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Ningaloo Dive and Sail Adventure

Ever thought that you need to go overseas to get impeccable service and experiences from a live-aboard dive trip?

What if I told you that not two hours from Perth you can be sitting on a beautiful catamaran in stunning, clear waters with service, safety and diving that blows you away? No 30 hour flights and layovers. No exchange rates to worry about. Just easy access to some of the worlds premier diving and impeccable service without the hassle.


Perth Scuba and Sail Ningaloo provided just that with a 5 night, dedicated dive trip aboard the catamaran, Shore Thing, departing Coral Bay. And I was lucky enough to be part of the first trip of the season with this amazing crew.

Most of our group arrived in Learmonth at 2.30 with a Sail Ningaloo host waiting to collect us and whisk to our home on the water for the next 5 nights. Once Forge and I came to terms with the lack of a pub on the hour plus journey to Coral Bay (seriously, a van selling pints of beer and chiko rolls would make a killing!) the group got to know each other and we settled on discussing the cheeses that should be part of the platter tonight – gorgonzola taking prime position.

Jess and Kharlie had flown up early morning to explore Coral Bay, only to discover that their bags had taken a different flight. Besides the clothes on their backs, Qantas presented them with lovely little PJs and a toothbrush for their trouble…. luckily, actual pants were not really necessary while living  out at sea for a few days.

As soon as we arrived at the jetty, it was a flurry of activity. Bags loaded, guests jumping aboard and cheese platters served. (No, I wasn’t kidding about the cheese platter!) We passed through the galley where fresh bread was being baked, shown our rooms and introduced to our crew.


Being the first trip of the season for the team, we ended up with 5 crew members. Our beautiful hosts Hayley and newbie Kate, the famous Andrew as our dive master and instructor, Captain Luke and skipper-in-training (and dive guide) Jesse.

By 5.15pm, we were in the water for our first dive at Lotties Lagoon. Even before descent, a massive school of trevally swirled around us. These guys turned up all through the dive, schooling around then moving off leaving us to explore this amazing dive site full of life and colour with schools of surgeon fish, white-eyed eels poking their heads out (they look a bit like startled muppets), parrot fish and just so much more. What a way to start!

We backed this up with a night dive and when we emerged, a dining table on the deck had been set up complete with candles.

Hayley and Kate presented our meals, a-la-carte style. I kid you not! Keep in mind that we’re on a catamaran so the galley is a pretty tight space. These ladies prepped, cooked and plated all these meals, for eleven people, every day.

Having fillet steak cooked to your liking, served on a bed of sweet potato mash with green beans and a selection of salads after a made-from scratch tomato soup with fresh baked bread rolls for entree then served to you at a table overlooking the stunning Ningaloo waters…. wow. Just. Wow.


The diving was brilliant. Inner reef dives full of life, colourful corals and bommies teeming with fish, eels and turtles sleeping or swimming overhead to the outer reef dives with dropping, curving walls home to turtles, soft corals and giant schools of buffalo bream, trevally and a shark or two.

I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow account of each dive but it would be a crime not to mention a couple of highlights!

  • Ashos’ Gap with it’s shark cleaning station was an amazing sight with grey reef whalers milling atop a giant bommie or swimming in place while small fish went to work.
  • The leopard shark and wobbegong just hanging around Lannies Lumps (this site was a bit of a favourite for it’s fish life).
  • Holy Moley with its’ clear waters, swim throughs and darting logger-head turtles (to be fair, there were turtles EVERYWHERE on our dives)
  • Lost City wall dive where the schooling buffalo bream nearly blocked the light.

From gearing up to exit, the whole crew were seeing to our safety and comfort for all our diving needs. We had a guide jump in on every dive and the crew onboard helped us into and out of our gear, making sure we had everything we needed.


In between, if we weren’t eating, we spent our time chillaxing on the nets and beanbags at the front of the catamaran or reviewing the photos and videos we all got so worked up about on our last dive.

Then we decided to get out the fishing gear, which proved to be a whole lot of fun. Honourable mention to Forge for catching the red-throat emperor we promptly prepared and barbecued for dinner on our last night and the can’t forget Kharlie and Deb swimming out and unsnagging our fishing lines… so many times!  Jess worked tirelessly to catch us garfish for bait or hook that elusive squid while Lauren and I kicked back on the deck cheering on hollers of “I got one!”.

The day before we flew out, we finished up diving in the morning. Forge smashed 3 dives before 11.30 and was rewarded with a goliath grouper who loved the camera on the final dive. We then headed off on the search for manta rays.

On our way, a group of spinner dolphins spotted our vessel and had us watching in awe as this very large pod of dolphins swam and played in the bow wave of Shore Thing for the next twenty minutes.

Then the mantas showed. We snorkelled around watching first one, then two mantas circling around below us, not giving a lot of care to us diving down and watching them glide around us. In the end, there were 4 mantas enjoying the attention of duck-diving snorkellers and their go-pros. It was truly a fantastic experience.

After a day full of diving, wildlife that amazes and a group of people who were relative strangers just days before, we couldn’t stop smiling.

If you take on this trip, and I recommend you do, don’t forget the star-gazing. Finishing my day  lying on the deck of Shore Thing at night to gaze over that Milky Way falling across the sky, meeting the Southern Cross, so large and with such clarity I am struck with how lucky I am to have all this right in my backyard.

I have finished this experience with new friends, an over-whelming appreciation for the service and the diving in this area and a longing to get back to Ningaloo and do it all again. As soon as possible!

Click here to see the rest of the photos from our AWESOME trip!

written by Perth Scuba PADI Instructor Sarah Toohey

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