13 June 2022
The Coral Coast Highway from Perth to Exmouth holds its place as one of Australia's most scenic drives. At 1,250km, it’s also one of the longest.
Given the time it takes to drive the entire loop from Perth to Exmouth and back again, it’s not always a feasible trip for visitors to the West to do. Avis knows this, so they’ve made it easier for people to experience the wonders of the Coral Coast by offering one-way rentals, with a reduced relocation fee of $400, between Perth and Exmouth.
The premise is simple: hire a car in Perth (minimum hire period of 7 days), head up the coast at your leisure, and jump on a flight back to Perth at the end. Or, flip it and start your trip on a plane up to Exmouth. With 12 Qantas flights scheduled between Perth and Learmonth Airport each week, it couldn’t be simpler.
For more information about Avis car hire and one-way rentals, see here.
Need some inspiration for the trip? Read on.
416km (4.5 hours)
Follow the highway out of Perth and watch as the marri forests make way for grass tree-studded scrubland fringed by turquoise bays. Stop at Jurien Bay for a coffee and cake break, then press on towards Nambung National Park to see the other-worldly Pinnacles Desert. 20-minutes out of Geraldton, pull into the Central Greenough Historic Settlement to learn more about life in the Mid-West in the 1800s.
Spend the day island hopping the rugged Houtman Abrolhos archipelago with Abrolhos Adventures. The fast ferry departs from Geraldton and heads straight for the uninhabited Long Island, where you can swim, snorkel, and stand-up paddleboard until your heart is content.
For an alternate view of the island group, take to the skies with Shine Aviation.
156km (1.75 hours)
Stop by the 440 Roadhouse for fuel and road trip snacks on your way out of town. Take the scenic route to Kalbarri, past the historic Lynton Convict Depot, and on to the bubblegum-hued Hutt Lagoon.
Stop for a selfie at the lookout before continuing toward town.
Head into the Kalbarri National Park, where you can view the dramatic Murchison Gorge from the Kalbarri Skywalk Lookout (wheelchair accessible). The short and iconic Nature’s Window and Z Bend walks are nearby. The more adventurous can embark on a longer and more strenuous hike on the Four Ways or The Loop trails or enlist the help of Kalbarri Adventure Tours to take them on a canoeing tour at the bottom of the gorge.
Refuel back in town with a craft beer and fresh seafood feast at Finlay’s Kalbarri.
374km (3.75 hours)
Navigate your way through the Kalbarri National Park and onto the North West Coastal Highway. If you didn’t fuel up in Kalbarri, the Billabong Roadhouse is 200km up the road.
Before arriving in Denham, make a stop at the aptly named Shell Beach, covered in millions of white sea shells. Shell Beach is one of only a handful of places on earth where the shells replace beach sand!
Cast a line in off the beach to catch the night’s dinner. If you’re not into the sport, take a scenic tour of Denham by air with Shark Bay Aviation.
Head 15-minutes across Francois Peron National Park to Monkey Mia, the beachside resort town famed for its morning dolphin interactions and inquisitive emus. Park up on the beach for a day in the sun, or jump aboard Perfect Nature Cruises 18 metre catamaran for your chance to see dolphins and dugongs in their natural habitat.
328km (3.25 hours)
Fuel up at the camping and fishing centre or IGA, then make your way due north. As you arrive in Carnarvon, take a right at Robinson St to head towards the North Plantations on the town’s Fruit Loop Trail. Hop from plantation to plantation, stocking up on fresh fruit and vegetables, preserves, and frozen treats. Don’t forget to take a photo in the cactus garden.
237km (2.5 hours)
Stop at the BP on your way out of town, then set the GPS for Coral Bay.
When you arrive, grab your snorkel and fins and make a beeline for the water. You don’t have to go far to find the Ningaloo Reef, with snorkel-able sections of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed reef accessible right off the beach. On a 1, 2, or 3-hour glass-bottom boat tour with Coral Bay Ecotours and Ningaloo Coral Bay Boats, you can view patches further out.
If you’re running low on fuel, pull into the Caltex out of Coral Bay. When you land in Exmouth, head towards Shothole Canyon for unparalleled views over the gulf. Catch the sunset at Vlamingh Head Lighthouse before making your way back into town for dinner at Froth Craft Brewery.
Wake bright and early to board a whale shark cruise on the western side of the cape. You have your pick of providers, with the following companies all offering the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity:
Exmouth Dive and Whalesharks Ningaloo
Three Islands Whale Shark Dive
Not the season for whale sharks (April - June)? Join Dive Ningaloo to dive the Navy Pier or enjoy a snorkel at Oyster Stacks or Turquoise Bay.
Experience the rugged limestone ranges and breath-taking canyons of Cape Range National Park on a guided tour with Ian at Trek Ningaloo. You can immerse yourself in this beautiful part of the region before saying goodbye to the cape and heading home. Please allow for additional days if choosing a tour that runs for several days.