Swim with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef

Bird Eye Photogrpahy of Beachline Beside Trees

Swim with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef

Western Australia is one of those places that has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. Marvel at the seemingly endless, wonderfully untouched expanse of the landscape along the west coast of Australia, finally watch kangaroos and cute wallabies in the wild again, admire the breathtakingly beautiful rocky scenery in the Cape Range National Park during a hike and – my absolute highlight in Western Australia – with the majestic Whale sharks swim at Ningaloo Reef. In this article, let me tell you about all these truly unforgettable moments. Of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that even now give me chills and a happy smile when I think about them.

You can relive everything exactly the same way if you like. You will find all the tips and information for this in this post. I wish you a lot of wanderlust while reading!

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Ningaloo Reef near Exmouth in Western Australia

I’ll start this post with what is probably the biggest highlight of my entire trip to Australia, namely when I was allowed to swim with the impressive whale sharks on the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef. But first I would like to give you some information about the reef itself, because it differs in several ways from its world-famous big brother, the Great Barrier Reef on the east coast of Australia.

The wonders of the Ningaloo Reef lie dormant below the water surface for more than 250 kilometers along the so-called Coral Coast. While you first have to drive out by boat for several hours in order to be able to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, the Ningaloo Reef is spectacularly close to the west coast of Australia, so that you can even swim or snorkel the short distance at some beaches.

Over 500 different species of fish and 220 different species of coral live in Ningaloo Marine Park on and around the reef today. In addition to the whale sharks, you can also see turtles, rays and even dugongs while snorkeling. Ningaloo Reef is also home to many species of sharks, including hammerheads and tiger sharks.

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On the South Pacific island of Tahiti I was already able to witness how the song of the humpback whales sounds under the water surface and here at the Ningaloo Reef you can also meet the huge marine mammals, namely every year from May/June to October/November. The whale shark season, on the other hand, lasts from May to the end of July.

Swim with whale sharks off the west coast of Australia

Early in the morning at 7 a.m. I am greeted by the cordial team from Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks Ningaloo picked up at my hotel and taken to the small port. The boat is already waiting for the guests there. Our day starts with a snorkeling tour with a great view on the beautiful outer reef, where we are actually very lucky to discover a manatee.

But of course we all want to see the whale sharks. For this we have to leave the reef completely behind us with the boat and go out onto the open ocean. Because out there, in the dark blue depths, the majestic animals are staying. Two “spotter planes” are already in the air and are looking for the whale sharks for us.

After a short, informative briefing on how to behave correctly when dealing with the huge animals, it’s off straight into the cool water. As soon as I dip my head under the surface of the water, I see the whale shark appearing in the distance. He leisurely swims past our group. We can swim with him for several minutes, which is really an extraordinary, unforgettable and wonderful experience.

Actually, I almost lack the words to describe these moments under water aptly. You just have to experience it yourself, with all your senses!

In total we swim with 3 different whale sharks on this sunny day, including one of them several times. Looking back now, I can’t believe how lucky we were. Because not only were the animals always there, but also the view under water was absolutely unique.

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After a delicious lunch on the boat, we make our way back to the inner reef, where a final snorkeling session in the shallow, turquoise water awaits us. I can only warmly recommend this tour with this crew, because everything that day was just perfect and absolutely incomparable!

Die Whalebone Brewing Company in Exmouth

Completely exhausted from that long day on the boat and under the water, but with a big happy grin on your face from all the unforgettable experiences on the reef, you’ll sleep more than well that night, I can promise you that. But before that, it’s time to go out for a delicious meal, namely in the super cool one Whalebone Brewing Company.

“The best way to end your day on the Ningaloo” is written on the website of the Whalebone Brewing Company and I can subscribe to this slogan just like that!

In a wonderfully rustic setting you sit outside under fairy lights and stars, sip on a tasty craft beer and feast on the most delicious pizza with a special regional touch. By the way, the cheeseburger pizza is my absolute favorite! If you’re lucky, a live band will even accompany the evening of your visit with atmospheric music.

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Exmouth: sleep comfortably on Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia

Just a few minutes’ walk from the Whalebone Brewing Company, the Exmouth Escape Resort in a very central location. The rooms are clean and functional in a self-catering apartment style and all have a small kitchenette. However, I recommend that you do not cook yourself, because the Whalers Restaurant, which belongs to the hotel, is really famous for its exquisite cuisine. There is also a relatively large pool if you are looking to cool off in the hot afternoon hours.

Explore the Cape Range National Park on the west coast of Australia

One highlight chases the next here in Western Australia. Today, the day’s explorations do not start in the water but on land, namely with a trip to the scenically very impressive and beautiful Cape Range National Park, which spreads over around 500 square kilometers directly on the west coast of the North West Cape peninsula.

The bushland so typical of Western Australia and the impressive gorges and canyons made of orange and reddish rocks form a breathtakingly beautiful contrast to the snow-white beaches and the turquoise water in the background!


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It is best to bring enough time with you and explore the Cape Range National Park on one of the many great hiking trails, such as the Yardie Creek Trail or the Mandu Mandu Walk, all of which lead you through the original nature. Maybe you will meet one of the cute rock wallabies or even an emu.

In addition to Shothole Canyon, Charles Knife Canyon and Yardie Creek, the beaches are also fantastic spots that you should not miss when visiting Cape Range National Park. Above all, the crystal clear and incredibly picturesque Turquoise Bay invites you to swim and snorkel at the Ningaloo Reef, which starts right on the beach.

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My advice: If you would like to explore the Cape Range National Park as part of a guided tour, like I did, then I can recommend the provider Exmouth Adventure Co. very recommended. On the full-day tour you start with a short hike along the Yardie Creek Trail, then go snorkeling at Turquoise Bay, enjoy a delicious lunch at the Milyering Visitor Center, learn a lot of interesting things about the turtles that live here on Ningaloo Reef at the Jurabi Turtle Center and end it eventful day at Vlamingh Head Lighthouse with a great view along the coast.

Bullara Station Stay: real outback feeling in Western Australia

A super cool and very special place to stay is the Bullara Station. Here you get a real outback feeling, because the cattle farm is really in the middle of the endless expanses of the wild bush land of Western Australia. Edwina and Tim, the two owners of the Bullara station, really put a lot of effort into designing the extensive camping area.

With great attention to detail, every single corner and every building exudes the flair of a traditional cattle ranch outback lodge, wonderfully rustic and yet comfortable and cozy!

But there is also another highlight this afternoon, because the beautifully prepared tents from Camp Easy Ningaloowhich are waiting for us fully assembled and furnished especially for us at a beautiful spot on the Bullara Station campsite, promise a really great glamping experience: cozy carpets, pretty fairy lights, a soft bed with nice bed linen and a cozy extra blanket, the whole thing Vintage-style decoration… We really have thought of everything you need to feel good.

Especially at sunset in the evening, but also in the early morning, various walking trails at the Bullara Station invite you to explore the huge farm area. In addition to the obligatory cattle, you can theoretically also discover kangaroos and wallabies, which probably requires a little bit of luck. Instead, I was very impressed by the many exotic birds that fly around, especially early in the morning, and bring the Western Australian bush to life with their concert!

Well, was I able to get you excited about Western Australia with this post? Are swimming with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef and a road trip along the west coast of Australia on your bucket list or have you already discovered these very special places? Feel free to share your thoughts with me as part of a comment here on my travel blog, I am very happy about it!



*This article is a collaboration between the Tourist Board of Western Australia and Tourism Australia. I was completely free in the implementation of the journalistic content and my opinion is, as always, my own. There are promotional links in the post. If you book or buy something through them, we get a pro rata commission. This does not change the total amount for you. Thank you!

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