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

April, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Julia DeMartini, HI, USA
Reviewer   (3 reports)
Report Number 4151
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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

sunny, windy, dry  
calm, choppy, no currents  
Water Temp
77   to 79    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
5   to 50    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
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  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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  
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):
4 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
2 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
4 stars    
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

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
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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