Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures: Review of Derby Overnight Tour.

Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures: Review of Derby Overnight Tour.

Have you heard of the amazing natural wonder of the Horizontal falls?

Or, perhaps you have heard about the Horizontal falls boat trip?

I hadn’t, but Greg sure had. He put visiting the Horizontal Falls at the top of our must do list in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Here is our review of our overnight trip to the Horizontal Falls.

As retirees enjoying travel around Australia we kept meeting people talking about the Horizontal Falls. The discussions heated up as we entered the Kimberley, particularly as we moved towards the west. We met countless people who said they were going, or had been, to the Horizontal Falls. Out of all the Kimberley tours,the Horizontal Falls seemed to be the most popular.

About The Horizontal Falls

The Horizontal Falls lies in Talbot Bay, within the Buccaneer Archipelago, on the Western Australian coastline. This is one of the most remote areas of the Kimberleys and can only be accessed by boat, seaplane or helicopter from Derby or Broome.

There are two horizontal waterfalls. Water gushes horizontally, rather than vertically, between the narrowly aligned cliffs as the tides change. The tidal change at it peak can be 5 metres. This creates the spectacular horizontal falls.

Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures

Derby Overnight Tour

We decided to do the overnight tour from Derby. There are various Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures tours available from Broome and Derby.

The cost of the Derby Overnight Tour for us as a couple was $1,790.00 per couple (June 2017). That is expensive! But this was something Greg had been wanting to do for a long time. We decided if we were going, we might as well stay overnight.

Courtesy transfers to and from our accommodation

A mini bus picked all passengers up from the various accommodation sites around Derby. The courtesy transfer to and from the Derby Airport was included in the price.

Scenic Seaplane Flights

At Derby Airport we boarded a seaplane to take us out to Talbot Bay, in the Buccaneer Archipelago.

Horizontal Seaplane Adventures: Review of Derby Overnight Tour.
Boarding the seaplane at Derby Airport.

Let me tell you, we were excited. And we were not disappointed. The scenery on the way to Talbot bay was wonderful. We enjoyed views of the huge tidal mud flats out from Derby.

Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures: Review of Derby Overnight Tour.
Aerial view of tidal mud flats out from Derby

Then we flew onto the Buccaneer Archipelago. A highlight was flying over the Horizontal Falls before coming in for a water landing on Talbot Bay. The turquoise water in Talbot Bay was calm and we experienced a very smooth landing. This was when we caught our first glimpse of the houseboat complex where we were to stay. What a set up!

House boats

Three houseboats are connected to form one large hotel type complex. The houseboat includes overnight accommodation, meal, entertainment,and walkway areas, plus a helipad and shark viewing area.

Horizontal falls Seaplane Adventures: Review of Derby Overnight Tour.
Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures houseboats, fast boat and helicopter.
Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures: Review of Derby Overnight Tour.
Fast boat and helicopter in Talbot Bay.

Once on the houseboat, we were introduced to staff and allocated an air-conditioned small double bedroom. Bathrooms and toilets were communal.

Shark Cage

The first activity was observing the sharks being fed. The sharks swam into the cage to eat the small amounts of bread being thrown into the cage.

Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures: Review of Derby Overnight Tour.
Shark cage.

Anyone interested could get into an adjoining tank and observe the sharks from underwater.

Horizontal falls Seaplane Adventures: Review of Derby Overnight Tour.
Underwater observation of sharks being fed in the Shark Cage

Cruise into Cyclone Creek

Then it was time for Horizontal Falls boat trip. We excitedly stepped onto the custom built fast boat with 4 x 300 HP Yamaha outboard motors. That is massive!

Firstly, we toured sections of Talbot Bay and into Cyclone Creek. Cyclone Creek is an protected safe haven where boats go to sit out cyclones.

Here we saw the incredible natural environment. The cliff faces show dramatic evidence of geological uplifting.

Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures: Review of Derby Overnight Tour.
Cyclone Creek
Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures: Review Derby Overnight Tour.
Cyclone Creek

It was in Cyclone Creek that we first experienced the amazing rapid tidal movement – as seen above.

Horizontal Falls Boat Trip

Then it was onto the two Horizontal Falls. By this time it was late afternoon. Yet we probably spent ½ to ¾ of an hour at the falls. I have to admit I wasn’t watching the time.

Our highly experienced skipper navigated us safely through the first Horizontal Falls. We were taken through several times. What a great thrill be travelling in a speed boat going over the rough and tumble fast flowing tide. At all times felt safe. The boat was very stable despite the pressure from the huge body of rapidly passing water.

Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures: Review of Derby Overnight Tour.
View of the two Horizontal Falls

At the second Horizontal Falls the cliffs are much closer together. So the tidal flow and drop is greater. It was not safe to go through the second falls, as the tidal drop has to be less than 3 metres. But the skipper took the boat up close to the waterfall and we hovered in the fast flowing tide. That was amazing!

Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures: Review Derby Overnight Tour.
The second Horizontal Falls

The tidal variations change throughout the month. We chose to go when we knew the tidal variations would be at there peak.

On Board

We enjoyed watching the sunset over Talbot Bay.

Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures: Review Derby Overnight Tour.
Retirees Enjoying Travel – A perfect evening with pre- dinner drinks and the sunset view over Talbot Bay.

We were entertained by a vocalist and enjoyed a BBQ Barramundi Dinner. It was an early start the next day with a cooked breakfast served at 6am.

Optional: A Helicopter flight over the Horizontal Falls was an optional extra. We didn’t do this. But those that did said it was worth the extra money.

Then we enjoyed a sunrise tour of the Horizontal Falls. We didn’t realise we would go out twice to the falls. What a lovely surprise!

Then we flew back to Derby Airport. Taking off from Talbot Bay was great. On this flight we returned to Derby via the Buccaneer Archipelago. Now this scenery was simply breathtaking, with around a thousand small islands in the beautiful turquoise water.

Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures: Review Derby Overnight Tour.
The three seaplanes ready to transport passengers back to Derby.
Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures: Review Derby Overnight Tour.
Buccaneer Archipelago, WA.


The Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures took us on a experience of a lifetime. For us this was a highlight of our time in the Kimberley’s. It was rather like our little James Bond type experience. We flew in on a small seaplane, over picturesque country, to a stunningly beautiful bay. There we found a secluded little getaway, with helicopter and speed boat waiting. Wow, we felt so special. Then we enjoyed the thrill and excitement of going through the falls. We could even get in a shark tank to observe sharks being fed. All this was followed by great food and very attentive, professional staff. What more could retirees enjoying travel ask of an overnight trip!

The tour was a photographers dream. The views from the seaplane are a pure delight to say the least. The scenery at Talbot Bay, Cyclone Creek and at the Horizontal Falls is simply breathtaking.

Yes, the Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventure was expensive. Everyone agreed. But everyone we spoke to on board also agreed the trip was worth the money. People commented they could see the infrastructure would be very expensive. Our seaplane to return to Derby wouldn’t start. We simply jumped on board another seaplane. They had everything covered and we were very impressed with the organisation of the tour.

The only complaint we heard was from some people who had difficulty sleeping. Noise of water lapping against the boat or people moving about seem to echo and be rather noisy.

In our opinion this was a Kimberley experience like no other. If you are considering a Kimberley holiday put the Horizontal Falls onto your travel bucket list.

What About You?

Have you been to the Horizontal Falls? If so, which tour did you go on and how was it? What adventure tours can you recommend? Have you been to a secluded getaway? Where else is a photographers dream? Love to hear your suggestions. Please join in the discussion.

Safe and happy travels

From Estelle and Greg – Retirees Enjoying Travel.

6 thoughts on “Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures: Review of Derby Overnight Tour.

  1. Hi Estelle n Greg, how awesome your travels look, and you both look extra well and happy, thanks for keeping us up to date, will look forward to hearing all about it in person whenever you decide to return, but don’t be in too much of a hurry as i’ts typically freezing here for winter. stay well and happy luv 4 now x

    • Hi Glenys. We are enjoying the most amazing trip. Every area has something special to see and enjoy. We have enjoyed the heat as we have travelled the top end. We have slowed down as we move south. We had hoped to miss winter, but beginning to feel some effects. Hope you are well and we will definitely catch up when we return. x

  2. Love looking at all the pics guys . Looks like your having a ball ,so much for u to do , enjoy and keep the pics a coming guys xx love always Rach xx❤❤💋💋

    • Rach, we really had a ball on the overnight Horizontal Falls Seaplane Tour. And yes there is so much to do. Love to all xx

  3. Such beautiful scenery. I can tell you both had a lovely time. I had never heard of horizontal falls until now and I think it should be added to my bucket list. Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures.

    • Yes Chioma the Horizontal Falls is such a beautiful area. I’m sure you would enjoy a lovely time, just as we did. Great idea putting the Horizontal Falls on your bucket list. Thanks for your lovely comment.

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