Discover Western Australia’s magnificent Ningaloo and Shark Bay World Heritage Areas on this fly/drive itinerary. There’s so much to see and do in this pristine part of the world, from swimming with whale sharks and snorkelling the world’s largest fringing reef in the Ningaloo Marine Park to walking along a beach made entirely of shells and interacting with wild dolphins in Shark Bay.
Perth to Exmouth (Learmonth Airport)
Take a morning flight from Perth to Exmouth (Learmonth Airport). Pick up your hire car or take a shuttle into Exmouth town.
Start your Exmouth adventure by snorkelling the vibrant coral gardens of the Ningaloo Marine Park. Turquoise Bay is one of the many coastal sites of the Cape Range National Park and offers excellent drift snorkelling. Osprey Bay, Mandu Sanctuary Zone and Lakeside, a sheltered calm beach, are all within the Cape Range National Park and provide snorkelling off the beach. Book a snorkelling and wildlife tour to see the best of what Ningaloo has to offer.
Prefer to start with your feet on the ground? Head to the Cape Range National Park, either on an adventure tour or by self-driving. Located within the Cape Range National Park, drop into Milyering Visitor Centre to learn about the marine and coastal range environments. Avid walkers and nature lovers can follow the marked walk trail into the gorges of Cape Range National Park and also visit Yardie Creek for a boat cruise or walk along the cliff top.
If you are into diving, here's your opportunity to try the Navy Pier voted one of the top 10 dive sites in Australia, and one of the top shore dives in the world. If you visit between mid-March and July you can swim with the largest fish in the sea – the whale shark. Between July and October, swim with Humpback Whales
Exmouth to Carnarvon (approx. 365 kilometres)
Take an early morning dip before heading south to Carnarvon, a subtropical oasis where fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood are plentiful. This historic town is a great place to rest and take in the Indigenous and pioneering heritage of the Gascoyne region. Explore and sample the abundant fresh produce along the “Fruit Loops” – affectionately referred to by locals when driving the scenic North and South River Roads.
In the afternoon immerse yourself in the fascinating history of the Carnarvon Heritage Precinct located on the site of the 1890s Port of Carnarvon. You can also stretch your legs with a stroll on the One Mile Jetty. Built in 1897, Carnarvon’s famous jetty is one of the longest in the southern hemisphere. After you’ve finished for the day, enjoy a seafood meal at one of the town’s restaurants.
Carnarvon to Shark Bay (approx. 325 kilometres)
Head south on the North West Coastal Highway and turn right onto the Shark Bay World Heritage Drive. Stop at each of the landmarks along the way to learn about the area’s rich fauna, flora and heritage.
Sites include the remarkable Hamelin Pool stromatolites (the oldest living fossils in the world) and the calm, crystal waters of Shell Beach (a 110-kilometre stretch of beach made entirely of billions of tiny shells). Stop at Eagle Bluff for spectacular ocean views and spot marine life in the water below. If you’ve made good time on this leg of the trip, head to the Peron Homestead for a glimpse of Shark Bay’s heritage. Enjoy a drink on the foreshore at Denham or Monkey Mia and watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean.
Overnight: Denham or Monkey Mia
Explore Shark Bay
Spend the morning at Monkey Mia where Australia’s famous bottlenose dolphins visit the shores regularly. The dolphins are fed a small amount of fish up to three times daily, which accounts for just one-third of their daily diet. The first feeding is usually at around 7.30am.
Afterwards, get up close to more of Shark Bay’s marine life on a wildlife cruise or Indigenous kayaking tour. Join a day tour to Francois Peron National Park for some rugged adventure. Nearby, Little Lagoon is an ideal spot for an afternoon picnic and a refreshing swim.
Overnight: Denham or Monkey Mia
Monkey Mia to Quobba and Red Bluff (approx. 425 kilometres)
Leave Monkey Mia in the morning and head north. Visit the Blowholes (70 kilometres north of Carnarvon) and watch in awe as water is forced through sea caves at speed causing a sea spray up to 20 metres high.
Continue north of the Blowholes and explore Red Bluff and Gnaraloo Bay (access by four-wheel drive) at the southern gateway to the Ningaloo Reef (140 kilometres north of Carnarvon). Here, you’ll discover towering cliffs, beautiful beaches and plenty of wildlife. The area also offers excellent fishing, surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing and swimming. Spend a night here to get closer to nature and enjoy this remote coastal wilderness area.
Overnight: Red Bluff Quobba Station
Quobba to Coral Bay (approx. 270 kilometres)
Head onto Coral Bay and discover hundreds of fish and coral species in Coral Bay’s calm, protected waters with a mask and snorkel. To explore further out, take a glass bottom boat tour or join a snorkelling tour. You can even swim with manta rays in Coral Bay year round. These majestic creatures have a wingspan of up to several metres wide and, unlike stingrays, they have no barb and therefore are safe to swim with.
Overnight: Coral Bay
Explore Coral Bay
Make this your swim with manta rays day in Coral Bay . You can swim with these majestic creatures year round. They have a wingspan of up to several metres wide 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
Coral Bay to Learmonth Airport (approx 116 kilometres)
Take one last morning dip in the crystal waters of Coral Bay before departing for Learmonth Airport for your afternoon flight back to Perth.