Can you swim on a Kimberley Cruise?

Here’s an e-mail I received today (in full)

“Hi Jenny, Thanks for your information but here is my number one question – Can you swim in the Kimberley?”

This is one of the most frequently asked general Kimberley cruising queries we receive. Another is: “can you snorkel during a Kimberley cruise?”

I’ll start with Snorkeling – no!  Unfortunately, snorkeling is out unless your cruise includes the Ashmore Reef which is rare.  We can let you know what cruises do – email me. As regards swimming on a Kimberley cruise – the answer is a conditional ‘yes’.

What are the dangers in swimming in the Kimberley?

Most people instinctively know what the key danger is for swimming in the Kimberley. Like the rest of far north Australia this is home to crocodiles. The freshwater crocodile is relatively harmless. However the estuarine or saltwater cousin is most definitely not harmless. And despite its name the saltwater crocodile can be found in freshwater too.

The Kimberley waters belong to the saltwater crocodile.

I love crocodiles but definitely from a distance!

Swimming in the bays and rivers along the Kimberley coast as well as the Northern Territory is absolutely not an option.

This is the domain of ‘the saltie’ and no reputable Kimberley cruise operator would let their guests get in this water.

There are however some options to swim on a Kimberley cruise at various freshwater locations. Here are some of the most likely ones you will see:

Where can you swim on a Kimberley cruise?

Mitchell Falls

Mitchell Falls – most Kimberley Cruises offer a wonderful helicopter ride over these amazing falls and, where there is an option to land, a cool dip in one of the many ‘pools’ is possible. I love this area as is it very difficult to get to by land and feels so remote. These falls are about 30km inland from the coast so only accessible by helicopter which can be arranged on your cruise.

Cool down at the Mitchell Falls

King Cascade

Well not really a swim but you can get a ‘Kimberley Shower’ at King Cascade from the bow of a small boat and this is a popular option on most Kimberley cruises. Your boat butts up to the rick face under the waterfall and you let the water cascade down on your head.  It is so refreshing and fun but definitely optional!  It worth noting that this is not always available at the start of the season as there can be too much water coming over the falls to get that close.

But definitely no swimming at King Cascade; it is the site of one of the most notorious (and fatal) crocodile attacks in Kimberley history.

A much needed freshen up on a hot Kimberley afternoon.

Crocodile Creek

Another favourite Kimberley swimming location is the rather confusingly named Crocodile Creek. This freshwater billabong is accessed by clambering up a vertical rock face next to a small waterfall from the tidal pool at the end of an inlet.

Incidentally the pool at the base of the rock looks lovely but is definitely not above the ‘croc line’.

I like swimming opportunities in the Kimberley but I prefer the more cautious approach. It was at these falls that we see swimmers at the bottom pool seemingly oblivious to a nearby crocodile – sure it was a relatively harmless fresh-water crocodile but still!

Despite its off-putting name the lagoon at the top is a safe place to cool down. The near vertical rock face means the swimming hole is not accessible to saltwater crocodiles.

Ruby Falls

This very picturesque swimming location is accessed via Red Cone Creek. Astonishingly Ruby Falls were only discovered fairly recently and named by local Kimberley identity, Chris Tucker, after his daughter.

Again you have to work for your croc safe dip here. The high rock walls have to be clambered up and when you reach the top there is a short walk to the falls and the billabong. But it is worth the effort and it is a great place to rejuvenate and explore.

Can you swim in Broome off Cable Beach?

Cable Beach looks inviting and does attract swimmers but I would not be tempted. The danger here is not so really crocodiles. Although there are regular sightings of crocodiles off the coast there are no reports of actual attacks by crocodiles at Cable Beach.

The real danger at cable Beach are sharks. Sadly in November 2020 a Broome resident was fatally attacked by a shark at Cable Beach. It was the first shark fatality for 25 years at Cable Beach but still a stark reminder of the risks of swimming there.

Which Kimberley Cruises have swimming on the trip?

If regular swimming opportunities are important for you then it pays to choose your Kimberley cruise vessel carefully. As you can see from these examples, most of the safe Kimberley swimming holes require some effort to access. Put simply you usually need to climb above the ‘crocodile line’ and that often requires a reasonable level of mobility and fitness. I have personally completed four Kimberley cruises on different vessels with quite a variation on swimming opportunities. Why not book a Discovery Call with me or my team and we can discuss the best option for your abilities?


About Jenny

I’m an expert in small ship cruising in the Kimberley and have completed four cruises on different vessels along this spectacular coastline. With a family I now work part-time so if you would like to have a chat with me about Kimberley cruising at a time that suits you book in a call here  and I will call you then.

Cruises in the Kimberley are not ‘one size fits all’ scenario; there are different ships and itineraries each offering their own special elements.  If you would like some general information to start your research then download my free guide to Kimberley cruising here.   I have also written some really interesting blogs (if I do say so myself) click here to have read.

Here are a few of the most popular ones.