One of the best places in Western Australia to see and experience an in-water interaction with migrating Humpback Whales is Ningaloo Marine Park off the coast of Exmouth and Coral Bay. Approximately 40,000 whales migrate along our coastline each year.
You can see these gentle giants of the ocean on their journey between summer breeding grounds in the North West shelf and winter feeding grounds in the Antarctic. The best time for this is between June and November. Humpback whales are massive - they can grow up to 19 metres in length and way up to 40 tonnes.
What's it really like to swim with a Humpback Whale?
Interactions are completely on the whale's terms, so if the humpbacks behaviour and the weather allows, there will be the chance for a genuine wildlife encounter in the water with them. This is a full day tour, between 7 to 8 hours long.
When is the season?
Season starts in Coral Bay from 1 July and Exmouth from 1 August, both locations running until 30 October. However, being a natural event the migration period could conclude or extend around this end date.
The existing Whale Shark operators in Ningaloo have been operating the whaleshark swimming tours which allows these businesses to extend the whale shark season into the humpback migration (July to November annually). The Western Australian government announced in 2016 that in-water interactions with humpback whales would be offered as a preliminary trial for interested tour operators.
What's the success rate?
The results from the inaugural season (August to November 2016) were encouraging, with an average (across all operators in both locations) interaction success rate of 70%. Since then, in-water success rate has increased from 70% in 2016 to 76% in 2017. With regulations ever changing including the size of the whales we can now interact with, and proximity for boats to approach the whales to improve the non-swimmer or observer's experience, it is hoped that the in water success will increase to 85% with some operators already achieving this in-water success rate.
2019 Humpback Interaction Tour prices for Adult* swimmers
We recommend the following tour operators (in alphabetical order).
Please note: All prices in AUD$ and per person (pp) are for Adult swimmers. Refer operators websites for all pricing details.
Coral Bay from 1 July
Exmouth from 1 August
Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks NIngaloo - Exmouth - $410 pp Adult swimmer
Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours - Exmouth - $350 pp Adult swimmer
Live Ningaloo - Exmouth - $550 pp Adult swimmer
Ningaloo Blue - Exmouth - $410 pp Adult swimmer
Ningaloo Discovery - Exmouth - $325 pp Adult swimmer
Ocean Eco Adventures - Exmouth - $399 pp Adult swimmer
Three Islands Whale Shark Dive - Exmouth - $345 pp Adult swimmer
Depending on the operator you choose to swim with, the tour will be packaged up differently. All operators tour prices include a spotter plane to easily find the whales.
*Adult is any person aged 16 years or older.
Do NOT want to Swim with a Whale but DO want to See a Whale?
All tour operators offer what we call an Observer ticket price. Observers can still participate in reef snorkels and swimming with Manta Rays if found. They do not however participate in a Humpback Whale swim.