You may have noticed a new boat on Newcastle Harbour over the past 18 months...that's Dom May, owner and operator of CoastXP, an adventure boating experience that explores the Newcastle coastline.
Growing up in Coffs Harbour, Dom moved to Newcastle in 2013. Prior to the move, Dom had worked as a commercial boat master and scuba diver instructor, diving up and down Australia’s east coast in places like Heron, North Stradbroke and Lord Howe islands. Of starting CoastXP in Newcastle, Dom says 'I like interacting with people, working in and around the ocean and on boats. Thankfully, I was able to pull all of those elements together in a city that I fell in love with.'
You’ve got this amazing city that’s right on the coast, but it still has a big country town feel. To me it feels like a bigger version of Coffs Harbour with the luxury of having all the facilities that come with a big city. The community here feels a lot more connected than it is in a big city.
Everyone in Sydney congregates on or around Sydney Harbour, but I think we’ve also got an incredible harbour that is largely undervalued. In Newcastle you can have multiple experiences in a single ;day. You can walk, swim, surf and have coffee by the beach in the morning and then be wine tasting in the Hunter Valley or exploring the sand dunes at Port Stephens in the afternoon.
I moved here to study at the University of Newcastle. Once I finished my degree I wanted to align the things I’d learned with my passion for people and the ocean. I realised Newcastle lacked what I now offer with CoastXP. We have an amazing city that is on the ocean with an incredible working harbour, but many people who live here have never seen Newcastle from the water.
I’ve taken people out on the water who have lived here for 60 years and they say they feel like they’re seeing Newcastle with fresh eyes. I offer tours along Newcastle and Lake Macquarie’s coastlines any day the weather is suitable. I love getting out there as much as possible.
Being out on the water, exploring our coastline and showing people our incredible marine life, which includes whales and dolphins, is amazing. One of the best things about my job is I get to interact personally with the people I work for.
I actually get to see their enjoyment and have a positive impact on people’s lives. CoastXP’s groups are small and personal and I meet many couples and families. I’ve been lucky enough to stay in contact with people who have done my tours and many have become friends. I don’t think that happens in too many industries.
A customer, who is now a friend, brought his young daughter onboard and they were sitting upfront. Some curious whales came over to check us out and one swam directly beneath the boat. My friend had a Gopro in one hand; his three-year-old daughter in the other. It was such an incredible moment and made me realise all the hard work I’ve put in has been worth it.
Amazingly, while humpback whales are naturally curious they’re also well acquainted with their dimensions, so they know exactly where their entire 40-50 tonnes are at any given moment. They’ve never touched the boat but have come incredibly close. Fortunately our whale population is also growing so the chances of seeing them is on the rise too.
Go have a picnic on the grassy hill overlooking Bar Beach on a warm summer’s night with a drink in hand. It’s such a cracker of a spot; it literally doesn’t get any better.
CoastXP operates coastal sightseeing, whale watching (Jun - Nov), cruise and event tours departing from Honeysuckle Foreshore.