Sleep on the reef with Ningaloo Discovery, Ningaloo Reef, Coral Coast, Western Australia
The annual whale shark migration has begun.
By Jessica Wilkinson
Published: 13 April, 2017
Ningaloo is the only place on the planet where large numbers of whale sharks are known to visit so close to land every year from April to July. This year, the whale sharks have shown up in full force, and a tad earlier than expected. Arriving in Coral Bay in late February, they are now swimming the waters of the Ningaloo Reef in groups (which is very rare – normally they are solitary animals).
While you often get to swim just with one lone whale shark, this year you could be swimming with few at a time. There are a number of ways you can experience these beautiful creatures – day tours to snorkel and dive with whale sharks depart daily during the season from both Exmouth and Coral Bay, plus there are a few new contenders this year making the experience even more special. Sleep on a catamaran on the reef, go on an Ocean and Soul Safari or fly in a microlight over the reef to see these gentle giants from above.
Sleep on the reef
Ningaloo Discovery has released a new tour Ningaloo Live-Aboards – an overnight stay on a luxury catamaran. Spend the day swimming with the whale sharks, manta rays and tropical fish on Ningaloo Reef then head off for a sunset sail, dinner of freshly caught seafood and a night of stargazing. You’ll be sleeping on a luxury catamaran where you can lie back on the trampolines to look at the stars before retiring to bed to sleep by the sounds of the ocean.
Next morning, you’re right there and ready to jump back in the ocean followed by breakfast on the catamaran before heading back into Exmouth via courtesy coach.
Ocean and Soul Safari
Ocean and Soul Safari is a six day, five night guided yoga retreat inhaling the wild beauty of the West Coast of Australia at Ningaloo Reef. The women-only safari Includes guided daily yoga, reflection workshops, ocean activities such as snorkeling, sea kayaks, paddle boarding (SUP) and swimming with whale sharks, and land-based activities with bush and coastal walks.
You’ll stay four nights at a private wilderness beachside camp in Cape Range National Park and one night stay at a luxury beachside resort. As part of the safari, you will spend a day sailing on a catamaran while you find the perfect spot to swim with the whale sharks.
Fly above the whale sharks
If getting in the water doesn't take your fancy, opt for a different view and look at the whale sharks from above. Instead of impeding your views with a fully enclosed cockpit, take a microlight over the reef for a truely unique experience. Birds Eye View in Exmouth (with pilot Gavin) will take you high above the whale sharks, as they swim on the surface of the ocean. The microlight delivers a drone-like perspective and comes very close to the feeling that you are actually flying. Gavin is also an instructor, and if you’re keen, he’ll teach you how to fly the microlight, at first with the engine on and then with it switched off.
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9 unique Australian wildlife experiences
Australia is perhaps best known for its extraordinary wildlife and the possibility of close interactions with amazing animals—whether you're floating alongside a whale shark, spying koalas napping in trees or spotting a crocodile on the banks of a billabong, the naturally occurring water holes that dot the Australian landscape.
Dive the Ningaloo Marine Park, which protects a 260km fringing reef off Western Australia's mid north coast. Snorkel through coral lagoons in Coral Bay, swim with the huge whale shark, and 4WD red sand dunes in Cape Range National Park. The Indian Ocean Drive from Perth links Ningaloo with Shark Bay and the dolphins of Monkey Mia.