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.
Day 1: Perth to Carnarvon
Approx 905 kilometres
Head up the Indian Ocean Drive towards Geraldton, you'll need an early start for the first leg of your journey to Exmouth and Ningaloo. Take a refreshment stop before 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.
Day 2: Carnarvon to Exmouth
Approx 370 kilometres
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. Head north towards Exmouth and Ningaloo Reef Region, an area renowned for the pristine Ningaloo coral reefs which lay just metres from the shore. 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.
Overnight: Exmouth – See Exmouth accommodation
Day 3: Exmouth and surrounds
Spend today exploring the attraction that draws every visitor to Exmouth – Ningaloo Reef. 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. Before returning to town, head down to Yardie Creek, which flows year round. The gorge is home to a huge array of wildlife, including the rare black-footed rock wallaby. Join the river cruise down the gorge to learn about the local flora and fauna.
Day 4: Exmouth
Today, choose from a range of tours on offer, from deep sea fishing, diving the world-renowned Navy Pier or swimming with the world’s largest fish – the whale shark (between late March and early July). 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.
Day 5: 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. 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
Day 6: Coral Bay
Stay another day in Coral Bay for more swimming and snorkelling, or throw in a line and try your luck at beach fishing. Fishing charters head out to sea regularly and adventurous types can join a scuba diving trip, a manta ray tour or swim with the whale sharks (seasonal). 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. 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
Day 7: 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, or grab a surfboard and head for the renowned surf break Jacques Point, 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 – See Kalbarri accommodation
Day 8: 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 south along the North West Coastal Highway to 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. After exploring the Pinnacles, head to the Desert Discovery Centre to learn more about these mystical formations. You can also pick up locally-made handcrafted souvenirs here. Enjoy a swim at Hangover Bay or Cervantes before making the final journey back to Perth.