Humpback Whale Tour or Whale Shark Tour?

Whale or Whale Shark Tour

A Humpback Whale Tour is a VERY different experience to a whale shark Tour. Its really important guests don’t book on the wrong tour for them.

Whilst whale shark tours suits people of all shapes, sizes and ages, humpback whale swimming is typically for the more adventurous amongst us, requiring more movement, more fitness and more skill.

A whale shark tour is about swimming with a whale shark and experiencing the best of the big blue of the Ningaloo on the day too. Tours run from 15 Mar to 15 September each year, and onwards from here if enough whale sharks are still around.

A whale shark tour usually involves a group of swimmers of all abilities swimming alongside a whale shark, as it proceeds on its merry way off the Ningaloo Reef. The shark is often oblivious to the swimmers around it, and usually swims at a speed most passengers can keep up with.

Swimmers will often spend up to an hour swimming with a single whale shark, and success rates of swimming with a whale shark are very high - long term, whale shark swimmers are 95% likely to swim with a whale shark on their first tour. Its an experience that most people who can swim independently in the open ocean to at least some extent can enjoy.

In contrast, a whale swimming tour is focused primarily on just one thing – swimming with humpback whales, and awesome whale-watching too. Tours run from 1 August until mid to late October.

Whale swimming is a tightly coordinated activity where just five Whale Swimmers plus Guide plus Photographer enter the water and swim towards a pod of whales. Using the latest hi-tech through water communications devices, our Pilot and Skipper direct the group to the best possible point to successfully interact with these whales.

The key to the whole interaction is getting the in-water group to the right location that intersects with the whales’ path as quickly and quietly as possible. So Swimmers need to be relatively confident in the water, and MUST be able to swim independently without any form of assistance or support for up to five minutes at a time. Swimmers need to be able to swim rapidly in bursts if so directed, and to rapidly respond to instructions from their in-water guide whilst they are swimming.

So whilst both tours include swimming with manta rays, and guests getting to swim" with whale sharks encountered, during a humpback whale tour as the opportunity arises, the whale tour is all about swimming with and some awesome whale-watching of humpback whales.

Bottom line, to get the best whale shark experience do our whale shark + Wonder Tour. And to get the best whale swimming experience do our Humpback Whale Swim Watch and Wonder Tour. For those wanting to do both, we offer a $50 discount when you book onto both tours – just ask our staff for our Package Tour discount.

Is This Tour Right for Me?

If you’re wondering whether swimming with whales is right for you – it’s a good question.

If you are thinking of swimming with a humpback whale, its more full on than our whale shark tours. Whale shark tours suit people of most shapes, sizes and ages. Humpback whale swimming requires you to be a confident swimmer and able to swim unaided in the open ocean for up to five minutes at a time. You also need to be able to swim quickly in burst if asked to do so by your guide. And snorkel quietly without splashing the closer we get to the whales.

If you are capable of this, we would LOVE to take you out into the Ningaloo to experience looking a whale in the eye. But please note that if you aren't able to do this, even if you book on as a swimmer we reserve the right to exclude you from swimming to ensure no other customers are disadvantaged.  Importantly, no refund or voucher will be made in this situation.

If this sounds a tad frantic for you or you are not a confident swimmer, then you are more than welcome to join us for one of the best value marine tours in Australia – come out as a whale-watcher and see the amazing surface displays of the humpbacks up very close and personal for yourself. As well as watching the swimmers interacting with the whales, and interacting with other amazing sealife on the Ningaloo. (You get to swim with any manta rays we encounter for free during your tour, and have the option to upgrade to swim with a whale or whale shark if there are spaces available and you are feeling confident.)

Our very experienced crew are almost all expert dive instructors, who have spent years teaching people how to snorkel well and become more confident in the open water.

Is the tour suitable for children?

Children thirteen years or younger are not usually allowed to swim with a humpback whale unless their parents can vouch that they are very confident, independent snorkelers that will easily be able to keep up with their in-water group and not require any assistance from the parents whilst in the water. (We do need to reserve the right to exclude the child from their group if this turns out not to be the case, with no refund or voucher being due or payable in this situation.)