A Thrilling Adventure to the Phenomenal Horizontal Falls, WA

When we reunited with our friends the Blockshoppers in Broome, they raved about the Horizontal Falls tour they did only days before in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Their parents had joined them for a few weeks traveling from Darwin to Broome and they all agreed that it was the highlight of their time together.

Well, we better do the Horizontal Falls trip then we all agreed!

cliffs in the ocean
Horizontal Falls from above

It didn’t let us down.

It was a treat to be flying back over the Buccaneer Archipelago to the falls at Talbot Bay, which is almost around the corner from where we once worked on the pearl farm in Kuri Bay.

We’d moor the work boats in Talbot Bay when a cyclone came whipping through.

But, back to the Horizontal Falls trip.

Scenic Flight over the Buccaneer Archipelago

It started with a 90-minute scenic flight over the Kimberley coastline from Broome to Talbot Bay, our commute path when we worked at Kuri Bay. My excitement to be back on a seaplane overrode the pain of a 5:30am take off.

Ready for our flight to the Horizontal Falls, The Kimberley - Western Australia
Ready to go! (this used to be my commute transport!)
Flying to the Horizontal Falls, The Kimberley - Western Australia
Always up for an adventure

A sea plane is my favourite way to fly; the landings and takeoffs are so smooth you don’t even realise you’ve done them.

The girls were so excited to be experiencing it for the first time. Although, after this small plane flight on Fraser Island that terrified Kalyra she was a little shaky.

On our pearl farm commute we’d fly quite high over this region, but on the Horizontal Falls tour, we took off over famous Cable Beach and then flew quite low for a closer look at the stunning coastline.

This alone made the trip worthwhile.

Cable Beach, Broome, Western Australia
The beautiful Cable Beach

We flew over Willie Creek Pearl Farm and Cape Leveque where we had been camping only a few days before.

It was amazing to get a birds eye view of those red cliffs, the white sand and turquoise water. More people need to come and see this stunning region of The Kimberley (or maybe not!)

Cape Leveque, Western Australia
Cape Leveque
Cape Leveque, Western Australia
Cape Leveque

Then we flew low over the Buccaneer Archipelago, which is a series of over 800 small islands.

We were looking for whales and crocodiles but had no luck. We only saw pristine and isolated rocky islands with high cliffs, some sparsely vegetated with patches of rainforest and beaches and fringed by mangroves (the perfect croc habitat.).

Horizontal Falls Tour, Western Australia
Buccaneer Archipelago
Horizontal Falls Tour, Western Australia
Buccaneer Archipelago
scenic flight  Buccaneer Archipelago Western Australia
Buccaneer Archipelago

Kalyra had relaxed by now and was pretty amazed by it all and had her head pressed up against the glass for most of the trip.

scenic flight over the  Buccaneer Archipelago WA
So much beauty

But the best was yet to come.

Flying over the Horizontal Falls

Our scenic flight ended with a fly over the Horizontal Falls before gliding into the calm waters of Talbot Bay and came to a halt at the permanent mooring to get ready to see the falls up close by jet boat.

Flying over the Horizontal Falls, Western Australia
There it is!
Horizontal Falls view from above, The Kimberley
It’s starting to swirl
Horizontal Falls, The Kimberley Western Australia
Looks pretty tame form up here
sea plane horizontal falls
Smooth landing. Time for Part 2
boats docked in the water
The pontoon

The Horizontal Falls Phenomena

We’d heard so much about the falls during our time at Kuri Bay, but had never gone to visit. You can only visit the falls on a tour and with an experienced boat driver.

The Horizontal Falls are a natural phenomena!

The horizontal waterfalls are created by two narrow openings between two escarpments. The tides in this region are some of the biggest in the world and can reach a difference of up to 12 metres.

As the tides change from low to high (and vice versa) they are sending an immense amount of water from one bay to another. The build up of that water forms a drop of up to four metres, hence creating a horizontal waterfall.

Jet boat through the Horizontal Falls

Yeah! It was thrill time.

I was a little nervous with the girls, but I held Savannah tight and Kalyra squeezed her daddy.

jet boat Horizontal Falls Tour, Western Australia
Getting ready to go

You can only go through the Horizontal Falls on the boat when the drop is no higher than one metre, otherwise, it’s too dangerous. We were there just in time before it got higher and we went screaming through the first one.

Once Kalyra knew it was safe she threw up her hands and squealed, “this is so much fun!”

Horizontal Falls Tour, Western Australia
Is this going to be a fizzer?
jet boat tour of the Horizontal Falls Tour, Western Australia
Wahoo. Let’s go!

The second opening was much narrower than the first (at 12 metres) and kinda made you hold your breath a little bit, hoping he was going to pick the gap with all that gushing water. As I said, you have to do this with experienced drivers.

cliffs in the ocean
Looks tamer than when you are there!

We kept going back and forth speeding through the gap and getting a feel for the immense power of water.

Our driver and guide was very knowledgeable and stopped to tell us a lot about the region and the falls and allowed us a slower move through to get an understanding of how that water moves and changes.

people sitting on a boat wearing life jackets
That was fun!

Breakfast swim with Sharks

Horizontal Falls Tour breakfast
Yummy breakfast

The rest of the half-day tour was a little more sedate.

We had a breakfast of bacon and egg rolls with stunning views of the bay and then headed down to the netted pool for a swim with sharks.

people sitting on tables on a boat

About three tawny nurse sharks came up to the cage for some feeding. They are very careful to feed them only a small amount so it does no affect their normal hunting habits.

It was pretty awesome to be so close to these sharks.

Kalyra went under water with Craig with snorkels on to try and get face to face with them, but she only caught the swish of its tail – and was excited!

A fish swimming under water
We would see these all the time on the pearl boats
people feeding sharks
This is about as close as I get!

Cyclone Creek Tour

cliffs in the water
Cyclone Creek

We finished off the tour with a calm boat tour up Cyclone Creek through the mangroves and past the stunning landscape of The Kimberley.

I loved sitting back and soaking up this region that I love so much.

people on a boat
people on a boat
Look at that water!
The colors of the Kimberley
The colors of the Kimberley – like no other place

Working at Kuri Bay was the most exciting, exotic adventure I ever had. The Kimberley region is like Africa, it gets under your skin and into your heart and you can’t ever get it out of your system.

It’s just an ancient, magnificent wonder.

Scenic Flight over Broome

We were all a little sleepy on the return seaplane home. We flew back over inland so didn’t feel like we missed much of a viewing opportunity.

Although coming back into Broome over Roebuck Bay to see that palette of emerald green, turquoise blue, and red pindan just blew my mind.

The most magical place on earth.

cliffs in the water
By Horizontal Falls!
Flying over Broome, Western Australia
Flying over Broome
Roebuck Bay Broome, Western Australia
Those colors!! – Roebuck Bay
Broome, Western Australia
Roebuck Bay, Broome

Like our Blockshopper friends said, the Horizontal Falls trip was a highlight.

Thanks to the guys at Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures for covering the cost of our half day tour. It was the day before my birthday, so I’ll claim it as a special birthday treat!

The Horizontal Falls trip is expensive, but if it’s a bucket list experience for you, then it’s worth it.

I think this region is one of the most special in Australia and deserves to be experienced. And described by David Attenborough as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”.

Horizontal Falls Tours:

Where: Departing from Broome or Derby

Cost: Half day tour $795 per adult or $695 per child (4 – 12 YRS).

You can also do a full day tour combining Cape Leveque $895 per adult or $745 per child, although I think this could be a really exhausting day if you have young kids.

Prices are slightly cheaper for a full day tour if you depart from Derby, $695 per adult or $595 per child

See more here

More Tours in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia:


More West Australia travel tips

Have you visited a phenomena like the Horizontal Falls before?

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