Frolic with dolphins
Image 1 of 11
Less than an hour from the Perth CBD, bottlenose dolphins make the first move when it comes to approaching inquisitive snorkelers suspended on the water’s surface. Rockingham Wild Encounters has been guiding three-hour swims with wild dolphins (just remember: this isn’t a chance to feed or touch the creatures) and are skilled at seeking out pods prepared to glide and twirl close to human spectators.
Get close to stingrays
Image 2 of 11
Hamelin Bay on the southwest coast is a serene open sandy bay, famous for the abundance of stingrays, which frequent its waters. Enjoy a personal interaction with these remarkable stingrays by snorkelling nearby, or they can also be seen close to the shore, feeding off the scraps left by fishermen. There’s also plenty of interesting aquatic life, shipwrecks and caves to admire and explore.
Swim alongside humpback whales
Image 3 of 11
You’ll certainly feel small paddling past a 12-metre, 36,000-kilogram humpback whale as she traverses the coast on her way home from Antarctica. Since 2016, a number of whale shark operators have extended their season to offer visitors humpback whale interaction tours between August and October. The whales’ wellbeing is at the forefront of this experience: group sizes are limited to five on this seven-hour odyssey and if the group of gentle giants spotted aren’t suitable to swim with, the plane circling above the boat will attempt to find another nearby opportunity.
Surfing at Trigg Beach
Image 4 of 11
While the idea is to spend more time above the water than under it while surfing the waves at this popular spot near Perth, even experienced surfers can succumb to a wipe out on, especially rough days. Improve your chances of making it all the way to shore by booking a lesson with the School of Surfing WA, which runs workshops for kids and adults.
Staying dry at Busselton Jetty
Image 5 of 11
While a stroll – or solar train ride – towards the blue horizon along the almost two-kilometre timber expanse of Busselton Jetty is a must-do on a trip to this historic structure, descending into the observatory at its tip adds a different dimension to your excursion. Eight metres under the surface, there are 11 viewing windows through which to see the fish, coral and sponges (they’re more fascinating than they sound) that dart throughout the artificial reef.
Snorkelling at Ningaloo Reef
Image 6 of 11
Amateur snorkelers don’t need to spend time boat-bound before jumping into the water, nor do they need to book a tour to paddle around Ningaloo Reef. Its proximity to the Exmouth coast means it’s an easy swim in turquoise waters to uncover some of the 300-kilometre-long fringing coral reef. During a spin about the lagoon you’re likely to spot at least some of the 500 species of tropical fish that live here, as well as turtles, cod and manta rays and – if you’re lucky – some of the bigger fish and mammals that patrol these waters.
Diving with whale sharks
Image 7 of 11
Don’t be surprised if you shed a salty tear in your mask when you finally come across one of these incredible creatures – it’s a common side effect of complete awe. Ningaloo Reef is one of the best places in the world to dive with these majestic, white-spotted filter feeders that migrate the warm waters annually between March and August in search of kilos of plankton.
Swim at Turquoise Bay
Image 8 of 11
After all the marine-life exploration, be sure to spend some time simply floating on the pristine waters of Turquoise Bay, in Cape Range National Park, off the coast of Exmouth. This appropriately named bay is calm and protected – though there can be strong currents near the sandbar – so take a plunge and marvel at the impossible clarity of the lapping waves.
Take a dip with dugongs
Image 9 of 11
With their bulbous noses and deep-set eyes, it’s hard to fathom how sailors of centuries past mistook dugongs for beautiful mermaids. But despite their cobbled-together appearance, swimming near one of the approximately 10,000 enormous dugongs that live off Shark Bay or the clan who feed on seagrass around Ningaloo is a photo-worthy experience.
Explore a sunken ship
Image 10 of 11
Experienced divers could spend years weaving around the incredible dive spots that dot the Western Australian coast but for something a little different to technicolour coral, take a turn around some of the sunken ships near Perth. At West Coast Dive Park, 10 ships were purposely sunk to create a scuba site, while the wrecks of Key Biscayne, sunk near Lancelin in 1982, or North Mole, which rests a mere nine metres below the water less than 200 metres off the coast of Fremantle, are a moody few hours you won’t soon forget.