Ningaloo Reef and Christmas Island Dive Centres, Western Australia
19 July 2017
Ningaloo Reef fringes Western Australia's coast from Shark Bay north to the Cape Range peninsula. It is the longest fringing barrier reef in Australia, and, interestingly, is the only example in the world of extensive fringing coral reef on the west coast of a continent. Diving activities centre around Exmouth (1300 km North of Perth) and Coral Bay (100 km south of Exmouth). It is famous for the whale shark migration in late March. At other times of year humpback whales migrate this coast, as do manta rays, although mantas can generally be found in Coral Bay year round.
The weather tends to be warm and dry throughout the year, with the hottest months being February and March when air temperatures vary between 23 and 33 oC. Temperatures offshore are generally less extreme. Surface water temperatures range from 26-31 oC in Summer (December - March) and 19-24 oC in Winter. Tropical cyclones are common in February and March, but have been recorded as early as December and as late as May. Southern parts of the reef are slightly less influenced by cyclonic activity than the north.
Please tell us about Australian dive centres you have used. Fill in the form at http://www.scubatravel.co.uk/recommend.html.
Western Australia 6707
Tel: +61 (0)8 9949 1201
"I went with Exmouth Dive and they were really good."
"We would never dive with them again and certainly not recommend them! Anything but customer friendly operation. Dive guides mostly inexperienced. They cater to beginners and course students and don't care about experienced divers. On one dive we asked them for a dive site briefing on the boat and were told that the reef was just stretching either right or left! Couldn't miss it! We had strong winds and quite a swell and visibility was about 7m! They don't provide nearly satisfactory storage for divers with their own equipment. My wife could only do three dives from the ten dives prepaid due to a cold she got in Australia. They would not even agree to let her go free-of-charge on the pier dive as a small compensation for the missed dives although there were four vacancies. For us, this was the most disappointing and unpleasant Padi 5 star dive operation we have ever come across in our 16 years of diving. Shame!
Maurice Riordan, 2006
Western Australia 6707
Tel: +61 (0)8 9949 1004 or 61 +08 9949 4377
Fax: +61 (0)8 9949 1044
Ningaloo Blue Charters
PO Box 362
Western Australia 6707
Tel: +61 (0)8 9949 1119
Fax: 61 +*0)8 9949 4129
PO Box 449
Western Australia 6707
Tel: +61 (0)8 9949 1764
Fax: +61 (0)8 9949 1717
Ross St Mall
Shop C/388 Maidstone Crescent
Tel: +61 (08) 9949 1111
PO Box 237
Tel: +61 (8) 9949 4777
Fax: +61 (8) 9949 4748
1. They took us out on a small boat dive in 30+ knot winds. The boat ride was well beyond the limits of safety for most on board. The dive guides did not know the sites. At the Muron islands, the water was pea green with sand being ripped to the surface by the surging water. Despite this, we dived and became separated and ripped away. I dropped my buddy's weightbelt and provided her with a 30 minute tired diver tow to move 200 m back to the boat. I was too tired to notice what happened to the others but eventually all were picked up.
2. A lady in on a scuba dive course was upset because on her first morning she was asked to put on her bathers and weight in their pool (unheated in winter and quite cold). She did this, and waited for over an hour whilst becoming blue with cold. She eventually called her husband and he went to find the dive instructor. The dive instructor was in the office with his mates and had forgotten about her! "
Anne Chamot, 14 November 2011
"I had to call the police!
As booked and confirmed by Mr David Ross (Operations Manager, Ningaloo Reef Dreaming), I was due to start my open water Dive course (4 days) from Friday 19/03/10. On my arrival, I was told that at least another trainee was required to run the course. Brandy (his assistant) told me she would search for an extra trainee during the day and I should come back later in the afternoon after 5.30pm. When I came back, I was told they were still looking for an extra person and they would search again the next day. I told Brandy I needed to talk to David Ross as my stay in Exmouth was only for 5 days. She advised me not to talk to him as he was in a bad mood and had no intention to communicate with me. I asked him what was happening with the course and he started shouting at me saying he had a bad day and his boat was not working. I asked him what he expected to do about it as my training was in open water and he started insulting me and became very agitated. His behaviour was extremely aggressive and intimidating. I explained he wasn’t respecting the contract and asked for the full refund of my course ($500 + $10 transaction fee). He became physically intimidating saying I would have to leave the room or he would kick me out. I reported the incident to the police who told me he had done similar actions in the past. It was a very humiliating experience. I have been robbed $510 and wasted my time trusting a so called Eco Certified company.’ I got the money back a month later and have since contacted the Lonely planet as well as the major Diving clubs in the UK.
Jean-Marc Ryckebusch, Scotland, 2010
"Ningaloo Reef Dreaming are by far the worst company regarding customer service. Do not dive with this organisation.
Natalie Barnes-Hore, 2010
"I would not recommend diving with this shop. I showed up here shortly before 4 pm and they rushed to sign me up for a 4:25pm departure Navy pier dive. I told them I'd like to do some more dives later as well so they promptly signed me up and had me pay on the spot for 3 days of diving. I was hesitant about booking so many, but was rushed to finish paperwork on time so did it anyway thinking "what could go wrong?" The 5 dives they've taken us on so far had pretty bad visibility, which I understand is bad luck. However, the last two dives we did on the reef reminded me of a sand storm or blizzard. You could hardly see the fins of the person in front of you at times. They should've tried to take us to a less exposed location or rescheduled the dive. The boat also only had one poorly working engine (other one was broken) so it took us a really long time to get to/from the dive site. To make things worse I got a pretty nasty cold and couldn't clear my ears this morning. When I came in to discuss this with the dive shop they wouldn't give me a refund without a doctor's note, which would cost me $146 (hardly worth it). I understand the dive shop has to be strict during peak season, but there's so few people here in February they're not really losing a spot if I cancel since it would've been empty otherwise. My friend was even going on the dive I was trying to cancel making it obvious I wasn't simply trying to skip town on them. The worst part is that when I tried talking to the owner about this he was a real jerk and said he didn't have time to discuss it and that the girl at the counter knew the cancellation policy. I would've accepted everything, even not getting a refund, but the fact that the owner was rude and wouldn't listen to his customers concerns makes me never want to do business with this shop again. If you've seen lots of fish before you can skip the Navy pier and go with a friendlier shop (or only do the Navy pier dive with this shop). If you really must dive with Ningaloo Reef Dreaming then try not to book too many dives in advance because you're not getting your money back.
Gene, USA, 2009
"Easily the worst company I've ever had the misfortune to dive with. Booked a 3 day trip plus double dive on the navy pier. Very disapointed with both value for money and customer service.
I was meant to be picked up from the airport, but they didn't show, meaning we had to take a bus into town. The Navy pier briefing was done by a backpacker who could barely speak english, and once we got into the water I was shocked at what I found. This site is meant to be one of the top 10 in the world, I wouldn't put it in my top 100. Ningaloo reef dreaming has obviously thrown so many divers in the water here that the site has been destroyed, minimal coral/sponge life. Plenty of fish, but you can see them anywhere up here, and for $230 (Aus) with no lunch for 2 dives, you can save yourself a lot of money!
The 3 day trip was even worse. After a great first dive for the day- turtles, sharks, manta ray, it all went down hill.. Diesel smoke from the engine being sucked back into the cabin, a run down compressor drowning out any attempts at conversation for pretty much the whole time we were in the boat, as they didn't take enough tanks. Dive sites got gradually worse more damaged.
The food was poor. We had to catch our own fish, which may sound fun, but is rather annoying to see the skipper eating a t-bone while you get given the cheaper option.
We slept in swags that were provided, however, they neglected to tell us that we needed to bring our own bedding, so 20 people froze their asses off during the nights.
The boat was in poor condition as was its tender, which broke down for 20 mins half way from the boat to the island. The ladder on the back of the boat was unsuitable for divers and it broke, making it extremely difficult to climb up, with the crew offering minimal assistance- they were more concerned with getting bottom times and depths. One of the divers fell due to this and sprained his wrist badly, causing him to miss a day and a half of diving.
This is a smoking boat, no non smokers beware!
From speaking to other travellers once back on land, it sounds like there are fair better companies to go with that are cheaper than reef dreaming.
I won't be using them again, and urge you not to either! "
Andrew, Divemaster, Perth, 2009
"Best diving ever, saw Whalesharks, Manta rays, etc. crew were fantastic. The best is that they have their own spotter plane, so they don't share the shark with 6 other boats! I swam with the whale sharks for 107 minutes! WOW.
Peter Essers, 2006
"Best shark tour ever, went three times and saw sharks every time"
"Exceptional service from a first class dive center. Went out of their way to make my 2 1/2 year old son welcome...and he saw his first whale shark! Thanks!
"My experience with Ningaloo Reef Dreaming and the whale shark tour far exceeded my expectations. The crew were fabulous and friendly. There was such a sense of excitement throughout the whole day.
"I dove with Ningaloo Reef Dreaming while I was in Exmouth and I would highly encourage everyone not to dive with them. The company is very unorganized and incompetent. I called to confirm my diving reservation a few days before my arrival. On my first day of diving I had to call them b/c they didn't pick me up even though I told them where I was staying only 3 days before. The next day I got into an argument with the manager because he thought I didn't pay, I had to go back and get my reciept before he believed me. The day before I was going to dive the navy pier I was told I didn't have a reservation even though I had confirmed it about 5 times by now. Fortunately they made "an exception" and allowed me to dive. The management of this operation is incredibly disorganized and very condescending to their guests. This was by far and away the most poorly run dive operation I have ever encountered in 10 years of diving and 80 plus dives. Consider carefully especially since I went in the off-season, I couldn't imagine how much they would screw up if they had more than a handful of people on their boat.
"Definitely dive with them again. Brilliant. Thanks a lot for looking after me with the Navy Pier dives. I really appreciate it and I really enjoyed the day and in hindsight wish that I'd done another day or so with your operation as opposed to your competitors as I found your operation pretty professional on the day. You live and learn. Hopefully I'll get back there one day.
Rod, Managing Director Pro Dive Cairns
Christmas Island is a small territory of Australia located in the Indian Ocean, 2,360 kilometres (1,466 miles) northwest of Perth. There are flights to Christmas Island from Perth or Singapore.
Christmas Island Wet'n'Dry Adventure
PO Box 121
Tel: (+ 61) 8 8 43 921 5290
Phone/Fax: (+ 61) 8 9164 8028
Mobile: 043 921 5290
View prices and book diving online…
"Hama at Wet and Dive adventures is fantastic. Safety is the first priority and if there is a whale shark in the water he would find it. He also has an uncanny nack of working out if you are nervous before you are getting worried. Fantastically priced. Very friendly.
PO Box 5493
Tel: (+61) 4 1975 9617
Mobile: 041 975 9617
- The World's Best Tropical Dives
- by Lawson Wood, Hardback, (2012)
Includes Western Australia, with superb photos
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