Home to some of the most magnificent marine animals in the world, Australia’s vast coastline provides endless opportunities to get in the water with sea creatures big and small.
From cage diving with sharks to watching sea turtles hatch, these ten sea creature encounters will leave you awestruck.
Snorkelling with Whale Sharks, Ningaloo Reef, WA
Anchored on the northwest coast of Western Australia, Ningaloo Reef hosts a flourishing marine wonderland. While the reef provides breeding grounds for a multitude of sea turtle species, it is most famous for its incredible population of whale sharks, which feed there from March to June. Don’t let their massive size spook you, these gentle giants feast strictly on plankton. Before heading out to the open sea, start your day in the coral gardens of the Ningaloo Reef Lagoon. Where you can spot schools of tropical fish and vibrant corals.
Once you’ve had your fill, an expert boat skipper will make sure you’re in the prime position to swim alongside the world’s biggest fish. If luck is on your side, you might even catch a glimpse of manta rays, dolphins, and humpback whales. This once in a lifetime experience is what makes Ningaloo one of the most unique eco-adventure destinations in Australia.
Whale Watching, Bremer Bay, WA
If you’re looking to witness the majesty of Mother Nature’s largest creations in their natural habitat, Bremer Bay is a must-see destination. A scenic 5.5 hour drive from Perth, Bremer Bay charms visitors with its quaint township and stunning scenery. Boasting not one, but two peak whale watching seasons. Visitors have the chance to spot pods of Orcas, Sperm Whales, Pilot Whales, and Humpback Whales. Without a doubt, Bremer Bay’s main attraction is the migration of over 150 Orca through the Bremer Canyon every summer – the largest congregation in the Southern Hemisphere. Orca, also known as Killer Whales, are renowned predators, hunting seals, squid, sharks, and even whales. Passengers onboard have front row seats as these incredible animals play, interact and hunt.
Cage Diving with Great White Sharks, Neptune Islands, SA
Calling all thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies! If you’re looking to come face-to-face with the ocean’s most iconic predator, head to the Neptune Islands in South Australia. The only place in Australia where you can cage dive with Great White Sharks. Your shark expedition guides will pick you up from Port Lincoln, just an hour flight from Adelaide, and whisk you away on the adventure of a lifetime. From the safety of your cage, you can watch as these astounding creatures glide by. For a truly epic experience and a check off your bucket list, the Neptune Islands are a must.
Swimming with Sea Lions, Baird Bay, SA
For a magical day of family fun, head out to Baird Bay. Located on the west coast of Eyre Peninsula, this quaint fishing town is host to a large colony of Australian sea lions. Often called the “puppy dogs of the sea”. Sea lions are curious and friendly creatures, eager to frolic around their new human playmates. Grab your goggles and dive into the sparkling waters of Seal Cove, where you can swim alongside these spirited creatures. Surrounded by their wild habitat, you’ll experience the pure joy of being welcomed into their vibrant underwater world…their bottlenose dolphin friends might even join you for a swim.
Diving with Manta Rays, North Stradbroke Island, QLD
Want to trade your urban cityscape for a tropical paradise? Just head two hours east of Brisbane to North Stradbroke Island, where white sand beaches and turquoise water stretch as far as the eye can see. North “Straddie” hosts one of the best dive sites in Australia. Manta Bommie, appropriately named for its thriving Manta Ray population. The best time to witness the magic of mantas is during the summer months, when they gather en masse for mating season. Known to swim right next to scuba divers, you’ll have an up close look as they barrel roll, nose-dive, and fly through the water. Swimming alongside these astonishing giants as they glide along the ocean currents is truly awe-inspiring, and a must-do for all wildlife enthusiasts.
Watch Baby Turtles Hatch, Mon Repos Conservation Park, QLD
Witness the power, beauty, and unmitigated adorableness of nature at Mon Repos Conservation Park in Queensland. Where the entire family can watch baby turtles waddle their way down the beach to embark on their first adventures at sea. During the summer months, Mon Repos Beach serves as a crucial turtle nesting site for several species of marine turtles, including the endangered Loggerhead turtle. For the best turtle-spotting, head to the beach after dark, when the hatchlings are most active. Book a tour with a certified local agency to ensure you’re minimising your impact on the turtles’ habitat and keeping them safe for generations to come.
See the Sunset Penguin Parade, Phillip Island Nature Park, VIC
To watch an entire colony of Little penguins head home after a long day at sea, just drive 90 minutes from Melbourne to Phillip Island Nature Park. Bring your family and friends along to revel in the sunset homecoming of these amusing creatures. Choose from a wide array of viewing options, including eye-level and underground seating. Guided educational tours are available for the penguin fanatic, as well as access to a secluded beach with even more epic views of this Little but mighty colony.
Just off the coast of iconic beach town Byron Bay is the Julian Rocks Marine Reserve. Undoubtedly one of the best dive spots in New South Wales. Host to a multitude of stunning sea flora and fauna, Julian Rocks is best known for its flourishing sea turtle population. Due to its location at the nexus of the Coral Sea and the Tasman Sea, this dive site has an incredibly diverse ecosystem that surprises and delights visitors and locals alike. While sea turtles are the main attraction, Julian Rocks is home to sharks, rays, and a plethora of bright tropical fish. Only a 10 minute boat ride from The Pass, you can enjoy a refreshing post-swim snack at The Pass Cafe, followed by a night out in the ever-vibrant town of Byron Bay.
Crocodile River Cruise, Kakadu National Park, NT
If you want to fulfil your Crocodile Dundee dreams from the safety of a steel-bottomed boat, Kakadu National Park should be next on your travel list. Kakadu’s expansive landscape is home to over 10,000 crocodiles, which can be easily spotted at Cahills Crossing Platform, East Alligator River, and Yellow Water. Make a trip up to Kakadu anywhere from August to November to see the highest number of crocs. Salt and freshwater. If just spotting them isn’t enough for you croc lovers out there, book a ticket for the Jumping Crocodile Tour, where expert guides feed and interact with these incredible creatures.
Scuba Dive with Seadragons, Fortescue Bay, TAS
Immerse yourself in a strange new world when you dive under the surface of Fortescue Bay, Tasmania. Once underwater, you’re surrounded by a towering giant kelp forest. Home to a plethora of unique sea creatures, including the Weedy Seadragon. A close cousin to the standard seahorse, the Weedy Seadragon can only be found on the coasts of Tasmania and Southern Australia. While it usually appears to be a bright, fluorescent magenta, the seadragon can camouflage into the lush kelp beds in a flash. The enchanting and enigmatic Weedy Seadragon is reason alone to visit the wild waters of Tassie, but don’t be startled if a fur seal swims by to say hello.
Prefer your animal experiences to take place on dry land? Check out these close encounters at Australia’s top conservation parks