Manta ray at Ningaloo reef

You are guessing right – this one is about the deep blue ocean. And what an ocean it is! Since we were planning our trip to Australia there was one major thing we had on top of our list: diving some of the most incredible sites in the world. That does not automatically mean the Great Barrier reef which is located in the East, there is also Ningaloo Marine park in the Indian ocean just off the Western Australian coast.

We set camp in Exmouth, a little town and access point to Ningaloo, one of the world’s largest coral fringing reefs. People mainly visit Ningaloo for two reasons: The first one is the possibility to swim with whale sharks, the biggest fish in the ocean. Following the mass spawning of coral in March they come to Ningaloo every year to feed until July. Obviously we have been a bit late for that, but there are even bigger fellas around. From May on Humpback whales migrate from the Antarctic to the warmer waters of Western Australia to give birth just off Ningaloo and feed their calves. Humpbacks grow up to 19 meters and can consume nearly 1 tonne of food every day. And those ones we were lucky enough to see!

But let’s go back to the beginning. We started diving 4 years ago and felt it was time to get our advanced divers license done once and for all. So we found ourselves a nice dive center in Exmouth to do our course and the night before were already excited like 5 year-olds on Christmas Eve. It should be Christmas and Easter on the very same day!

Diving Ningaloo reef

Preparing for the first dive

On the first dive at Lighthouse Bay, just entering the water we saw a beautiful leopard shark chilling by the reef and not the least scared by our appearance. Right after that a massive olive seasnake gracefully made its way through our group. There were uncountable numbers of tropical fish, the beautiful coral, another shark and best of all: throughout almost the whole dive we could hear the song of the whales under water. Goosepimps all along! Getting out of the water the two singers (a mother and her calve) just emerged next to our boat – what an experience.

Coral Ningaloo reefUnited colors of Ningaloo

Cod Ninagloo reefA massive cod swimming by …

Marine life NingalooCall him what you want – for me he looks like a … Maracuja fish?!

Humpback whales Ningaloo A humpback whale “saluting” next to our boat

It ain’t nothing easy, but our dive at Muiron Island the next day should become even better and by far the best dive we have had so far. The original dive plan was to do a loop around the reef, but in the end we stayed close to the anchor line all the time. This was due to the fact that for the whole 50 minutes we were swimming with 5 manta rays around us. The beauty and elegance of those gentle giants makes you break into a broad smile from the moment you see them until you wake up the next morning. The mantas look as if they are flying – the immense span of several meters giving space for a number of “lazy fish” travelling with them under their enormous fins. Manu was doing the photography section of her diving course – she couldn’t have chosen a better dive. When we made our descent and got out of the water, the whole dive crew was cheering and shouting. Even for the instructors with hundreds of dives in their logbooks this had been an incredible experience!

Swimming with a manta rayThe manta & me

Manta rays at Ningaloo reefWelcome to Manta airlines!

Manta and lazy fishAlways accompanied by some lazy fish under its wings

After completing our 5 dives around Ningaloo we obtained our license and headed on to nearby Cape Range National park to do some bush camping and chill a couple of days at the beach. Without exaggeration the beaches at Cape Range were some of the most pristine and beautiful we have seen in our lives. The color of the water is a million different shades of turquoise and with the reef starting right off the shore it’s a perfect spot for snorkelling. Everybody recommended us to check out the Drift snorkel at Turquoise Bay (you enter the water on the left side and let the current carry you along the reef), however the beach we liked best without any doubt was Sandy Bay. I guess some pictures say more than a thousand words.

Cape Range National parkSandy bay at Cape Range National park

Sandy bay at Cape Range National park… a Bond girl?

We got there in the morning and had it to ourselves at first. In the afternoon when the wind picked up a crowd of kitesurfers joined us. Snorkelling there we spotted some turtles and even quite a big reef shark. In a nutshell: Two thumbs up for Ningaloo!

Karijini National Park
Coastal highlights: Shark Bay to the Pinnacles desert