Sunday, June 16, 2013

A whale of a time

Day 5 (Thur, 6 June 2013)

Bright and early, we set off for our Morning Whale Watching Adventure.  Our booking came with a free pickup and drop-off which is great.  We didn't have far to go anyway, the dock is at Mariner's Cove which is just five minutes from Xanadu.

We were very fortunate indeed. It turned out to be a sunny day with calm waters. Our operator, Tall Ship, told us we couldn't have asked for more perfect conditions - swells were less than 1m.  Even with that and the fact that our operator uses a large catamaran, we still experienced some rise and falls as we headed out to the open sea. Lesley-Anne, a nervous sailor, didn't enjoy it one bit.

Whale watching at the Gold Coast takes place from June to November as the humpback whales migrate from the icy Antarctic Ocean to warmer waters.  The whales that come here would mostly be the younger males and the calving mums.

A lot of luck comes into play with whale watching since we're dealing with wildlife but luck was clearly on our side that day as we caught sight of a pod of two whales barely half an hour in.

Before the trip, I thought the boat would keep going in search of whales throughout the three-hour trip but that's not how it works. Once it catches sight of a pod of whales, it would stay within its vicinity. Generally, whales come up for air on a regular basis (the duration between such incidents vary among pods) so staying near a pod almost guarantees some great sightings. 

Our pod emerged regularly every 5 minutes or so. We had some spectacular sights, even managed to catch a rare whale breach (which is when a whale leaps into the air and spins before re-entry into the water).  Absolutely breath-taking! Too quick for photos though.

Towards the end of our time there, the pods came up very close to the boat. It's utterly amazing to be able to see these beauties up close. A priceless experience.

That afternoon, we made a trip to the beach. It's not possible to come to the Gold Coast and not visit the fantastic beach.  Last year, the Gold Coast was hit by a torrential storm and this resulted in pretty devastating beach erosion, as shown here.

Compare this with 2006 where you can see hardly any slope.

What this means is that in some parts, it's quite difficult to walk from the street to the beach as it would call for climbing down and back up a steep cliff.  Kenneth had to find an entry point closer to Surfer's Paradise with a gentler slope. Anyway, the beach is simply idyllic. 

As always, the person who enjoyed himself the most was Andre. Honestly, that boy can find fun in anything and anywhere.  Lesley-Anne relished the photo opportunities and went trigger-crazy, with Andre as the subject.

This is what I call the Chariots of Fire shot.

And one of the photographer.

Closing the sea-themed day, we treated ourselves to a seafood dinner at Mariner's Cove.  Hot Rock Grill is run by a Japanese chef, so the sweet marinade for his steaks is more to our liking.  The steaks are served on a hot stone while the sashimi is served on a cold stone.

We ordered two steak sets, each of which comes with a sashimi platter, salad, steak and fries, and a glass of wine (which we swapped for apple juice).

We also ordered a seafood platter for 2, which had giant prawns, a crab, mussels, crayfish, calamari, salmon sashimi and fried rice, with an assortment of dips.

Extremely fresh and the crab meat was very sweet with roe.  This was the best dinner we had in Gold Coast and it was surprisingly affordable - just under A$100 total.

If you're looking for a sumptuous seafood dinner in Gold Coast that doesn't break the bank, I highly recommend this one.

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