Visitors flock to Australia’s Coral Coast each year to enjoy the year-round sunshine, get closer to nature and escape crowds. The region begins just two hour’s drive north of Perth at the coastal town of Cervantes and stretches more than 1,000 kilometres north along pristine coastline to Exmouth.

 

Boasting a warm climate all year round, Australia’s Coral Coast offers perfect conditions to enjoy a range of water sports, including swimming, surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing and boating, while nature lovers also visit to watch humpback whales on their annual migration along the coast between July and October each year.



Things to do in Ningaloo


Things to do in NingalooRegarded as one of the last great ocean paradises, Ningaloo is Australia’s largest fringing reef system, stretching 300 kilometres from Red Bluff (140 kilometres north of Carnarvon) to Bundegi Reef near Exmouth. Visitors flock from near and far to experience the underwater wonderland of the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area.

 

Things to do:

  • Swim with giant whale sharks and manta rays
  • Go snorkelling, diving or sailing on Ningaloo Reef
  • Dive on the Navy Pier
  • Take a glass bottom boat tour
  • Spot humpback whales from coastal vantage points or on a tour
  • Discover Ningaloo’s remote coastal wilderness locations of Red Bluff and Gnaraloo Bay
  • Visit a working cattle station
  • Go swimming, surfing, boating, kayaking, quad biking or four wheel driving
  • Join a game fishing tour for your chance to catch deep sea fish
  • Explore the rugged canyons and gorges of the Cape Range National Park
  • Take a boat tour on Yardie Creek to spot rare black footed rock wallabies

 

things to do in ningaloo

Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area

Ningaloo Coast’s natural beauty and biological diversity was recently recognised by the World Heritage Committee and named Australia’s 19th World Heritage site. The Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area covers more than 600,000 hectares and includes the Ningaloo Marine Park, Cape Range National Park, the Bundegi and Jurabi Coastal Parks and the Muiron Islands Marine Management Area.

 

Ningaloo Marine Park

The Ningaloo Marine Park extends 10 nautical miles seaward and encompasses over 5,000 square kilometres of ocean. Home to around 300 species of coral and 500 species of fish, the Ningaloo Reef is just a few metres from the shore in some places and therefore easily accessible to snorkellers. Tour operators in Coral Bay and Exmouth can take you to their favourite spots on the outer reef.

 

Ningaloo’s Southern Gateway

Heading north of Carnarvon along the coast, you’ll find Ningaloo’s most remote coastal wilderness locations at Red Bluff and Gnaraloo Bay. Located in the southern part of the Ningaloo Coast, this scenic stretch of coastline boasts towering cliffs, beautiful beaches and plenty of wildlife. Visitors to the area arrive on the promise of great fishing, surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing and swimming.

 

things to do in ningaloo

Whale Sharks

Whale sharks visit the Ningaloo Reef between March and July annually following the mass spawning of coral. Ningaloo is considered one of the most reliable and easily accessible places on Earth to swim with whale sharks that grow up to 18 metres in length. Whale shark tour operators in Coral Bay and Exmouth offer visitors the chance to swim with these harmless giants. Tours are usually offered from Coral Bay between mid March and June and from Exmouth from mid March until late July and sometimes into August.

 

Turtles

The Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area is an important breeding ground for loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles. Turtles come ashore at Gnaraloo Bay, Coral Bay and Exmouth to lay their eggs during the summer months, then in February and early March the tiny turtles hatch and venture into the ocean. The Jurabi Turtle Centre located just south of Exmouth’s Vlaming Head Lighthouse provides information about Ningaloo’s marine turtles. Visit ningalooturtles.org.au for more information.

 

Whale Watching

Humpback whales visit the Ningaloo Coast between June and November each year on their annual migration from Antarctica to northern breeding grounds. View them from the coastal cliffs of Red Bluff and Gnaraloo Bay and from vantage points in Coral Bay and Exmouth. In Exmouth, spot them from the Vlaming Head Lighthouse, Town Beach and Bundegi Beach. Whale watching tours are offered from Exmouth and Coral Bay.

 

things to do in ningaloo

Manta Rays

Boasting wing spans up to several metres wide, manta rays are inquisitive and graceful marine creatures. Swimming with them is an unforgettable experience. Unlike sting rays, manta rays don’t have a tail barb and are harmless to humans. Manta ray tours depart from Coral Bay all year round and from Exmouth between May and November.

 

Coral Spawning

In March and April, divers and snorkellers can witness an amazing spectacle at night (with lights) when the ocean glows with coral spawn approximately 10 to 12 days after the full moon.

 

Glass Bottom Boat Tours

You can see all the underwater sights at Coral Bay and Exmouth without getting your feet wet aboard a glass bottom boat tour. Marvel at the changing colours of the coral and the parade of tropical fish, turtles and rays.

 

Sea Kayaks

Sea kayaks are the perfect way to explore the sheltered lagoons, where the water is rarely more than three metres deep. They are smooth and quiet, allowing you to get up close to wildlife. You can hire kayaks off the beach in Coral Bay or Exmouth or join a tour with a local guide.

 

things to do in ningaloo

Quad Bike Treks

Explore the beaches, bush tracks and dunes by hiring a quad bike. If you prefer to have a guide, join one of the tours from Coral Bay or Exmouth.

 

Four Wheel Drive Safari Tours

Venture through the rugged landscapes of the Cape Range National Park and take in stunning views of the crystal clear waters of the Ningaloo Marine Park on a four wheel drive tour. Day trips and extended tours to surrounding areas depart from Coral Bay and Exmouth.

 

Coral Bay

Distance from Perth: 1,132km

Coral Bay is a marine paradise and one of Western Australia’s premier family holiday destinations. With beautiful coral gardens just metres from the pristine white beach of this tiny, laidback seaside town, it’s a must visit destination for nature lovers.

 

Beaches

Situated right on the doorstep of Coral Bay’s accommodation, Bill’s Bay is calm and protected, making it an ideal family swimming location. This is a Sanctuary Zone, so fi shing is prohibited, which means there is plenty of marine life to be seen whilst snorkelling. Here, the Ningaloo Reef starts just metres from the shore, making it easily accessible. Purdy Point is another safe swimming beach at the end of the Sanctuary Zone and is ideal for snorkelling. South of Purdy Point, aptly named Paradise Beach is another great beach with white sand and crystal clear water.

 

things to do in ningaloo

Snorkelling and Scuba Diving

Bill’s Bay offers some great snorkelling close to shore. However, if you want to explore further out there are several hotspots near the outer reef. Here, marine life is plentiful and you’re likely to encounter manta rays and turtles among the coral gardens. Join a tour to experience some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving hotspots along the outer reef. Snorkel and dive equipment is available for hire from Coral Bay.

 

Snapper Feeding

Head down to Bill’s Bay at 3.30pm daily to feed schools of norwest snapper. Be sure to bury your toes in the sand!

 

Fishing

With a mixture of subtropical and tropical fish species, Coral Bay offers some of the best fishing in the world. Search for red emperor, norwest snapper or cod. Both deep sea bottom fishing and light game fishing are offered. There are also many good opportunities for beach fishing away from the main swimming beach. Point Maud offers fantastic fishing. There are several Sanctuary Zones around Coral Bay so be sure to check fishing is allowed before dropping in a line. Fishing charters are available from Coral Bay.

 

Sailing

Why not explore Ningaloo Reef in style aboard a luxury liveaboard catamaran? Go swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving in unspoilt coral gardens teeming with marine life. Tours depart from Coral Bay.

 

things to do in ningaloo

Four Wheel Driving

A four wheel drive track approximately ten kilometres north of Coral Bay allows you to traverse the coast heading north. The track eventually hits Ningaloo Station at the southern end of Cape Range National Park. Located about 15 kilometres from Coral Bay, Oyster Bridge and The Lagoon are great spots to stop for a refreshment break. You can head the whole way to Exmouth via this route and explore secluded beaches and striking landscapes along the way. This track is suitable only for competent four wheel drivers. Be sure to check with the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) that Yardie Creek is passable before you set out.

 

Exmouth

Distance from Perth: 1,260km

Situated at the northern gateway to the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area, Exmouth is the perfect base to explore the grandiose landscape of the Cape Range National Park and the underwater wonders of the Ningaloo Marine Park. Visitors come from around the world to swim with awe-inspiring gentle giants of the sea, the whale sharks.

 

Diving

Exmouth is renowned for having some of the best natural and artificial reefs in Australia. Tours to the Navy Pier and Muiron Islands depart from Exmouth. Snorkelling and diving equipment is available for hire or purchase in Exmouth.

 

things to do in ningaloo

Navy Pier

The Navy Pier, located just north of Exmouth, is one of the top ten dive sites in Australia and is considered one of the best shore dives in the world. Around 200 species of marine life inhabit the water beneath the Navy Pier, including trevally, snapper, barracuda, giant Queensland gropers, angel fish, butterfly fish, Moorish idols and banner fish. Tidal flow in the Exmouth Gulf can be very strong, so the pier can only be dived at high or low tide. Strong currents and shade provided by the pier are reasons behind the large population of marine life. This dive site has a maximum depth of 15 metres and is suitable for a wide range of divers. Visibility at the pier averages 12 metres, while the water temperature varies from 20 to 28 degrees. Night dives are equally amazing and are offered to advanced divers when tides are conducive. The site is still a working defence facility, so contact the Exmouth Visitor Centre for tour information.

 

Muiron Islands

Situated just 9.8 nautical miles off the North West Cape, the water surrounding these two uninhabited islands is teeming with marine life. Here you’ll discover coral gardens, marine turtles, potato cod and many more species.

 

Lighthouse Bay

There are a number of dive sites in the Lighthouse Bay area, including Blizzard Reef (12 – 18 metres), the Labyrinth (12 – 18 metres), and Helga’s Tunnels (maximum depth of 30 metres). Divers to these sites enjoy views of coral formations, schools of tropical fish and pelagic fish, reef sharks and turtles.

 

things to do in ningaloo

Boating

Exmouth has three boat launch areas. Exmouth Boat Harbour in town, Bundegi Beach Boat Ramp located 13 kilometres north of Exmouth and Tantabiddi Boat Ramp situated 36 kilometres from town on the western side of the cape. Bring your own boat or hire one from Exmouth.

 

Beaches

Town Beach is the closest beach to Exmouth and allows four wheel drive access. 12 kilometres north of Exmouth you’ll find Bundegi Beach, at the northern tip of the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area. This is an excellent location for swimming, snorkelling and fishing. Accessible via tracks along the Mildura Wreck Road, Lighthouse Bay offers great shore based fishing and swimming.

 

Fishing

Exmouth is a fishing mecca, renowned for prized fish such as groper, coral trout, snapper and emperor. Game fishing for species like marlin, sailfish, mahi mahi and mackerel is also popular. You can fish from the shores, from a boat or throw in a line from the Learmonth Jetty. Hire a boat or take a fishing tour from Exmouth. Check Sanctuary Zones before throwing a line in, as these zones are ‘no take areas’. Visit dec.wa.gov.au and follow links to Ningaloo Marine Park for fishing guidelines or ask at the Exmouth or Milyering Visitor Centres.

 

Gamex

Gamex (9 – 16 March 2013) is one of Australia’s most diverse, enjoyable and successful fishing events. This annual fishing competition has been running for over 30 years with many state, national and world records achieved by competitors. The event incorporates social evenings, scientific studies, educational sessions and product information. The waters surrounding Exmouth hold over 40 different game fish, including six different species of billfish.

 

things to do in ningaloo

Surfing

The best swells for surfing off the North West Cape occur from July to October. Located 17 kilometres north of Exmouth, Surfers Beach (Dunes Beach) is the most popular reef break in the area. ‘The Bombie’ is a bit of a paddle, but it’s well worth the effort for a left handed ride. For beginners and grommets (young surfers), Wobiri Access beach is ideal.

 

Cape Range National Park

Covering more than 50,000 hectares, the ruggedly beautiful Cape Range National Park features breathtaking canyons, limestone ranges and 50 kilometres of unspoilt coastline. Wildlife such as emus, red kangaroos and a variety of birds are regularly sighted. The park comes alive with wildflowers in winter and boasts 630 species of plants (including 12 endemic and six near endemic species) with the sturt desert pea and bird flower being highlights. Camping bays are available for a small fee, some of which can be pre-booked online. Visit dec.wa.gov.au and follow the links to make a booking. Most of these sites are accessible by two wheel drive vehicles. There are limited facilities, so be sure to take along plenty of water and supplies.

 

Charles Knife Canyon

Starting 23 kilometres south of Exmouth, take this scenic journey for stunning views across razor backed ridges to the ocean and down the steep gorges of the Charles Knife Canyon. There are several scenic lookouts along the 11-kilometre long gravel road and a marked walking trail from the Thomas Carter lookout. Contact DEC for a walking trail guide for the Cape Range National Park. Caution should be taken when bush walking in the canyon areas. Please remain on existing walking trails. Don’t go on your own and always let someone know when you’ll be back. Cave areas are unsafe. Avoid walking in the middle of the day and take plenty of water with you.

 

things to do in ningaloo

Shothole Canyon

Shothole Canyon was named after the holes left by seismographic explosions during the search for oil in the 1950s. Access is from Minilya Road 16 kilometres south of Exmouth and the gravel road meanders over dry creek beds and the gorge floor, offering close examination of the colourful rock layers of the sheer canyon walls. At the end of the 12-kilometre long road there is a picnic area and a short walking trail.

 

Vlaming Head Lighthouse

Located a short drive from Exmouth, the historic Vlaming Head Lighthouse celebrated its 100th anniversary in December 2012. The lighthouse offers a great vantage point to witness the sun set over the Indian Ocean and spot humpback whales on their annual migration (July – October).

 

Mauritius Beach

If you’re looking for a ‘clothing optional’ beach, head to Mauritius Beach, which is located near the Vlaming Head Lighthouse.

 

Mangrove Bay

This sanctuary zone includes a bird hide overlooking a lagoon area. A variety of birds roost in the lagoon at high tide and many feed on small fish and other marine life in the shallow waters. You may even spot an osprey or brahminy kite while you are there.

 

things to do in ningaloo

Milyering Visitor Centre

The Milyering Visitor Centre is 52 kilometres from Exmouth in the heart of the Cape Range National Park. The centre features interpretative information, displays and videos about the wonders of the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area.

 

Lakeside

Located near the Milyering Visitor Centre, Lakeside is ideal for families offering some of the best snorkelling in the Ningaloo Marine Park. The Lakeside Sanctuary Zone markers are situated approximately 500 metres south of the parking area. Fishing is not allowed within the Sanctuary Zone, which means there’s plenty of large reef fish for snorkellers to see. Caution: Strong currents can occur at the Lakeside snorkelling area so please assess the conditions and stay within your own abilities.

 

Turquoise Bay

Turquoise Bay is the ideal beach to just sit back, relax and soak up the beautiful surroundings and sunshine. The white, sandy shores give way to clear waters harbouring a plethora of marine life. The reef starts just metres from the shore and can be explored by snorkel drifting. Enter the water at the southern end of the beach and let the current take you over the reef for a fantastic snorkelling experience. Caution: Currents can be strong at Turquoise Bay, especially around the sandbar and at the southern end of the beach, so take care and be sure to get out of the water well before the northern point of the beach marked by a life buoy. Snorkelling at this site is not recommended for weak swimmers. Fins are recommended to assist in exiting the water. Please remember to apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes prior to entering the water to prevent it washing off, potentially causing damage to the coral.

 

things to do in ningaloo

Oyster Stacks

This snorkel site offers great views of marine life, but only at high tide. Be careful entering the water as the oystershells and rocky areas can be sharp. It is best to enter the water at the end of the track and then snorkel north or south. Check with the Exmouth or Milyering Visitor Centre for tide times. Mandu Mandu Gorge A three-kilometre walk trail allows access into this dry gorge and follows the northern ridge offering stunning panoramic views. The trail leads down into the creek bed where you follow the base of the gorge back to the car park.

 

Yardie Creek Gorge

Located at the southern end of the Cape Range National Park, Yardie Creek is about 90 kilometres from Exmouth. This rust red gorge is home to an assortment of wildlife, including the rare black-footed rock wallaby. You can explore the gorge on walking trails or sit back and enjoy the view from the comfort of a boat tour. Contact the Exmouth Visitor Centre for tour times.

 

Ningaloo Whale Shark Festival

The annual Ningaloo Whale Shark Festival will be held in Exmouth from 24 – 26 May 2013. The event will start with a cocktail party on the Friday evening. Festivities will continue on Saturday at Federation Park with a fun run, breakfast, activities throughout the day and entertainment will continue into the evening. Sunday is Family Day at Town Beach with plenty of beach games and night time entertainment. Fire juggling, aerial displays and circus shows are all part of the festival program.

 

Red Bluff and Gnaraloo Bay Information
Carnarvon Visitor Centre
21 Robinson Street, Carnarvon WA 6701
Tel: +618 9941 1146
Email: [email protected]
Website: carnarvon.org.au

 

Coral Bay and Exmouth Information
Exmouth Visitor Centre
Murat Road, Exmouth WA 6707
Tel: +618 9949 1176
Email: [email protected]
Website: exmouthwa.com.au

 

Cape Range National Park Information
Milyering Visitor Centre
Cape Range National Park
Tel: +618 9949 2808