FAQ | Live Ningaloo


What should I know before booking post COVID or any other force majeure event?

We feel your pain, COVID has been quite the party pooper for travel. It’s taught us a valuable lesson about the importance of sticking to our terms and conditions if we want to keep the adventure alive. We’ve got your back, but we also want to be upfront. While we can’t foresee every hiccup along the way, we promise to stay true to our terms as outlined.

To give you peace of mind, we strongly recommend getting travel insurance.

So, pack your sense of adventure, but also pack that travel insurance. It’s your ticket to worry-free exploration, and together, we’ll navigate this wild journey with a smile on our faces.

When is the best time to visit Ningaloo reef?

Choosing the best time to visit Ningaloo Reef is like choosing your favorite ice cream flavor – everyone has their own personal preference. But if you’re looking for the perfect balance, we recommend mid-March, May, June, September, and October. The weather is delightful, and the crowds are much more manageable during these months.

We love wildlife just as much as you do, but they don’t operate on our schedule. So, please keep in mind the wildlife calendar when planning your trip. We can’t guarantee you’ll see every single species, but we’ll do our best to give you the most meaningful encounter possible.

If you’re planning a trip during the busy Easter or July holidays, don’t wait until the last minute to book your tours! You don’t want to be that person who missed out on all the fun. And if you’re a turtle enthusiast, don’t miss out on turtle mating season in November and December. Who doesn’t love a little romance in the air?

If you’re feeling hot, hot, hot, visit the region during the summer months (January to March) for some amazing fishing and snorkeling opportunities. While we do take our annual break during this time, there are still guides offering fishing charters and plenty of self-guided snorkeling opportunities at the many beaches. Who knows, you might even get lucky and spot some cute little turtle hatchlings!

No matter when you choose to visit, we’ve got you covered with our seasonal tours, tailored to make the most of the unique wildlife and natural phenomena that occur from March to December. Take a look at our tour tab for full details on what to expect during your chosen time. Don’t be shy, come on in – the water’s warm (literally)!

What happens if I don’t see a whale shark on my whale shark tour?

Let’s face it – Whale Sharks are like the celebrities of the sea. They come and go as they please, and we’re just lucky to catch a glimpse of them when we can. That’s why we don’t guarantee sightings on our tours – it’s like trying to predict when the next Taylor Swift album will drop (we wish!). But trust us, even if you don’t see a Whale Shark, our tours are still worth it – the Ningaloo Reef is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth! We do have a no-sighting policy and very detailed terms and conditions which we will uphold so make sure to read them thoroughly, we will stick to them firmly.

I suffer from sea sickness – are your tours suitable for me?

We all know the open ocean can get a little rocky at times, so it’s best to come prepared. We highly recommend consulting with your doctor to find the best anti-seasickness medication for you. Trust us, you don’t want to miss out on the fun because of an upset stomach.

To make sure you’re feeling your best, here are some pro tips: stay hydrated the day before and the day of the tour, and skip the booze the day before. Save the celebratory drinks for after your fun-filled day.

And if you’re taking over the counter sea sickness medications, keep in mind that most need time to activate. We suggest taking any anti-nausea medication just before we collect you for your complimentary transfer to the boat ramp, so that by the time we arrive at the boat (30 minutes later), the medication has started to kick in.

Are whale sharks and humpbacks dangerous to humans?

Whale Sharks are filter feeders and mainly feed on plankton and krill which is found in abundance around Ningaloo Reef during coral spawning, while Humpback Whales’ diet mainly consists of small fish. Neither have any teeth and do not see humans as food.

However, these fish and mammals all weigh several tonnes each and Humpbacks, in particular, can display boisterous behaviour, particularly during mating season.  Minimum distances are in place to protect both wildlife and our tour participants.

So…are whale sharks actually whales or sharks?

Whale Sharks are sharks – in fact, they are the world’s largest fish.  In contrast, Humpbacks are whales – mammals who nurse their young with milk.

Do I need to bring anything special with me?

Bring your bathers, sun protection (sunglasses, hat, sunscreen), towel, and a warm top or jacket for wind chill. Remember to pack any necessary medication, including sea sickness tablets, as we cannot provide medication on board.

For our Turtle Eco Adventure tour, feel free to bring your own camera. However, if you join us on our Whale Shark or Life on Ningaloo swimming tours, our professional onboard photographer will capture complimentary photos for you. Leave your camera at home and immerse yourself in the moment. All digital photos will be emailed to you after the tour, at no extra cost.

How good do my swimming skills need to be and who are your tours suitable for?

Our intimate tours cater to a maximum of 10 guests, ensuring a personalized and immersive experience. No SCUBA diving skills are needed as all tours are snorkeling adventures.

For a relaxed excursion, our turtle tours explore the protected lagoon, offering a laid-back experience.

Whether you’re a confident swimmer or prefer to observe, we’ve got you covered. Join us as an observer to marvel at whale sharks, humpback whales, and turtles. If you want to take the plunge but need assistance, let us know and we’ll provide flotation devices.

To fully enjoy the swimming tour, snorkeling experience and the ability to kick unassisted for 50 meters with fins is recommended. Younger children (from four years old and onwards) who are strong swimmers are welcome. Parents must accompany children on the boat at all times to ensure their safety.

What’s the accessibility like?

Our tours are designed to accommodate guests with various disabilities, such as visual or hearing impairments, limited mobility, food allergies, and cognitive conditions.

Booking is easy and convenient, with multiple contact options available. Our website supports screen readers, and our forms are designed for easy navigation. Our friendly staff members have received disability awareness training to offer the best assistance possible.

Safety is our priority. Our vessel is equipped with audible and visual devices for emergency alerts, and clear exit signs ensure easy evacuation. Our crew members are trained in emergency procedures and equipped with advanced first aid skills, including a defibrillator onboard.

We understand that everyone’s needs are unique. Prior to your booking, we gather important health information to provide additional assistance if needed. While our boat may not meet all accessibility standards, we have welcomed guests using wheelchairs before. Signage and information onboard are clear, and our engaging briefings ensure everyone receives important instructions.

We can provide documents in plain English for cognitive impairments upon request. We offer a “social script” guide to prepare visitors in advance for their sensory experiences.

Do you provide transfers?

We want to make your journey to Tantabiddi Boat Ramp as smooth and convenient as possible, which is why we provide complimentary return transfers from Exmouth township. When you book your reservation, you can choose where you’re staying in town, and the details will be included in your confirmation. If you don’t require a transfer, please meet us at the boat ramp with your boots on by 8:30am sharp.

To give you an idea of pickup times, we’ve provided a full list below, but please allow for a 10-minute buffer.

  • Manta Rays: 7:45am
  • Exmouth Escape Resort: 7:50am
  • RAC: 7:50am
  • Ningaloo ‘Exmouth’ Visitor Centre: 7:50am
  • Ningaloo Caravan & Holiday Resort: 7:50am
  • Ningaloo Lodge: 7:55am
  • Potshot: 7:55am

If you’re staying in a holiday rental home in Exmouth, simply select ‘other’ and add the address when you book. We’ll pick you up at 8:00am.

For an additional fee of $100 per person, we also collect from South Mandu car park (inside the national park and the location of Sal Salis pick up) at 8:00am. If you’re camping in the National Park, you can also select this option but you must meet us at that specific car park and on time. We want to make sure you have every opportunity to join us on this adventure!

How long do your tours last for?

We know you’re eager to start your adventure with us, and we’re just as excited to have you on board! Our day starts bright and early, with pick-ups from various locations in Exmouth township (check out our handy list of pickup times and locations for details).

We’ve got a rough itinerary for each tour, but keep in mind that Mother Nature can be unpredictable. Our Whale Shark Swimming & Adventure Day and Life on Ningaloo tours usually wrap up around 2 pm, with drop-offs back to your accommodation between 2:30 – 3:30 pm.

However, if wildlife decides to take a siesta or venture further out, the tour may run later than expected. We can’t control the weather or the whims of the wildlife, but we promise to make the most of every moment and ensure you have a memorable experience.

I have dietary restrictions – can you cater for me?

Please let us know of your dietary restrictions at the time of booking, and we will do our best to cater to your needs.

Can you price match with any of the cheaper tours?

If you are comparing Whale Shark or Humpback Whale swimming tours on Ningaloo Reef, you will find our tours are more expensive than others offered.

We are the only company specialising in a more personalised tour experience. We offer a maximum of 10 places on our tours and only one swimming group. Why is this important? Having a group of this size means that you get much more time in the water and don’t need to ‘sit out’ while we rotate groups on the tour.

The intimate size of our tour groups also means that we can tailor the experience to each of our guests and you get a much higher degree of attention from us and rapport with your fellow guests.

Are you better than other Ningaloo Reef Tour Operators?

At Live Ningaloo, we’re all about community. Yes, we want to give our guests the best possible tour, but we also want to support our fellow operators. That’s why we all work together on tour day, sharing wildlife sightings and making sure everyone has a great time.

Now, we may be a little biased, but we do believe that we offer the best tour. And our secret? It’s not just about the wildlife sightings, it’s about the experience as a whole. We choose to take fewer people on our tours to ensure a sustainable and intimate experience for both our guests and the wildlife. So, come join us for a small group adventure and let’s show you why we think we’re the best in the business.

Can I touch a whale shark or humpback?

No. Our licence conditions and respect for wildlife and their stress levels, as well as your safety, means that you must keep a certain distance from both Whale Sharks (minimum 3 metres) and Humpback Whale (30 metres).  If the wildlife is accepting of your presence, you will still be able to swim fairly close.

What is Live Ningaloo’s approach to safety when conducting Humpback Whale swimming interactions?

Interacting with wildlife is an incredible experience, but it’s important to remember that there are always risks involved. At Live Ningaloo, we take your safety very seriously, which is why we do everything we can to mitigate these risks.

One of the ways we do this is by limiting our group size, which ensures a more personalised experience for our guests and allows our crew to be more attentive throughout the day. We also maintain a single swimming group, which gives you more time in the water with the wildlife and reduces the pressure on our crew to produce multiple times for several groups.

To ensure a successful and safe swim, we pay close attention to various factors, including animal behavior, visibility, and sea state. We work with spotter planes to monitor the animals and their behavior, and we make sure that the visibility is good enough before conducting any tours. We also use several weather tools to determine and predict weather patterns leading up to the tour dates.

Ultimately, the safety of our guests and the species we interact with is our top priority. We will always err on the side of caution and not compromise safety for a tour. Swimming with humpback whales is one of our favourite experiences, and we work closely with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions to ensure that the safety of swimmers and the protection of the whales are always a top priority.

Can you guarantee what I’ll see on my tour?

While we’d love to guarantee you’ll have a magical encounter with our wildlife, the truth is, we’re not in the business of making promises we can’t keep. Our tours are more like exciting African safaris, where we embark on a quest to find incredible creatures in their natural habitat, taking into account factors like weather, sea conditions, wildlife locations, and more.

Our promise to you is a small, single swimming group to maximise the chance for quality interactions.

To ensure the best opportunities, we work closely with an experienced spotter plane pilot who helps us locate and track megafauna such as Whale Sharks. However, as these are wild animals, their behavior is unpredictable, and we prioritize their well-being. Therefore, we cannot guarantee interactions with wildlife during your tour.

For our Whale Shark and Life on Ningaloo swimming tours, if the megafauna “dive” or move along, we dispatch the spotter plane to search for more. You may have multiple encounters during the day, but it’s important to set your own pace and swim only when comfortable. If you prefer not to swim, you can participate as an observer and enjoy viewing these magnificent creatures from the deck.

While government regulations are in place for the megafauna we interact with, the duration of each swim is determined by the wildlife itself. We respect their natural behaviors and strive to create a memorable and respectful experience for both our guests and the animals we encounter.

I really want to try some delicious Exmouth Prawns…Why don’t you serve them?

At Live Ningaloo, all our commercial decisions are based on sustainability and helping educate our guests to support this unique environment. In its current state, prawn fishing is the most unsustainable fishing in the area and is sadly responsible for much of the reef destruction in the Exmouth Gulf.

Until prawn farming becomes more sustainable, Live Ningaloo chooses not to support this industry. We promise to instead serve you a range of delicious food from sustainable, local sources.