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Kayaks, Camping and Whale Shark Wonders: Embracing Adventure on Ningaloo Reef

Updated: Jun 24

We're often asked, 'What's your favourite adventure?' The answer is generally 'the last amazing one we had,' but there are a few that we really love, and our Embrace Ningaloo Kayak and Camp is a top contender for Our Favourite. Sharon and a group of 14 ladies travelled to remote Exmouth in May. Here's her travel journal from the trip.

Embrace Ningaloo Kayak and Camp Day 1:

With lots of nervous faces, we began our travels from the East coast via Sydney, Brisbane, and Perth to our destination, Exmouth, WA. 

After being kitted out with all our gear for the week paddling, we headed down the peninsular to base camp ⛺️ in Cape Range National Park just in time for our first spectacular sunset, a scrumptious dinner (with many moths!) and a slight easing of the nerves. A big step out of our comfort zones for many of us travelling to this remote stretch of coast, we head to bed anticipating our first day padding the Ningaloo Coast tomorrow!

Ningaloo Kayak and Camp Day 2

Up to see the sun rise over the red rocked range, we shared stories of our first night sleeping in our tents, midnight stars and the moon setting orange over the reef. After breakfast, we began our 1st paddle from Mangrove, our guides Katia and Neri providing expert tuition and guidance. We turned to plan B when the northerly hit harder than expected, stopping for a mangrove wander and an early lunch where we spotted a cheeky hammerhead in the shallows. 

Back on the water the team did brilliantly padding long in tough conditions. The turquoise waters, darting turtles and dolphins made for an exciting afternoon.

Our first solar showers back at camp felt so good before heading to the sunset deck for nibbles and a beverage. Early to bed after a hectic day, nerves are very eased now 🙂

Day 3…am absolute pearler of a day!

We rose from our tents ⛺️ to a scarlet sky above the range growing brighter by the minute. Our fearless guides were up before dawn busily preparing for our day. 

Guide extraordinaire Loz joins us today. We start back at Kori Bay, where our kayaks spent the night, and the process of getting ready to paddle becomes streamlined and smooth. We paddle through crystal clear, turquoise water, watching rays and turtles dart under our boats.

Our first snorkel 🤿 and the smiles are broad after spying cow tail rays, sleeping turtles and more amazing fish than we can name. 

Our final push in the kayaks finds us finishing the day at appropriately named Turquoise Bay, where we swim is the shallows after packing away our gear for for the day. 

A fantastic way to spend a Tuesday, with amazing women in beautiful Ningaloo!

Embrace Ningaloo Kayak and Camp Day 4

Some days a diamonds 💎 and that was today…

We headed back to Turquoise Bay to start our ‘triathlon’ of adventures, the logistics of which stretched our holiday brains a bit…pack for snorkelling, pack for kayaking, pack for hiking, all on the bus for 8:15 departure…yikes!

The drift snorkel was breathtaking, a huge grouper and a loggerhead turtles 🐢 hanging together amongst the coral and the thousands of other fish 🐟 were a highlight.

Morning tea and prep for adventure #2 of the day, a 5.3 km paddle in impossible blue water, our techniques perfected in expert formation as we crossed the breaker to finish at Sal Solas. The lunch on the beach amongst the rose colour rocks was made even more special by sighting one of the first humpbacks 🐋 for the season.

A quick change of clothes for adventure #3, hiking 🥾 a remote gorge and learning about connection to country. Spotting black flanked wallabies nestled on the ancient coral ledges one of many highlights.

We headed back to camp for a quick solar shower and then straight to the sunset deck for nibbles and drinks. We watched for more whales and reminisced about what an outstanding day we’d had in Cape Range National Park!

Bring on tomorrow-Snorkel, Snorkel, Kayak, Hike…is that a quadathalon??!

Day 5-oh what a day!

We start with a hearty breakfast, and on the bus, we head out to start the day…down the road, we happen upon a mumma roo who has met her maker blocking the way. Of course, we stop, respectfully move her from the road, and find a very scared little joey still sheltering in her pouch. Our guides, Katia and Loz, leap into action, carefully wrapping the bub in a towel and snuggling her close for a speedy transport to the parks office at the Ningaloo visitor centre, where she is promptly put into a fleecy pouch, waiting for a wildlife carer to collect her to safety. We’ve named her Lucky 🍀 and will follow her progress as she grows. An emotional start to the day…

Back to our planned day, snorkelling at Oyster Stacks, where we wait for the right wave and jump into the water, paddling out to the drift close by. Turtles, nudibranch eggs, parrot fish, and huge clams are just some of the highlights of this awesome snorkel site! Everyone’s feeling very confident in the water now and exploring with our guides pointing out all the wildlife is pure joy.

We head back to our kayaks and prep the for the day before enjoying a delicious morning tea on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, a cuppa never tasted so good!

The conditions are perfect for another quick snorkel before jumping in our kayaks for a special paddle back to camp. A few ladies are keen to try a single kayak and master the new challenge amazingly well. We are kayaking whizzes now, straight into formation, holding water and fully enjoying the experience and the beauty around us. And oh, are the turquoise waters, every shade of blue beautiful.

We kayak right up to our campsite, a very special treat, unpack the noble stead’s and carry them up the beach before heading to camp for a welcome lunch spread to fill us up for our next adventure.

After a quick change into walking gear, we gather to board the bus. But lo and behold, one of the tyres has gone flat. What to do?!

Our guides know exactly what to do and spring into action, jacking her up, and putting on the spare…dusty, hot work and awesome to see. These girls are awesome! 

Back to the adventure plan, we head out for a sunset walk at Yardie Creek, a majestic spot at the end of Cape Range National Park Park. We spot more black flanked rock wallabies, this time up close along the track. As the sun dips below Ningaloo Reef, the full moon rises over the range, a very special thing to witness as we enjoy a cold beverage and a nibble or two. We’ve fit a lifetime of unbelievable experiences into this one day…how amazing is this beautiful country we live in!!!

Day 6-lucky last day at camp

We pack our bags, sweep out our tents and bid a fond farewell to the home by the sea, our internet-free, disconnected from the ‘real world’ life we first struggled to adapt to but now struggle to leave behind. No running water, no electricity, no internet but a warm solar shower in the dunes, ample moonlight and so many stars, conversation and camaraderie instead of scrolling and google. Back to basics has been a great reset for all of us.  

But we still have some special exploring to do today. We drive the kayaks to stunning Osprey Bay, a bustling place with water even more crystal clear and turquoise. The conditions are simply perfect for our plan today. 

After some fearless trailer backing into a very tight spot (Katia is an all-round superstar ⭐️), we carry our kayaks down to the water's edge one last time. Teamwork making the dream work, 6 of us on each kayak; we are experts in manoeuvring these big beasts by now.  

The surf is up, calling for a deep-water launch. Up to our chests in the sea, we jump and clamber into the cockpits one by one, skirts on, and paddle, paddle, paddle out to smooth water. 

In formation we head out to sea, about a kilometre, towards the reef for something different today, a snorkel from the kayaks in deep water…nerves are high but our ‘tool boxes’ are full from a week acquiring our new skills.

Our guides moor and link our bows together, we don our flippers, masks and snorkels and in we dive to explore the most amazing coral and sea life to date. 

Conditions are so perfect we explore for over an hour, loggerhead and green turtles, giant clams, black tipped reef sharks, so many colourful fish, just like swimming in an aquarium!

Reluctantly, we head back to the kayaks and kick, kick, kick, flop back into the cockpit, all successfully, some more gracefully 🧜‍♀️. 

We did it. Some lost sleep worrying about kayaking in the deep, especially about getting back into the boats. There was no need to worry, though. Cheers go up all around, celebrating our successes!

Thinking things could not get any better…cue the Leopard Shark, who seems to visit each of our boats, offering congratulations on a job well done. She lazily glides with us for a long time giving us a very good look at this endangered wonder! Cue the humpback dolphins, cue the green turtles 🐢, all the creatures are here to escort our kayaks back to shore for the last time…pure magic on so many levels, words don’t do this experience justice.

Then, back to civilisation…though sad to leave our camp bubble, most are happy at the prospect of the hot shower, the pool, and the bar at Exmouth Escape Resort. Last night, we met for a swim and a drink 🍹, our cups so full from a fab week. But the best is yet to come…

Day 7 - Today is Whale Shark Day

Nerves are high once again. We board our boat, our crew kitting us out and briefing us for our day, to spot a whale shark is the goal. The spotter plans not even up when Pam begins to sputter and point…our first glorious whale shark is on our bow!

We spring into action, group one hop in the water, our guide giving instruction, we all stay in line, holding hands, squealing with excitement…swim forward, now back…now look down….

And in all her magnificence, an 8 metre whale shark is just below the surface. She’s moving slowly. We all have time to swim with her, have a really good look, grab a photo. Simply amazing, 15 minutes in the water with her, is keeping a respectful distance, she seeming so curious about us. There are tears of joy, and adrenaline exhaustion as we jump back on the boat, team two now with her. We are beyond rapt…

The call goes up to get ready, team one is going back in with another whale shark! Ohhhh wow! The magic continues like this all day, 3 whale sharks, 5 swims, it’s almost too much to take in.

To spend our last day with these magnificent creatures in perfect conditions in one of the most beautiful spots on earth is a true privilege.

We dance, we celebrate, we squeal some more!

Back on shore the celebrations continue with our last team dinner at Whalers, our fearless Exmouth Adventure guides, Katia and Loz, join in on the fun, we all had a week we will remember for a lifetime. New experiences and most importantly, new friendships made. The best day ever, again and again!

Day 8-Relax and Explore Exmouth

After a bit of a sleep in, we meet for breakfast, still reeling from our week. Town is close by so a walk for an explore, shop and coffee is on the cards before a relax by the pool and our pick up back to the airport for the journey home.

Women Embrace Adventure is heading to Ningaloo in May, partnering with Exmouth Adventure Co and 3 Island Whale Shark and Dive. We hope you can join us on this trip of a lifetime...

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