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Frequently Asked Questions

Please have a read through our Frequently Asked Questions below.

Can’t find an answer to your question? Please contact us, we are more than happy to help.

With two beautiful boats in our fleet you may be wondering which one to choose. We take a maximum of 20 swimmers on each, both vessels are equally fast and will get you to where marine life such as Whale Sharks and Humpback Whales are spotted quickly. The itineraries for the tours are the same on both vessels and all the same inclusions apply. So what’s the difference? Our luxury sailing catamaran, Windcheetah, is the preferred choice for most. The vessel is very unique, being the only sailing catamaran that offers Whale Shark and Humpback Whale Swim Tours. It’s spacious, has 360 degree viewing areas and is the most stable boat on the reef making it the perfect choice for anyone concerned about motion sickness. Windcheetah has the added advantage of enjoying a sail on the way home and the use of our famous boom net! Our powerboat, Investigator, is big and luxurious, providing guests the opportunity to sit up on the fly bridge for a wonderful view. The powerboat is a slightly cheaper option but nothing is left out!

We HIGHLY recommend booking in advance. Ningaloo Reef is the only place in Australia where you can swim with a Whale Shark and the only place in Western Australia where you can swim with Humpback Whales, making the demand high! Spots are limited and groups are small to create an intimate and enjoyable experience so spots fill quickly. To book now, simply click HERE

Whale Sharks are most common on Ningaloo Reef between March and August each year. However we do often see them right through to the end of October on our Eco Shoulder Season Tours!

Humpback Whales migrate up and down the west coast in the winter months with the best time for interactions being August through till October.

Yes we do! We have a dedicated spotter plane in the air for all of our tours to find Whale Sharks and Humpback Whales for us to swim with. If any other marine life is spotted by our pilot on the day such as Dugongs, Manta Rays or Orca’s they will direct us to them so we can show you as much of Ningaloo Reef’s marine life as possible!

Ningaloo Discovery is able to be within close proximity to the Whale Sharks due to special permission from Department of Parks and Wildlife allowing us to interact with them. By approaching them as close as 30m on our boat, you will be able to enter the water with our experienced in water guides and experience their beauty as they swim nearby at a safe distance of 3m. Our crew will attempt to maximise your chances of an epic swim with a Whale Shark in any way that they can. Our spotter plane communicates with our crew and guides our vessel to the exact locations of the Whale Sharks. 

All of our crew have participated in Department of Parks and Wildlife Whale Shark Training Program, meaning that they are highly qualified and experienced in the art of swimming with Whale Sharks. The crew will explain how to best swim with a Whale Shark to increase the likelihood of a perfect experience.

**Please note that you must have basic swimming ability to participate in water activities.**

Here at Ningaloo Discovery we are proud to say that in the 2022 & 2023 Whale Shark season, we experienced 100% success! Every single person that came out with us experienced the thrill of swimming with a Whale Shark! Often times, our guests were able to swim with more than one Whale Shark a day! While we cannot guarantee Whale Sharks will always be found on every tour, our success over recent years speaks for itself!

While Ningaloo Discovery will do everything in their power to provide you with an in water experience, it is important to remember that whale sharks are a part of nature. Whale Sharks are not contained or coerced in any way. During dedicated whale shark tours, from February 28, 2024 to July 31st 2024, we offer a guarantee which provides you with three different options in the event of a no sighting day. You can review these options in our terms and conditions. From August 1st, 2024 through our last tour in November, we are operating within the shoulder season, meaning that there is no guarantee for this time period. 

Ningaloo Discovery is able to get within close proximity to the whales due to special permission from Department of Parks and Wildlife, permitting us to view them perfectly from the deck of our sailing catamaran, Windcheetah. By observing their behaviour and approaching them as close as 75m on our boat, you will be able to enter the water with our experienced in water guides and enjoy them from above and below the surface. We will do all that we can to maximise your chances of an epic swim with a Humpback Whale. With the help of our spotter plane we can find whales that are the most likely to be comfortable with us in the water with them. Swimming with mothers and calves is not permitted but observing them from the boat is a wonderful sight.

All of our crew have participated in Department of Parks and Wildlife Humpback Whale Swimming Training Program so they are very qualified and experienced in how to swim with a Humpback Whale. The crew will explain to you how to best swim with a Humpback Whale to increase our chances of a perfect experience.

**Please note that you must be a competent swimmer to participate in Humpback Whale Swims.**

While Ningaloo Discovery will do anything and everything in their power to provide you with an in water experience, we cannot guarantee the whales will be viable to swim with on the day. If you don’t get to see a Humpback Whale from the water while snorkelling we will provide you with a 50% off voucher* that can be used on another Humpback Whale Swim Tour valid for the remainder of the current season.

*This voucher is non transferrable between individual persons or companies.

To enter the water you must have at least a basic swimming ability. 

Swimming with Whale Sharks is done in a relaxed way and if you are not a confident swimmer/snorkeller our crew will assist you and give you comfort and confidence while in the water.

Please note you must be a strong and confident swimmer to participate in the Humpback Whale swims.  If our skipper determines on the day that you do not have the level of swimming ability to participate they may ask you to stay out of the water for your safety – please note we cannot offer a refund in this event.

As our tours are conducted in the ocean, conditions can be unpredictable. We provide floatation aids and an opportunity to practice snorkelling before your interaction. Needs some tips? Just ask your guides; they are there to help!

We offer complimentary bus transfers on all our tours from local (Exmouth) accommodation locations. Simply select your accomodation from the drop down menu when booking.

We cannot pick up guests from campsites within Cape Range National Park. If you are camping here please select “Meet at Tantabiddi Boat Ramp”, you should allow 30-40 minutes travel time. Our crew will be there to greet you.

Due to the distance we unfortunately cannot pick up from Coral Bay. If you are coming from Coral Bay, please select “Exmouth Visitors Centre” as your pick up location. You should allow a minimum of 2 hours travel time from Coral Bay. You can park your car there for the day.

Seasickness is always a risk when spending a day on the water. Our sailing catamaran Windcheetah is the most stable vessel on the reef and handles the sea beautifully. Windcheetah is the perfect choice for anyone concerned about seasickness.

Ways that you can avoid illness from affecting your day are:

  • Avoid drinking alcohol the night before your tour
  • Get a good night sleep
  • Eat a small non greasy breakfast prior to arriving
  • Purchase yourself some sea sickness medication from a pharmacy and take it as per the instructions
  • Once on board, sip water and keep your eyes on the horizon as much as possible
  • Sit out in the breeze, don’t confine yourself inside
  • Try not to think about it, sometimes your own mindset is the best preventative

We offer water and assistance on board to anyone who may feel unwell.  

We recommend consulting your pharmacist for motion sickness tablets in the event you may get sick as we are unable to refund tours due to sea sickness.

We have no set age limit for swimming with Whale Sharks and Humpback Whales, however, certain levels of swimming ability are required depending on the activity. A basic level of swimming ability is required for a whale shark swim, whereas a reasonable level of swimming ability is required for humpback whale swims. 

Our marine interactions occur along the back of the reef in the open ocean and conditions can be subject to wind, swell, currents and tides. On tour, as duty of care, we have the right to refuse entry into the water. On these occasions we cannot provide a refund. 

The age limit for a child’s ticket is 2-16 years. 17 years and over are classified as an adult. Children aged under 2 are free of charge.

All children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a swimming adult on all Ningaloo Discovery tours. Every child under the age of 12 must have an adult in the water with them for in water whale shark and humpback whale interactions (ie; 1 adult to 1 child ratio).  

All of our tours include:

  • Full day tour, 7:45am – 4pm
  • Complimentary bus transfers from your accommodation in Exmouth to the boat ramp and return. Flying in to Learmonth on the early flight? No problem, for an extra fee we can pick you up form the airport and take you directly to the boat. You could be swimming with a Whale Shark or a Humpback Whale the same day!
  • Experienced, professional award winning crew on board and supporting you in the water as much as you need. Interesting informative spiels about the area and the marine life will keep you entertained too.
  • Spotter aircraft to ensure best possible opportunity of sighting and swimming with the marine life
  • Small group numbers to maximise your interaction
  • In water experience with the Whale Shark or Humpback Whales
  • Snorkelling on the Ningaloo Reef
  • Quality snorkel equipment including mask, snorkel, fins of all sizes
  • Wetsuits of all sizes
  • Flotation aids and life jackets available on board if required
  • Marine specialists on board to answer all your questions and guide you
  • Opportunity on the sailing catamaran to assist with hoisting the sails or relaxing on the bow nets, daybeds or bean bags
  • Stand up paddle boards and kayaks for use in afternoon snorkel (weather and time permitting)
  • Yummy Morning Tea, Buffet Lunch and Afternoon Tea provided, we can cater to dietary needs
  • Sunscreen, water, dry area for your belongings and shade on board
  • Boom net on the sailing catamaran for towing along behind the vessel through the shallows of the lagoon (weather and time permitting)
  • All government fees and charges on dedicated Whale Shark and Humpback Whale Swim Tours included in the price. (1.5% transaction fee applies to credit card payments)
  • Complimentary Professional Photography Package of the day. That’s right, ALL THE PHOTOS FOR FREE!

Most definitely! We encourage you to bring any equipment of your own if you prefer. We do provide quality mask, fins and wetsuits but if you are more comfortable wearing your own gear then bring it along.

As our gift to you, all guests, including those not swimming, will receive all of the professional photographers photos of the day free of charge! A wonderful keepsake for you to remember the whole experience. Our photographers are very experienced using high quality underwater camera gear to give fantastic clear photos both from above and below. After the tour you will be given a Flickr link, which will allow you to access and download any photos provided. 

Ningaloo Discovery operates from Tantabiddi Boat Ramp on the western side of Exmouth Cape, right in the middle of where the Whale Sharks and Humpback Whales congregate around Ningaloo Reef. Our travel time between picking you up and being in the area where the Whale Sharks and Humpback Whales are is the absolute shortest possible. We arrive in the area early and can stay there longer due to our short travel times. The western side where we operate from is also the location of the Ningaloo Reef snorkel sites and home to all other wildlife such as turtles, dolphins, and manta rays! Anything around on the day will also be part of your tour.

Our tour departs Exmouth from 7:45am and returns at approximately 4pm. We make the absolute most of the day to ensure we maximise our time on the water to get you interacting with amazing marine life!

There are endless beautiful snorkel sites on Ningaloo Reef. Our Skipper and crew will determine the best location on the day based on the wind, tide and visibility. You will see coral gardens and hundreds of beautifully coloured fish. Keep your eyes open for a friendly turtle or a sleepy reef shark too. You never know what you will see.

We provide so much that all we recommend you bring is the following:

  • Your excitement and positivity!
  • Swimwear
  • Hat
  • Towel
  • Warm clothes for after snorkelling
  • Sea sickness medication if you feel like you may need it

As an alternative, you can also join the tour as an Observer. Observers on Whale Shark and Humpback Tours are encouraged to participate in all activities such as snorkelling the reef, relaxing on board, use of the Glass Bottom Kayaks and Stand Up Paddle Boards or even swimming with a Manta Ray if we find one. An Observers only restriction is that they will not enter the water with a Whale Shark, but rather observe the action from the comfort of our vessels. If an Observer were to decide on the day that you would like to try swimming with a Whale Shark or Humpback Whale after all, just have a chat to the crew. If there are spaces available you can upgrade! *Please note that there are only limited spots available for swimming with Whale Sharks and Humpback Whales. If these are all filled, Observers will not be able to upgrade on the day.  

*To participate in any in-water activities on an Eco Tour however, Observers must purchase a swimmer ticket.  

Ningaloo Discovery prides itself on 5 star service, quality and experiences. Here are a few things that make us special:

  • No age limit! All ages welcome to participate.
  • Our crew are all qualified, trained, experienced and incredibly passionate! They will treat you like royalty!
  • We are a multi award winning company. Multiple WA Tourism Awards, Tripadvisor Certificates of Excellence and we have been awarded certification in Advanced Eco Tourism by Eco Tourism Australia
  • No hidden costs. Our dedicated Whale Shark and Humpback Whale Swim tours are all inclusive of government fees and charges!
  • Family owned and operated. The owners of Ningaloo Discovery have years of experience, hold an Honours Degree in Marine Resource Management, have worked in Marine Safety and have travelled the world operating vessels and working in marine tourism.
  • A portion of your ticket price goes toward the conservation of Ningaloo Reef, Whale Sharks and Humpback Whales.

Please refer to the Terms and Conditions section of our website.

From our point of view – most definitely! Babes in bellies tend to love floating in the ocean and being on the water, but we do always recommend that you speak with your doctor as we don’t know the particular details of your pregnancy. Keep in mind that sometimes even the hardiest of tummies can feel queasy on the ocean with a babe onboard, so pop into the pharmacy and see what they recommend taking.

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