Right on the doorstep of Exmouth, Ningaloo coral reefs invite you to dive right in. Water lovers of any age will delight in the opportunities to explore the pristine reefs and marine life. Don a mask and snorkel and embark on your own exploration or view the underwater garden from the dry comfort of a glass bottom boat. As the drive to Exmouth is close to 13.5 hours, it is recommended this itinerary be broken down into manageable safe legs as a self-drive journey.
Perth to Geraldton (Approx 420 kilometres)
Head up the Indian Ocean Drive towards Geraldton. This is a five hour drive, and offers you the opportunity to take in some of the charm of the coastal towns along the Indian Ocean Drive, such as Cervantes and the splendour of the Pinnacles Desert. The road into the Pinnacles is sealed, and there is a car park within walking distance of the limestone structures. Head onto Jurien Bay, Green Head and Dongara and finally Geraldton. Enjoy the cosmopolitan vibe of this regional city for the afternoon and evening.
Overnight: Geraldton accommodation
Geraldton to Carnarvon (Approx 476 kilometres)
Continuing your journey along the North West Coastal Highway to the tropical fruit town of Carnarvon, a popular holiday spot for those chasing the winter sun. Check into your accommodation before taking an evening stroll along the Fascine, enjoying the magnificent sunset views before heading out to dine on fresh local produce.This morning, visit some of the sites on the Gascoyne Food Trail to stock up on fresh food and supplies. The trail highlights various fruit, vegetable and seafood producers, where you can sample their delicious offerings, from fresh seafood to tangy chutneys. As you head north out of Carnarvon, be sure to stop at the blowholes, watching the water spray meters into the air as it surges through the rocks.
Overnight: Carnarvon accommodation
Carnarvon to Exmouth (Approx 365 kilometres)
Head north towards Exmouth and the Ningaloo Reef Region, an area renowned for the pristine Ningaloo coral reefs which lay just metres from the shore.
Head around to the western side of the cape to explore endless coral gardens and a myriad of fish and marine creatures. There are several places where you can access Ningaloo coral reefs close to the shore including the snorkel drift at Turquoise Bay and Oyster Stacks. This afternoon, familiarise yourself with the town, take in an evening stroll along the beach, or head out to the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse to watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean.
With a range of tours on offer, today is your opportunity to swim with either the Whale Shark (March to July) or Humpback Whale (July to October) depending on the time of the year. Or check out the world-renowned Navy Pier for a dive. Other options include 4WD safari tours, scenic flights over Ningaloo coral reefs and ranges, glass bottom boat tours or kitesurfing lessons. Alternatively, you can choose to spend another day exploring the Ningaloo Reef or relaxing on the numerous pristine beaches on offer.
Exmouth to Coral Bay (Approx 150 kilometres)
Depart early for your drive to Coral Bay. On the way, be sure to check out Shothole Canyon and Charles Knife Canyon. Both offer rugged scenery of deep canyons, limestone ranges and spectacular gorges, while the latter also provides awesome panoramic views from the top of the range. See if you can spot any wildlife!
Continue south on the road from Exmouth to Ningaloo’s Coral Bay, a snorkeler’s paradise with calm, protected waters and hundreds of fish and coral species. Here, Ningaloo coral reefs touch the shore - an endless underwater garden of marine life. To explore further out, take a glass bottom boat trip or join a snorkelling tour. Spend the evening watching the sunset and dining at one of Coral Bay’s restaurants.
Overnight: Coral Bay
Start your Coral Bay adventure with more swimming and snorkelling by joining a manta ray tour. You can swim with the manta rays year round. These magical creatures can have a wingspan of up to several metres and, unlike stingrays, they have no barb and therefore are safe to swim with. Fishing charters head out to sea regularly and adventurous types can join a scuba diving trip. When it's time to dry off, take a 4WD along the coast or hire a quad bike for some rugged adventure.
Overnight: Coral Bay
Coral Bay to Kalbarri (Approx 670 kilometres)
Take one last morning dip in the crystal waters of Coral Bay before departing for Kalbarri early. You’ll arrive late in the afternoon, so take in the sunset from one of the many coastal walk trails before tucking into a fresh seafood feast for dinner at one of the many local restaurants. After dinner, sit back and relax under the stars at the outdoor cinema.
Overnight: Kalbarri accommodation
Kalbarri to Perth (Approx 600 kilometres)
Head down to the foreshore early to watch as the local pelicans receive their fishy breakfast at 8.45am. After you and the pelicans have been fed, head to Kalbarri National Park to explore the many famous landmarks such as Nature's Window and the new Kalbarri Skywalk. Enjoy some time exploring the park before your drive back to Perth. Stop in to Geraldton for lunch to have a break from the driving.