Diving Exmouth

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Exmouth, Australia

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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

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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. 

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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 Rays, Dolphins, Sharks and the strange Dugong.

Whale Shark, Credit

Climate

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.

Turquoise Bay, Credit

Marine Conservation

The town of Exmouth sits right beside the Ningaloo Commonwealth Marine Park, which is subject to intense conservation and research. Ningaloo Reef is the longest fringing barrier reef in Australia, and the park itself covers 2435 square kilometres. The park has placed considerable emphasis on protecting and studying the whale sharks, marine turtles and humpback whale populations that live and migrate through these waters. All fishing is completely banned within the park, and all tourism activities are closely monitored. It is worth visiting the park website to learn more about the progressive and intensive measures the Australian government has embarked on to protect their threatened marine ecosystems.

Fishes hovering, Credit

 
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Diving

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.

Underwater, Credit

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.

Turtle! Credit

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.

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How to Get There

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 coast, Credit

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Where to Eat & Drink

Exmouth has a decent variety of restaurants serving anything from pub food to curries. During the high season, the town becomes quite busy and reservations are a good idea for popular restaurants. Whalers Restaurant is a local institution, serving incredible Creole-inspired seafood dishes, kangaroo and fajitas. Nigaloo Health is a popular breakfast spot, serving inventive breakfast alongside the standard pancakes and eggs. If looking for a quick meal, a food truck behind the Potshot Hotel serves good burgers with chips.

Ningaloo Reef, Credit

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Other Activities

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.

Lighthouse, Credit

If visiting Exmouth with children, there are plenty of on and off shore activities for them to participate in. Some dive centers occasionally offer bubble making courses, but it is recommended to check with the particular centers in advance.

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Tips

Exmouth has a decent number of pubs that are busy – though not wild – most nights of the week. Grace’s Tavern and the Potshot Hotel are general favourites. On Friday’s, the Bamboo Bar is a local hot spot where most people gravitate towards if looking for a party.

Exmouth Austrlia, Credit

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Ask the dive community a Question

i am concerned we will miss the whale sharks in exmouth, W A

We can't get there until 14th July. Can anyone advise how likely it is that they will still be there?

Showing 3 of 5 comments. Show all
mediving

Vandra Allison

2 votes

Beautiful diving there either way :D

3

Desmond Metzler

0 votes

It will probably depend on the season and the weather.. and a bit of luck! How long will you be spending there (the number of days you get out will probably make the difference).

mediving

Vandra Allison

0 votes

It is 'in' season.. but as Desmond says usually they are brought in by increases in plankton and how long this lasts for depends on the weather and currents. Maybe ask dive operators in April when the whale sharks season has been so far you may be able to see if it is later this year or earlier.

May water temperatures?

Planning snorkel/dive camping trip to Ningaloo 1st half of may. Should I expect water temps down to 19 deg in May? (websites report a diverse range) Is a 3/2 full wet suit overkill for snorkeling? My home waters are in Hawaii and I'm a cold water wimp.

Thanks! tamar

withfriends

André Fernandes

0 votes

I think it should be more like 22-24 degrees C - bringing wetsuit might be overkill but depends on how you feel the cold! If snorkeling is one of the main reasons for your travel (or have lots some space in your bags) I would bring it just in case.. better to be safe and enjoy your snorkeling than limit the time you can spend in the water!

Erika Huddle

0 votes

I'm a cold water wimp too! I snorkel in a fourth element thermal skin which is meant to be the equivalent of 2mm. But up to you and what will make you comfortable. If it's sunny it will help as well as if snorkelling you will be on the surface and can soak up the suns warmth...although watch out for sunburn!!!!!! :)

Jonas Frueh

0 votes

I agree i would take a wetsuit as its better to be prepared and enjoy the snorkeling then feel cold and not enjoy it wishing you had bought your wetsuit

Rating 10/10

Navy Pier

Exmouth3 Jul 2012 - 3 Jul 2012

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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Oliver Whiteley

I have always wanted to get down to Navy Pier. Did you manage to get any photos of the Grouper?

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George Taylor

I was there a couple of years ago - totally agree - incredible shore diving.

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