When is the best time to visit Ningaloo Reef?
Ningaloo Reef has something to offer all year round, but the absolute best weather months (in our opinion) are mid March, May, June, September and October. In these months the water is warm, weather patterns are consistent and it’s not too busy. The end of March/April (Easter) and July holiday periods are also beautiful but can also be extremely busy, making it more difficult for you to secure the tours of your choice. If you are thinking of visiting in these months please do book as far in advance as possible to avoid disappointment. The summer months (November to March) can be quite hot in the northwest of Australia but offer terrific fishing and snorkelling opportunities.
Can I touch a Whale Shark or Humpback?
No. Our licence conditions and respect for wildlife and their stress levels, as well as your safety, means that you must keep a certain distance from both Whale Sharks (minimum 3 metres) and Humpback Whale (30 metres). If the wildlife is accepting of your presence, you will still be able to swim fairly close.
Are Whale Sharks and Humpbacks dangerous to humans?
Whale Sharks are filter feeders and mainly feed on plankton and krill which is found in abundance around Ningaloo Reef during coral spawning, while Humpback Whales’ diet mainly consists of small fish. Neither have any teeth and do not see humans as food. However, these fish and mammals all weigh several tonnes each and Humpbacks, in particular, can display boisterous behaviour, particularly during mating season. Minimum distances are in place to protect both wildlife and our tour participants.
So…are Whale Sharks actually whales or sharks?
Whale Sharks are sharks – in fact, they are the world’s largest fish. In contrast, Humpbacks are whales – mammals who nurse their young with milk.
What happens if I don’t see a Whale Shark on my Whale Shark tour?
Whale Sharks and the other animals that inhabit Ningaloo Reef are completely wild and can at times be unpredictable. Despite our whale swimming rate sitting at 100% since we started in 2016, we cannot guarantee that guests will see a Whale Shark on your tour, therefore we have a no sighting policy. If you have joined a Whale Shark swimming adventure as a swimmer you are offered a free repeat tour on the next available day (which may or may not be the following day), or if you must leave the next day, we will provide you with a non-transferable voucher valid for 2 years. Observers are not entitled to a repeat tour.
I suffer from sea sickness – are your tours suitable for me?
We will be journeying onto the open ocean to follow Whale Sharks or Humpback Whales that have been spotted by our spotter plane, so some swell may be experienced. Considered preparing with anti-seasickness medication as recommended by your pharmacist or physician so you can make the most of your day. We recommend taking any anti-nausea medication just before we collect you for your complimentary transfer to the boat ramp so that by the time we arrive at the boat 30 minutes later the medication has started to act.
How good do my swimming skills need to be to swim with Whale Sharks or Humpbacks?
We recommend that all swimming participants are confident swimmers, and comfortable with snorkelling and freestyle stroke in the open ocean for up to 60 minutes at a time. You will be supplied with wet suits and flippers for your swim. If you don’t feel confident in your skills, you don’t need to miss out. You can join our tours as an observer and enjoy spotting Whale Sharks and Humpback Whales from the safety of our vessel or participate in our new Humpback Whale Watching Tour. We can also provide flotation devices for those who aren’t as confident in the water or suffer from any movement restrictions but still want to swim – please enquire about our arrangement when you book.
Do you provide transfers?
We do provide return transfers from Exmouth township. You’ll have the option to choose where you are staying in town when you book your reservation and it will be on your confirmation once you book. We depart from Tantabiddi Boat Ramp. If you do not require a transfer, you’ll need to meet us there, boots on jetty at 8:30am sharp. The full pick up list is below, the time slots are a gauge. Please allow for a 10-minute buffer.
Ningaloo Bed & Breakfast 7:35am
Manta Rays 7:45am
Exmouth Escape Resort 7:50am
Ningaloo ‘Exmouth’ Visitor Centre 7:50am
Ningaloo Caravan & Holiday Resort 7:50am
Ningaloo Lodge 7:55am
Ningaloo Lighthouse Caravan Park 8:10am
Yardie Creek Homestead 8:25am
Note: If you are staying in a holiday rental home in Exmouth, select ‘other’ and add the address when you book. We’ll retrieve you at 8:00am
Starting in 2020 we will also add South Mandu car park (inside the national park, also the location of Sal Salis, Ningaloo Reef pick up) at 8:00am for an extra fee of $100 per person.
I have dietary restrictions – can you cater for me?
Please let us know of your dietary restrictions at the time of booking, and we will do our best to cater to your needs.
Do I need to bring anything special with me?
Bring your bathers; sun protection including sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen. You will also want to bring a towel and a warm top or jacket in case of wind chill. If you require any medication, including sea sickness tablets, please bring this with you. We are unable to dispense any form of medication on board the vessel. Please note, our professional onboard photographer will be taking complimentary photos of you on your Whale Shark and/or Humpback Whale swimming adventures, so there is no need to bring your own camera unless you want to. All digital photos of you will be made available via Dropbox after your tour, at no additional charge.
Can you price match with any of the cheaper tours?
If you are comparing Whale Shark swimming tours on Ningaloo Reef, you will find our tours are more expensive than others offered. We are the only company specialising in a more personalised tour experience. We offer a maximum of 10 places on our tours, the lowest of all operators. Why is this important? Government guidelines specialise that a maximum of 10 people at a time can swim with Whale Sharks. Having a group of this size means that you get much more time in the water and don’t need to ‘sit out’ while we rotate groups on the tour. The intimate size of our tour groups also means that we can tailor the experience to each of our guests and you get a much higher degree of attention from us and rapport with your fellow guests.
Are you better than other Ningaloo Reef Tour Operators?
We are fortunate to be a part of an amazing industry – we are considered the leaders and Exmouth WA is considered the best place to swim with whale sharks and the only place where you may see humpback whales and whale sharks in the same time period. The truth is, all of the Whale Shark tour operators work together on tour day. The spotter plane pilots work with the captains of the boats and all of the captains work together, sometimes even sharing wildlife with each other throughout the day. No tour operator wants you to leave the Ningaloo Reef less than happy with your tour. We want to support the other amazing operators because it’s the right thing to do. Having said that, we do think we run the best tour, the difference between us and everyone else coming down to numbers. We chose to take fewer people on our tours although we have the same license as everyone else. We have made our decision based on our ethos of sustainability. It’s better for the wildlife we interact with, the people on tour with us, and our staff to offer small group tours.
I really want to try some delicious Exmouth Prawns…Why don’t you serve them?
At Live Ningaloo, all our commercial decisions are based on sustainability and helping educate our guests to support this unique environment. In its current state, prawn fishing is the most unsustainable fishing in the area and is sadly responsible for much of the reef destruction in the Exmouth Gulf. Until prawn farming becomes more sustainable, Live Ningaloo chooses not to support this industry. We promise to instead serve you a range of delicious food from sustainable, local sources.