Regarded as one of the last great ocean paradises on Earth, you can access this watery wonderland by simply stepping off the beach and into the sea. Why not join a tour and explore the outer coral gardens of this amazing fringing reef, or snorkel with the giants of the deep the whale shark (from late March through to early July).
If you forget to pack your snorkel gear, you can always hire some from the local dive shops.
Exmouth and Coral Bay provide an opportunity of a lifetime – to swim with the majestic whale shark. Whale sharks generally arrive just after the second coral spawning in April and remain until mid July.
They congregate along the Ningaloo Reef to feed on microscopic creatures known as zooplankton, offering this unique opportunity to snorkel with the world’s biggest fish. Don’t miss the Whale Shark Festival, held in May each year.
Reef Shark Nursery
Every year around Springtime, the shallow protected water right in close to shore becomes a haven for baby reef sharks.
It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in Coral Bay at the right time of year, when you can see the large school of small black-tip reef sharks (and a few white-tip reef sharks, too) darting about. They’re right in close to shore in only a few feet of water, so it’s easy to get up close to them. – Click here to find out more!
Humpback whales are the fifth largest of the great whales, weighing up to 40 tonnes. They make their annual migration up the WA coastline in winter, and can be seen from June to November along the Ningaloo Coast.
There are many great on-land viewing points where you may be able to spot a whale, such as the boardwalk located in front of the Ningaloo Reef Resort. You can take a closer look by joining one of the educational and fun tours or sunset cruises to see these magnificent creatures rolling around, slapping their tails and fins or even breaching clear of the water.
Humpback Whale Swim
In 2016, for the very first time in Western Australia and the Ningaloo Reef, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions granted special marine mammal licences to a select few tour operators in Coral Bay to allow in-water swimming with Humpback Whales. All tours focus on small group whale encounters for intimate, yet exhilarating experiences that will stay with you for many years to come.
The Ningaloo is one of very few places on the planet where manta rays can be reliably located year round, providing visitors the opportunity to swim with these very inquisitive and playful creatures.
Coral Bay in particular is a manta ray hot spot, with a resident population of mantas, many of which are so well known they’ve been given names. Isobel, Grace, Ouch and Whoopi are just a few of the local Coral Bay mantas.
The waters off Exmouth also play host to manta rays, with numbers at their highest between May to November.
Green, loggerhead and hawksbill turtles are a common sight year round along the Ningaloo coast, with the turtle nesting season running from approximately November to January and hatchlings emerging from roughly January to March.
With the continental shelf only kilometres offshore from the outer edge of the Ningaloo Reef, and the vast, shallow Exmouth Gulf offering protection from the open ocean, Exmouth and the Ningaloo Coast offers a wide range of fishing environments that are home to a bewildering array of prized game and sport fish. For this reason, the Ningaloo Coast is regarded by many anglers as Australia’s premier fishing destination.