Whale Sharks in Perth, When Can You See Them?

Ningaloo Reef Whale Shark Tours
A juvenile whale shark is estimated to eat 21 kg (46 pounds) of plankton per day.

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Whale Sharks in Perth, When Can You See Them Mostly?

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Whale Sharks

They arrive around mid-March depending on the full moon and stay for feeding until July and some until August. There are even sightings in September and October possible, but it’s not any longer guaranteed. The highest chance for interactions and swimming with them is from April to July.


1250 kms north of Perth, Exmouth is the ideal place to see them.

Ningaloo Reef

Ningaloo is home to the world’s largest fringing reef and can be reached by just a short swim in many places. Nowhere else on the planet can you access a large coral reef so easily. What’s more, it’s made the UNESCO World Heritage list for its incredible biodiversity and the ‘bucket list’ as one of the few places in the world where you can swim with the largest fish in the ocean, the gentle whale shark.

Underwater Wonderland

Reaching nearly 20 kilometers seaward and covering 5,000 square kilometers of ocean, Ningaloo Reef brings you face-to-fin with some 500 species of fish, graceful manta rays and turtles, as you glide over 300 varieties of coral. Or, if you’d prefer to stay dry, glass-bottom boat tours offer a window to this underwater wonderland.

Adventure Lovers

For real adventure-lovers, nothing compares to the exhilaration of swimming with the world’s largest fish – the whale shark – which visits Ningaloo between late March and mid-July and can grow up to 16 meters long.

Time to see Whalesharks

Between March and July each year 300 to 500 gather on Ningaloo Reef to feed on the plankton produced by mass coral spawning.


Guests must stay at least 50 meters away from the animals (with whale sharks, the distance is five meters). Make no mistake – getting in the water with humpbacks comes with plenty of asterisks and caveats but when the planets align, magic can happen. 

Formalized Tours

Though whale sharks have been observed at Ningaloo since the early 1980s, formalized tours only began in 1993. In that first year, 1000 people swam with them; in 2016, 27,500 travellers made the eco pilgrimage. Last year, these visitors to Exmouth and the Ningaloo Marine Park had another reason to head north-west: swimming with humpback whales.


Each year, more than 30,000 humpbacks make the 11,000-kilometre journey from Antarctica to their breeding grounds off the Kimberley coast. This migration begins in June and ends in November when the whales regather in the Exmouth Gulf before starting the return trip. Following the removal of most populations of humpbacks from the endangered species list, trials began last year in Ningaloo with selected operators offering separate tours to see the near-mythical creatures.


As far as accommodation options in town go, Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort is the place you want to call home. Especially if you can share a bungalow or apartment with ocean views. 

Beachside safari camp

The region’s best bed for the night, however, is Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef, a beachside safari camp hiding in plain sight among the dunes in Cape Range National Park. While the set-up has elements of glamping, owners Sally and Stewart Cranswick prefer the term “eco luxe” to describe Sal Salis.


To add to the adventure, go camping or ‘glamping’ in Cape Range National Park. Alternatively, make Coral Bay or Exmouth your base – both offer options to cater for all budgets, from backpackers, caravan parks and chalets to motels, lodges and resorts.

Like this, Read this: Perth to Exmouth Whale Shark 4-day-tours


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