Is there something holding you back? Is it the price? Is it your swimming skills? Or is it the size of the whale shark? Well let me tell you, I was just a backpacker, not a very good swimmer, and not very comfortable with the idea of being so close to such a big animal. I still did it, and I would gladly do it all over again, as it one of the most amazing experience in my life.
When Is The Best Time of the Year?
Every year, whale sharks migrate from March to August, along the Ningaloo Reef (You can read more about the Ningaloo Reef as a World Heritage listed site here). Visitors from all over the world visit the Ningaloo Reef during the peak season to see the world’s biggest fish! I was lucky enough to see the whale sharks in Exmouth around mid-September, when they were supposed to have already left.
The experience is opened to swimmers of all ages. Some noodles are provided for the least confident swimmers (like me) and usually the crew is always very helpful and can even hold your hand in the water.
Where & How ?
Several Day tours operate daily during the season from both Exmouth and Coral Bay. The day usually begins with a snorkel in the beautiful Ningaloo Reef Lagoon. You have plenty of time to explore the coral gardens and see all sort of extraordinary wildlife. It also gives you a chance to get comfortable with the snorkelling equipment. Meanwhile, some spotter planes are trying to locate the whale sharks.
Back on the boat and heading up to the whale sharks location, the boast cruise crew will run through all safety details you need to know. One of the most important rule is that only ten people at a time can swim alongside the whale shark (conditions issued via the Department of Parks & Wildlife). You will be dropped with your group at the perfect position, so all that’s left for you to do is keep swimming and let yourself be overwhelmed by the experience (you will probably have the occasion to do multiple swim with different whale sharks, depending on the situation… How exciting!). All I can say is that your experience will be unforgettable! And if you have some energy left, there could be an option for another quick snorkel over another coral garden (that’s when I spotted a pod of dolphins!)
Now you’re probably wondering about your budget… Depending on the seasons and if you get to see whale sharks or not, prices vary from 250 to 395$. It can be a bit pricy, but at the same time, you will only get to experience this once in your life!
Whale Sharks Facts
- Whale sharks are massive (up to 18m long).
- The Ningaloo Reef is one of the only places on the planet they appear regularly in large numbers.
- They feed almost exclusively on plankton (whale sharks are filter-feeders, the filters pad serve to seperate food from water)
- They can live up to 70 years, 100 years, sometimes a bit more.
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature considered them as an endangered species.