What's On

  • Written by Suzanne Fisher

In 2016, tourists will have the opportunity to swim with humpback whales in Exmouth and Coral Bay with tour prices being released into market this month.

Existing holders of whale shark licenses in Ningaloo have been offered the opportunity to operate the whale swimming tours which will allow them to extend the current whale shark season (March - July in Exmouth and March to June in Coral Bay) into the humpback migration (July to October annually).

All tours focus on small group whale encounters for intimate, yet exhilarating experiences that will stay with you for many years to come. There will be a maximum of five (5) persons in the water with any one humpback whale, with no swimmers allowed near mothers and calves for both the protection and safety of whale and human. This strict swimmer limit is in keeping with the Ningaloo eco-tourism guidelines in place for whale sharks where only 10 people can swim alongside a whale shark.

The humpback whale was previously an endangered species along the West Australian coast, but conservation efforts have boosted the mammal's population in the area to around 30,000. Several boat operators have already put together their tour offering commencing late July/early August - the whales are more often are there in Ningaloo from mid-July onwards.

The tour structure will combine the very successful whale shark tour model with the popular whale watching eco-tour. Interactions however will be completely on the whale's terms, so if the humpbacks behaviour and the weather allows, there will be the chance for a genuine wildlife encounter in the water with them! All operators are offering a full day tour experience, starting from approximately 10am (with free pickups available at local hotels - Exmouth only) concluding at approximately 5pm.

Some are offering a whale watching cruise price with an additional cost if there is an in-water experience while others offer an all-inclusive price. Three examples of Ningaloo operators who have set their tour prices:

  • Ningaloo Discovery will be offering the experience at AUD $185 for an adult ticket, offering guests the opportunity to swim with them for an additional AUD $95 PP. 
  • Three Islands Whale Shark and Dive will package the experience at AUD $295 for an adult ticket with no extra 'upgrade' to pay to swim.
  • Ningaloo Blue Dive will package the full experience at AUD $385 for an adult ticket with the option to purchase a professionally edited video and 150 photos taken on the day by Blue Media Photography.

All operators' tour price include a spotter plane to easily find the whales.

We recommend the following tour operators (listed in alphabetical order) in Ningaloo:

Coral Bay Ecotours - Coral Bay

Exmouth Diving Centre - Exmouth

Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours - Exmouth

Ningaloo Blue Dive - Exmouth

Ningaloo Discovery (formerly Charter 1) - Exmouth

Ningaloo Reef Dive - Coral Bay

Ocean Eco Adventures - Exmouth

Sal Salis (NEW whale shark and humpback whale operator) - Exmouth

Three Islands Whale Shark Dive - Exmouth


Now is the time to register your interest to swim with a Humpback Whale on the Ningaloo Reef in 2016!

As the humpback migration is a naturally occurring event, we anticipate the swim/tour season will commence from August 2016, but it could start earlier. By joining this subscriber list you will be the first to know!


The first whale sharks in 2016 arrived this week in Ningaloo on Australia's Coral Coast in Western Australia with tours starting with Ningaloo Blue Dive on Wednesday 17 February for a special price of AUD $285 (normally $395)

For more information or travel planning, visit Australia's Coral Coast.

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