Ningaloo Reef - Australia's Coral Coast
Duration 6 Days
While you're experiencing the best that Australia 's Coral Coast has to offer, including The Ningaloo Marine Park, make sure you visit this region's popular pubs for great atmosphere, good food and accommodation.
The most accessible stretch of the Ningaloo Reef - stretches from Coral Bay round the North West Cape to Exmouth. For snorkellers and nature lovers, this is an irresistible opportunity to tour the wonders of wildlife.
Start at Coral Bay , 1200 km north of Perth , or fly into Learmonth Airport and begin the tour in Exmouth.
You could spend anything from a week to a year in this untouched region, so take the following eight-day itinerary and stretch it out as long as you like.
Day 1: Coral Bay
Coral Bay , 1200 km north of Perth , is a snorkellers' paradise, with calm, protected waters and hundreds of fish and coral species. Here, the reef spans two kilometres from the shore - an endless source of marine life.
To explore further out, take a glass-bottom boat trip or join a snorkelling tour. In deeper water, you're more likely to encounter dugongs, turtles, dolphins and manta rays. From March to June, whale sharks visit this region, and between June and October, take a boat tour to seek out migrating whales.
Accommodation options are varied at Coral Bay , why not try the Coral Bay Hotel for a seriously relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy a meal and a refreshing ale or glass of wine while you enjoy the stunning sunsets which lead into deep starry nights.
Between December and February you might be lucky enough to spot turtles laying their eggs on the beaches in the evening, as well as the resulting hatchlings emerging from nests.
Overnight: Coral Bay
Day 2: Coral Bay
Stay another day in Coral Bay for more swimming and snorkelling or throw in a line for some beach fishing. Fishing safaris head out to sea regularly, and adventurous types can join a scuba diving trip.
When it's time to dry off, take a four-wheel drive along the coast, or hire a quad bike for some rugged adventure.
Overnight: Coral Bay
Day 3: Coral Bay - Exmouth
Time to head north. Four-wheel drivers can follow this itinerary either way around the North West Cape . The sealed road takes you up the east side to Exmouth, 150 km from Coral Bay .
Check out the range of tours on offer at the Exmouth Visitor Centre. The fishing is excellent and diving is among the best in the world.
Join a dive boat and head out into Lighthouse Bay or over to the Muiron Islands for spectacular reef diving. Or simply drop over the side, pull on a mask and look down - perfect visibility allows snorkellers some breath-stopping sights of coral gardens and tropical fish.
Another way to get further out to sea, and access sites rarely visited by snorkellers, is by sea kayak.
Surfing fans will enjoy Surfers Beach , 17 km north of Exmouth. This is a reef break suitable only for the experienced. Or simply kick back and enjoy the beaches along this protected east-facing coastline.
Exmouth is a sociable town, why not drop into the Potshot Inn for a meal and a chat over a couple of beverages . Comfortable and great value accommodation is also available.
Day 4: Exmouth
Spend another day fishing, swimming or diving because here's your opportunity to try one of the best fish diving spots in the world - the Navy Pier. Or, if conditions are right, take a day trip out to the nearby Muiron Islands .
These classic desert islands are a dream for divers, snorkellers, swimmers and beach-lovers.
Head back to Exmouth to have a yarn with the locals as the sunsets at the Grace's Tavern .
Day 5: Coral Bay/Exmouth
Retrace your journey to return to Coral Bay .
Stay another relaxing night in Coral Bay or keep going to Carnarvon where you can stay at Carnarvon Hotel , a popular stopover on the way back to Perth .
Carnarvon has a distinctly tropical feel, with palm-lined streets and tropical plantations growing bananas, mangoes, papayas, melons and grapes as well as a variety of vegetables during the year.
The locally caught fish, prawns and scallops are delicious and reasonably priced direct from one of the factories (in season).
There are also plenty of local pubs such as the Port Hotel or Prices Gascoyne Hotel to choose from to wind down with a scrumptious meal, a cold drink and if you get caught up in the night life why not stay the night and enjoy the country pub hospitality.
Overnight: Coral Bay/Carnarvon
Day 6: Perth
The drive back to Perth will take about 14 hours from Coral Bay or 11 hours from Carnarvon - remember to take regular breaks at Country Pubs in towns along the way such as the Miners Arms, Northampton , the Geraldton Beach Hotel, Geraldton or the Eneabba Sands, Eneabba.