Coral Bay is as idyllic as the name suggests. There, on white sand beaches, you're just a few steps from the world's largest fringing reef - the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef. Dive, snorkel or fish in clear turquoise waters and immerse yourself in marine life encounters.[Click for full map view]
This tiny seaside town is blessed with beach weather for most of the year, and you can get there in half a day from Perth. A two and a half hour flight gets you to Learmonth Airport, then it's just a one and a half hour drive to Coral Bay. Taking it a little slower, you can drive there in two days or join an extended guided tour from Perth.
At the southern end of Ningaloo's 5,000 square kilometres of diverse reef habitats, laidback Coral Bay lets you explore its wonders at your own pace. You can even stay dry and view the coral gardens from a glass-bottom boat, or just laze on the beach with a book. But there's plenty of adventure to be found.
It's one of few places on Earth where you can come face-to-fin with the biggest fish in the ocean - the whale shark. These gentle filter-feeding giants can be found off the coast there from March to July every year.
Next on the visitor list are migrating humpback whales, with whale watching tours giving you a front-row seat from June to November.
Other close encounters of the marine kind can be enjoyed year-round, including spotting or swimming with graceful manta rays, dugongs and turtles. Or take to the skies on a scenic flight and drink in the spectacle from above.
Ningaloo also boasts the title of Western Australia's premier game fishing destination, and Coral Bay's fishing charters will put you within striking distance of your dream catch. Emperor, cod, Spanish mackerel and bream are regularly hooked, not to mention hard-fighting tuna, marlin, mahi mahi and sailfish.
Just a sandy-footed stroll from the beach, the town itself offers a good choice of accommodation, cafes, shops and restaurants. Book early during peak season to secure your piece of paradise.