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Hervey Bay is known for being the whale-watching capital of Australia. Humpback whales swim into the bay for a relaxing time in the calm waters with their babies before making their way back south.
In peak season, boats by the fleet head out each day to watch them swimming and breaching and having a whale of a time (sorry couldn’t resist!)
But there are plenty more things to do in Hervey Bay than watching the whales swimming in the water.
To make the most out of your trip to Hervey Bay, consider stopping off at some of these top Hervey Bay attractions.
Things to Do in Hervey Bay
Below you will find the top attractions in Hervey Bay to help you plan your itinerary.
1. Take a Whale Watching Tour
You may have come to Hervey Bay to see the whales migrating during their annual migration between July and November, and this is absolutely the number one thing to do in Hervey Bay, so we include this first.
We pulled out of the marina into the bay and sailed straight past their playground. Sadly, we arrived in Hervey Bay a little too far ahead of the Hervey Bay whale watch season and didn’t get to see humpback whales play.
Instead, we watched green sea turtles popping their heads in and out of the water and dolphins racing ahead of the bow. We all peered over the edge watching it speed along and turn its head to look at us watching it. I swear we saw a gleeful smile.
“I’ve never seen a dolphin in the wild before Mumma” Kalyra squealed. And Savannah kept pushing people aside so she could see more dolphins.
Eventually, she’d stop screaming and running and take the safe spot inside the cabin to eagerly peer out the window. (I do the same thing with cows and kangaroos in the car!)
Whalesong Cruises offer a range of tours and the chance to get up close with migrating humpback whales. They also run day tours out to Coongul Point on the North Western side of Fraser, a part we didn’t see during our two-night stay there.
Most boat tours depart from Great Sandy Straits Marina, so you can also head there to book a tour.
If you’re planning a trip to nearby Fraser Island, you should note the boat tours go to the same spot as the tours from Fraser Island.
Turquoise water, crystal clear, white powdery sand, and no one around except us. We went for a walk to collect shells and play games.
We dug castles in the sand and Kalyra and Craig took the kayak out for a paddle, which is complimentary with the cruise.
The weather turned bad so we raced back on the boat for a yummy BBQ lunch of sausages, King Prawns, and salad.
It didn’t matter that we didn’t see any whales as we had a relaxing day cruising off the coast to our favourite Australian Island. And Kalyra was excited she got to play skipper on the way home.
2. Enjoy The Sunset at Enzos on the Beach
Enzos is the place to be for sunset. Grab yourself a beanbag under the umbrella and your drink of choice and enjoy.
If you have kids, there is a playground next door that will entertain them while you zone out.
If you’re feeling adventurous hire a kayak or stand-up paddle board or book a kiteboarding lesson.
Return in the morning to enjoy breakfast as well. My meal at Enzos wasn’t that great, but the coffee and views made it worth it.
It’s a great spot if you’re looking for a cafe with views.
3. Take a walk along the Esplanade
Or you might even like to try and run it. Just be careful – if you are as unfit as I am and had not long had a coffee, you might have to stop 5 minutes in, gasping for air and stop yourself from vomiting.
The 14km long shared pathway stretches from the Urangan Pier at the eastern end of the city to Gatakers Bay in the west.
It’s also a great spot for BBQs and fishing off any one of the small jetties along the way.
4. Visit the Hervey Bay Restaurants
I really liked Badger and Brown’s. The burgers were delicious and there were gluten-free options – the bread being pretty delicious, which is hard to do with burger buns.
I had a Mexican standoff – black bean and quinoa patty, with corn and tomato salsa A winner! Their sweet potato fries were pretty good too!
5. Eat at Dan and Stephs
We came to Eat at Dan and Stephs a couple of times for some good coffee. We didn’t get to eat here though as we arrived after kitchen closed at 3pm.
It’s pretty popular, with Dan and Steph being the local celebs, so you can expect to find some contemporary dishes.
6. Attend the Relish Food and Wine Festival
We were lucky to be in town during the Relish Food and Wine Festival held in Maryborough. If you’re travelling to Hervey Bay in June, be sure to add this to your itinerary.
Maryborough’s magnificent Portside precinct – incorporating Queens Park, Mary River Parklands, heritage streetscapes, and the Mary River is full of historical buildings that were once part of Australia’s largest and busiest ports.
Pamela Lyndon Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, was born above a bank building in Maryborough in 1899. I had no idea she was Australian.
It was a beautiful backdrop to this celebration of regional food and wine.
Relish is a festival created to promote and celebrate Fraser Coast regional produce. Apart from the great food and wine to taste, there was also a steam train for the kids to enjoy with some cookie making activities and live music.
Celebrity and local chefs gave cooking demonstrations and My Kitchen Rules winners (MKR) of 2013 and locals, Dan and Steph, were the main event.
We finally had a chance to try Dan’s famous sausages and we must say they were pretty delicious.
7. Take a Day Trip to Fraser Island (K’Gari)
The UNESCO World Heritage listed island, Fraser Island, or K’Gari as it’s known to its traditional owners, is the largest sand island in the world and is packed full of adventures.
Drive the iconic 75 mile beach, the island’s famous beach highway, and stop off at Lake McKenzie for a swim in the turquoise blue waters, or hunt for the famous Maheno Shipwreck on the ocean’s shore.
It’s one of the best places to encounter native wildlife such as dingoes, which call the island home, as well as see sharks, whales, and dolphins from the shoreline.
8. Head Over to Lady Elliot Island
Nestled in the Bundaberg region is the remote island, Lady Elliot Island. It only covers an area of 45 hectares, but the reason to visit here isn’t for the island itself.
The island is the southernmost coral cay of the Great Barrier Reef and has protected waters, meaning it thrives with over 1,200 species of marine life.
It’s one of the best places to see manta rays in their natural habitat as well as turtles and unspoiled corals.
9. Take A Turtle Discovery and Eco Tour
Of course, many people head to Hervey Bay for the whale watching boat tours, but if you want a boat cruise that takes you to the natural beauty of the Hervey Bay area and to see green sea turtles in their natural home, then you might want to consider the Turtle Discovery Tour.
On this tour, you get to explore Queensland’s Great Sandy Straits Marine Park on a glass-bottom boat, meaning you can see the thriving marine life and coral reefs, without disturbing their peace.
See turtles, dolphins, and if you’re lucky, a reef shark or dugong.
The tour will also make stops for snorkelling and swimming in safe areas. Enjoy the scenery of the bay, learn its Butchulla history directly from your Indigenous guide, all through beautiful Dreamtime stories.
10. Have a Picnic at Hervey Bay Botanic Gardens and Orchid House
The Hervey Bay Botanic Gardens is a 26 hectare garden that has been open to the public since 1974. Nestled on a 6,000 year old foreshore dune, it’s one of the best places to see native plants and fauna from the Wide Bay and Great Sandy regions.
The gardens have several zones, including a bushland, a formal chinese garden, a rainforest, and a wetland.
The gardens have several walking tracks and open spaces where you can sit and enjoy a picnic in the lush green environment.
Be sure to check out the Orchid House, which was added to the gardens in the year 2000. The Orchid House has 5,500 orchids.
The botanic gardens and orchid house are free to enter, making it the best free thing to do in Hervey Bay.
11. Learn About Hervey Bay’s Past at Hervey Bay Historical Village
The Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum is a collection of 27 historical buildings that contain exhibits relating to the Fraser Coast and Wide Bay area.
The exhibits include a fully furnished slab cottage which was built in 1898, the old Goodwood Railway Station, and the first Dundowran Hall.
You can also visit the original Dundowran State School, a blacksmith shop, and the former cane harvesting machinery.
Another highlight of the museum is the original Methodist Church, which was built in 1901.
If you’re visiting Hervey Bay on a Sunday, you’ll meet volunteers dressed in period clothes who come to demonstrate the crafts of old, such as blacksmithing and wood carving.
If you’re looking for free things to do in Hervey Bay, head over to the Rope Maker to make a piece of rope on a 100-year-old machine to take home as a souvenir.
12. Check Out Torquay Beach
Hervey Bay is not short of stunning beaches, so if you’re looking for somewhere to lay your towel and soak up the Queensland sun, then head over to Torquay Beach.
Torquay Beach is protected by Fraser Island (K’Gari), which means the water is more gentle and safe for kids to swim in.
The waters are clean, clear, and refreshing. If you’re looking for a stunning white sand beach on the East Coast near Hervey Bay, this should be it!
13. Splash Around at Wetside Water Park in Pialba
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Hervey Bay with kids, then you’ll love sliding down the water slides at Wetside Water Park.
This oceanfront water park in Pialba, and has a splash pad, wave machine, and an Aqua Ninja adventure course.
If you have toddlers, they will love the TotSide play area which has been designed for under 5s.
14. Hike the Point Vernon Coastal Walk
The Point Vernon Coastal Walk is part of the Hervey Bay Esplanade Trail, which spans for 16 km along the stunning coastline from Gatakers Bay and the Urangan Boat Harbour.
This part of the trail is very easy, and something you can do with families with small kids since it’s mostly flat and used for jogging and cycling.
It’s known for its bird life, amazing scenery, and green spaces. You can see as far out as Fraser Island (K’Gari) on a clear day.
15. See Marine Life at Reefworld Aquarium
The Reefworld Aquarium in Urangan is one of the top attractions in Hervey Bay and has been operating since 1979. It’s known as one of the world’s few all-natural aquariums, using only sand-filtered sea water and natural sunlight in its tanks. It’s what makes Reefworld Aquarium unique.
Visitors can see a huge array of sea life, from Green Sea Turtles to reef fish, sharks and tubeworms.
There is even a touch tank, where visitors can get up close and personal with certain marine animals. If you want to step your adventure up a notch, head inside the shark tank and swim with them (with a prior arrangement with the aquarium, of course).
16. See the Ducks at Arkarra Lagoons and Tea Gardens
If you’re looking for more relaxing things to do in Hervey Bay, then be sure to head over to the Arkarra Lagoons and Wetland Reserve.
The name Arkarra means “place of many ducks” in aboriginal language and was given to the park by the Butchulla Aboriginal Elder, Aunty Olga Miller.
And this is exactly what you find here.
As you enjoy a short walk around the wetlands lagoons and gardens, you’ll find plenty of ducks swimming in their natural home.
After you’ve seen the ducks, head over to the Arkarra Tea Gardens for a relaxing coffee and homemade sweet treats.
How to Get to Hervey Bay
If you are leaving from Brisbane, The Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast, drive North for 3.5 hours along the M1 and Bruce Hwy/A1.
You can also take a train from Brisbane, Rockhampton, or Cairns to Maryborough West. From here, it’s easy to get a taxi or bus to Hervey Bay, or take the Train link bus service, which connects with every train.
Where to stay in Hervey Bay
Our Hervey Bay accommodation was a lovely self-contained apartment, The Bay Apartments, which is right on the Esplanade with water views and if you don’t feel like cooking, your an easy walk to several restaurants and takeaway food outlets along the strip.
If you’re going to visit Hervey Bay, why not time it to coincide with the migrating whales. It’s one of Queensland’s best natural holiday destinations and we had a whale of a time (sorry couldn’t resist!)
You’re also within easy access to World Heritage Listed Fraser Island. Stay tuned, we have an article on Fraser coming up soon!
You can search through the list of accommodation in Hervey Bay below.
Final Word on Things to Do in Hervey Bay
So, there you have it, those are the top things to do in Hervey Bay and as you can see, there’s a lot to see and do besides whale watching.
Hervey Bay is an exciting destination with so much to offer. We recommend you plan to spend at least five days here to see all the highlights and get a good feel of the place.
We hope this guide helped you plan your visit to Hervey Bay. If you have any more attractions to add, let us know in the comments!
Disclaimer: Our visit was in partnership with Tourism Queensland, but all the thoughts, ideas, and opinions in this guide are our own. To plan your next trip check out Queensland Holidays.
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