9 to 14 Day ItineraryThe Complete Ningaloo Reef Experience

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Explore all 260 extraordinary kilometres of the world’s largest fringing reef.

UNESCO World Heritage listed Ningaloo is the only place on Earth where can you access a large, biodiverse coral reef so easily. Between Carnarvon, Coral Bay and Exmouth, you’ll find many beautiful and secluded spots where the reef is just a short swim from the beach. A 4WD is recommended, but you can opt to take your own 2WD vehicle.

Best time: March to November

Highlights:

  • Ningaloo Marine Park
  • Carnarvon
  • Coral Bay
  • Exmouth
  • Cape Range National Park

One Mile Jetty, CarnarvonOne Mile Jetty, Carnarvon

Day 1:

Morning: Perth to Carnarvon

Your Ningaloo Reef experience begins just south of the Tropic of Capricorn in Carnarvon – around nine-hours’ drive north from Perth, or a couple of hours on a flight from Perth airport.

Afternoon: Carnarvon

If you opt to fly and hire a 4WD, you’ll have a little time to explore Carnarvon, ride its quirky coffee pot train at Carnarvon Heritage Precinct and sample fresh seasonal flavours from the region’s tropical fruit growers. 



Blowholes near CarnarvonBlowholes near Carnarvon

Day 2:

Morning: Carnarvon to South Ningaloo

Stock up on food, water and fuel in Carnarvon before taking the Great Northern Highway and Blowholes Road to enter the southern gateway to the Ningaloo Reef.

Drivers are advised to check road conditions before making the journey.

Contact the visitor centres at Exmouth or Carnarvon, or the stations at Quobba and Gnaraloo for up-to-date travel information.

Make a rest stop at the Blowholes where ocean swells force jets of water through sea caves. Then turn on to the unsealed Gnaraloo Road north and be sure to stop at Cape Cuvier along the way to drink in the ocean vista.

Afternoon: South Ningaloo

You’ll find some of the most secluded spots on the Ningaloo coast here, many of which offer the opportunity to just step straight off the beach into the bluest ocean and snorkel with the 500 species of fish and 300 varieties of coral that call the reef home.

Overnight in tents or basic cabins at Quobba Station, Red Bluff, Three Mile Camp or Gnaraloo. Quobba’s eco tents also offer a touch of glamping luxury to your trip. 



Red Bluff at Quobba StationRed Bluff at Quobba Station

Day 3:

Quobba, Red Bluff and Gnaraloo 

Take a day or more to experience the sensational marine life, beaches, snorkelling and world-class surfing and fishing on Ningaloo Reef.

Experienced surfers, windsurfers and kite surfers travel from all corners of the world to tackle Bluff Barrel, the Tombstones and catch some of the longest wave rides on the WA coast.

At Three Mile Camp and Gnaraloo Bay, the clear, sheltered waters are perfect for swimming, and snorkellers are treated to some of the most pristine coral gardens. 



A turtle at Ningaloo ReefA turtle at Ningaloo Reef

Day 4:

Morning: Quobba/Gnaraloo to Coral Bay 

Retrace your journey south to join the North West Coastal Highway and head north, taking the Mauds Landing Road turnoff to Coral Bay.

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Afternoon: Coral Bay

Again, you’ll find yourself just a few metres from the sheltered coral gardens of Ningaloo Reef.

Take an afternoon swim or snorkel, laze on the white-sand beach, or hire a quad bike for a spin up the coast at sunset.

Accommodation and dining options are varied, and there are plenty of good spots to take in Coral Bay’s stunning sunsets. 



Humpback WhaleHumpback Whale

Day 5:

Coral Bay

Stay an extra night to explore the outer reef on a sea kayak, dive charter or snorkel tour for a swim with the turtles and graceful manta rays. 

Some of the biggest thrills can be had between March and July when humpback whales and whale sharks visit the outer reef.  

Local tour companies will take you out to see the humpback whales on their annual migration, or you can join a full-day tour to experience the exhilaration of swimming with whale sharks – the biggest fish in the ocean.

You can also try catching your own dinner on a deep-sea fishing charter, or choose from a small selection of cafes and restaurants.  



Yardie CreekYardie Creek

Day 6:

Coral Bay to Exmouth 

Take the sealed route and get to Exmouth in two hours and 40 minutes or, for a 4WD adventure, follow the coastal Cardabia Ningaloo Road north from Coral Bay to Yardie Creek.

Along this northern stretch of Ningaloo, you can take it slow and discover a string of secluded beaches and snorkel spots.

Before you set off, contact Exmouth Visitor Centre to check road conditions and tide times for the river crossing at Yardie Creek.

In and around Exmouth, you’ll find a good range of places to stay and dine.



Turquoise BayTurquoise Bay

Day 7:

Exmouth to Ningaloo Marine Park

Spend a day or more exploring the many wonders that have put Ningaloo Marine Park on the World Heritage list.

Pack a picnic lunch and plenty of water, and take a drive around the cape, hopping from stunning white-sand beaches, to inviting swimming spots, to top-rate drift snorkel trails, including the aptly named Turquoise Bay. Always observe conditions and warning signs before entering the water to swim or snorkel.

Hop aboard a Ningaloo dive tour to Lighthouse Bay, the Murion Islands or Navy Pier – one of Australia’s top 10 dive sites.

Access rarely visited coral gardens with a guided kayaking and camping tour.

Chase the ultimate big-game catches with a fishing charter.

If you’re an experienced surfer, head for the reef break at Surfers Beach.

Or, if you’re visiting between March and July, don’t miss the opportunity to swim with whale sharks.



Vlamingh Head LighthouseVlamingh Head Lighthouse

Day 8:

Morning: Exmouth to Cape Range National Park

In striking contrast to the vivid blue waters of Ningaloo, the rugged red canyons of Cape Range National Park are a great place to encounter outback wildlife, spring wildflowers and Indigenous heritage.

Hit the 4WD tracks and bushwalking trails. Or take a cruise on Yardie Creek (seasonal) to spot the rare black-footed rock wallaby.

Afternoon: Cape Range National Park to Exmouth

Heading back in the late afternoon, drive slowly, watching out for kangaroos, emus and lizards.

Nature lovers visiting between June and November should make a stop at the historic Vlamingh Head Lighthouse – a great vantage point for watching migrating humpback whales.



Kalbarri National ParkKalbarri National Park

Day 9:

Morning: Exmouth to Perth

You can make prior arrangements to drop your hire car at Learmonth Airport, near Exmouth, and catch a direct flight that will get you back to Perth within two and a half hours.

Alternatively, begin your two-day return journey to Perth by road, staying overnight in Carnarvon, Kalbarri or Geraldton along the way.



Important Travel Information

  • Many roads to and within the national parks are now sealed, or suitable for 2WD vehicles.
  • Unsealed roads within the national parks are not suitable for caravans, large buses or motor homes and may be closed to all vehicle access during wet times of the year. Check Park, Trail and Road Closures alerts for the latest updates.
  • Sightings and interactions with whale sharks, manta rays, whales, turtles, dolphins or other marine life are not 100% guaranteed. See the tour operators’ terms and conditions for details.
  • Surf and marine conditions can vary significantly, so always read safety signs and swim between the red and yellow lifesaving flags. Get more tips from the Beachsafe website.
  • All tours must be pre-booked via the tour operator or local visitor centre. Tours by boat are subject to weather conditions. 
  • TAKE nothing but photos – picking wildflowers is illegal and can attract a AU$2000 fine. RESPECT private property and don’t trespass. PROTECT canola crops and prevent the spread of disease by staying out of canola fields.

Trip Details

START:

Duration:

REGION(S):

Perth 9-14 days The Coral Coast

Distances:

Perth to Carnarvon

913 km

Carnarvon to South Ningaloo

85-140 km (one way)

South Ningaloo to Coral Bay

270-330 km

Coral Bay to Exmouth

152 km

Exmouth to Yardie Creek

85 km (one way)

Exouth to Perth

1,268 km

Total Distance

2,773 km

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