Swimming with Minke Whales, an incredible experience! Every Australian Winter, the Dwarf Minke Whales make their annual migration from Antarctica to the Great Barrier Reef from May to August. Plan your swim with Minke Whales trip between June & July on the best liveaboard trip from Cairns.
We have been snorkelling and scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef for the past 49 years so we know the reef more intimately than most other dive companies.
All of our liveaboard dive expeditions are conducted more than 100 miles away from Cairns out on the Coral Sea or on the world famous Ribbon Reefs where we conduct our swim with Dwarf Minke Whale dive tours.
This is a really special experience! Our liveaboard dive and snorkel tours for swimming with the Dwarf Minke Whales only happens in the northern section of the Ribbon Reefs in Tropical North Queensland, Australia and it’s unique, as it is an encounter on the mammals terms, not the humans.
When a pod of Minke’s are spotted, the boat crew place a rope into the water and then invite everyone on board to slip gently into the water.
As they quietly hold on to the rope the whales approach for a closer look and choose to either stay around and play or leave as they like.
Dwarf Minke Whales came to attention in the early 1980’s when they began approaching boats on the Great Barrier Reef.
Prior to this they were a virtually unknown species and still today not very much is actually known about them.
Our swim with Dwarf Minke Whales tours are part of the Minke Whale Research project and quite often we have scientists on board our tours which makes it even more engaging for our divers and snorkelers.
Our swim with Dwarf Minke Whales expeditions on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns are dedicated to maximising your in-water interactions at the world’s only known Minke Whale aggregation sites, whilst also enjoying the other diverse and unique marine life interactions on the Ribbon Reefs such as the giant Potato Cod and our famous shark dives.
Whilst we are a liveaboard dive boat these Minke Whale tours are designed for both divers and snorkelers.
For some reason Minke Whales seem to prefer snorkelers to scuba divers. They tend to get closer to and hang around longer when humans are not wearing large bubbly air tanks.
Abiding by strict codes of practice from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, a maximum of two surface ropes will be placed in the water with snorkelers then positioned 3-4 metres apart whilst they wait quietly for these gentle creatures to approach.
The whales actually control the encounter in that they decide how close they then interact and how long they choose to swim with us
Minke Whales are known to be very generous with their time and once a few or a pod is spotted and they approach the boat voluntarily, it usually means they are keen for some interaction and play time.
The 4 day itinerary is dictated by the whales, visiting areas of high Dwarf Minke Whale activity and our key scuba diving sites.
The number of scuba dives below is the approximate number of dives provided but may vary to enable our whale-focused itinerary.
Since commencing our Dwarf Minke Whale Expeditions from Cairns in 1996 we have been fortunate to have had a 98% success rate to the delight of our guests.
The largest pod of whales we have seen was 28, and the longest in-water encounter was an unbelievable 10 hours of which we had to leave. We are sure these whales would have preferred for us to stay and play.
During the peak months on June and July every day has a high probability of whale encounters.
If we are not able to locate the Minke Whales at our usual sites, up to two hours at a time is spent searching for whales further afield.
If we are unsuccessful we will dive and snorkel as many of the famous Ribbon Reef sites as possible.
We have a passenger average of 22 with a maximum of 28 and onboard boat crew of 12.
Our boat was custom designed for the waters of the Great Barrier Reef and its twin hills reduce potential seasickness
Sample itinerary, subject to change based on conditions.
Friday (4 dives + night dive)
This is a sample of a ‘typical day’, however exact times may vary to optimise the prevailing weather conditions on the day.
Saturday (4 dives + night dive)
As per above
Sunday (4 dives)
As per above.
Exit last dive by 4pm.
As the sun sets we pour the bubbles, lay out the nibbles and get ready for an Aussie BBQ party night. Don’t forget to wear your loudest tropical shirt or dress and sing along to music played by our talented crew.
Moor off Lizard Island.
We recommend that you allow 24 hours between your last dive and your onward flight (all diving is finished by 4pm Sunday).
A luggage allowance applies to the flight from Cairns to Lizard Island:
Book your cabin early as only limited departures from Cairns for these specialised marine animal encounters.
Check in before 4:00pm at the dive office
Where the Dwarf Minke Whales hang out, Lighthouse Bommie, Pixie Pinnacle, Steve’s Bommie, The Cod Hole, Gotham City, Ribbon Reefs, Dynamite Pass, Lighthouse Bommie, Pixie Wall, Coral Kingdom, Flare Point, Blue Lagoon, Vertical Gardens
June - July
2019 departure dates: 6th June, 13th June, 20th June, 27th June and 4th July
Scuba Diving Restrictions
All cancellations must be in writing. Please note that all cancellations will incur an administration fee. Please see our terms and conditions for details prior to booking.