Whale Shark dives are commonly encountered in Mexico, Philippines, Maldives or Thailand. Its something we’d always wanted to do, however we hadn’t planned how and when we’d do it.
And then we arrived on the stunning West Coast of Australia and we were lucky enough to visit The Ningaloo Reef. The reef is commonly known as the Great Barrier Reefs little brother. We soon found out it had the most incredible marine life from turtles, sharks, dolphins to… WHALE SHARKS!
We could not resist booking a Whale shark tour!
Off we went to search and explore the reef with huge smiles and high hopes. We got kitted up, hopped on the boat, the spotter planes were up in the sky searching for the Sharks and we had our eyes firmly on the ocean!
Hours passed and as they did a little hope was lost. We had some snorkel stops to take our minds off the dread of loosing our chance to see the magnificent Whale Sharks.
During our snorkels we got to swim with Turtles, and even saw a Reef Shark cleaning station. Here we saw 9, 2-metre long grey Reef Sharks all congregating in a location where smaller fish cleaned their teeth – it was just like the car wash in Shark Tale, we loved it!
Time went on and still no Whale Sharks. Dolphins showed up and started riding the bow of the boat and then a 3 metre Tiger Shark just a stones throw away swam past, swiftly followed by a Sea Snake and a 3 metre Manta Ray! It seemed every animal in the sea wanted to say hello except the Whale Shark.
We continued to troll the ocean – continued to search.
All of a sudden the slow monotonous groaning noise coming from the engine transformed into a loud roar, with it the boat shot forward and all on board were thrown back into their seats. The spotter plane had just radioed in a Whale Shark spotting a few kilometres North!
As the Captain hammered his way along the sea bound for the Whale Shark, the boat went from a relaxing cruise to a manic panic to get on our fins, masks and wet suits. And before we knew it the boat was slowing down…
‘When you get in, you will have to make the most important decision of your life – to go left or right!
As we stood on he marlin board at the back of the boat the tour guide reminded us to keep our heads under water looking straight forward… We were jumping in the water straight in front of the huge Whale Sharks mouth!
All that ran through our minds was, ‘remember to swim left or right’ and that was it, the horn sounded and we jumped into the water. Heads were down, eyes scanning and we waited with anticipation, waiting to swim out of the way of this monster that would be filling our vision any time now…
And there it was!
We rapidly kicked left and with that began swimming alongside this huge animal. There was no possible way to have prepared for the size of it, massive is the word that comes to mind, it was a humbling, breath-taking experience.
By breath-taking we actually mean, it took our breaths away – this fish swam fast! We’d spent 5 minutes swimming with the Whale Shark and after that most people were very tired. We would rotate with a second group on our boat in order to have a rest. All of us under estimated how fast a Whale Shark could move.
After 6 rotations an hour had flown past and our time was up – by law tours are only allowed to spend 1 hour with a Whale Shark per day. After kicking hard to keep up with it we discovered that an hour was enough, we were knackered!
It was time to head in but on route the captain decided to throw a little celebration party, we had drinks, snacks and Pharrell Williams song, ‘Happy’ blasting through the speakers.
We all did celebration bombs into the water – It was a perfect way to end an amazing day!
The day was one of the best days of our lives and well worth the money and anticipation. If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Ningaloo reef grab it with both hands and prepare to see some of the most incredible sights of your life!!
Tour Information: Whale Sharks swim
At $380 AUD per person, swimming with Whale Sharks does not come cheap, but these guys have a serious operation going to find the Sharks. With a couple of planes in the air and a couple of boats in the sea it’s an all out effort to find the biggest fish on earth.
We used and would recommend Ningaloo Reef Dive. They also have many other tours to choose from such as reef snorkels, dives, swimming with Manta Rays and much more.
Whale Sharks are awesome! We loved swimming with them. Comment below, have you swam with Whale Sharks before?