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Published: June 15th 2011
Snorkelling with whale sharks, the largest fish on the planet, was the ultimate highlight and a nice way to end our Australia trip. After spending a couple days at Coral Bay to get our fins wet and do some snorkelling off the beach, we made our way to Exmouth where we emptied out our wallet and signed up for the whale shark tour. It was a bit of a rough start to the tour as we got absolutely drenched by a storm and there was concern that the tour companies might not be able to get their spotter planes in the air (that's how they find the whale sharks). Things cleared up though, and the visibility in the water was incredible. Even in deep water we could see right to the ocean floor from the surface. We didn't find our whale shark until near the end of the day and it was only a small one by whale shark standards (3.5 to 4 meters; they can grow up to 15 meters). We also only had 2 chances to swim with the shark for only about 2 minutes each time and we had to share it with two other boat tours. Not
quite the way that it was advertized but still an amazing experience, though our expectations had been built up quite high. The whale shark was right at the surface and was moving slowly so he was easy to keep up with. At one point before our second drop, he dove deep and we thought that he was gone. But the spotter quickly signalled that he was coming back up so we jumped in. As the bubbles cleared we looked down and saw the huge fish rising from the deep straight at us. Just awesome. During the day, we also had several chances to swim with huge manta rays which we found equally impressive. Other things we saw were turtles, a reef shark, humpback whales, dolphins, and even a dugong (manatee).
If the whale shark tour was our biggest budget highlight, the best value and most relaxing time was had at Coral Bay. With the brutal weather we were having at Exmouth, the Cape Range National Park was not really worth it and less than 200km south it was hot and sunny at Coral Bay. Rather than follow our initial plan of heading inland towards Tom Price/Karijini National Park, we
decided to go back to Coral Bay where we could stay parked in one place,walk everywhere we needed to go, veg on the beach, and have fun snorkelling on the amazing reef.
Other stops we made along the way up the coast were at the Pinnacles, and Monkey Mia where Jordan got to feed a dolphin.
Unfortunatley the photos don't really do it justice this time around, but we really enjoyed ourselves which is the most important thing at the end of the day. We're happy to report that we managed to come in under budget for Australia, thanks in-part to all our great Aussie/expat friends along the way. No thanks to the insane prices for fresh fruit and veg though. Next up is the jungles and wildlife of Borneo!
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