Shark Bay: Getting Up Close and Personal with Marine Life

Shark Bay is a World Heritage Site on the west coast of Western Australia. Our journey there was so worth the trip because it is a beautiful place to be if you love swimming in the ocean, especially with the marine life. From the map below, you can get an idea of where it’s at and why it’s such a popular vacation spot.

Shark Bay Western Australia

Shark Bay, What About the Sharks?

So one of my first questions before even booking my trip to Shark Bay was probably the same question that comes to everyone’s mind: what about sharks? It turns out that despite the name, Shark Bay is not any more dangerous than swimming anywhere else in the ocean. In fact, it is possible that it is even safer for humans to swim here because the waters are sheltered in the bay and larger predators are usually not found here. In addition to that, the abundance and variety of fish and other marine creatures that live here, the predators that do enter the bays have an ample supply of their favourite foods. Luckily for us, humans are not on that list. We were warned of other sea life that we should be on the lookout for including sting rays, rock fish, which you can step on and get stung, and the blue ringed octopus, which are very poisonous.

Other Things to do in Shark Bay

The great thing about vacationing in Shark Bay is that there is more to do than just snorkel or SCUBA dive all day. As much as I love to do that, there are some other pretty amazing things to see here. Whether you want to be in, out, or on top of the water, there is no shortage of activities to keep you busy, or keep your relaxed depending on your mood.

monkey mia dolphin

Dolphin at Monkey Mia. Photo by akeii

Monkey Mia

We stayed at Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort. It is a famous destination for visitors, even the ones that aren’t staying there because every day the dolphins come right up on the shallows of the shores and greet the people. It is such a fun experience. I was grinning ear to ear and so excited to be able to experience it. It is such a unique experience and also one that is magical and I felt privileged to be a part of this tradition of the many dolphins that come to visit the people there day after day for many years.

Shark Bay Discovery Centre and Ocean Park

The discovery centre and ocean park allow you to learn more about the ecosystem, wildlife, and history of Shark Bay without getting in the water. We saw some interactive exhibits and it is always fun to watch the shark feedings. That is not something I would want to do while in the water.

Francois Peron National Park

The land mass in the middle of Shark Bay is home to this national park. It is odd to see this small stretch of land in the middle of the bay with white sand beaches and red cliffs and hills all around.  You need a 4WD to navigate the terrain, which is rough and rugged. From the tops of the cliffs, you can see down through the crystal blue waters and make out the shapes of the fish, sharks, turtles, and manta rays swimming beneath. We walked the trails on the park for some exercise and exploration and had a very relaxing picnic there too. If you wanted to, there is also camping allowed in the park.

Don’t Miss These Sights

There are three other things we did that I don’t want to leave out: Shell Beach, Hamelin Pool, and the Zuytdorp Cliffs. Three totally different things, but each one should not be missed. Shell Beach is a stretch of beach before Francois Peron National Park. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many shells in my life! The Hamelin Pool is home to a strange phenomenon; the Stromatolies stick up out of the beach and are considered living fossils and part of the Earth’s evolutionary history. Then there are the Zuytdorp Cliffs in the nearby town of Denham. The steep cliffs stand tall and meet the ocean where you would think the beach should be. Instead, there is this stark contrast. The cliffs got their name from the Zuytdorp ship that wrecked after crashing into them many years ago.

stromatolites in crystal clear water near Hamelin Pool

Stromatolites near Hamelin Pool. Photo by Stefan L


The variety of marine life here makes it one of the most fascinating places to swim. I got to see fish, dugongs, turtles, and other sea life that I had never seen before and may never have the chance to see again. Then there are all the other things you can see and do here that make the trip even more special. I would absolutely call it a once in a lifetime vacation; but I certainly hope I get to do this again.

Article by Jason Hall. Jason is blogger for Budget Trucks. He enjoys traveling around Australia, especially out of the way places, where a truck or 4WD is needed.