Swimming with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef is an unforgettable experience and an essential activity when you’re in the area, so make 2023 the year you cross it off your list of things to do. One of the biggest fringing reefs in the world, Ningaloo Reef stretches over 300 kilometres along Western Australia’s coast. It is also one of the few locations where whale sharks recurrently gather each year.
Being in the water with the largest fish in the world is both thrilling and relaxing, as well as both awe-inspiring and humble. The size of a whale shark will make you feel small, but they are friendly filter feeders, and their interest in people has nothing to do with their need for food. Copepods, plankton, krill, and fish eggs make up the majority of a whale shark’s diet.
Here are the most frequently asked questions about Ningaloo whale shark tours.
When Do Ningaloo Whale Shark Tours Operate?
In Coral Bay, tours are normally available from March through the end of June, and in Exmouth, they last until early August. The dates of the whale shark season may change from year to year because whale sharks are wild creatures in their natural habitat.
If you take a Ningaloo Reef environmental cruise during the whale swimming season, which runs from August to October, there’s a possibility you’ll also swim with a whale shark. As late as mid-November, whale shark sightings were still common. Please be aware, though, that outside of the primary season, there is no assurance that you will see a whale shark.
Where Are Whale Sharks Ningaloo Operate?
Daily flights by Qantas connect Perth with Learmonth Airport. A 25-minute journey will take you to Exmouth after the flight, and then a 1-hour, 10-minute trip will take you to Coral Bay. Additionally, on Sundays and Thursdays between April and October 2023, Qantas will operate direct flights from Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport to Learmonth Airport.
As a substitute, you can drive the Coral Coast Highway from Perth to Exmouth and Coral Bay. This can be done as a round-trip self-drive vacation. Exmouth is about a 13-hour journey from Perth, and Coral Bay is around a 12-hour trip north of Perth.
How Do Ningaloo Whale Shark Tours Work?
Whale shark trips last the entire day. Expect to depart from your lodging at about 7:00 am and return sometime between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm. From a predetermined meeting location or your hotel, a van from your selected whale sharks Ningaloo tour operator will pick you up and take you to the boat ramp, where you’ll launch yourself onto the Ningaloo Reef. After receiving a safety briefing on the ship, you’ll get the chance to go snorkelling on the inner reef of Ningaloo as spotter planes hunt for whale sharks.
On the inner reef, where you may see amazing fish, coral and occasionally turtles, the majority of tours include two snorkelling excursions. You’ll proceed to the outer reef of Ningaloo after snorkelling on the inner reef by going in the spotter plane’s direction. When you get close to a whale shark, the boat will come to a safe stop so as not to disturb the fish.
A diving master serves as your guide when groups of up to ten divers enter the water, guaranteeing you swim far enough away from the whale shark to avoid being bitten. There are up to 20 passengers allowed on board most whale shark cruises, so you’ll be divided into smaller categories for the experience. Your guide will instruct you when to dip your head under the water and begin swimming after dropping you off in the water close to the whale shark.
Once you reach land again, a bus will take you back to your lodging.
Why Swim Into Ningaloo Reef with Whale Sharks
Here are the reasons why you should swim with whale sharks:
They Follow Ecotourism Principles.
Not only are whale shark sightings trustworthy, but Ningaloo whale shark tours are also ethically managed by a small team of licenced experts to guarantee a sustainable and environmentally-friendly whale shark experience.
They Hold the World Record.
One of the greatest sites in the world to swim with whale sharks is Ningaloo, which now has the highest rate of whale shark swim numbers and availability of interaction. In 2022, about 36,000 people went whale shark swimming at Ningaloo, with a 98.14% interaction rate.
They Have A “No Sighting” Regulation.
In the odd event that they don’t see a whale shark on their tour, the vast majority of Ningaloo whale shark tours have “no sighting” regulations, enabling visitors to attend the following available tour day free of charge. The best time to arrange a whale shark excursion is at the beginning of your trip before you book your flights and lodging.
You Can Learn from Them.
Each whale shark cruise in the Ningaloo region includes onboard instruction from dive masters, many of whom are marine life experts or scientists. There is also a possibility that the staff member will speak your language or, at least, they will “talk to whale sharks” and ensure that you have a pleasant day because many tour companies employ bilingual workers.