Here we share our pick of the best things to do in Hervey Bay, from whale watching to visiting Fraser Island and more.
With its 14 kilometres of sandy beach to world-renowned whale watching tours, the laid-back coastal town of Hervey Bay is a popular destination for tourists visiting the East Coast of Australia.
It is known for having World Heritage-listed Fraser Island on its doorstep and Lady Elliot Island just a short scenic flight away, but there is plenty to do right here in Hervey Bay too.
Whether you are visiting Hervey Bay with kids or without, here’s our pick of the top Hervey Bay things to do.
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Table of Contents
Go Whale Watching
Whale Watching is probably the most popular activity in Hervey Bay. Renowned as one of the best places in the world to spot whales, Hervey Bay was also the world’s first Whale Heritage Site.
Every year humpback whales migrating to Queensland from Antarctica call in to take advantage of the shelter in relatively calm Hervey Bay.
It is a particularly popular stop-off point with mothers and their calves before they continue the journey back down south.
The calm waters of Hervey Bay and abundance of whales provides an excellent opportunity to view these magnificent sea creatures up close in their natural habitat, and a whale watching trip is definitely a must-do Hervey Bay activity.
Whale season runs from July – November.
Explore Fraser Island
Just across the Great Sandy Strait from Hervey Bay is World Heritage listed Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island.
Visiting Fraser Island is often on people’s Australia bucket lists, thanks to its incredible natural beauty and its abundance of attractions. Driving along 75-mile beach in a 4WD with the waves lapping at your tires is an experience not to be forgotten.
Other Fraser Island highlights include:
- Swimming in the turquoise waters of Lake McKenzie
- Floating down Eli Creek
- Visiting the Maheno Shipwreck
- Hiking the rainforest trails
- Taking a scenic flight that takes off and lands on the beach
Fraser Island can be visited as a day tour from Hervey Bay. However to get the most out of a trip, we recommend spending a few days at the Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island and exploring from there.
Enjoy a Sunset Cruise
The best way to enjoy sunset is always from the water, especially when you can watch the sun sink into the ocean.
With Fraser Island protecting the Great Sandy Strait from the elements, you’re pretty much guaranteed smooth sailing in Hervey Bay.
There are several companies offering sunset cruises in Hervey Bay. Most are around 90 minutes in duration and include drinks and canapés.
Explore Lady Elliot Island
Located at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot Island is a marine sanctuary for over 1,200 species of marine life.
Famed for its abundance of manta rays and turtles and its unspoilt reef, it is the perfect place to get back to nature.
The coral cay offers amazing snorkelling opportunities and visitors can also enjoy diving, kayaking, take a glass bottom boat ride and more. Kids can also join the educational and fun rangers programme.
Lady Elliot Island is reached via a 40-minute scenic flight from Hervey Bay airport. Visits can be done as a day trip, or check in for a night or two at the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort to enjoy the tranquillity for longer.
Watch Sunrise from Urangan Pier
Built between 1913 and 1917 the iconic Urangan pier was designed to transfer cargo between trains and ships, particularly sugar.
It continued as a working pier until 1985, but today, the 868-metre Urangan Pier serves as a tourist attraction.
Sunrise is the perfect time to visit the pier to watch the sky explode into colour around you. However, anytime is a good time to visit the historic pier to walk its wooden planks, look for fish, stingrays and dolphins, or try your luck with a fishing rod.
Visit Reefworld Aquarium
Located just along the beach from the pier, Reef World Aquarium is an all-natural aquarium, with a range of marine life to admire.
Using only sand-filtered seawater and natural sunlight, it is one of only a few all-natural aquariums in the world.
Visitors can have hands on experiences helping to feed the green sea turtles, sharks, and large reef fish. There is also the opportunity to swim with the sharks.
Walk/Cycle/Skate The Esplanade
The Harvey Bay Esplanade runs for 17 kilometres, from Urangan to Gatakers Bay on Point Vernon.
Bring the kids’ bikes, scooters or skates and head out for a day of fresh air and family fun.
The path winds past parks, beaches, playgrounds, cafes and restaurants, Wetside Waterpark, and even a skate park, meaning you can make a full day of it.
Have Fun at Wetside Water park
Located along the Esplanade, Wetside Waterpark, is a great place to bring the kids to cool off in the summer.
This fun water play area has two water slides and a large splash pad. There is a fun Totside play area for the under-5s, plus a light show on Saturday nights at 7pm. Parents will appreciate the onsite coffee shop and fish and chip shop too.
Entry to the park is free but you need to pay for the large water slides.
Note: Wetside is closed from May to early September for annual maintenance.
Picnic in the Hervey Bay Botanic Gardens
Established in 1979, the Botanic Gardens spans 26 hectares and includes natural bush land, formal gardens, wetlands and rain forest.
The gardens are a popular place to let the kids run off some energy or kick back and enjoy a family picnic.
There are some cool places to explore within the gardens, including the Orchid House with its 5,500 orchids, the Australian bush tucker garden, the formal Chinese-inspired Zen Garden, and the nature play garden.
Visit Nearby Maryborough
Located around a 30-minute drive from Hervey Bay is the charming city of Maryborough, one of the hidden gems of the Fraser Coast region.
Maryborough’s rich history, beautiful heritage buildings and many museums and attractions make it worth spending a day to explore.
- The poignant Gallipoli to Armistice memorial
- The impressive War & Colonial History Museum
- The whimsical Story Bank (former home of Mary Poppins author P.L Travers)
- The historical Bond Store
- The intriguing Brennan and Geraghty’s Store Museum
Where to stay in Hervey Bay
There is a good choice of accommodation in Hervey Bay, with plenty of options to enjoy those water views. Here’s our pick of the best places to stay.
Oaks Hervey Bay Resort & Spa
Located on the Esplanade just a short walk from Urangan Pier, the Oaks is an excellent choice for families.
Its 1, 2 and 3-bedroom suites offer spacious lounge and dining areas, fully equipped kitchens, separate laundries and private balconies or patios, as well as great views over the water.
It also has two large swimming pools with a kids play area, plus an onsite spa and café.
Mantra Hervey Bay
The Mantra Hervey Bay is another great choice for families, with its 1, 2 and 3-bedroom apartment options.
Located adjacent to the Hervey Bay boat club, it is in a great location for day tours and dining out. Onsite facilities include a heated outdoor resort pool, kids pool, BBQ facilities and gym.
Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island
We definitely recommend spending at least a couple of nights on Fraser Island when you are visiting Hervey Bay.
The Kingfisher Bay Resort is our pick of the best place to stay on Fraser Island. This eco resort has spacious rooms, apartments and villas perfect for family stays.
There are loads of activities to enjoy, including a kids ranger programme, plus choice of swimming pools and restaurants.
You can read our full review here.
Getting to Hervey Bay
Hervey Bay is a 3.5-hour drive from Brisbane, or a 2-hour drive from Noosa in the Sunshine Coast.
Hervey Bay airport is serviced by direct flights from both Sydney (with Jetstar) and Brisbane (with Qantas).
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