Where to scuba dive in Exmouth?
Bucket List Diver just came back of a week of great diving at Exmouth in the Ningaloo Reef. We had a lot of fun and really enjoyed to take a break out of Perth Scuba Diving to enjoy the warm water of Ningaloo Reef. We wanted to give you some inspiration to plan your holidays over there, where to dive or not!
Is the Navy Pier in Exmouth worth a dive?
Without any hesitation, Navy Pier is a Top Tier shore dive. It is not the easiest one in term of logistic, but it is highly rewarding. To understand, what I mean, you have to know that the Australian Navy is responsible of the jetty and allow access to the base to only one dive shop. It is currently Dive Ningaloo, that offers access to the dive site, but it could change every couple of years. To book a dive with them, you need to have a identity document (passport or driver licence), pay a $50 fee to the army and pay for the dives on itself (currently $150 for a single dive $220 for a double dive). The day of the dive, you will watch a couple of videos that will give you all the information about security, dive planning and what you will see.
Once at the jetty, you will be able to follow a guide or buddy up with your mate. Once geared up, you walk some stairs and will do a giant (really giant) stride into the water. That’s where the fun begins! There is million of fish and hundreds of species in the small space of the jetty.
The most famous one is the B.F.G. (Big Friendly Grouper), a 300 kg fish, that was a Labrador in its previous life. You will also meet school of trevalleys, carpet of white tip shark and massive typhoon of barracudas. If you like big fish, you will not be disappointed. If you like your macro stuff, prepare to have a blast. There is nudibranch everywhere, flatworm, harlequin shrimp, toadfish and more. The big thing, about the Navy Pier, is that everything is concentrated in one small space, making the 12 meter dive easy and fantastic.
When you are planning a dive trip to Exmouth, you should build it around the Navy Pier. Make sure that the tide allow you to do 2 dives at the jetty (just ask the dive shop they can plan far ahead) and think about doing a night dive there.
In the end, Navy pier is a must do. We were also very happy with the organisation shown by Dive Ningaloo on the pier!
How good is the diving at Muiron Island?
There is a few islands north from Exmouth, called the Muiron Island. On the west side of the Island, you get the Indian Ocean and on the East side the Exmouth Golf.
We dived the islands with Exmouth Dive Whaleshark & Ningaloo. The boat is large and properly set up for diving. The captain and his crew gave us an awesome day, despite the big swell present that week. The two sites we visited were rich in coral and big fish. We got only 7 meters visibility due to a massive storm the previous week. Although, the visibility can get as good as 20 meters in a normal day. The dives will please a lot of beginner divers that are looking at beautiful looking reef and fishy water, but there is little macro life.
If you are visiting the Muiron Island in August/September, you will see hundreds of humpback whales during 1 hour ride to the island. From April to July, you could be lucky with a whale shark!
What to see at the Lighthouse bay in Exmouth?
Lighthouse bay is the north end of Ningaloo reef, it is often the destination when the dive shop tell you they are going to Ningaloo Reef. We dived there just after a storm and the visibility was no more than 3-4 meters. It is normally around 10 meters.
Despite the bad visibility, we were stocked with the wild life. Our guide found us a giant loggerhead turtle, a big frog fish and good half dozen of sea snakes. It was two pleasant dives, even with the bad conditions.
It is a good place for macro photography, we suggest to request your guide to take its time and find you the little creatures of the reef.
Can you dive Ningaloo Reef?
I liked Lighthouse bay, but it is a big stretch to call it Ningaloo Reef. We got very lucky on our last day, as Exmouth Dive Whaleshark & Ningaloo made us discover the real Ningaloo.
Conditions were near perfect that day, with no wind and little swell. We had two beautiful dives with great visibility. Ningaloo is a fringing reef, so it doesn’t cover as much fish density than the great barrier reef, but it is still special. We have seen a couple of sharks (my buddy saw a hammerhead), a few turtles and some cool nudibranchs. The best of the dives was the singing whales that where not far away. It was like being in the middle of a Pink Floyd concert, beautiful singing with a very powerful sound!
We recommend to take your chances to dive Ningaloo Reef, but remember that the conditions can vary quickly and there is no where for the boat to hide.