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Award-winning Whale Shark Tours Exmouth

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Whale Shark Tours in Exmouth

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Award Winning Whale Shark Experience

Tours

Unforgettable Whale Shark Swim Experience

An exhilarating, once-in-a-lifetime adventure awaits you on the spectacular crystal clear waters of the Ningaloo Reef. Explore this magnificent aquatic wonderland and experience a wildlife encounter like no other with our breathtaking whale shark tours in Exmouth.

01

Whale Shark Tour

Early March - Late July

Just below the water's surface is an abundance of awe-inspiring wildlife waiting to be found. Snorkel in the pristine marine wonderland of the world heritage listed Ningaloo marine park and get up close to the sea's gentle giants - the iconic whale sharks of Exmouth. Join the award-winning team at Three Islands Whale Shark Dive...

Whale Shark Tour
02

Humpback Whale Tour

Early August - Mid October

Ningaloo Reef sees one of the largest populations of migrating Humpback Whales and is one of only a handful of places you can (legally) swim with them in the world. These majestic creatures cruise past the West Australian coast each year, providing the perfect opportunity to observe them up close on board our customised vessel.

humpback whale swim ningaloo
03

Off Peak Whale Shark & Ningaloo Reef Tour

Early August - Mid October

Set alongside the rugged red limestone ranges of Cape Range, the sparkling waters of Ningaloo Reef is an underwater coral playground for an array of marine life. Spend an unforgettable day immersed in the beauty of the coral coast. Be mesmerised as manta rays backflip and glide underneath you and a technicolour dream of tropica...

whale shark & ningaloo reef tour
Welcome to
Three Islands Whale Shark Dive

About

Award-winning Whale Shark Tours Exmouth

An adventure to remember for a lifetime

Located at Exmouth on Western Australia’s Coral Coast, Three Islands Whale Shark Dive is a marine eco-adventure tour company that specialises in whale shark and humpback whale snorkel adventure tours on the beautiful Ningaloo Reef. We’re passionate about providing an extraordinary experience that is as awe-inspiring as it is safe.

Our comfortable, state-of-the-art fleet is locally run, with crew ready to share their stories and give attentive, personalised service. We are also the only tour operator with a dedicated, professionally licensed spotter plane to ensure you get as much time in the water with the wildlife as possible. After all, that’s what you came for!

Safety tenders

Safety

You’re in good hands with our award winning tour

Meet Nigel and Neville the Naiads. These two boys are there for one reason and one reason only: your safety!

Our safety procedures and commitment to our passengers is second to none, and the added bonus of having these boats out there cannot be understated. Our vessels comply with national survey standards for commercial vessels so you can rest assured that all of the necessary safety equipment is on board and functional.

During our morning snorkels and the entire duration of the whale shark swim, one of these two boats will follow the group in the water. Enjoy your swim knowing someone is watching over you in the water, never far away.

Whale shark sightings

Our Boats

Equipped to ensure that your experience is as comfortable as possible

Say hello to our boats, Draw Card and Seafari. Both of our vessels were built in Western Australia, and their hull designs are well suited to the conditions found up and down the coast. Good design and functional fit-outs on both make it easier than ever to take in the breathtaking surrounds of the Ningaloo Reef when on the lookout for those big spotty fish.

three islands boats
Our plane

Eyes in the sky

Finding whale sharks for you to swim with

Our friends over at Ningaloo Aviation use their expertise and eagle eyes to find whale sharks swimming their way through the crystal clear waters. Having our own plane means, most of the time, we can work away from the crowds and tailor our day to suit our guests.

By working with Ningaloo Aviation, we also have access to more resources on tougher days – like when the whale sharks are a bit tricky to find. This partnership really does give us the best opportunity to find our big spotty fish friends and give our passengers the best experience possible.

The team at Ningaloo Aviation are the most experienced group of fixed-wing pilots on the Ningaloo Reef. Owner Tiffany is a local in the air here and all have flown multiple seasons on the reef servicing the local tourism industry.

Getting to Exmouth

Getting there

Where Desert Meets Sea

Located 1270 kilometres north of Perth, Exmouth is home to Ningaloo Marine Park and Cape Range National Park. Few places are blessed with the stark contrast of rugged ranges and crystal blue waters right on their doorstep, making this a very unique part of the world. Renowned for its white sandy beaches and amazing seasonal marine life, you can enjoy warm weather year-round.

Drive, fly, or take a coach – you have a bunch of options when making the trip to Exmouth. The 260-kilometre expanse of Ningaloo Reef runs down the western coast of the Exmouth peninsula, and is easily accessible from the shore.

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Ready?

An adventure to remember for a lifetime

Here at Three Islands, we’re incredibly passionate about the work we do and love to share with you our intimate knowledge of whale sharks and the marvels of the marine world. Are you ready to take the plunge into an adventure like no other?

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Award-winning whale shark tours

Awards

Three Islands Whale Shark Dive is a multi-award winning tour. We have been proud finalists in the Western Australian Tourism Awards for 12 years and medal winners on ten occasions – an achievement we are very proud of!

frequently asked questions

FAQs

What is the best time of year to see whale sharks in Exmouth?

The best time to see whale sharks in Exmouth is through March to August, during this time the whale sharks are spotted almost daily!

Are there any age restrictions for whale shark tours?

We have no age limits for our whale shark tours in Exmouth, our team will happily help the young out! For our Humpback tours, we do however require patrons are 13+ and are competent swimmers.

How close can I get to the whale sharks?

Regulations require swimmers to maintain a minimum of 3 metres distance from the whale sharks at all times.

Whale Sharks are not known to be dangerous to humans, these beautiful beasts don’t mind company on their travels in Exmouth!

Are whale sharks dangerous to humans?

What is the average size of the whale sharks in Exmouth?

On average, we find whale sharks in Exmouth to reach 12 metres in length. If you’re lucky, you may be able to spot one up to 18 metres!

What features does the tour boat offer?

Our boats, Draw Card and Seafari, were built here in WA and designed to best-suit the conditions on the Ningaloo Reef. The boats are completely fitted-out to ensure comfort throughout the experience.

How long are the tours and what’s included?

We offer courtesy transport to and from the tour, with snorkelling gear, swimming aids, food, beverage and of course, incredible snorkelling dives! You can see our full list of what is included here.

Does the company follow ecotourism best practice?

Yes, Three Islands Whale Shark Dive is ECO Certified by Ecotourism and is an EcoStar accredited business! The Ningaloo reef ecosystem is always at the forefront of our minds in all of our endeavours.

What is the 'no sighting' policy for whale shark tours?

For passengers who have paid for the tour as snorkelers, they are entitled to one of the following:

  • -A free repeat tour on the next available day
  • -A transferable, free repeat voucher valid for a two-year period from the date of the no-sighting
  • -*$100 refund per person

*Refunds are sent via credit card or nominated bank account, not via cash

How do I book a whale shark tour and what are the payment options?

Booking a whale shark tour with Three Islands is easy! Simply follow this link, select whale shark interaction tour, find an available time and finalise your tickets. Payments can be made via Credit Card, Bank Transfer or Cash.

Can you see orcas in Exmouth?

While not as frequent as humpback whales which migrate through the area in large numbers, orcas are known to visit Exmouth and Ningaloo Reef, particularly between June and August. A group of up to 27 orcas have been known to reside in the Exmouth Gulf for up to two months each year, timed to intercept female humpbacks with their calves migrating north.

Do whale sharks come close to shore?

In general, whale sharks rarely come close to shore due to several factors:

  • Food: Their primary food source is plankton, which is usually abundant in deeper, open waters further offshore. Coastal areas typically have less plankton, making them less attractive to whale sharks.
  • Depth: They can grow up to 20 metres and prefer deeper waters for easier movement and navigation. Shallow coastal waters simply don’t offer the space they need.

However, there are rare exceptions:

  • Plankton blooms: If plankton drifts closer to the shore, it might attract them temporarily.
  • Navigational errors: Young or disoriented individuals might stray closer on occasion.

Are there sea snakes in Exmouth?

Yes, there are sea snakes in Exmouth and the surrounding Ningaloo Reef! The area is actually a global hotspot for sea snakes, boasting an impressive biodiversity with over 17 species known to reside there. Some species include the Yellow-bellied sea snake, Olive sea snake, Harold’s sea snake, and Dubois’ sea snake.

Why do whale sharks go to Exmouth?

Whale sharks undergo massive migrations across vast distances, covering thousands of kilometres each year. Their exact migratory patterns are still being studied, but it’s understood that they follow food sources and favourable environmental conditions.

The Ningaloo Reef’s plankton blooms coincide with the southward migration of whale sharks from their feeding grounds in Indonesia between March and August. This abundance of food attracts them to Exmouth, where they stay for several months to feast and replenish their energy stores before continuing their journey south.

Do whale sharks bite?

No, whale sharks do not bite. Despite their immense size and filter-feeding apparatus, they lack the anatomical capability and need to bite. Here’s why:

No Teeth for Biting:

Whale sharks possess thousands of tiny teeth, measuring less than 2.5 centimetres (1 inch). These teeth are barely functional and serve no purpose in biting or chewing.

Filter Feeding:

They are filter feeders, meaning they strain vast quantities of water through their gills to capture plankton and microscopic organisms.
Their gills contain specialised structures called gill rakers that act like filters, sieving out food particles from the water.

Gentle Giants:

Known for their docile nature, whale sharks pose no threat to humans. They don’t hunt large prey and lack the aggression or predatory instincts typically associated with biting animals.

While their large size and open mouth might seem intimidating, remember they are gentle giants focused on filtering plankton, not chomping on anything bigger. So, you can safely enjoy observing and interacting with these majestic creatures without worries about bites.

Are there tiger sharks at Ningaloo Reef?

Yes, there are tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) present at Ningaloo Reef. They are apex predators that roam the vast waters of the Indian Ocean, and Ningaloo Reef falls within their range.

While not as commonly encountered as some other shark species like grey reef sharks and blacktip reef sharks, tiger sharks have been documented hunting and feeding in the Ningaloo Reef ecosystem.

  • Studies have confirmed the presence of tiger sharks at Ningaloo Reef through tagging and tracking programs.
  • Occasional sightings by divers and researchers have also been documented.
  • However, it’s important to remember that they are not as frequently encountered as other shark species in the area.

How far is it from Perth to Ningaloo?

The distance from Perth to Ningaloo Reef is 1,184 kilometres along National Route 1. It will take about 12 hours and 35 minutes to drive from Perth to Ningaloo Reef without break.

Is Ningaloo Reef better than the Great Barrier Reef?

Determining whether Ningaloo Reef is “better” than the Great Barrier Reef depends on your personal preferences and priorities for a reef experience. Ningaloo Reef has the following notable advantages:

  • More accessible: Closer to the mainland, offering easier access and shorter travel times.
  • Fewer crowds: Less developed tourism infrastructure leads to a more secluded and quieter experience.
  • Whale shark encounters: Renowned for reliable whale shark sightings during the season.
  • Fringing reef structure: Offers diverse shallow water environments for snorkelling and diving.

Why can't you touch a whale shark?

There are several reasons why it’s important to avoid touching a whale shark, even though they are gentle giants:

  • Mucus layer: Their skin is covered in a protective mucus layer essential for various functions like fighting off bacteria and parasites, aiding respiration, and improving swimming efficiency. Touching them can damage this important layer, leaving them vulnerable.
  • Stress: While not aggressive, touching them can be unpredictable and stressful for a whale shark. This can disrupt their behaviour, feeding patterns, and potentially lead them to leave the area.
  • Potential injuries: Even unintentional contact can cause scratches or abrasions on their skin, leading to infections or other complications.
Our tour diary

Blog

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