Our next stop after Monkey Mia was Exmouth for some serious mermaid time, but first, we had to conquer the Shark Bay to Exmouth drive. We had a lunch stop in Carnarvon, but mostly it was long, straight, flat roads again. We got into Exmouth with enough time to drop our dive gear off at the tour office, buy a box of beer and set up our tent at RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park. We went to bed reasonably early so we were refreshed for the next day.
We chose Ningaloo Whale Shark Swim to take us out for the day, as they offered dive options. They picked us up from the camp site we were staying at and drove us out to the jetty to get on the boat.
Our first stop was a snorkel site so they could check the fit of our mask, snorkel and fins. Matt and I brought our own gear, so we were all good. We jumped straight into the water and begun exploring. The water was a glorious blue and there was so much life.
Photo taken by the Ningaloo Whale Shark Swim boat photographer.
Once our guides were comfortable that we could all manage in the water, we were back on the boat. Ningaloo Whale Shark Swim has their own plane scouting for whale sharks, so it wasn’t long before were off, being directed by the plane to the location of our first whale shark. They were very detailed on how they were going to drop us off, how to approach and swim with the shark and how they would swap out the groups to get maximum time with the sharks. While they were talking Matt and I were struggling to get out of our stinger suits and into our wet suits.
Once we were at the whale shark the boat photographer jumped in first to take pictures of the shark for whale shark research, and then be spotter. As soon as she gave the signal we jumped off the back of the slowly moving boat, and got swimming. Our first whale shark was fast moving and a bit erratic. Matt and I both had our long scuba diving fins on, so could keep up with a bit of effort.
The whale shark was enormous and mesmerizing. You could see every movement under its thick skin and every spot on its body. We swam and swam, like they told us to, until we heard a lot of shouting… apparently we swam too far, haha. We had left our group far behind and the next group were ready to jump in. Our next swims went a lot smoother. We ended up with about 7 different swims with 3 different sharks. Although we took a lot of footage we were lucky enough that Ningaloo Whale Shark Swim provide a photographer to take photos of the whale sharks you see on the day, and then share all the best shots with you to keep.
Our whale shark video – very shakily capturing the footage of our swims.
We were supposed to go on a scuba dive on the way back in while the others had another snorkel, but the whale sharks were too well behaved and we ended up spending more time with them. Not that I minded one little bit. The Ningaloo Whale Shark Swim team provided a delicious lunch spread with salads and cold meats. We had time for a short snorkel on the way back in. The marine life was just so abundant – so much better than the Great Barrier Reef.
We had the most amazing day with Ningaloo Whale Shark Swim. They were very knowledgeable and were very keen that we understand how our fee would also contribute to the research into whale shark conservation and the health of the Ningaloo Marine Park. Would (and have) recommend Ningaloo Whale Shark Swim to anyone who was keen to visit Exmouth. The experience of a lifetime. We were absolutely buggered once we got back to our campsite, so opted for some fish and chips from Blue Lips (so delicious!) and then called it a night.