Bay and Fraser Island on a luxury yacht giving you the chance to take in the beautiful panoramic views. A waterslide is also available for those eager to get wet or wanting to take in the views from the beach.

4. Hervey Bay Jet Ski Tours

Location: 415a Charlton Esplanade, Torquay

What better way to explore the aquatic waters of Hervey Bay then by jumping on a Jet Ski Tour. This activity combines high speed fun with sightseeing to discover stunning stretches of Queensland coastline including the world heritage listed Fraser Island.

No experience is necessary! Everyone is welcome to try this fun water sports activity with easy to use jet skis and safety briefings provided by Aquavue Watersports tour guides.

Step on board and follow the leader as you navigate the sparkling waters surrounding Hervey Bay and Fraser Island. Riders are in control of the pace. Choose your adventure for a slower, relaxing ride or blast through the waters to get your dose of adrenaline.

One of the highlights of this experience are the personal marine encounters with the likes of sea turtles, dolphins and even a few shy dugongs along the way. Sit and watch in awe, as these playful creatures go about their day within arms reach of you and your jetski.

One of the highlights of this experience are the personal marine encounters with the likes of sea turtles, dolphins and even a few shy dugongs . Sit and watch in awe, as these playful creatures go about their day within arms reach of you and your jetski.

Choose between a 90 minute tour to Hervey Bay and Fraser Island, a 2.5 hour tour to Fraser Island with guided walks at Kingfisher Bay Resort or the ultimate 3.5 hour jet ski adventure that includes extended time on Fraser Island with a morning tea and lunch plus snorkelling.

The benefit of joining a guided jet ski safari such as these is that local guides know all the best places to swim in secluded and picturesque beaches and where to go to find marine life.

First timers will also like the reassurance of having someone nearby to assist and guide you through the waters on a jet ski.

You won’t believe the clarity of the water and clean beaches that are here which are reminiscent of any tropical island in the Pacific Ocean and they are all just a short ride away from Hervey Bay on a jetski.

The fun and low impact activity is the best way to zip around Fraser island and is suitable for both locals and visitors which is why it makes it into our top 10 experiences in Hervey Bay.

The guided jet ski tours leave daily from the Aquavue waterfront café which is convenient if you want to grab a bite to eat before or after your water adventure.


5. Lady Elliot Island Day Tour

A Lady Elliot Island day trip from Hervey Bay is another must-do activity. The scenic flights to the coral cay island over untouched coral reefs are just as breathtaking as a snorkelling experience in the water.

6. Hervey Bay Eco Marine Cruise

Cruise the crystal clear waters of the Great Sandy Strait for an incredible Hervey Bay eco marine tour. Travelling in a glass-bottom boat, keep an eye out for dolphins, dugongs and sea birds.

7. WetSide Water Park

Location: Main St & The Esplanade, Hervey Bay

The sunny and warm Queensland weather that makes Hervey Bay such a joy to visit can also produce a number of days where you and the kids are looking to cool off, particularly in summer.

It's only fitting, then, that local authorities and enterprises have sought to produce water-themed attractions and chief among these is the WetSide Water Education Park.

This has become a favourite gathering point of locals and their kids since its opening back in 2009. With its proximity to the nearby waterfront and beach making it easy to combine two different types of water experiences for a full and enjoyable day outdoors.

This is a hybrid water park and educational facility that puts a combined focus on interaction and educating youngsters about water consumption along with pure refreshment, and in that, it greatly succeeds.

The facilities here walk the line between entertaining and educational and include a mixed bag of water fountains and slides of various sizes that are all accompanied by signs explaining how the WetSide attraction uses storm water and other techniques to conserve water.

This is a completely free attraction that's both well-supervised and safe, having been designed from the ground up with smaller kids in mind.

Add to this its section dedicated to toddlers featuring colourful sculptures, fun water jets and a minimum of underfoot water and its a place that even those with babies can get something out of. On the other hand, the main all-ages area includes the aforementioned slides and fountains as well as water guns, spouting whales, and a tipping bucket.

There's also a paid simulated surfing ride/attraction which is an optional and fun sideshow to the main proceedings for those looking for a challenge. WetSide Water Education Park also provides plenty of storage for items for the family should you wish to bring along additional supplies such as extra towels or equipment for a picnic then you'll be well served here.

Few attractions combine a family-friendly target, variety of things to do and a well-constructed layout for free, but WetSide is one such spot that makes it a must-visit during Hervey Bay's warmer periods.


8. The Esplanade

Location: Great Sandy Straits - the Park, Hervey Bay

If there's any part of Hervey Bay that could be seen as the hub for travellers, the lovely waterfront Esplanade area would likely be it.

Winding its way along the beachfront, it's a roughly 17km-long slice of tourist-friendly charm that stretches through multiple suburbs and offers an array of options for shopping, dining and accommodation.

Add to all of these conveniences the fact that it's naturally a wonderfully span stretch of coastal sightseeing and there's a reason this is one of the first spots most first-timers to the Hervey Bay area choose to stretch their legs and get a sense of what the area has to offer.

This is a great example of an Australian foreshore area that's up there with the likes of Cairns and the redeveloped Gold Coast hub at Surfer's Paradise, albeit on an even larger scale.

The Esplanade at Hervey Bay serves as both a walkway and cycling path and is bordered by the beach for almost the entire duration, offering relaxed and scenic cycling routes as well as plenty of greenery and shade for picnics, relaxing and getting out of the sun.

There's also plenty of exercise equipment for the active types, as well as regularly located seats for couples overlooking the water dotted throughout and barbeques, toilets and various other facilities along the way. Fresh air and the cool sea breeze of this part of town make for a generally pleasant climate that's always enjoyable to walk even in winter.

The Esplanade at Hervey Bay serves as both a walkway and cycling path and is bordered by the beach for almost the entire duration, offering relaxed and scenic cycling routes as well as plenty of greenery and shade for picnics, relaxing and getting out of the sun.

Dining at some of the restaurants and cafes across the road makes for a lovely outlook, and given the length of the Esplanade there are an array of options to choose from, particularly in the suburbs of Torquay and Scarness; early-evening dining around sunset is highly recommended, and its possible during an extended stay at Hervey Bay to simply work your way along the Esplanade's eateries and sample a new cuisine each evening.

Fashion and other smaller retail outlets are also prevalent here with prices generally reasonably priced compared to more central locations as well, so shopaholics will no doubt be able to find themselves an item or three of interest.

It's the beach itself however that is the obvious highlight of the Esplanade, and while it does not run for the entire expanse there are various entry points throughout where you can break off the path and head onto the sand.

It's a lovely clean and safe beach in general and is well taken care of without the litter problems that plague some of Australia's popular coastal region's beaches – a point of pride for Hervey Bay locals who endeavour to keep it in tip-top condition. Calm and sheltered waters make for a great spot for a swim that's largely child-friendly, with multiple segments that are patrolled by lifeguards.

If you arrive at Hervey Bay for the first time and aren't sure where to head, simply point yourself in the direction of the Esplanade and go from there.


9. Historical Village & Museum

Location: 13 Zephyr Street, Scarness, Hervey Bay

While perhaps not traditionally seen as a historic area, Hervey Bay provides visitors with the chance to step back in time with a visit to the Historical Village and Museum exhibit. Home to a variety of buildings and themed memorabilia dating back as far as 1873, you'll walk away with new knowledge about the region's history.

A must-visit for the history buff, the site encompasses 19 period-specific buildings each containing a range of exhibits from the early days of Hervey Bay's formation including household and farm items for use both in and outdoors from the 1800s.

Each of the buildings has specific theming, with highlights including an 1800's-era country house and a convenience store stocked with a range of knick-knacks that serve as a striking reminder as to how much times have changed.

Other items such as vintage vehicles and army memorabilia round out the static offerings, which are augmented by a number of live displays and interactive opportunities. Visitors will have the chance to see various old-world arts and crafts such as blacksmith and woodturning demonstrations, and even take part in learning and trying their hand at traditional rope-making techniques.

Kids, will love the toy displays and games of these olden times that aim to involve the whole family, and the opportunities for learning and gaining and appreciation for current technology here are palpable.

The Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum is staffed and kept up to scratch by a group of passionate volunteers from the local historical society who have done an outstanding job of continually growing and adding to the museum over the years.

There's an entry fee that goes towards the not-insubstantial maintenance of the attraction, and given that it offers several potential hours of historic entertainment and insight towards a good cause, it's well worth the investment.

The Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum is open for public visits during the afternoon and sits in a convenient location just off the esplanade making for easy access from most accommodation situated near the waterfront.

It's a great little embodiment of what life used to be like not just in Hervey Bay but Australia as a whole, and given its uniqueness it's a charming little slice of life from a couple of centuries ago that offers something few other spots can.


10. Reefworld Aquarium

Location: Dayman Park, Cnr Kent & Pulgul St, Urangan

A long-running fixture of the Hervey Bay attractions scene, ReefWorld kicks off the appropriately aquatic series of Hervey Bay attractions by providing one of the most family-friendly introductions to the world of marine life in the region.

ReefWorld sits on the foreshore in a lovely spot overlooking the waters of the Bay and is a wholly natural aquarium. It is not a highly commercialised attraction like most other big name aquariums, however, the emphasis here is truly on the organic side of things.

It's a more personalised family experience that's small and quaint rather than big and overpriced. Though there are no shows, the main drawcard is the emphasis on education and interaction.

Visitors can have hands-on experiences here, such as feeding a shark or touching a turtle; a favourite for kids as these marine characters often swim right up on their own.

Daily feeding sessions allow guests to see the animals dining on some aquatic delicacies, and there's a great touch tank where gently touching the turtles and fish is not only permitted, but encouraged.

The tanks are all naturally lit by sunlight and they contain a number of different species ranging from tropical fish and large reef fish to crabs and sharks.

All of this is augmented by the passionate and enthusiastic staff who are very welcoming and always eager to teach and inform about the marine life. While there's no strict or set guided tour, staff will answer any questions you or the kids may have and are able to talk in detail about the animals, their diets, habitats and the history of the local Hervey Bay region in general. There's also an optional shark swim experience for those with a little extra courage who want to get even closer than a tank!

Don't let its small appearance deceive you, ReefWorld manages to blend the educational with the entertaining, and while you may not spend multiple hours here it's still a great place to come with the kids to pass an hour or so.

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We acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Custodians of Country and their connections and continuous care for the skies, lands and waterways throughout Australia.