Wildlife Sightseeing Boat Tour
Wildlife Sightseeing Boat Tour
See entertaining unique local wildlife on our boutique 1.5-hour sightseeing tour for just six guests.
Every trip will teach you something new. The 1.5-hour Wildlife Sightseeing Boat Tour gives you a personalised view into the beauty and richness of Port Phillip Bay. Everyone enjoys the stable ride and freedom felt on board our small and robust tour vessel.
First we cruise by the glorious coast of the Mornington Peninsula, viewing the sandy cliffs and immaculate holiday homes. We then head for Popes Eye – a glorious sight as the home to a unique colony of Australasian Gannets. Enjoy as we venture up close to resident Australian Fur Seals perched on their resting platform at Chinaman’s Hat. Along the way we’ll be on the lookout for cetaceans. Port Phillip Bay has a resident population of Bottlenose Dolphins and it’s a spectacular experience to see them jump, ride the waves and frolic in front of us.
- On-water boat tour, suitable for families and adventurers
- Limited to just six guests, you’ll enjoy an uninterrupted cruise on the bay
- The tour departs from Sorrento, VIC
- Private tours available
- Our professional guides are passionate locals about our history and wildlife on the Mornington Peninsula
- More detailed information below
Duration1.5 Hours depending on season and logistics
Suitable forAges 8 and up. Some restrictions may apply at times
Expect to seeSeals, dolphins, gannets, migratory birds, whales and diverse wildlife
DeparturesDaily at 11:30am October to end of April and then limited tours through winter
Children (8-14) must be accompanied by an adult
Style of TourScenic Cruise: Above water tour, wear appropriate clothing, it is often significantly cooler at sea than on land
Dolphin and Seal Sightsee Boat Tour
More about the Adventure
Touring southern Port Phillip Bay, you’ll see several unique features that are unequalled. Visiting Popes Eye, originally intended as a fort to guard the entrance to Port Phillip, it’s now one of the few known sites where Australasian Gannets breed on a human made structure in the world.
Australian Fur Seals, once hunted excessively for their pelts, are now fully protected and enjoy resting on Chinaman’s Hat, a man-made haul out platform in the bay. Here the seals get out of the water and rest after days of fishing. Seeing them up close you will be mesmerised by their presence, agility and adore their features.
During the summer months, the migratory shearwater birds congregate en masse at the waters at the heads, known as the Rip. The Rip is where the waters of the bay meet the seas of Bass Strait.
From around June through to August (winter), along the southern coast of Victoria, our waters are home to the migration passages of whales. Sightings of Humpback, Southern Right and Killer whales (Orca) are increasing year on year, but alas with little predictability. Visits into Port Phillip Bay are becoming more frequent and it’s possible to gain some amazing sightings.
Any other day seals, seabirds including gannets, pelicans, shy albatross or white-faced storm petrels may greet you out on or above the water. The Kavorca is a responsive and durable rigid inflatable boat purpose built for performance and stability in all conditions. Putting it all together, the sights are as unpredictable as the wildlife, just the way an adventure is meant to be.
Passing by protected marine parks and one of only 64 Ramsar wetlands in Australia, you’ll enjoy 360 degree views from our open vessel. Through sharing and developing understanding, we hope to aid protection and conservation of our significant nature and wildlife.
Make your way to Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula to meet your local guide and your rigid inflatable boat (RIB). Sorrento is around a 1.5hr drive from Melbourne.
Meeting at the Sorrento Boat Ramp Jetty at least 20 minutes before departure (allow more time in summer, as much as 30 minutes or more), you’ll be greeted by your Guide and introduced to fellow guests.
Hop on board and listen to a short briefing on what to expect during the scenic ecotour; it may be a lively ride.
Departing Sorrento, we’ll quickly gather pace and zoom our way by Millionaire’s Walk and Point King towards the Chinaman’s Hat, a man-made seal haul-out platform. Passing the wreck of the SS Wauchope (1877-1900), a steamship that sailed between Melbourne, King Island and Launceston, you’ll see the remains of the boiler protruding from the water. Passing by Point King, where Lieutenant Murray declared in March 1802 the ceremony of possession of this fine area by the European Settlers.
Be prepared for a lively ride as you begin to venture into the bay towards the Pope’s Eye Marine Park where the largest colony of Australasian Gannets and their chicks can be viewed. Port Phillip Bay is certainly underestimated for it’s rich natural wonders and marine life. On the return journey towards port, when you pass by Chinaman’s Hat it’s a grand opportunity to get close to the Australian Fur Seals, where you can watch them play and bark on their haul-out platform. Some may even pop their heads out of the water near your boat.
During the voyage we may see the resident Bottlenose Dolphins and if they’re not fishing they may even come to play. During the winter months we’ll explore the broader waters for whale sightings including Humpback, Southern Right and Killer whales (Orca).
Make sure you dress warmly – warm jackets, scarves, beanies and gloves are recommended in Autumn and Spring, sometimes even in summer. And remember your camera!
• Excursions are available almost all year round
• Excursions are 90 minutes in duration
• It is recommended that you book at least one week in advance of your preferred date
• Please arrive 20 minutes prior to your scheduled departure.
• Tours are weather dependent. In the event of rain or inclement weather your experience may be cancelled and you will be contacted by the experience provider
• If your experience is cancelled you will be rescheduled by the provider
• Please dress appropriately, the tour operates in open water
• The vessel motion may cause discomfort to those who are affected by motion sickness
• Warm layers are recommended as the temperature can vary throughout the day and drop in the evening
• As the vessel is open without shelter, you are recommended to wear clothing that may get wet, including shoes
• Sun Hat or Beanie
• Wind / Spray Jacket
• Safety equipment including life jackets will be supplied by the operator
What to Bring
• Only a very small bag, waterproof is better
• Re-useable water bottle
• Snacks, energy drinks
• Hand Towel
• Camera / Go Pro
• Seasickness remedies
Please note as the vessel is compact, it does not have toilet facilities so please prepare accordingly for the journey. We understand this may not be comfortable or suitable for all passengers. Several toilet facilities are available within 2-minutes walking distance of the departure and return location.
From Melbourne you’ll need to drive around 90 minutes south to Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula (allow 2 hours in summer, sometimes longer). Once you’re in Sorrento, you should park near the ferry terminal. Make your way to the Sorrento Boat Ramp jetty (at the end of St Aubins Way, only 5 minutes walk from the main ferry pier).
From Queenscliff, catch the Sorrento-Queenscliff ferry towards Sorrento and once arrived, make your way to the Sorrento Boat Ramp jetty (at the end of St Aubins Way, only 5 minutes walk from the main ferry pier).
Walk from the main Sorrento ferry pier along the beach towards the Sorrento Boat Ramp Jetty, just a 5-minute walk.
Sorrento Jetty (and Boat Ramp) address:
St Aubins Way, Sorrento VIC 3941
*On Google Maps make your way to the pin-drop for WaterMaarq Charters
The excursion includes:
• 90-minute scenic wildlife tour aboard a rigid inflatable boat
• Personalised experience for maximum 6 guests
• Local professional guide and expert commentary
• Insights into the local historical and environmental significance
• Safety briefings
• Opportunity to see migrating seasonal wildlife including Shy Albatross, Humpback Whales and Common Dolphins
Sightseers can see Australian Gannets, Shearwaters, Seals and the rich interior within the Bay, including glimpses of Ramsar wetland site, Mud Island. Discover the bay from a local’s perspective.
- Purpose built high speed eco vessel
- Jockey style comfort seating
- Full open vessel for unobstructed views
- Guided activities
- Qualified and experienced guides
- Amazing photo opportunities
- Tailored experience for small groups of six guests
• Parks Victoria use fees
- Accommodation Pick-up / Drop Offs
- In-water activities, this is a scenic tour only
- There are no toilet facilities aboard the vessel, please prepare accordingly
· If cancelled within 7 days of the scheduled starting date of the booking, a 50% cancellation fee will required by the company or individual
· If within 24 hours of the scheduled starting date of the booking, a 100% cancellation fee will be required by the company or individual. A cancellation fee will be based on the full cost of the booking at time of purchase
· Refunds are not available for bookings made via tour agents or third party tour booking providers.
Important Things You Should Know
• Children must be accompanied by an adult
• Children must be at least 8 years old to join the tour
• Please note that the minimum height overrules the age for safety reason
• Minimum height: 1.40 m
• Maximum weight: 110 kg
• It is highly recommended that you wear warm clothing and clothing that you don’t mind getting wet, including shoes
• Confirmation will be received at time of booking
• Subject to favorable weather conditions. If canceled due to poor weather, you will be given the option of an alternative date or full refund
• Minimum numbers apply. There is a possibility of cancellation after confirmation if there are not enough passengers to meet requirements. In the event of this occurring, you will be offered an alternative or full refund
• Not recommended for participants with heart complaints or other serious medical conditions
• Not recommended for participants with back problems
• Not recommended for pregnant women