Travel & Touring | WA Things To Do

By: Vanessa Pogorelic

The warm waters of WA are home to some of the world's most incredible marine wildlife.

With dolphins, sea lions, tropical fish, turtles and many more species living off WA's pristine shoreline, there are a range of locations that allow you to get closer to nature - and in summer, the chance to get your feet wet in the process.

Here are 10 of WA's best marine wildlife encounters.

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1. Turtles in Exmouth

There are only seven turtle species found worldwide and remarkably WA is home to six of them. Around Exmouth you can see the incredible journey they take from nesting to hatching and watch the tiny hatchlings take their first tentative steps towards the water on a turtle tour. Further north, turtle-spotting tours are also available from Broome.

2. Sea lions in Jurien Bay

They’re affectionately known as the ‘puppies of the sea’ and it’s not hard to see why. Australian sea lions’ playful nature has made them one of the star attractions off the Jurien Bay, coast, which is their main breeding ground in WA. Local tour operators can take you out to swim with them and learn more about the efforts to protect this endangered species.

3. Dugongs in Shark Bay and Ningaloo Reef

Dugongs can be hard to spot, but they can be seen as part of wildlife cruises around Shark Bay and Ningaloo Reef, including Perfect Nature Cruises where RAC members save 10%. Operating within the Dugong Interaction Management Area, Perfect Nature Cruises have been dedicated to showing visitors dugongs for the past 25 years and are the only eco-tourism business in WA licenced to interact with dugongs.

4. Stingrays in the South West

Watch the residents rays, including smooth and eagle rays, as they cruise the shallows around Hamelin Bay and the Walpole-Nornalup Inlet in WA’s South West. They often come in close to shore to pick up fish scraps thrown in the water by local anglers. While they’re gentle unless provoked, it’s always best to keep a safe distance from any animal in the wild.

5. Manta Rays in Exmouth and Ningaloo Reef

While whale shark and humpback swims along Ningaloo Reef are seasonal, you can cruise along with the manta rays at Ningaloo year-round. These graceful giants are the world’s largest species of ray with wingspans of up to 8m. As they have no barb, mantas are completely safe to swim with.

6. Humpback Whales in Exmouth and Coral Bay

At Exmouth and Coral Bay you can swim with humpback whales as they migrate along the coast at Ningaloo Reef. Tour operators use spotter planes to locate the whales and direct the tour boat to them. Humpbacks can grow up to 19m in length and are spectacular to watch underneath the water.

7. Whale sharks in Coral Bay

Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the sea and have been known to reach up to 20m in length. They have a long life span of about 80-100 years and can travel many thousands of kilometres. In Coral Bay, you can swim with whale sharks from late February until the end of June, and in Exmouth from the end of July.

8. Orcas in Bremer Bay

The waters off Bremer Bay attract the largest number of orcas in Australia. These highly intelligent animals are the ocean’s most powerful apex predators. They also have complex and interesting family structures, which you can find out all about on one of the orca tours from Bremer Bay.

9. Dolphins in Rockingham, Mandurah and Bunbury

There’s no shortage of places to spot dolphins in WA’s waterways, but an organised tour can give you a special glimpse into their underwater lives. Tours that take you out to swim with dolphins are available in Rockingham, Mandurah and Bunbury. At Monkey Mia’s renowned Dolphin Beach you can also get up close at one of the morning feeding sessions. Mandurah Cruises offers savings of up to 18% off for RAC members on the Dolphin and Scenic Mandurah Marine Cruise.

10. Sharks in Hillarys

This underwater encounter is not nearly as dangerous as it sounds. At AQWA – the Aquarium of WA – you can get into Australia’s largest single aquarium for an underwater tour with seven different shark species gliding around the tank with you. You’ll also encounter turtles, rays and plenty of big fish. RAC members save 10% on entry to AQWA when showing a membership card at the gate or when booking online.


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Last updated: March 2024