Every year from March to August, the world’s biggest fish congregate along the Ningaloo Reef. These are the whale sharks! The chance to snorkel with these gentle giants is the opportunity of a lifetime and visitors from all over the world head to the Ningaloo Reef during whale shark season to do just this.
These massive but harmless filter feeders can grow up to 18m long. They cruise the world’s oceans in search of concentrations of plankton to feed on, and the Ningaloo Reef is one of the only places on the planet they appear regularly in large numbers. Very little is known about the biology of these creatures, so research is ongoing.
Day tours to snorkel with whale sharks depart daily during the season from both Exmouth and Coral Bay. This extraordinary experience is open to confident swimmers of all ages.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON YOUR WHALE SHARK TOUR
All whale shark snorkel tours are full day tours that all follow the same general structure. They begin with a snorkel on the coral gardens of the Ningaloo Reef Lagoon. Aside from offering the chance to see some extraordinary marine wildlife, this morning snorkel also serves as an opportunity to make sure that everyone can swim capably and is comfortable with their snorkelling equipment.
While the morning snorkel session is taking place, spotter planes head up to locate the whale sharks along the outer edge of Ningaloo Reef. On route to the whale shark's location, your guides will run you through everything you'll need to know to safely and successfully swim with your gentle giant. At least one guide will be in the water with you at all times while swimming with a whale shark.
Only ten people can snorkel with a whale shark at any given time. This is one of the conditions of the whale shark tour licenses issued via the Department of Parks & Wildlife who regulate the whale shark interaction activities of the industry. Your boat skipper, spotter plane pilot and guide will work in tandem to drop your swim group in the perfect position to swim along with the approaching whale shark, so all that's left for you to do is keep kicking and try not to swallow water as you gasp at it's sheer size and beauty!
The length of your swim is determined by many factors, including regulations, behaviour of the whale shark, numbers of whale sharks in the area, fitness of your swim group, and so on. But rest assured, your tour company will do everything possible to make sure your whale shark experience is unforgettable. And when there are multiple whale sharks in the area, this will include multiple swims with multiple whale sharks!
And the fun doesn't end there. Once you've had your fill of finning along next to the ocean's largest yet most elusive fish, the journey back to shore provides opportunity to spot some of the Ningaloo's other megafauna, including humpback whales, manta rays, dugongs, spinner dolphins and more! If there's time (or if you have any energy left!), there's also the option for another quick snorkel over another gorgeous coral garden.
WHAT'S INCLUDED IN THE DAY
These full day charters include transfers from your accommodation, buffet lunches, refreshments and all snorkelling gear. Wetsuits are available on request. If you require prescription masks or kids wetsuits please advise at time of booking.
All whale shark tour companies offer a no sighting policy which means that if no whale sharks are sighted on your tour, you can go out on the next available day for free, or book in a future date. We do suggest that you book your whale shark tour well in advance if you are visiting during the peak season and that you plan your whale shark tour at the beginning of your holiday. This affords you the best possible chance to go out the next available day in the rare event that you do not see any whale sharks on your first tour.
All whale shark tour companies will have either a underwater photographer or videographer onboard, who can provide you with a visual record of your day.
So what are you waiting for? This is an experience you will never forget!