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.
What is the difference between the sailing catamaran and the powerboat?
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 found 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 as it is very unique, being the only sailing catamaran that offers Whale Shark and Humpback Whale Swim Tours. It is very spacious, has 360 degree viewing areas and it 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 use of our famous boom net! Our powerboat Investigator is big and luxurious and gives guests the opportunity to sit up on the fly bridge for a wonderful view. It offers guests an unforgettable day on the water, with nothing left out at a slightly reduced cost
Do I need to book?
It is absolutely advisable to book 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 so demand is high! Spots are limited and groups are small to keep the tour intimate and enjoyable so you could miss out if you don’t book in advance! To book now, simply click HERE
What time of year can I swim with whale sharks and humpback whales?
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.
Do you use a spotter plane?
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!
Swimming with Whale Sharks, how is that done?
Ningaloo Discovery is permitted to get nice and close to the whale sharks due to special permission from Department of Parks and Wildlife allowing us to interact with them. By approaching them nice and close, as close as 3m, you will be able to enter the water with our experienced in water guides and enjoy them as they swim close by. We will do all that we can to maximise your chances of an epic swim with a whale shark. With the help of our spotter plane we can find whale sharks that are nearby and be directed to their exact location.
All of our crew have participated in Department of Parks and Wildlife Whale Shark Training Program so they are very qualified and experienced in how to swim with whale sharks. The crew will explain to you how to best swim with your whale shark to increase our chances of a perfect experience.
**Please note that you must have basic swimming ability to participate in water activities.**
What is Ningaloo Discovery's Whale Shark Swim success rate?
Here at Ningaloo Discovery we are proud to say that in the 2016 and 2017 whale shark seasons, we experienced 100% success!!! Every single person that came out with us experienced the thrill of swimming with a whale shark! Often swimming 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!
What is the policy if I don't swim with a whale shark?
While Ningaloo Discovery will do anything and everything in their power to provide you with an in water experience, we cannot guarantee the whale sharks will be found on the day, it is nature after all and they are not contained in any way. If you don’t get to see a whale shark from under the water while snorkelling we will provide you with a voucher* allowing you to return and try again for free! This return voucher will be valid for 2 years!!
*This voucher is subject to availability and non transferrable between individual persons or companies.
Swimming with humpback whales, how is that done?
Ningaloo Discovery is allowed to get nice and close to the whales due to special permission from Department of Parks and Wildlife allowing us to view them perfectly from the deck of our sailing catamaran Windcheetah. By observing their behaviour and approaching them as close as 30m, 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 allowed 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 have basic swimming ability to participate in water activities.
Please note, to participate in swimming with the humpback whales, you need to be a strong and confident swimmer in the open ocean.
What is the policy if I don't swim with a Humpback Whale?
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 under 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.
Do I need to be a good swimmer/snorkeller?
To enter the water you must have a basic swimming ability. Swimming with whale sharks and humpback whales 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. 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!
Where are your pick up locations?
We offer complimentary bus transfers on all our tours from all Exmouth accommodation locations. Simply select your accommodation 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.
What if I get seasick?
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
- 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.
What age limits apply?
We have no set age limit for swimming with Whale Sharks and Humpback Whales!
The age limit for a child’s ticket is 3-16years. 17 years and over are classified as an adult. Children aged 2 and under are free of charge.
*Please note – children must not be left unattended at any time while on board. One supervising adult must remain on board with them at all times and be with them in the water when snorkelling or swimming.
What is included in your tours?
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. (2% transaction fee applies to credit card payments)
- Complimentary Professional Photography Package of the day. That’s right, ALL THE PHOTOS FOR FREE!
Can I bring my own snorkelling equipment?
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.
Tell me about the Free Photography Package. How do I get my free photos?
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 an online link, simply open it up and download!
Where do the tours go and how long are they?
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!
Where do we snorkel on the reef?
There are endless beautiful snorkel sites on Ningaloo Reef. Our skipper and crew will take you somewhere that they know will be spectacular on the day based on the wind and tide. 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.
What should I bring?
We provide so much that all we recommend you bring is the following:
- Your excitement and positivity!
- Warm clothes for after snorkelling
- Sea sickness medication if you feel like you may need it
Observers? What does that mean?
As an alternative, you can also join the tour as an observer. Observers 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 observer’s 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.
Why should I choose Ningaloo Discovery?
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.
What are your Terms and Conditions?
Please refer to the Terms and Conditions section of our website.