With a passion for the ocean and qualifications in business and innovation, it was almost inevitable that Newcastle entrepreneur Dominic May would combine the two into a thriving new business. As the founder and creator of Newcastle’s latest whale watching experience, CoastXP, the 24-year-old is in his element, sharing his love for the coastline with boatloads of tourists and locals alike.
“CoastXP is about showcasing the best aspects of the Hunter coast, from the water,” he said.
“Newcastle is situated on the coast, and has such a beautiful coastline, yet we so rarely acknowledge it.
“In starting CoastXP I have been amazed by the number of Novocastrians who have grown up and lived their whole life in Newcastle, yet never seen it from the water, it is a completely new perspective for them.”
Dom grew up in Coffs Harbour with a love of scuba diving and freediving and has worked on board different vessels as a skipper, scuba diving instructor and maritime trainer in some of Australia’s best coastal locations including Heron Island, North Stradbroke Island, Coffs Harbour, Lord Howe Island, Port Stephens and Sydney.
He completed a four-year Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship majoring in Tourism Management/Leadership and Management at the University of Newcastle and was inspired to combine the skills he had learnt with his passion for the ocean, officially launching CoastXP on June 21 this year.
While they’re not the first to take a tourism-based business to the seas in Newcastle, CoastXP is certainly charting a new course in the industry with a custom-built boat and a focus on delivering an immersive, nature-based experience.
Coast XP operate coastal sightseeing, cruise and event tours, which depart daily from the Honeysuckle foreshore and showcase the breathtaking coastline of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. Tours focus on the marine life that inhabits the coastline, local geology, Aboriginal heritage as well as unique destination landmarks including wrecks, cliffs, islands, sea caves and ships.
From June to November they also operate the Encounter Tour, a nature-based immersion experience that focuses closely on the annual Humpback whale (Megaptera Novaeangliae) migration. Humpback whale numbers have been increasing at a rate of over 10 per cent each year, with more than 35,000 individuals passing the coast in 2017.
Dom said witnessing the incredible scenery along the Hunter coast and interacting with these curious mammals makes for an unforgettable experience.
Later this year CoastXP will look to launch its Adventure Tour, which will take in key destination landmarks while providing passengers with a sense of excitement and a rush of adrenaline.
All of the tours take place on board the Atmos, a custom-built rigid inflatable that can seat up to 20 passengers. It is constructed for a wide range of offshore conditions and features a large canopy providing shade and protection from the elements in hot, cold or wet conditions. Atmos is powered by two V8 Yamaha engines, giving a total 700hp to provide an incredibly safe and smooth ride suitable for all ages.
Dom said the vessel’s design allows for unobstructed 360-degree views of the working harbour and the marine life that inhabit it.
“Our Encounter Tour is a ‘whale watching tour’, but it is much more than just that,” he said.
“Every one of our tours is unique, no two tours are the same, and each tour visits Newcastle’s best coastal landmarks. Guests often get to see whales, dolphins and seals too.
“The boat is brand new, and custom built, so this definitely separates us from the rest. It is a high powered rigid inflatable, so guests get to see the sights with very little downtime.
“And finally, the experience itself (sets us apart). It is a personal one, tours are run by me, the owner of the business, and I make time to introduce myself and meet each passenger individually before, during and after each tour.
“Guests are given wet weather jackets on every tour for their comfort to wear while on board, and they also receive high-quality digital images of their tour completely free of charge.
“I love sharing our coastline with locals and visitors alike and also working with marine mammals; they are awesome!
“Through CoastXP I hope to help enhance the destination image of the Hunter coast as an aspirational destination to visit.”
Visit www.coastxp.com.au for more information.