Whale Watching Tours Exmouth : Whale Sharks & Humpback Whales

Whale Shark Tours Exmouth & Whale migration

Every year from March to August, the world’s biggest fish visits the Ningaloo Reef coast in Western Australia.  The whale sharks congregate along the Ningaloo Coast feeding on the plankton along the west coast.  Tick this item off your bucket list with your chance to snorkel with these gentle giants.  It is the opportunity of a lifetime and visitors from all over the world head to the Ningaloo Reef during whale shark season and join an Exmouth Whale Shark Tour Operator or hire a boat to do just this.

These massive but harmless filter feeders can grow up to 18m long. They cruise the world’s oceans in search of concentrations of plankton to feed on, and the Ningaloo Reef is one of the only places on the planet they appear regularly in large numbers.

Why Hire a Boat

Imagine a day out on the boat, where you have found a whaleshark to swim with – it is just you and your family and no one to share with! Spend time with just friends and family snorkelling or simply watching these magnificent creatures at your own leisure.   If you are experienced in boating and swimming, then this option is for you! Extremely cost effective at around $300 per day – between 6 people this works out to only $50 a head plus fuel! This DIY option provides an extremely personalised experienced to see these great giants! For those less confident in boating and swimming – we do recommend  Exmouth Whaleshark Tour providers, although you are looking at roughly $300-400 per head these guys certainly know what their doing and you are nearly guaranteed of swimming with one!

Is it safe to swim with whale sharks?

Yes!  Despite their enormous size, mouths and thousands of teeth, whale sharks pose no risk to humans. With a diet limited to krill and plankton, you’re definitely not on the menu. Plus, with an average swim speed of 3 m.p.h. and already accustomed to swimming alongside humans, these gentle giants are very docile creatures.

When is the best time to see whale sharks?

Whale sharks visit the Ningaloo Reef each year between March and July to take advantage of the spawning coral, which attracts plankton that whale sharks love so much.

During the months of April to June whale shark numbers are that prolific that many of our clients hiring boats encounter whale sharks wwhilst out and about boating.  With whale sharks’ curious nature don’t be surpirsed if one comes right up to your boat and checks you out! You can save yourselves some serious dollars by 6 of you pitching in and hiring a boat for $300/day and going out looking for one.  Talk to us or other locals about where they are being spotted and you are on your way!

Where Do I need to go to swim with a whale shark?

Whale sharks are found on the west coast side of Ningaloo Reef.  Generally they swim in waters a with a minimum depth of 30m or more .  This means that you need to go to the back of the Ningaloo Reef in order to find whale sharks.  To get to the deeper water where the whale sharks frequent you will have to go through north passage.  Don’t worry this is well marked on all our boats GPS, so you won’t be travelling blind.

To access that side of the coast you will need to launch your boat at Tanabiddi Boat Ramp, which is located just over 35kms from the Exmouth township.  If you don’t have a vehicle to tow your boat, don’t worry we have that covered for you too.  We offer car hire and boat launching service to get you to Tantabiddi.  Tantabiddi Boat Ramp is a very popular boat ramp for both recreational and commercial boating activities.

Who is best suited to hire a boat and swim with whale sharks?

Our aim is to make your Ningaloo experience as safe and affordable as possible.  Diving with a whale shark utilising one of the hire boats requires a skipper who has a comfortable knowledge in operating boats  between 6m-8m in length and in the open ocean.

There should be a minimum of 2 competant swimmers in the water.  Since they are surface feeders all swimmers require are a snorkel and fins to swim with them.

Do check your weather forecast and make sure wind conditions do not exceed 15 knots and swell no more than 1.5m – 2m.

What can I & can’t do when swimming with whale sharks?

Swimming & boating activities with whale sharks are governed by strict rules set down by the Department of  Parks & Wildlife Services.

Boating Rules

To avoid potential conflict with commercial and recreational boaters swimming with whale sharks a code of conduct applies for boaters

In a nutshell if there is an existing boat (be it recreational or commercial) already swimming with a whale shark, then your boat must stay a 400m away from the shark.  The existing boat has 90 minutes to swim with the shark, then its the next boats turn.  This same rule will apply to you if you encounter a shark and swim with it.  Other vessels must stay a clear 400m away from the shark.  As a measure of good conduct if a commercial operator is already diving on the shark, radio the skipper and let him know your intentions to swim with the shark.  Commercial operators are generally pretty good and will let you know how long they will be when they are finished with the shark.  Note they will get cranky if you breach these rules and come within their exclusion zone whilst swimming with a shark.

Heres an extract from DePAWs code of conduct for boating with whale sharks.

Boating Rules for whale sharksSwimming Rules

Swimmers need to remain at least three metres away from the whale shark at all times, and at least four metres from its tail (this is also for your own safety).   When you are this far away from an 8m plus sized shark you are still very close to it!

Never ever touch or try to ride a whale shark – it can cause them undue stress and they may dive into deeper waters, thus ruining it for everybody.

Flash photography, selfie sticks and motorised propulsion equipment are also not allowed.  This will also avoid disturbing them and potentially sending them to deeper waters.


Suitable Boats for Whale Shark swimming:

We have compiled a list of boats below that would be suitable for swimming whale sharks or watching humpback whales.  All the boats details have features to make your whale watching experience safe and comfortable.  Key features identified:

Solid aluminium sides & size

Since you are virtually travelling into open ocean to view these guys, you want to be prepared for whatever the weather and sea throw at you.  The boats that we recommend are a minimum size and we strongly recommend you don’t go any smaller to save some dollars.  If the wind comes up (as it often does!) believe me you will want the comfort of something solid with high sides.

Lots of Shade

With sunny blue skies all day a common feature in Exmouth, some sun protection will be required for full days out on the water.  Our larger boats come with good sized biminis or hard tops to provide you that cover that you need for a full day out on the water.

Diving Platform & Ladder

Getting into and out of the water easily when swimming with whale sharks is also a feature you want in a boat.  All these boats come with a dive platform and a ladder so you can easily and safely enter and exit the boat.

Fully/ semi enclosed forward cabins

The forward cabins keep everyone nice and dry when the boat gets motoring along the ocean.  An open boat with little or no window and cabin protection will be a very wet trip home!  Trust me when the wind comes up only by alittle that salt sea spray will hit the deck as the boat punches its way along making it a wet and cold ride home.  If taking kids out that will be the last thing they want after a long day out on the water.

Boat Hire Exmouth WA

Ultimate Fishing Boat. Extended shade, Ouriggers, Yamaha 4 stroke motors, heaps of deckspace. Also servicing Coral Bay, Onslow & the Mackerel Islands, Karratha and Dampier.

Click Here For Full pricing, details and specs

Boat Hire Exmouth WA

Great stable boat. Ideal for families wanting extra shade and a comfy covered cushioned area for kids to rest out of the sun, Yamaha 4 stroke motors. Also servicing Coral Bay, Onslow & the Mackerel Islands, Karratha and Dampier.

Click Here For Full pricing, details and specs

Boat Hire Exmouth WA

Offshore Solid Fishing Boat. Lots of shade, Ouriggers, Yamaha 4 stroke motors, heaps of deckspace. Also servicing Coral Bay, Onslow & the Mackerel Islands, Karratha and Dampier.

Click Here for Full pricing, details and specs

Boat Hire Exmouth WA:

We have four 6m Forward Cabin Hire Boats avail. Lots of shade, Ouriggers avail, Yamaha 4 stroke motor. Carries 6 people. Also servicing Coral Bay, Onslow & the Mackerel Islands, Karratha and Dampier.

Click Here For Full pricing, details and specs
Exmouth Boat Hire

Why Hire From Us?


We’ve been around for quite a while! Exmouth boat hire has been established for over 13 years and has been serving visitors to Exmouth, Coral Bay and the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia


We know the area. We have lived in & fished in Exmouth, Coral Bay WA and its beautiful Ningaloo Reef for over 20 years and know it and love it well.


Good quality & regular servicing. Our priority is to make sure our motors don’t break down.


Bad weather=you won’t feel ripped off! While we can’t guarantee good weather and lots of fish, we can provide you with boat hire credit the next time you come up.


Insurance has you covered! We ensure that you have the proper cover so you will be completely protected from damage expenses associated with the boat hire.


We deliver to Coral Bay & Onslow & hiring from Exmouth to Coral Bay, Onslow, Mackerel Islands, Karratha & Dampier.