If you are an enthusiastic snorkeler, you should head directly to Ningaloo Marine Park on the coast of Western Australia. Here you can swim with the largest fish in the world—the whale shark. This giant of the sea measures in at up to 40 feet (12 m) and can weigh 14 tons, yet has a pleasing tendency toward not eating the divers. It is a filter feeder whose diet consists of plankton and krill.
The Ningaloo Reef—most of which remains pristine thanks to low levels of pollution—is one of only two places on Earth where whale sharks regularly congregate, and they are here from March until June. The reef is also home to humpback whales and manta rays, and hawksbill, green, and loggerhead turtles all breed in the area. Ningaloo Reef is about 200 miles (322 km) long. The marine park that was created in 1987 to protect it covers 600 acres (243 ha). In all, there are 500 species of fish and more than 200 species of coral at Ningaloo—and the reef’s marine life is remarkably accessible to visitors. Close to the shore, it encircles shallow lagoons that are suitable for family snorkeling and less confident swimmers. Here you can see vividly colored clown fish, tiger fish, and sea anemones. For those who do not want to get their feet wet, there are also whale-watching trips, glass-bottomed boat tours, and scenic flights.