WA road trip: Coral Bay & Ningaloo Reef, part 2 | whale sharks

Today’s tidbit: “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” ― André Gide

Yesterday was a day to reflect and remember 9.11. Never forget. I also realized exactly one year ago I was on a plane with my mom heading to South Africa, which was my first real international trip. That journey ended up being more life-changing than I could have imagined! Explore. Discover. Grow. Time just seems to fly by doesn’t it?

It’s been a busy week but finally getting my Coral Bay, part 2 post up. I’m excited to share this whirlwind adventure and ultimate wildlife encounter… swimming with whale sharks! Every year, between mid March and mid July, these gentle giants of the ocean congregate in the Ningaloo Marine Park following the mass spawning of coral. Harmless to humans, they are the world’s largest species of fish and can grow up to 18 metres in length. Really a hectic and amazing experience! (videos at the end)

Sneak peek image:

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Be sure to click below to read more and check out more pictures. Enjoy!


{start + whale} It was an all day encounter, leaving early in the morning. A short bus ride dropped us off at the dock where the vessel was waiting. The morning was quite cloudy and grey. Once onboard we headed out in the water for an hour or so. Along the way we spotted some whale! I was able to get a few pictures but it was still early in the season when they are migrating and all over Western Australia (but it was the perfect time for whale shark). Some of the people I have remained in touch with, and found on Instagram (check out my page) have been posting lots of amazing pictures of the whale breaching. Next time.

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{snorkeling + swimming with whale sharks} To get acclimated with snorkeling and using the gear we had about an hour to all snorkel in an amazing reef. After snorkeling, the tour took us out in deep water and once a plane spotted a whale shark we jumped and were immersed into another world. It was all so amazing!

As the website states, “Coral Bay is one of the only places in the world where you can actually swim and snorkel with the whale sharks – the worlds biggest fish. It certainly is an experience of a lifetime and the main seasonal attraction for guests from all over the world. We’ll take you on a journey that you will never forget.

Whale shark season in Coral Bay is usually from late March to July following the mass spawning of coral in the Ningaloo Marine Park. These massive filter feeders can grow up to 18m long, but very little is known about the biology of these creatures so research is ongoing.” Read more.

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Getting ready to do the first swim with the whale shark.

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Our group about to jump in. Not going to lie, I was so nervous but after the first time I was fine. It’s such a rush. The group of girls on deck go to a Perth uni and are studying marine biology. They had such neat stories to share. Sometimes it makes me wish I did marine biology or oceanography like I thought about.

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I bought the picture below from the underwater photographer who came with the group (talk about a neat job!). I was close yet far from the whale shark here. They really are quite large.

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{beach +sunsets} Amazing day. When we returned back at the villa in Coral Bay, had a quick shower and dinner before  walking to the beach to enjoy the sunset. I posted more pictures of this last week: Coral Bay & Ningaloo Reef | Snorkeling + sunsets.

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Here are a few of my favorite short clips taken with the GoPro, showing snorkeling in the reef and once out in the water spotting my first whale shark emerging from the deeper water and coming at you and then swimming next to it (able to jump in and swim with him 7 different times). Really not sure how to describe it… such a scary but exciting adventure, a once in a lifetime opportunity and a must do since it was the right season. It was all so hectic and exhilarating!!

Figuring out how to get the video to show up on my page like the photos do but for now…

1. Coral Bay Snorkeling
2. Whale sharks first encounter
3. Whale shark swim

Who wants to go and do this??

13 Responses to “WA road trip: Coral Bay & Ningaloo Reef, part 2 | whale sharks”

  1. Karen says:

    WOW!!!! This is incredible and what good fortune to be visiting there at the right time of year. Flippers off to you, I could not do that but so glad you did and are able to share your experiences and videos with us. A day you will never forget for certain!

    • alyssa says:

      Yup it worked out well. I knew I wanted to do it, so unique, but when we were on the boat and actually about to jump in and swim with the whale shark I started getting really nervous. Chris had to do some convincing but as soon as the first swim was over, and I realized I wasn’t going to be eaten or chased, it was amazing and well worth the money. Won’t forget it and would definitely do it again!

  2. Lindsey says:

    Wow. What a day!

  3. Chris says:

    What an exciting day! What an incredible rush! It is amazing how a group of people can bond so quickly by sharing an experience like this. The tour was highly organized but, at the same time, hectic … every time the skipper unleashed those huge diesel engines we knew the plane had spotted another whale shark and the ‘hunt’ was on! Just sorry you never saw that turtle.

    • alyssa says:

      SO true!! The tour was done really well and it is amazing how close a group can get in the 8 hours we were together. So many interesting stories, nerves and laughs shared! It was such a rush, both the hunt to find one and then jumping in and swimming. Glad we did it 🙂 The manta rays and turtle (who was being naughty and hiding) will have to wait till next time!

  4. Laura says:

    This is AMAZING!!! Love the pictures, videos and info. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Angela says:

    WOW! What an experience!

  6. Robbie says:

    Swimming with whale sharks is awesome. I work for Three Islands in Exmouth. You’ll have to check out the mantra rays also. I’ve been following you on Instagram and as I said on there, wish I was there to have shown you around. If you are ever back that way hit me up. Your blog is great, wish I could do that stuff on my current trip but not that tech savvy 😉 Glad you made it to Australia, and WA, and hope to see you back here!

    • alyssa says:

      So great finding you on Instagram as well! Manta rays were on the list but didn’t happen this trip, next time. I will definitely let you know if, no when, I’m back out that way! Would love to meet up with you. Thanks for the kind words.

  7. Paul says:

    Oh my gosh, cool!

  8. Laraa Ann says:

    Amazing! This is #5 on my bucket list. Love following you on Instagram and glad I found your blog.

    • alyssa says:

      It was scary but such an amazing rush and experience. Would do it again in a second. Glad we connected through Instagram as well. Thanks for following!

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