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Swim With Sea Lions At Jurien Bay – Salty Swims!

Jurien Bay is home to a colony of curious, playful Australian sea lions, and getting to swim with them is an absolutely unforgettable experience!

These sea lions – native to Australia, are very friendly and are also one of the rarest species in the world!

curious sea lion coming near snorkelers at Jurien Bay WA

They are endangered to extinction, with only around 12,000 Australian sea lions to be found along Australia’s southern and western coastline. 

A few small islands close to Jurien Bay are some of the main breeding grounds of these Australian sea lions, so a boat tour is definitely the best way to see these gorgeous animals.

sea lion at Essex Rocks Jurien Bay WA

You’ll get to jump in the water, observe and interact with these inquisitive and lively wild animals in their natural habitat whilst snorkelling, which is really special!

sea lion swimming at Essex Rocks WA

The sea lions are here all year and so boat tours depart from Jurien Bay on a daily basis. So whatever time of year you come to Jurien Bay you’ll be able to see these lovely creatures! 

swim with sea lions Jurien Bay                             

Where Do You Swim With Sea Lions In Jurien Bay?

The sea lions at Jurien Bay live on several small islands in the Jurien Bay Marine Park.

Our boat took us to Essex Rocks: one of the islands where a colony of about 40 sea lions live. Essex Rocks is just a 15 minute boat ride from the Jurien Bay Boat Harbour so you’ll be there in no time! 

sea lion jumping out the water at Essex Rocks

Where Is Jurien Bay Located?

The charming seaside town of Jurien Bay lies in Western Australia, 220 kilometers north of Perth, WA’s capital.

Jurien Bay is known for its crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches and abundant marine life – including of course the famous sea lions!

swimming with sea lions Jurien Bay WA

Jurien Bay is a popular spot in Western Australia. You can visit on a day trip or weekend trip from Perth, or stop off when doing a Perth to Exmouth road trip or Perth to Broome road trip.

The drive from Perth to Jurien Bay takes around 2.5 hours non-stop. On the drive up you will go past Lancelin Sand Dunes and The Pinnacles at Nambung National Park – both incredibly unique and beautiful places.

Make sure to stop off at these either on your way up to Jurien Bay or on your way back to Perth. Yanchep National Park closer to Perth is also a great place to stop off as you can see lots of kangaroos and koalas!

Why You Should Swim With Seal Lions At Jurien Bay

Just one glance at a picture of a sea lion looking straight into the camera is all you need to want to head up to Jurien Bay, jump into the water and meet them!

sea lion at Essex Rocks Jurien Bay WA

Not only that, but several reefs and small islands protect the bay that Jurien Bay lies in, which means that it is one of the best places to snorkel in Western Australia due to its clear and shallow water!

We were amazed at how quick it was to get to the snorkelling spot, and how clear the water was at Essex Rock. Visibility was incredible, and it meant it was easy to get some great photos of the sea lions!

sea lion swimming at Essex Rocks WA

We have done snorkelling trips before in different parts of the world when the water clarity hasn’t been good, and the photos just don’t do the experience justice, but at Jurien Bay the visibility was incredible – probably the best snorkelling conditions we have ever experienced!

In addition, the water was very shallow – around 2 metres deep, which was great as it means the sea lions were never too far from you and you can see the sandy sea bed in the photos which just looks fab!

swimming with sea lions Jurien Bay WA

Swimming with the sea lions at Jurien Bay is honestly one of the best marine life experiences you can have in the whole of Australia!

sea lions swimming at Essex Rocks WA

We have had so many marine life encounters over the past couple of years in Australia and have to say the sea lions at Jurien Bay was one of our favourites – it was just so fun!

curious sea lion coming near snorkelers at Jurien Bay WA

How To Book A Jurien Bay Sea Lion Tour

There are a few companies that offer the Jurien Bay Sea Lion swim.

We booked ours with Salty Swims as they specialise in the best marine life experiences throughout the whole of Australia and we have had very positive experiences with them in the past.

Their website is very straightforward and easy to use – click here to book the Jurien Bay Sea Lion Tour.

sea lions swimming at Essex Rocks WA

The Salty Swims Jurien Bay sea lion experience is operated by a family-run company that has over 40 years of experience navigating the waters of Jurien Bay.

Their modern jet boat is the largest in Jurien Bay, complete with an open-air upstairs decking so you can enjoy the views on the journey. They only take small numbers out (a maximum of 16 guests), so you’ll never have a crowded experience.

The staff are very friendly, have a wealth of knowledge on the sea lions and their behaviours and really go out of their way to ensure you have a fantastic trip.

baby sea lion on the sandy sea bed in Essex Rocks Western Australia

Wetsuits and all snorkelling gear is provided for free, they have steps and a rope to help you get in and out of the water – plus there’s a hot shower onboard for after your swim!

The guides will get in the water with you and they have buoyancy aids to hold onto if you need.

Overall this is an incredible and very unique experience and we were very happy with this tour, especially as we could see that the team are really committed to the safety and welfare of the sea lions, ensuring engaging yet respectful interactions.

As mentioned earlier, the sea lions are here year-round at Jurien Bay and so tours operate year-round. Definitely book in advance though as it can often get booked out, especially at weekends and during the holidays!

You can book the tour directly through the Salty Swims website and receive your confirmation email almost instantly.

All details can be found on the Salty Swims website. They also have an interactive messenger feature on their website which is very useful if you have any additional questions. 

sea lion swimming at Essex Rocks Western Australia

What Are The Jurien Bay Sea Lions Like To Swim With?

The sea lion colony of Essex Rocks consists of around 40 Australian sea lions. Known as one of the friendliest creatures in the ocean, the Australian sea lion loves to investigate, meet new faces and play!

sea lions swimming at Essex Rocks WA

They willingly swim right up to snorkellers and interact with you! We watched in awe as we saw them gracefully twirling around on their backs, playing with each other, diving in the water and blowing bubbles!

sea lion blowing bubbles in Jurien Bay WA

It’s easy to see why lots of people call these sea lions ‘puppies of the sea’ – everything about them reminded us of puppy dogs!

baby sea lion on the sandy sea bed in Essex Rocks

How they get zoomies and chase each other underwater, how they lie down on the sand giving you puppy dog eyes and how they are very happy to come and say hi to anyone that’s in their path.

sea lions swimming at Essex Rocks WA

The gorgeous faces, big eyes and little ears on these salty sea dogs was just so cute. 

sea lions swimming at Essex Rocks WA

Whilst they are lovely playful excitable animals, it’s always important to remember they are wild animals. Never chase them or try to touch them, otherwise they may feel threatened.

If they come right up to you that’s fine, but don’t do anything to intimidate them.

What To Expect On The Swimming With Sea Lions Tour in Jurien Bay 

There were plenty free parking spots right next to the boat ramp at Jurien Bay Boat Harbour, the boat was easy to find and check-in was super straightforward, which made us excited for our morning of fun! 

Leaving Jurien Bay Boat Harbour the water turned a spectacular turquoise colour – it honestly looked like a paradise!

By the time we had been given a safety briefing by the friendly team, popped our wetsuits on, got sorted with our snorkel masks and fins and got our camera gear ready, the 15 minute boat journey was up and we were pulling up close to the tiny secluded beautiful island of Essex Rocks.

A lone sea lion came right up to the boat and popped his head out to say hi as he swam past which got us immediately excited, and we noticed at least a dozen sea lions basking on the island in the morning sun.

Essex Rocks and the other islands in the Jurien Bay Marine Park are all protected islands. You aren’t permitted to get closer than 50 metres to the island as it is the sea lion’s home.

The boat will station itself at a safe distance of about 100 metres from the island, then you can go down the stairs into the water or jump in and hold onto the rope if you need and swim a little bit closer to the island.

The trips are timed so that you get into the water before the majority of the sea lions, you wait for a few minutes and then they appear!

The sea lions bask in the sun on the island until the tide comes in and wakes them up! What a great way to wake up hey?

Whilst we were waiting for the sea lions to wake up and swim towards us, we would have a little look around under the water.

I was fascinated at how clear the water was, and how shallow it was at around 2 metres – the conditions were looking epic!

The waters at Essex Rocks are quite sheltered, and even though there was a slight current when we were there, the water is very pleasant to swim in.

The sea bed was mostly sandy with some areas of seagrass, which we later saw that the sea lions loved lying in!

swimming with sea lions Jurien Bay WA

In some parts it was shallow enough that you could stand up – I was definitely thankful for the wetsuit whilst we were patiently waiting in the water for the sea lions to come say hi. It certainly wasn’t cold, but it definitely helped!

snorkel Essex Rocks Western Australia

After about 10 minutes waiting for the sea lions I popped my head in the water and saw one sea lion come swimming right towards me! It did a few circles around me then swam off – it was amazing!

sea lion swimming at Essex Rocks Western Australia

I put my head above water and then saw the guide signalling for everyone to swim the other way – which must mean she had spotted more sea lions!

We swam over and saw several sea lions swimming together happily by the sea grass, some playing with each other and chasing each other. Some would just rest on the sea bed looking at you – happy to pose for photos!

We saw some jumping out of the water, others swimming right up to your mask and others giving each other a nose rub or cuddle – they were so amazing to watch! 

sea lions swimming at Essex Rocks WA

All in all we were probably swimming with the sea lions at Jurien Bay for around 90 minutes – it sounds like a long time but boy does that go quick!

We were gutted when the guide told us it was time to head back to the boat – we could have stayed all day with these cuties!

swim with sea lions Jurien Bay

Can You Go On The Sea Lion Tour In Jurien Bay If You Can’t Swim?

Absolutely. You are more than welcome to just stay on the boat and watch the antics from above as the sea lions come right up to the boat! However the best experience is of course under water so if you can swim then do it!

Whilst staff do have buoyancy aids to help you if you’re not a strong swimmer, in my opinion you will really get the most out of this tour if you are a confident swimmer and have snorkelled before.

If you won’t be getting in the water – just select the non-swimmer option when you book your ticket and it will be cheaper ($115 as opposed to $145).

Children can do the snorkelling tour ($115 for under-12’s), but they must always be accompanied by an adult when in the water.

Again, I would definitely make sure the children are comfortable in the water and wearing a snorkel mask beforehand.

baby sea lions on the sandy sea bed in Essex Rocks Western Australia

Where Else Can You Swim With Sea Lions In Australia?

If you can’t make it to Jurien Bay to swim with the sea lions there is another place in Australia you can swim with them: Port Lincoln in South Australia. 

sea lion at Essex Rocks Jurien Bay WA

Whilst you may think you have seen plenty other sea lions in other parts of Australia – it’s most likely actually the Australian fur seals that you’ve seen. There are slight differences between the appearance of sea lions and seals.

Not only do they live in different locations around Australia, but seals have ear holes whereas sea lions have small ears.

If you want to swim with the Australian fur seals in New South Wales, head to Narooma to do the seal swim at Montague Island.

 Alternatively in Victoria you can do the seal swim at either Sorrento (Mornington Peninsula) or Queenscliff (the entrance to Port Phillip).

Are Sea Lions Dangerous To Swim With?

The sea lions here are safe to swim with, providing you don’t get them too excited by moving around too much, or by doing anything that can make them feel threatened, like chasing or touching them. 

sea lion swimming at Essex Rocks WA

Is Swimming With Sea Lions The Best Thing To Do In Jurien Bay?

If you are heading to Jurien Bay, make sure to put swimming with the sea lions at the top of your list!

Whilst it’s a lovely seaside town and there several great things to do in Jurien Bay, by far the best thing to do here is to swim with the sea lions!

swimming with sea lions Jurien Bay WA

If you’re just visiting for the sea lions though, make sure to spend some time enjoying the beautiful fishing town of Jurien Bay and check out the stunning beach before you leave.

The crystal clear turquoise waters and long empty white sand beaches in Jurien Bay remind me of Jervis Bay on the East Coast of Australia.

If you have your own snorkelling kit go snorkelling off the beach to see the colourful reef and rich marine life – there’s a whole world underwater here!

You might be able to spot the odd seal swimming around if you are snorkelling at the beach. However it won’t even compare to the close encounters you will get on the tours to the sea lion islands.

You may also be able to spot dolphins, and even humpback whales during migration season when you’re here!

Jurien Bay is also famous for skydiving for those who are up for the thrill of the adventure!

sea lions swimming at Essex Rocks WA

All in all, swimming with the Australian sea lions at Jurien Bay is such a fun, unique and absolutely unforgettable experience.

It provides a rare and often once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat.

If you love marine life and adventures – you need to add the Jurien Bay Australian sea lions snorkel to your list – it’s certainly an experience you won’t forget!

Where To Stay In Jurien Bay

There are several accommodation options to choose from in Jurien Bay.

Jurien Bay accommodation options that I recommend from my experience are:

Jurien Bay Motel Apartments 

Coastal Paradise Jurien Bay



This article is sponsored by Salty Swims. All views and opinions however are ours.


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