Shore Day Trip Live Aboard
Country: Australia Area: Western Australia
Water Temp: 19 - 28°C (66 - 82°F)
Visibility: 5 - 30m (16 - 98 ft)
Depth Range: 5 - 40m (16 - 131 ft)
Turtle Nesting – November to January, Turtle Hatching – January to March, Coral Spawning – March, 7-10 days after the full moon
Whale Sharks! The Ningaloo Reef off the coast of Exmouth, in Western Australia, is one of the few places left in the World where you can dive and swim with these majestic giants.
Exmouth is a small town on the Coral Coast of Western Australia, approx 1300km north of Perth. It is a very popular destination with divers due to the migrating whale shark population that passes through every year from April to July.
Ningaloo Reef is on Exmouth’s doorstep and is the only large reef in the world found so close to land, only 100m offshore at its closest point so can be reached by just stepping off land. Although famed for its seasonal Whale Shark encounters it is also rich in marine life and coral and is home to many more marine species such as Manta Rags, Dolphins, Sharks and the strange Dugong.
The climate in Exmouth is warm and dry year round, unlike a lot of Australia’s other diving locations there is no wet or monsoon season. This along with its constantly warm temperatures allows year round access to the reef and year round diving.
The water temperature varies dramatically from the winter months of June to September, where it is 19 to 23C, to the summer months of October to May, where it is 24 to 28C. This means depending on the time of year and your tolerance to the cold, you may need anything from a 7mm wetsuit, Semi dry or Dry suit to just a skin or 3mm shorty for exposure protection. So be certain to check the expected water temperature of the area and choose an adequate exposure protection.
Obviously the main highlight of this area and the reason it is world famous is the regular Whale Shark season which brings the biggest congregation of Whale Sharks in the world to the reef to feed. From Late March to July divers have the chance to dive and swim with these majestic giant plankton feeders. There are many companies offering not only dive tours but also snorkelling and whale shark spotting boat trips. Manta Rays are another seasonal visitor to the reef, which although can be spotted year round in Coral Bay 100km further down the coast, can be seen in Exmouth from May to November. Also the Humpback Whales which migrate from the cold waters of the Antarctic to the tropical waters of the Ningaloo Reef, to mate and give birth to their calves, can be seen playing it the waters off Exmouth from June to late October/Early November.
Marine Life at Ningaloo includes more than 220 species of coral formations and over 500 species of colourful fish, so there is more to see on the reef than just the Whale Shark. The white sand and blue water that are set against a backdrop of rugged limestone ranges are more important than just beautiful beaches to relax and sunbathe on, they are important nesting spots for the Loggerhead, Green and Hawksbill Turtles. This takes place from November to February each year and then 8 to 12 weeks later the baby turtles can be seen emerging and making their way down to the ocean.
One of the main diving areas near Exmouth is the Muiron Islands which are 10km offshore. The maximum depth is 20m and they generally have very gentle currents so have excellent sites for beginners as well as experienced divers. There are swimthroughs and ledges in a lot of the sites and they are home to a diverse range of macro life such as nudibranches, shrimps and other timid creatures as well as the larger pelagics in season.
The Navy Pier is another very popular dive of the Ningaloo Reef, rated by many people as the best site of the area and one of the top shore dives in the world. One of the reasons why are the large congregations of fish including big schools of trevally, barracuda and snapper, you can also spot some wobbegong sharks lurking under the pier.
The town is quite a distance to travel from any major city but can be reached by a domestic flight to a nearby airport in Learmonth. If you have time to spare, or are touring Western Australia the other option would be to take a bus or hire a car and take a leisurely tour up the coast from Perth and take in all the unique beauty of the area.
Exmouth although tricky to get to is worth the extra effort and is a brilliant place to visit and dive, especially if you are passionate about wildlife not just underwater but also on land. It’s ideally positioned for trips not only to explore Ningaloo, but also the Cape Range National Park, which is situated just 40km from Exmouth.
The area is made up of gorges, deep canyons and pristine beaches home to Red Kangaroos, wallabies and wild emus which can regularly be seen roaming the streets in the park.This huge variety of habitats to visit makes Exmouth brilliant for both divers looking at a dedicated dive holiday or diving mixed in with some trekking and exploration of the land based National parks as well as the Marine Parks.
A dive on Navy Pier is always spectacular. SIngle or double dives depending on the tides are on offer with Whaleshark 'n Dive. I went yesterday with my son and saw large schools of trevally, barracuda, dozens of big cod, lion fish and my favourites...sharks. There is loads of macro stuff on the pylons if you take the time to look. And there is also the chance to see the BFG ( Big Friendly Grouper ). I have named him Cyril and he is enormous. Every dive I do there is fantastic. Rated as one of the 10 best shore dives in the world and I would have to agree. A must do for any diver!!!
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