The Houtman Abrolhos Islands, more commonly referred to as the Abrolhos Islands, and their surrounding coral reef communities form one of Western Australia's unique marine areas.
The Islands lie about 60 kilometres west of Geraldton, on the Western Australian coast, and consist of 122 islands clustered into three main groups: the Wallabi Group, Easter Group and Pelsaert Group, which extend from north to south across 100 kilometres of ocean.
Often described as the Galapagos Islands of the Indian Ocean, there are few places in Australia with more biodiversity. Nature enthusiasts flock to the Abrolhos Islands for the fishing, bird watching, snorkelling and diving opportunities. The Islands are classed as National Park, and have been recognised as an Ocean Hope Spot by ocean conservation organisation Mission Blue.
The amazing Abrolhos Islands can be explored via a scenic flight or seasonal live-aboard boat charter. Take a scenic flight to see the Abrolhos from above – this way you can admire the coral reefs and island formations, which are painted in an incredible palette of greens and blues. On clear days, scenic flights often spot migrating whales in the turquoise ocean below. Scenic flights and tours are available from Geraldton and Kalbarri.
Alternatively, opt for a full day fishing charter or live-aboard experience on a luxury charter. Try your hand at fishing, swimming, snorkeling, bird watching, island exploring, and spotting sea lions, dolphins, wallabies and lizards.
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Found on some of this islands is the cute Tammar Wallaby (thus why a set of the Islands are called the Wallabi Group). Slightly larger than Western Australia's famous Quokka, these marsupials have learned to adapt to their very remote island habitat, and drink seawater where no fresh water is available!
Lying in the stream of Western Australia's warm, southward-flowing Leeuwin Current, the marine environment surrounding the Abrolhos is a meeting place for tropical and temperate sealife.
Large breeding colonies of seabirds exist on many of the Abrolhos Islands, and depend for their food on schools of pelagic baitfish. More than 90 species of seabird have been identified. Smaller seabirds, in turn, provide food for white breasted sea eagles which occur in unusually large numbers throughout the Abrolhos Islands.
Abrolhos waters are home to charming marine mammals like the Australian sea lion and the bottlenose dolphin. You can watch the sea lions as they play in the waters or bask on coral beaches in the sun at Peos Island. They are now classified as 'vulnerable' in Australia. Visitors are asked to stay safe and enjoy them from a distance.
Sampson fish are also common and some have become so friendly you can feed these huge fish by hand. Migrating humpback whales also inhabit Abrolhos waters during their migration from around July to October.
The Abrolhos Islands’ abundant waters are home to some of the ocean’s most prized eating fish, such as baldchin groper, dhufish, snapper, coral trout and the emperor fish. Additionally, fishermen will often catch octopus or pull scallops and the sought-after Western rock lobster. Note: be sure to check fishing regulations and exclusion zones, or opt for a local fishing tour.
The beautiful but treacherous reef-surrounded atolls have claimed many wrecks over the centuries. The most notable was the Batavia in 1629 which was wrecked on Morning Reef in the Wallabi group. The Dutch East Indies survivors made it to land, only to face a mutiny. Avid divers can explore the site although the dive is weather dependent and for experienced divers only. Check out the Shipwrecks Gallery at the Museum of Geraldton.