Dive the Ningaloo Marine Park, which protects a 260km fringing reef off Western Australia’s mid north coast. Snorkel through coral lagoons in Coral Bay, swim with the huge whale shark, and 4WD red sand dunes in Cape Range National Park. The Indian Ocean Drive from Perth links Ningaloo with Shark Bay and the dolphins of Monkey Mia.
Swim with the docile whale sharks, the world’s largest fish, who visit between April and June. Watch humpback whales between June and November and see rare turtle species hatch on guided, eco-interactive trails in January and February. Sea kayak from Exmouth and spot migrating whales and visit remote sites teeming with dugongs and turtles. Or join a boat tour to watch the spectacular mass coral spawning in March and April. You only have to step off the beach at Exmouth or Coral Bay to see clownfish bathing in anemone tentacles, lionfish and predatory moray eels as well as hundreds of other species of tropical fish.
Snorkel through coral lagoons and gardens in calm, protected Coral Bay and meet graceful manta rays, dolphins and brightly coloured fish. If you’re ready for deeper waters, jump on a glass-bottom boat or join a snorkelling tour from Exmouth. Head to Lighthouse Bay or the classic desert Muiron Islands for spectacular reef diving. See sea creatures from small to big in the reef sanctuary of Bundegi Bombies, which has shallow waters perfect for entry level divers and snorkellers. More experienced divers can discover the diverse collection of large sponges, gorgonians and sea whips in the sponge gardens at the entrance to the Exmouth Gulf. Whatever level you are, Ningaloo has a piece of underwater Eden for you.
Stay in pretty Exmouth, where you can hire a car, join an eco safari or a beach, reef and game fishing tour. Learn to surf on the gentle waves of Wobiri, catch a left-handed swell on The Bombie or ride the reef breaks at Dunes Beach and Murion and Montebello Islands. Back in town, you’ll find accommodation to suit all budgets, from self-contained apartments to backpackers and campsites. Wander the yachting marina and visit the town's cafes, restaurants, boutiques and wine bars. Then have a yarn with the locals or other travellers over a beer at the local tavern. In the idyllic seaside town of Coral Bay you can stroll to everywhere. Snorkel, swim and feed fish off the beach, do a dive trip or take a scenic flight over the reef.
Four-wheel-drive the Shothole Canyon Road or Charles Knife Canyon to Cape Range National Park, just 35 kilometres from the centre of Exmouth. Here you can camp where spectacular gorges, carved by ancient rivers, meet Ningaloo’s coral reefs, clear blue seas and sandy beaches. Walk to Yardie Creek past wildlife and wildflowers, watching out for rare black-footed wallabies crouching on the steep walls. These mangrove areas shelter many bird species and marine animals. Or follow the three-kilometre walking trail through Mandu Mandu Gorge for panoramic ocean views. When it's time to dry off, explore more of the coastline on a four-wheel drive or quad bike.
Join a day tour to the tranquil Muiron Islands, classic desert islands with tropical waters teeming with marine life and complex coral reefs. Dive or snorkel at Turtle Bay, a nesting sanctuary for turtles. You’ll find many other great dive sites just offshore, with colourful coral gardens in depths of 3 to 20 metres. Laze on a deserted beach or cast your line in the shallow waters for a giant trevally. For the ultimate in solitude and romance, get permission to camp overnight.
With blue skies and sunshine almost every day of the year, Monkey Mia, approximately 850 kilometres north of Perth, is ideal for a leisurely getaway or exciting outback adventure.