13 Day ItineraryCoral Coast Wildlife

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The most once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters you’ll ever eXPERIENCE in one holiday.

From the unique Pinnacles Desert to Monkey Mia and World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef, you’ll experience some of your most memorable face-to-face moments with wildlife, in some of the most biodiverse habitats on Earth.

Best time: March to July (to coincide with the whale shark season)


Highlights:

  • Pinnacles Desert
  • Kalbarri National Park
  • Shark Bay World Heritage Area
  • Monkey Mia dolphins
  • Ningaloo Reef
  • Jurien Bay Marine Park
 
Pinnacles DesertPinnacles Desert

Day 1:

Morning: Perth to the Pinnacles

Following the Indian Ocean Drive north of Perth for just over two hours, you’ll find yourself in another world in the Pinnacles Desert of Nambung National Park. 

Explore this luna-like landscape on the scenic drive or walk trail, and visit the Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre to see the story of this unique place, and its flora and fauna, revealed in interpretive displays.

Afternoon: The Pinnacles to Kalbarri

Head to nearby Cervantes for a lunchtime feast of fresh local rock lobster.

The remainder of your journey takes approximately four hours and 20 minutes. Follow the Indian Ocean Drive to Geraldton for an afternoon coffee break, before joining the Brand Highway and George Grey Drive to Kalbarri.



Kalbarri National ParkKalbarri National Park

Day 2:

Morning: Kalbarri National Park

Gaze in awe at the dramatic river gorge and rock formations that have been 400 million years in the making in Kalbarri National Park. Head up to the lookouts, hike the trails, saddle up for a horse riding adventure, or join a canyoning and abseiling tour. 

Plan your trip during wildflower season (July to October), and you'll also see the outback transformed into a sea of colour from the blooms of more than 1,100 varieties of Western Australian wildflowers.


Afternoon: Kalbarri

Visit the Australian Parrot Breeding Centre and support their mission to save endangered species.

Or walk one of the coastal trails to discover more rugged and curious landscapes in Kalbarri National Park. 

Make your way to the top of the coastal cliffs for sunset, and if you’re visiting between June and November, watch the waters for migrating humpback whales as they return from the breeding grounds with their young calves.



Hamelin Pool StromatolitesHamelin Pool Stromatolites

Day 3:

Morning: Kalbarri to Shark Bay

Enjoy the novelty of breakfasting with the pelicans. You can watch their daily feeding ritual on Kalbarri foreshore every morning.

Before leaving town for Shark Bay, stock up on plenty of water and lunch supplies.

Join the North West Coastal Highway heading north for two and a half hours to reach the start of the Shark Bay World Heritage Drive – your gateway to the living fossils, rare marsupials and extraordinary landscapes that have earned this region World Heritage status.


Afternoon: Shark Bay to Monkey Mia

Make your first stop at the Hamelin Pool Stromatolites for your once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet the world’s oldest living marine fossils and glimpse life over 3,500 million years ago.

Take a walk and wonder at Shell Beach – one of only two beaches on Earth made of billions of tiny shells from just one species.

See, touch and learn about the many amazing marine creatures that call Shark Bay home at Ocean Park Aquarium. Or, head up to Eagle Bluff where you may spot some of Shark Bay’s marine life from the cliff top.

Stay in Denham or continue on to Monkey Mia in time for an ocean sunset and dinner.



Monkey Mia DolphinsMonkey Mia Dolphins

Day 4:

Morning: Monkey Mia dolphins

Prepare for a truly magical morning, meeting the friendly bottle-nosed dolphins of Monkey Mia. These wild dolphins come to the shore several times a day – to interact with visitors – more frequently in the mornings.

Drop in to the Dolphin Information Centre and check out the interpretive displays sharing insights into dolphin biology, behaviour, as well as the other marine life of Shark Bay.

Or spend the rest of the morning swimming or exploring the bay in a kayak.


Afternoon: Monkey Mia

Beyond the beach, you can discover the unique flora and fauna of Shark Bay World Heritage Area through the eyes of one of the oldest surviving cultures on Earth by joining an Indigenous cultural tour.

Alternatively, jump aboard a boat tour from Monkey Mia to meet the wild dolphins out in the bay, as well as spotting turtles, manta rays and sharks. The region’s vast meadows of sea grass also support the world's largest population of dugongs.



Francois Peron National ParkFrancois Peron National Park

Day 5:

Monkey Mia/Denham to Francois Peron National Park  

Protecting many endangered species, Shark Bay's Francois Peron National Park is one of the most important wilderness areas in Australia. 

Join a guided tour from Denham, or take your own four-wheel drive out to Shark Bay's Francois Peron National Park – one of the most important wilderness areas in Australia, protecting many endangered species. 

Here, you might encounter some of the region’s 100-plus species of reptiles and amphibians, 240 varieties of birds, 320 types of fish, 80 different corals and 820 species of plants, including 700 flowering species. 

Return from a full day exploring the national park and spend the night in Denham.



Sunset at Coral BaySunset at Coral Bay

Day 6:

Morning: Denham to Carnarvon

Stock up on fuel and water and retrace your tracks back to the North West Coastal Highway for the four-hour-and-20-minute drive to Carnarvon.

Stop for lunch and taste fresh tropical fruits from the region’s famous plantations.


Afternoon: Carnarvon to Coral Bay

Make the three-hour drive north, passing through the Tropic of Capricorn, to reach Coral Bay – your gateway to the largest fringing reef on Earth, Ningaloo Reef. Make sure you arrive in plenty of time to watch a Coral Bay Sunset before feasting on the catch of the day.



Turtle at Ningaloo Reef, Coral BayTurtle at Ningaloo Reef, Coral Bay

Day 7:

Morning: Coral Bay

Head out for an early morning snorkel. From the shoreline you’re just a few metres from the sheltered coral gardens of Ningaloo Reef – home to some of the 500 species of fish and 300 varieties of coral.

To explore the outer reef, where you're more likely to encounter dugongs, turtles, dolphins and graceful manta rays, take a glass-bottom boat trip, join a guided snorkel tour, or hire a sea kayak.


Afternoon: Coral Bay

Find a shady spot to laze on the beach, or seek more adventure on dry land with an off-road quad biking tour along the coast.



Whale WatchingWhale Watching

Day 8:

Morning: Coral Bay

Hop aboard a half-day deep-sea fishing charter. Join a tour to swim with graceful manta rays and turtles. Or, if you’re visiting between June and November, a whale watching tour will give a close encounter with one of the world’s longest whale migrations.

Afternoon: Coral Bay to Exmouth

In just over two and a half hours from Coral Bay, you’ll reach Exmouth – the northern gateway to Ningaloo Marine Park and Cape Range National Park. Make your first stop at Exmouth Visitor Centre and take your pick from one of the myriad Ningaloo tours.



Emu at Cape Range National ParkEmu at Cape Range National Park

Day 9:

Morning: Exmouth to Cape Range National Park and Ningaloo Marine Park

Make an early start, packing plenty of water and a picnic lunch, for a day in the national park.

Drive around the cape, watching out for kangaroos, emus and lizards, and spend the morning hopping between Ningaloo’s snorkel trails, white-sand beaches and inviting lagoons, including Turquoise Bay.


Afternoon: Cape Range National Park to Exmouth

Join a lunchtime boat cruise and wildlife-spotting tour on Yardie Creek (seasonal), or follow the bushwalking trails into the rugged red canyons of Cape Range.

On your return journey, head up to historic Vlamingh Head Lighthouse and take in the sweeping ocean vista at sunset. Between June and November, you might also see migrating humpback whales from this scenic vantage point.



Swim with whale sharksSwim with Whale Sharks

Day 10:

Exmouth

Let Ningaloo’s knowledgeable tour guides take you on a journey filled with your idea of adventure. 

Experience the once-in-a-lifetime thrill of swimming with the largest fish in the ocean on a whale shark swim tour between March and July. Or, join one of the many outer-reef snorkelling tours that operate year round, offering close encounters with Ningaloo’s diverse marine life.

Drop off Navy Pier with a scuba guide into one of Australia’s top 10 dive sites. Go in search of big-game fishing thrills with a local charter. Or, if you’re an experienced surfer, try out the reef break at Surfers Beach.



Carnarvon Jetty in the Carnarvon Heritage PrecinctCarnarvon Jetty in the Carnarvon Heritage Precinct

Day 11:

Morning: Exmouth to Carnarvon

Fill up your tank, food and water supplies and begin your journey back to Perth, starting with the five-hour-and-twenty-minute drive to Carnarvon.

Stretch your legs on the longest jetty in the North West in the Carnarvon Heritage Precinct, or if you’re visiting between May and October, stop to feast on the freshest local prawns, scallops, crab and local fish for lunch.

 

Afternoon: Carnarvon to Kalbarri

Allow yourself plenty of time for the four-and-a-half-hour drive south to Kalbarri and arrive in time to watch your last Coral Coast sunset before dinner.



Jurien Bay Marine ParkJurien Bay Marine Park

Day 12:

Morning: Kalbarri to Jurien Bay

Take a morning walk along the picturesque Kalbarri coast before continuing your journey south, through Geraldton, to rejoin the Indian Ocean Drive. In just over four hours from Kalbarri, you’ll reach another top snorkel and dive spot at Jurien Bay Marine Park.


Afternoon: Jurien Bay

Dip into the sheltered waters of the marine park to explore its limestone reefs, underwater caves and coral gardens covered in colourful sponges. 



Sea Lion on Western Australia's coastSea Lion on Western Australia's coast

Day 13:

Morning: Jurien Bay

Join a fishing charter for a fun-filled morning with the playful Australian sea lion colony that calls these waters home. You might also get another chance to encounter dolphins and migrating humpback whales here too.

Or, take in the whole spectacle of this magnificent coastline free-falling from 14,000 feet on a tandem skydive.


Afternoon: Jurien Bay to Perth

If you're travelling between August and September take a little extra time to make the journey back to Perth with a half-hour side-trip east from Jurien Bay to Lesueur National Park – one of the top wildflower hotspots in Western Australia.

From here, it’s just another two-and-a-half-hour drive back to Perth via Indian Ocean Drive, Wanneroo Road and Mitchell Freeway.



Important Travel Information

  • 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.
  • The road into the Pinnacles Desert is sealed, and there is a car park within walking distance of the limestone spires.

Trip Details

START:

Duration:

REGION(S):

Perth 13 days Perth & surrounds
The Coral Coast

Distances:

Perth to Kalbarri

588 km

Kalbarri to Monkey Mia

399 km

Monkey Mia to Coral Bay

580 km

Coral Bay to Exmouth

152 km

Exmouth to Kalbarri (via Carnarvon)

800 km

Kalbarri to Jurien Bay

351 km

Jurien Bay to Perth

223 km

Total Distance

3,093 km

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