Best time to visit Ningaloo Reef

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The best time to visit the Ningaloo Reef is between April and October, characterised by warm but not scorching temperatures. Whale sharks and humpback whales agree; this also happens to be the time of the year when these magnificent creatures hang out at the Ningaloo Reef.

November to March means hotter temperatures and that whale sharks and humpback whales are absent. However, rest assured that the Ningaloo Reef teems with marine life year round.

April–May

The Ningaloo Reef’s autumn temperatures are generally in the low 30s. Plunge into the Indian Ocean to cool down. There, on top of beautiful coral formations, the planet’s biggest fish — the whale shark — awaits.

June–August

Winter at the Ningaloo Reef means pleasant temperatures, often reaching the mid-20s. Go to bed early, and you won’t need a jacket during your stay. The whale sharks get fewer, but the humpback whales quickly take over as the Ningaloo Reef’s biggest marine drawcard.

September–November

Spring weather is nothing but spectacular at the Ningaloo Reef: Days see temperatures in the low 30s, and it barely rains (if it does, buy a lottery ticket). Bring binoculars to marvel at spouting humpback whales from shore, or take a tour to get up close with them.

December–March

Christmas and New Year’s at the Ningaloo Reef are hot events with temperatures around the mid-30s. But does it really matter? The best of the Ningaloo Coast is, of course, underwater. Two of the region’s big three might be elsewhere, but graceful manta rays (spanning 4 m) add a dimension to your Ningaloo snorkelling.

Ningaloo marine life calendar

Whale sharks, humpback whales, manta rays and turtles — when are these awe-inspiring marine creatures at the Ningaloo Reef?

Whale sharks

Whale sharks, the planet’s biggest fish, begin to arrive at the Ningaloo Reef during March. The whale shark season typically runs until the end of June in Coral Bay, and through July in Exmouth.

Want to swim with these gentle giants? Whale shark safari tours operate from both Coral Bay and Exmouth.

Humpback whales

Around 40,000 humpback whales migrate past the Ningaloo Reef between July and October. Tour operators in Coral Bay and Exmouth gladly take you to their playgrounds — jump in or remain on deck.

Manta rays

Don’t worry if you missed the whale shark and humpback whale seasons. Coral Bay is home to a permanent population of manta rays; thus graceful manta ray tours run year round.

Manta ray sightings are more seasonal in the waters off Exmouth. Here, May to November is the best time to see and engage with manta rays.

Turtles

The turtle nesting season of the Ningaloo Coast occurs from November to March. During this time, female turtles can be seen climbing the beaches to lay their precious eggs.

After nesting, the eggs take 6-8 weeks to hatch, meaning that the Ningaloo Coast’s hatching season concludes in May.

Average weather at Ningaloo Reef

MonthHigh (°C)Low (°C)Rain (mm)Wet days
January3823282
February3824392
March3723402
April3320201
May2916422
June2513443
July2411212
August2712121
September301420
October331620
November351820
December372160
Source: Bureau of Meteorology.

Best time to visit Ningaloo Reef FAQ

What are the best months to go to Ningaloo Reef?

April to October is the best time to visit the Ningaloo Reef, offering a lovely setting with comfy temperatures and gigantic wildlife (first whale sharks; then humpback whales). However, a year-round destination, the reef itself is as beautiful each month of the year.

What is the season for whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef?

Generally the first whale sharks show up at the Ningaloo Reef in March, while the final ones leave for the season in August. The peak of the whale shark season is from April to June, when tours operate from both Coral Bay and Exmouth.

Is there a bad month to visit the Ningaloo Reef?

There’s no bad time to visit the Ningaloo Reef. But keep in mind that some features, including the presence of whale sharks and humpback whales as well as turtle nesting and hatching, are seasonal.

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