Did you know?
Whale Sharks can grow up to 12 metres (40 feet) long and weigh more than 20 tonnes
Essential Information for your Whale Shark Dive
When are the best times to swim with Whale Sharks?
Ningaloo Whalesharks operate whale shark tours from the 15th March to the end of September each year, which covers the entire Ningaloo whale shark season in Exmouth, and we consistently have swum with whale sharks most years at these times. We operate every day of the season, the exceptions being bad weather, circumstances beyond our control, and needing a minimum number of passengers to run a tour on a given day.
When is your Booking Office in town open?
Our Booking Office at Shop 4, 1 Kennedy Street Exmouth opens its doors at 9am and closes at 5 to 5:30pm each day, depending on how busy we are. Drop by for a chat, none of us are shy!;-)
Emergency Calls After Hours
The office mobile phone number is 0408 146 508 for emergency calls outside of opening hours. Please do NOT use this number after hours unless it is honestly for an emergency. (eg. do not use it to make bookings after hours – just send us an email.) Please also be aware that this phone is not manned 24 /7 so we may not be there to answer it when you call. If this is the case, please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
What to do if you miss your pickup in the morning?
Sometimes guests fail to meet our tour bus when picking you up to head out on your whale shark tour. In this case, you will have the option of either
a) making your own way out to Tantabiddi (if you have your own car) to meet the bus when it arrives at about 8am b) coming out again on our next available tour standby, to try again. No refunds or guarantees apply in this situation, so please be out the front of your accommodation ready for your pickup at the designated time.
How To Join Your Whale Shark Tour
Please advise us where you will be spending the night before your cruise so we can organise where best to meet you to join your whale shark tour. Please do this when making your booking, or alternatively as soon as possible after you have booked your accommodation.
If you have not told us where to pick you up, please meet us at the rear of our Booking Office at 31 Maidstone Crescent at 7:00am on the morning of your tour to be the first on board your whale shark cruise bus. Please do not be late as the bus is usually running on a tight schedule and may depart without you.
We pick up all customers staying in Exmouth township from the front door of their accommodation for their whale shark cruise at around 7:10 to 7:30am. We pick up customers staying at Seabreeze Resort at 7.35am, Lighthouse Bay Caravan Park at 7.45am and Yardie Creek Caravan Park and Homestead 7.55am. We drop off at the end of the whale shark tour too.
Customers camping in the National Park meet the Ningaloo Whale shark Swim tour bus at the Tantabiddi Boat Ramp at 8am on the morning of your whale shark tour.
What to bring
Bring your bathers, wallet or credit card, a towel, sunglasses and a hat, sunscreen, and sun-smart clothing to protect you from the sun. If you think you may need it, seasickness tablets from a pharmacy (Please see section below on seasickness). We also recommend you bring a warm top as the winds can cool the temperature down even on hot days. And don’t forget your camera – but be sure to take care of it during your day. (As for everything you bring on board, every care taken, no responsibility accepted.) (And our crew love it if you bring lots of smiles too!:-)
Tickets and Reservations
Bookings are absolutely essential as many tours during the season are booked out well beforehand. Please ensure you book early to get your preferred dates to avoid disappointment. Book Online or or call our reservations team on (08) 9949 4777 (if in Australia) or +61 8 9949 4777 (if outside of Australia) to make a booking during office hours.
Paying for your whale shark tour booking
For your sake and ours, we prefer to take payment in full at the time of you making your booking. Simplicity means fewer moving parts, and fewer moving parts means fewer break downs!
However, partial payments are fine too. We require a payment of 20% on every whale shark tour ticket when you make your booking, which is non-refundable. (More is fine, and will be refundable if you cancel as per the terms and conditions below.)
The balance of your payment will then be deducted automatically from your credit card seven days before your cruise, to guarantee your place on the cruise on the date you have booked.
If payment cannot be taken from your credit card at this time, our bookings team will make every effort to contact you to organise to take your payment using the mobile phone number or email you have provided. We will hold your booking pending payment up to 72 hours before the start of your scheduled whale shark cruise. If payment is not received by this time, we will unfortunately need to resell the ticket you have not paid for as per our agreement to anyone else wanting to purchase it.
It’s important to note that only Telstra network has coverage for mobile phones in Exmouth currently. If your mobile phone is with another network you will be unable to receive mobile calls whilst in the area. So please ensure you check your emails regularly in the week leading up to you boarding your whale shark tour bus.
Credit Card surcharge
Please note a 1.5% surcharge applies to Visa and Mastercard payments received. Due to high fees, we do not accept payment via American Express or Diners Club. (Our sincere apologies for this inconvenience but their fee structure makes it uneconomical for us to offer these cards to our customers.)
Whale Shark Tour Guarantees
Our Whale Shark Tour Guarantees lead the whale shark tourism industry world-wide. We have developed these to do whatever we can to ensure each and every one of our customers has the best possible experience on our whale shark tours we can offer. Our Five Whale shark Guarantees include:
- Our Whale shark Swim Guarantee – We believe this is the BEST guarantee offered by any whale shark tour company in the world.
- Our Best Price Guarantee – We are the only company to offer this
- Our Bad Weather Guarantee – We are the only company to offer this
- Our Seasickness Guarantee – We are the only company to offer this
- Our Good Swim Guarantee – We are one of the few companies to offer this
If you are looking at different options, please ensure you check whether they also offer the above Guarantees to the same level we do. Your Whale shark Tour Guarantees are important, as a significant number of customers find out each year. Our Guarantees are our way of maximising the likelihood you are going to have an amazing day out experiencing wonder swimming with a whale shark.
Cruises departing are subject to bad weather, circumstances beyond our control, and minimum number of passengers required to depart. When you book we will ask you for your email address, a mobile phone number and the name of the accommodation where you are staying. If we need to cancel for whatever reason – which happens very rarely – we will make every effort to contact you to let you know, and to reschedule you onto another tour to go swimming with a whale shark.
On rare occasions we have to cancel a tour due to bad weather at the very last minute. This means our office may be trying to contact you between 6.00 – 7.00am on the morning of your cruise, so it would be helpful if you could have your mobiles switched on just in case. If we are not able to reach you we will then contact your accommodation to request they let you know as soon as possible, and / or drive around in our bus to inform you in person.
In advance, our sincerest apologies for the inconvenience if this proves necessary. However, safety is not something that we are prepared to cut corners with – its perhaps our single most important responsibility to our passengers.
There is no charge to you if we have to cancel due to weather. (Refer Bad Weather Guarantee above.)
Swimming with a whale shark
In 2013, more than 98% of all whale shark tours conducted swam with whale sharks. In the very unlikely event that you are one of the unlucky few, we offer our Whale shark Swim Guarantee (refer above) to take you out again free of charge on our next available tour – which hopefully will be the next day.
Whilst we are working with wild creatures and Mother Nature, we cannot guarantee any passenger will definitely get to snorkel with a whale shark. What we can do is commit to doing our very best to find you a whale shark to swim with – which is something we put a lot of effort into getting very good at – and to provide you with the best possible marine ecotour on the day, based on the wildlife and weather conditions we encounter, without compromising passenger safety.
Waiver of liability
All passengers are required to sign a waiver of liability to participate in a whale shark cruise. This will be completed on-board the bus or the boat on the day of your cruise prior to your departure. We respect the passenger’s right to decline signing the waiver. However, this will result in the passenger not being able to enter the water at any time during the cruise and does not remove the passenger’s obligations stated in our Cancellations and Conditions policy.
We operate our whale shark tours on the outside of the Ningaloo Reef, on the open ocean. (The coast of WA can get strong swell on the outside of the reef where there is no protection, however the snorkel sites are usually on the inside of the reef where there is more protection) It does get choppy at times and each individual is susceptible to sea sickness to a different degree. If you suspect seasickness will be an issue for you, we suggest you visit a pharmacy prior to the cruise to obtain appropriate medication and to follow their directions on how and when to take the medication. We cannot issue you with any form of seasickness tablet as they may interfere with other medication you are on or pre-existing medical conditions.
Rockingham Wild Encounters makes a number of sound recommendations to its customers to deal with feeling seasick in the best possible way, which Ningaloo Whale shark Swim wholly endorses and has added to these as follows:
- Take every opportunity to get back in the water. Even if you are feeling absolutely terrible! It’s amazing how quickly you recover once you are off the boat and refreshed by the water.
- Don’t go into the toilets to be sick. Warm, confined spaces will only make you feel worse.
- If you are going to throw up, please do so over the side of the boat to avoid the chain reaction effect on-board! And if you can make your way towards the back of the boat, and on the side out of the wind, that also minimises the smell for you and other customers.
- Sip water very regularly – if you are being sick it is important to stay hydrated.
- Keep your body temperature on the cooler side.
- If you wear glasses or sunglasses keep the lenses clean at all times.
- Avoid looking through cameras, binoculars, etc.
- Stay out of the cabin as much as you can.
- Look far away from the boat whilst feeling sick, rather than at things that are close up.
- Stay away from acidic foods before the cruise such as orange juice and coffee.
- If you start to feel sick, let our crew know so we can assist.
Access for the disabled
Ningaloo Whaleshark Swim has had considerable experience working with people with a range of disabilities, and their carers, to give disabled tourists a great experience swimming with whale sharks. Ultimately, it comes down to our team working with you to figure out the best possible way of helping you get the most out of your day. However Skybird II does not have wheelchair access, so you may need to be physically assisted to get on-board the tour bus, tender, and the whale shark vessel. Please contact us to discuss the nature of your disability so we can do everything we can to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience.
Importantly too, carers come out for free if their assistance is required in the water to help you swim with your whale shark.
Do I need to know how to swim?
If you can swim unassisted, you can enjoy coming out on a tour to swim with a whale shark. Snorkelling experience is much less impoirtant, and something we are very skilled at teaching you on the day. Whilst we have had non-swimmers onboard, and staff have taken them out to snorkel with a whale shark, we cannot guarantee that the staff on the day of your tour will have the time and the conditions will be right to do this on your tour.
Photography and Whale Sharks
Guests are only too welcome to bring their own underwater cameras to take photos when swimming with whale sharks. However, these CANNOT in anyway impact on other customers. Additionally we need to highlight that the additional drag of a big underwater camera rig may make it significantly harder for you to keep up with the whale shark.
We have one of the best models of compact underwater camera to hire for those so inclined – The Olympus Tough TG4.
BUT… we thoroughly recommend NOT taking your camera into the water, at least for your first whale shark swim. Why? Take the opportunity to just experience the wonder and awe of snorkelling right next to the largest shark in the world, the biggest fish in the world and a very amazing animal!
Let our onboard photographer take the photos – they truly take stunning photos day after day. And you get to choose the very best photo they take – yours for free as part of your tour. Or you can buy the complete Tour Photo Package for $50. Just talk to them on the day and they will spend a good chunk of it stalking you, taking great photos of you on tour from start to finish.
Please also note that Department of Parks and Wildlife regulations prohibit selfie-sticks used for photos, as well as duck-diving with whale sharks or SCUBA dives with the sharks. (You can SCUBA dive with the manta rays however.)