Review of Ocean Eco Adventures Whale Shark Tour, Exmouth Western Australia.

Review Of Ocean Eco Adventures Whale Shark Tour, Exmouth Western Australia.

For retirees enjoying travel around Australia the last thing we thought we would be doing was swimming with whale sharks. But that’s exactly what we did during our visit to Exmouth and the Ningaloo Reef, on the North West Cape of Western Australia.

During our travels in Karijini National Park we began hearing other baby boomers talking about Ningaloo Reef and their adventures swimming with whale sharks. We had never heard of Ningaloo Reef, or of swimming with whale sharks! But after listening to retirees talk excitedly about their wonderful experiences, we decided this was something we would do.

We booked our tour through the Ningaloo Visitors Centre, once we arrived in Exmouth. There are multiple swimming with whale shark tours available. But, we were at Exmouth during school holidays, and the tours were heavily booked. We decided to go with Ocean Eco Adventures and had to wait six days to go on our tour. So, book ahead!

About Ocean Eco Adventure

Ocean Eco Adventures offers cruises in the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef Marine Park of Western Australia. They specialise in marine interactions with Whale Sharks, Humpback Whales, Dolphins, Turtles, Manta Rays and reef fish within the Marine Park.

The well appointed cruise boat was very spacious and comfortable.

Review Of Ocean Eco Adventures Whale Shark Tour, Exmouth Western Australia.
Greg getting ready to swim with the Whale Sharks.

The cost of the day tour was $410.00 per adult, all inclusive. The price included pick up from our accommodation, free access to professional photographs taken on the day, gourmet food, wet suits and snorkelling equipment. The majority of staff on board were Marine Biologists & Dive Masters.

Please note: All photographs in this blog posts are from Ocean Eco Adventures (see watermarks). These photographs were taken by a professional photographer who swam with us throughout our day tour. All passengers were able to access these photos, free of charge. Passengers were given permission to share the photos on social media and I obtain written permission to use the photos in this blog post.

Ocean Eco Adventures have it’s own aeroplane to spot the whale sharks. This provides people on the tour maximum opportunity to swim with the Whale Sharks.

Snorkelling on Ningaloo Reef

After a safety briefing we enjoyed our first swim at Mangrove Bommie, out on Ningaloo Reef. This swim was an opportunity for staff to check everyone’s snorkelling skills.

Review Of Ocean Eco Adventures Whale Shark Tour, Exmouth Western Australia.
Safety briefing to all tour passengers.
Review Of Ocean Eco Adventures Whale Shark Tour, Exmouth Western Australia.
Receiving instructions prior to Whale Shark swim

The water temperature was 24 degrees – just perfect! It was a wonderful experience snorkelling over the beautiful coral reef and viewing all the species of reef fish.

It was at this stage we realised we were the oldest people on the boat. Getting back on the boat was not as easy for us baby boomers, as it was for younger people on the tour. Rather than a kick and twist back onto the boat ledge, we found we needed to pull and roll ourselves back onto the boat. Rather tiring after a number of swims!

Swimming with the Whale Sharks

People enjoyed eight swims on the day, including the initial snorkel over the coral reef. The other swims were all with the Whale Sharks. In total, people swam with the whale sharks for approx 1.5 hrs.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, it is safe to swim with Whale Sharks. There are strict rules about how long and how often people can swim with the Whale Sharks. We were briefed about safety conditions before we commenced swimming. Plus, Whale Sharks are filter feeders, only eating plankton.

We swam in teams of ten.  Each team had a tour leader (qualified dive master), who directed our swim experiences.

The first whale shark was a female about 5.5 – 6 metres long. Thankfully this whale shark swam along slowly. But after a while she must have become sick of all the people swimmers near her, as she swam to the bottom of the ocean.

Review Of Ocean Eco Adventures Whale Shark Tour, Exmouth Western Australia
Estelle swimming with the Whale Shark
Review Of The Ocean Eco Adventures Whale Shark Tour, Exmouth Western Australia.
Whale Shark diving to the bottom of the ocean.

On the first swim, it was like WOW!!! We were SO close to the Whale Shark. It was rather mind blowing.

The second Whale Shark was about 4 metres, and a male. Initially it was swimming slowly. But then it began swimming faster.

At first we were snorkelling with the whale sharks outside the reef.

On the second and third occasion of finding a Whale Shark, they were found inside the reef, close to Oyster Stacks and Turqouise Bay. We were told it was unusual for the whale sharks to be swimming so close to the beach.

Review Of The Ocean Eco Adventures Whale Shark Tour, Exmouth Western Australia.
Whale Shark swimming over coral reef.
Review Of The Ocean Eco Adventures Whale Shark Tour, Exmouth Western Australia.
Greg on a Whale Shark swim – over a coral reef.

After the initial snorkel, I swam with the Whale Sharks on three occasions. Whereas, Greg enjoyed four swims with the Whale Sharks. The Whale Sharks were not swimming very quickly. But, while we enjoy water activities, we are not as fit in the water as we are on land. We both tired and were happy to say we had enough. Thereafter we were happy to watch other passengers swimming.

We also saw turtles swimming in the ocean.

Watching Humpback Whales and Spinner Dolphins

After lunch the skipper offered everyone the choice of another snorkel over the coral reef, or to go and see Spinner Dolphins and Humpback Whale, spotted 4km out to sea. Fortunately the majority voted to go and see the Dolphins and Whales.

We saw numerous Humpback Whales, probably 30 in total. We were told the Western Australian coastline sees the biggest migration of Humpback Whales (38,000 annually) – back to pre whaling numbers. During the whaling period Humpback Whale numbers declined to about 600.

Review Of Ocean Eco Adventures Whale Shark Tour, Exmouth Western Australia.
Humpback Whales

We greatly enjoyed watching a large pod of Spinner Dolphins. It was thrilling to watch numerous Spinner Dolphins jump in the air and spin around, plus surf the waves, and race in front of the boat bow.

Review Of Ocean Eco Adventures Whale Shark Tour, Exmouth Western Australia.
Spinner Dolphin

The Catering Onboard

After settling onto the boat, a continental breakfast was available. A morning tea included a savoury platter with dips, mango chutney, crackers, cheese and vegetables. A buffet lunch included a selection of cold meats and gourmet salads, local prawns, vegetarian sushi, cheese, bread rolls. For afternoon tea there was fruit platter and tea cake.

Organic products with ginger were available for seasickness.

Review Of Ocean Eco Adventures Whale Shark Tour, Exmouth Western Australia.
Lunch is served!

At the end of the tour, as we sailed towards land, we were offered a complimentary glass of champagne or can of beer.

Review Of Ocean Eco Adventures Whale Shark Tour, Exmouth Western Australia.
A celebratory drink and group photo before returning to shore.

Review of the Ocean Eco Adventures Whale Shark Tour

This review is independent of Ocean Eco Adventures and is simply a review of our experience on their Whale Shark Tour.

Our experience on the Ocean Eco Adventure Whale Shark Tour from Exmouth was simply the best. Indeed, Greg and I would say it was one of our favourite experiences throughout our travels around Australia! Here are the reasons we rate the tour so highly:

  • Swimming so close by a Whale Shark was thrilling; something we never dreamt of doing.
  • All staff on board were extremely professional, well organised, very informative and great fun
  • We felt safe throughout the tour. We acknowledged we were not strong swimmers. Throughout our swims we were provided great support and encouragement from staff. This support ensured we were able to enjoy this most amazing experience.
  • The spotter plane not only sighted two Whale Sharks to swim with, but also Humpback Whales and Spinner Dolphins. This meant we experienced a full day of delightful marine interactions.
  • The needs of people of all ages and competencies were well catered for. Some people were diving down towards the Whale Sharks. Others,  like us and young children, were given additional support.
  • Snorkelling Ningaloo Reef was a stunning experience in itself.  The coral and reef fish are so beautiful.
  • Throughout the day we enjoyed simple, yet beautiful fresh food.
  • The boat was in great order, clean and tidy, with plenty of room for everyone on board to be comfortable
  • We were on the water from 9am – 4pm

Yes, the tour was expensive. But, we came away with only praise and amazing memories! Even though we were not fit enough to complete all the swims, we were delighted with what we did. We totally recommend Ocean Eco Adventures for a fabulous Whale Shark Tour.

The only thing we would say is we wouldn’t recommend anyone pay to go on the tour as an observer. When standing on the boat you do not see the Whale Shark. It is only when you are snorkelling, with your head in the water, that you actually see the Whale Shark.

For us as retirees enjoying travel we love nothing more than doing something adventurous, thrilling, exciting, and fun – yet safe! For baby boomers seeking travel adventures, put swimming with Whale Sharks at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia on your bucket list. And, if you want to best chance to enjoy the most swims possible with the Whale Sharks, choose Ocean Eco Adventures. If you do, you will enjoy a top day.

What about you?

What are your thoughts about swimming with Whale Sharks? Would you give it a go?  What about Ningaloo Reef, with the beautiful coral and all the marine life? Have you considered a visit? Please join in the conversation, as we would love to hear your thoughts.

Wishing you safe and happy travels

From Estelle & Greg – Retirees Enjoying Travel


14 thoughts on “Review of Ocean Eco Adventures Whale Shark Tour, Exmouth Western Australia.

    • HaHaHa Donna. Let me tell you it wasn’t easy. In fact, we were surprised how quickly we tired. And, we weren’t swimming as usual, rather snorkelling with flippers on! And the way we had to roll back onto the back of the boat, like a seal, was hilarious… if you were watching us (rather than being us)!!! Anyway, I would do it again in a heart beat. Yes, we baby boomers are tough. If we want to do something we will give it a red hot go. 🙂

  1. What a fabulous experience Estelle and your photography was stunning. I think the cost was pretty reasonable as well for all that was included. Thanks so much for linking up and sharing with us at #BloggersPitStop. This is on my list when I eventually get to WA that is for sure! Have a great weekend 🙂

    • Thank you Sue for your comments. Yes the whole tour was really fabulous. And yes, the cost is reasonable when you consider everything we did on the day, the qualified staff supporting us, and the high quality of everything provided. Everything was top notch and very safe. Yes, definitely a great WA bucket list experience. Thanks Sue for the opportunity to share this post on #BloggerPitStop. Best wishes for the week ahead 🙂

  2. Gorgeous pictures and it looks amazing. I recently went whale watching (it’s a big thing where I am – in Hervey Bay) and swimming with the whales is now permitted, but it depends on conditions etc…

    But… I’m really shark phobic – like, haven’t been in the ocean for a decade or two phobic – so can’t imagine willingly swimming where any are… no matter how friendly.

    I love the Eco Tourism idea though and there’s a company here offering some great trips. I should really look more into what they’re doing!


    • Yes, the photos are so gorgeous Deborah. Everyone on board was given access to these photos, taken by a professional photographer swimming on the tour with us. And I gained written permission to us the photos in the blog post. Wish I could take photos of the same standard. I’m uncertain if Whale Sharks swim in the waters near Hervey Bay. I know Hump Back Whales do. And I have never heard of people swimming with Whale Sharks on the east coast. Yes, there is a big focus on Eco Tourism over here too. They do a lot of research with all marine life in the Ningaloo Reef area, including the Whale Sharks. I too was rather anxious about the Shark part. But they are actually more like a whale and certainly are filter feeders. Even so, it was really daunting (and exhilerating) being so close! 🙂

  3. It sounds amazing, I love opportunities like this to get up close and personal with wildlife. We did an undersea walk in Bali earlier this year which I blogged about, that was more “do-able” for middle aged mamas like me, both price wise and energy wise, while still being an adventure we will never forget! Yes, $400-odd is a lot to spend on a one day outing but the memories will last a lifetime and if I’m ever in the neighbourhood I will definitely check it out!

    • It truly was an amazing experience Janet! Oh, and thanks so much for the tip re the undersea walk in Bali. We are flying to Bali in a little over a week. I will check out your blog post for details. If it is deep sea diving, I’m uncertain if I can do it. Not sure about being immersed in deep water. Whereas, being on top of deep water didn’t phase me. But, I am one to not automatically say no. I was so delighted with swimming with whale sharks. And I love doing things I never thought I would. So, we will see. And, thanks again for the tip Janet 🙂

    • Thanks Jo for reading our review of our experiences Swimming with Whale Sharks. I hope you get to tick this wonderful experience off your bucket list Jo. Sitting here now I can’t believe I did it! And I would do it again in a heart beat 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your comment. And yes the water is beautifully crystal clear! The natural beauty of the area is so very awesome.

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