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Dive Review of Exmouth Dive Center & Ningaloo Reef Dreaming/Pot Shot Resort (residence only) in
Australia/West Australia, Perth-Exmouth

Exmouth Dive Center & Ningaloo Reef Dreaming/Pot Shot Resort (residence only), Apr, 2008,

by Julia DeMartini, HI, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 4151.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving eastern Australia, PNG, Indonesia, Philippines, Similan Islands, Maldives, Palau, Tuamotus Archipelago, Midway Atoll, Bonaire, Belize, Cayman Islands, Hawaii, Red Sea, Fiji, Solomons, Ponape, Truk, Galapagos, Baja, Florida Keys, etc.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas calm, choppy, no currents
Water Temp 77 to 79 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 5 to 50 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No touch on any reef items, stay 4 ft away from whalesharks and never in front or below, return with 600 psi in tank, must have buddy,NO flash photography on whalesharks
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks > 2
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities 2 stars
UW Photo Comments Boats and shore facilities are not well suited for photographers, but the dive leaders will accommodate specific requests, such as providing fresh water in a bucket dedicated for cameras. But, you have to ask!

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 2 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We took this trip intending to have an adventurous, magical and fabulous time celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary, and it all came true! Albeit being very tired from arduous treks and swims. Diving itself was easy.... and the weather was great! We did take a couple of thousand images plus a few video clips.

We started the adventure with Wilderness Travel, a non diving tour to see the unusual parts of Western Australia, such as Shark Bay to see the stromatolites and walkabouts days and twilight to see the abundant wildlife: reptiles, birds and marsupials.

During the first morning in Perth, the Swan River dolphins greeted us at the bank on the shoreline esplanade just behind the hotel--portending the beginning of a magical trip to 'middle earth'. Thus, we are glad that we went with Wilderness Travel for some land excursions as an add on to the last week of diving at Exmouth. Ron Leidich, the knowledgeable and accommodating trip leader, showed us a lot of bird and reptile as well as floral life and provided geological and ecological backgroud knowledge of the various regions. Our group of 11 guests were very congenial. However, 3 of which were obese and out-of-shape, and those folks had to skip about half of the activities--t'is a shame.

One factor that made this trip magical was the cyclone that brushed Western Australia two weeks prior to our arrival, causing the outback bush to bloom and flooding the birradas. Thus, as the WA natives told us, the bush was unusually lush green with flowers in bloom. Birds and reptiles were busy reproducing and nesting, taking advantage of the once in a blue moon water dousing. Even frogs were found in the bush!

Another factor to the magic was that most of the areas we trekked and visited are preserves so that the wild life was unwary of humans. At the tip of Cape Peron National Park, although neither snorkeling nor diving activities were provided, we could see tiger sharks lurking underwater attempting to prey on the sea birds (commorants, pelicans and terns) and Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphins chasing bate fish up to the shallows and shoreline. (too bad dive facilities are not availble at the Cape!) Shark Bay's stromatolites (our living fossil ancestors?) were impressive. The only other place on earth with stromatolites was at one end of Bonaire. It was believed that these cyanobacteria colonies were the first living things on earth to produce the oxygen in which future evolved life forms can thrive.

Diving the Navy Pier at Exmouth is a must! It was like diving the Yongala Wreck--packed with cheeky rotund fish and sharks, so dense, that you need to push them aside--they do push back though! The visibility during our 3 dives was not great-only around 12 to 18 ft. Makes photography tough! Luckily, we skipped the night dive(s). Heard that even the guides got lost! Nonetheless, we saw 5 species of @ 5-6 ft long garupas, wobbegongs, rays, other reef sharks, and many jacks, barrracudas, snappers, emperors, Australian specific pearl perches and giant trevallys,etc, etc. One amusing incident: While Ed was trying to take an image of a 6 ft. Goliath grouper lurking by a piling, and adjusting his exposure, an 18-inch long six-bar angelfish came up to gnaw on his fingures. He tried to bat it away, but the angelfish was very persisent. Julia was laughing very hard and trying to photograph this travesty when she was bumped laterally on the hip. Thinking the bumper was a rude diver, she was about to bump back only to notice that it was a 7 ft nurse shark moving her aside. It wanted the sandy spot where Julia was hovering over and was very content settling there after the 'intruder' was shuffled away! Very Glad that the Exmouth Navy Pier reopened again since 9-11.

Muiron Islands were fished and were a big contrast and disappointment to Lighthouse Reef, part of Ningaloo Marine Park where fish were unwary of humans. We witnessed a feeding frenzy caused by an olive sea snake dismembering a captured fish with 4 ft jacks and groupers mobbing it under a ledge. When we moved in to get closer images, the groupers and jacks turned to face us head-on within 3 inches to our masks, challenging us while others did side swiping. Oblivious of divers, cleaning stations for bat fish went on schedule.....And, if you care to look closely at the substrate, small critters like the mantis shrimp, ornate ghost pipe fish, flatworms and nudibranchs, etc. could be found. Although, PNG and Indonesia have better reef development, their 'large fish life' was much less abundant and much more shy of humans. Fishes of Ningaloo Marine Park do not run from divers. They challenged us head on--tough to make them pose laterally...

Whaleshark sightings are by snorkeling only, as spotted by planes, and were supposed to be about 80% chance. We, however, swam with 5 different whalesharks from 4 separate charters. Never a miss! 6 whalesharks were sighted during the 4 charters. To keep up with the sharks was arduous, especially with the swift swimmers! However, no diving allowed with whalesharks, including free diving! And, no flash photography.

The operators of dive shops in Exmouth were very different from other places that coddle divers--we had to help load tanks and gear onto the day boats. Between this and the whaleshark swims, we lost weight overall! and thoroughly exhausted by night time. Although, during the Wilderness Travel portion of the trip, we were overly well fed, and gained quite a bit early on. Also, the dive operators were not that used to photographers, but will accommodate our needs if requested.

We will not belabor the high cost of living in WA--twice that of Hawaii easily!! When we booked the trip nearly a year ago, the exchange rate was US$1 to AU$1.30. On the last days of the trip, the rate was US$1 to AU$0.94. Luckily, we prepaid 99% of the trip beforehand.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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