"Home of the infamous Whale Shark"
Ningaloo Reef is near Exmouth Australia and is almost the same distance from Perth as it is Broome. Both journeys will take you approx 18 hours of straight driving and are around 1300km away. So. it's certainly best to plan a Western Australia Travel Road Trip. If you are short for time however you can fly here with Skywest from Perth to Learmonth Airport which is about 30km from Exmouth
Why come here? Exmouth is famous for the Ningaloo Reef which stretches along the coastline between Exmouth and down past Coral Bay. It is this stretch of reef which attracts thousands of visitors every year to dive and snorkel, and in particular, to see the Whale Sharks.
About Ningaloo Reef
The Reef is 260km in length and is shallow and straight off the shore line. This makes it a very special place to visit as accessing the reef is just so easy.
Given it is so shallow you don't even have to be able to swim well to see the most amazing array of fish. The water only comes up to your knees!
There is even a viewing platform and you can see lots of colourful fish without getting your feet wet!
The Reef is a protected marine park and has over 500 species of fish and over 200 types of coral.
It really is a beautiful place to see another world!
Diving with Whale Sharks at Ningaloo Reef
The busiest time of year to come is between April and July when the whale sharks are in the reef. There are many trips available to swim/dive with these amazing creatures but you need to be IN ADVANCE or you'll be disappointed. This is an extremely popular experience and it's not cheap. Expect to pay at least $350 per person.
You can certainly come to the Reef at any time of the year. The summer months and shoulder season (November through to February) are really warm allowing you to make the most of the beautiful beaches in this area.
More About Exmouth Australia
The draw card here is Ningaloo Reef and there are really two places you can stay to enjoy the experience - Exmouth Australia or Coral Bay.
Exmouth Australia is certainly bigger and has more going on but it does feel a little touristy. It's a modern outback town and has some surprising points of interest to explore. Did you know that Exmouth was a key communication hub between Australia and the US during the war due to its proximity to Asian waters?
The town has its own beach and a few shops and restaurants. Personally I preferred Coral Bay and have included this in my "hidden gems page" as it often gets overlooked with Exmouth Australia getting all the glory.
Coral Bay itself is smaller with the beach right on your doorstep and you are still right on the Ningaloo Reef.
Whichever you choose, it's hard not to fall in love with the reef and the beaches here. There are lots to choose from but here are my favourites:Lighthouse Bay The beach here is lovely and the view at the lighthouse (highest point over looking Exmouth) is beautiful at sunsetMauritius Beach Clothing is optional at this one so if you want that all body tan, then this is the place! Paradise Beach, Coral Bay Aptly named and worth a visit
As well as beaches, look out for wildlife on the way to Turquoise Bay (60km south of Exmouth). We saw kangaroos, emus and more which was just wonderful.
Where To Stay
N Reef Resort This is in Coral Bay and is my pick of where to stay to enjoy the Reef. It's still a bit of a glorified motel but its the best place to stay in Coral Bay, which in my opinion is better than staying in Exmouth
Bay View Resort Coral Bay If you want to stay in Coral Bay but can't afford the Resort then this is an OK option. Try to ask for a cabin that has been recently renovated as there are still some older style cabins out there.
Sal Salis Exmouth A bit overpriced for what it is but this is a great experience to stay in the National Park itself in well equipped tents. A lovely experience if money is not an issue.
Novotel Ningaloo Reef It's what you'd expect given its a Novotel but it does offer good options for families as apartments are on offer as well as standard hotel rooms. A good all rounder.
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