Coral Bay – the southern gateway to Ningaloo Marine Park – is located on the west coast of Western Australia, about 155kms (96mi) from Exmouth, and a 90-minute drive from Learmonth Airport.
With its accessible coral gardens and pristine beaches, Coral Bay is ideal for relaxing as well as reef exploration. Coral reefs lie just off the town beach, making it excellent for snorkelling and swimming.
Here you can make your own footprints in the soft white sand just a few steps from the emerald lagoon of Ningaloo Marine Park – the largest fringing reef in the world.
Consisting of only one street and a sweeping white-sand beach, the town is small enough to explore on foot.
Coral Bay offers numerous marine and land-based activities geared for adventure-driven visitors including glass bottom boat tours, diving tours, manta ray snorkel tours, whale watching tours, whale shark snorkel tours, quad bike tours and sailing tours.
There's also a choice of accommodation, cafés, shops and restaurants. However, this small, laid-back seaside village has limited accommodation, therefore booking well ahead is essential during the peak season from March to November.
Pick a spot on the sweeping white-sand beach to sunbathe and laze with a book, snorkel above brilliant coral gardens teeming with colourful tropical fish only metres from the shoreline or scuba dive the reef.
Bill's Bay – Coral Bay's main beach offers soft, white sand, shallow waist-deep water and fringing coral gardens just metres from the shore.
The large, sweeping bay is perfect for snorkelling and swimming. Within the calm, clear turquoise water expect to encounter fish swimming around your ankles in the shallows, and to see manta rays close to shore.
The sheltered waters and easy access from the town make this a favourite with visitors and locals alike. The southern end is best for snorkelling. Bill's Bay Beach is located at the end of Robinson St, Coral Bay.
Paradise Beach – This stunning beach with pristine white sands and crystal clear, calm waters is definitely worth exploring. The uncrowded beach offers an excellent opportunity to snorkel safely amid the abundant marine life, swim in the refreshing waters or just laze on the beach with a great book.
Paradise Beach is located just south of Purdy Point before Monk's Head outcrop.
Given it's proximity to Ningaloo Reef, Coral Bay offers year-round proximity to view marine life. Pull on a mask and swim alongside the largest fish in the ocean – the whale shark. These gentle giants are found off the Coral Coast from April to July every year.
Then take a front-row seat on a whale-watching tour to watch migrating humpback whales from June to November. Other year-round close encounters, include swimming with manta rays, dugongs and turtles.
Or stay dry and view the coral gardens from a glass-bottom boat or enjoy the spectacle from above on a scenic flight.
Ningaloo Marine Park is also one of Western Australia's premier game fishing destinations. Local fishing charters will put you within striking distance of emperor, cod, Spanish mackerel, bream, tuna, marlin, mahi mahi and sailfish.
Other beach-side activities, include catamaran cruising, sea kayaking, fishing and glass bottom boat excursions to the outer reef.
Join an eco-tour to see green and loggerhead turtles nesting from December to January and spy turtles hatching from late January to March.
Inland, the rugged gorges and diverse landscape of Cape Range National Park offer a smorgasbord of hiking and four-wheel drive adventures.
Encompassing an area of 5000km² (1930mi²), the Ningaloo Reef is the largest fringing coral reef in Australia and the only large reef in the world found close to a continental land mass, making it an easy snorkel from shore – in places it's only 100m offshore.
Less developed than the Great Barrier Reef but much closer to the shoreline, the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Marine Park stretches for 300km (186mi) along the coast of Western Australia, from the Muiron Islands in the north and Bundegi on the eastern tip of the North West Cape to Red Bluff on Quobba Station far to the south.
The Ningaloo Marine Park is home to a huge array of marine life including sharks, manta rays, humpback whales, turtles, dugongs, dolphins as well as 500 species of fish and 220 species of corals.
During the winter months, Ningaloo is part of the migratory route for dolphins, dugongs, manta rays, humpback whales and whale sharks, which feed there during April to July.
Beaches along the Ningaloo Coast are an important breeding ground of loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles that depend on the reef for nesting and food.
The northern area of the Ningaloo Coast is dominated by the rugged Cape Range that extends down the coast and lies adjacent to the sheltered waters of Ningaloo Marine Park.
Here, the crystal clear waters are perfect for a variety of marine based activities including swimming, snorkelling, fishing and watching marine life, including whale sharks, manta rays, turtles and fish.
Scuba dive the outer reef to see dugongs, mantas, huge cod, dolphins, giant whale sharks and humpback whales in season.
More about Ningaloo Reef Marine Park…
Cape Range National Park offers a spectacular panorama of jagged limestone peaks, heavily incised deep gorges and 50km (30mi) of wind-blown coastal dunes and pristine beaches that give access to the clear turquoise waters of Ningaloo Marine Park.
Located on the west side of the North West Cape, Cape Range National Park covers around 510km² (197mi²) and supports an abundance of wildlife including emus, echidnas, the rare black-flanked rock wallaby, five types of bat and more than 160 species of bird.
Here you can explore gorges and peer inside caves that provide a haven for wildlife as well as rare and unusual flora. There are more than 630 species of flowering plants on the West Cape peninsula and within the Cape Range National Park.
Many species of animals and plants are endemic to the North West Cape of Western Australia, such as the white centred variety of the Sturt's Desert Pea.
Roam the park on foot, quad bike or by 4WD vehicle to explore the rugged ochre-coloured ranges that are home to vertical cliffs, vast canyons and peaceful white-sand beaches.
Cape Range National Park boasts several scenic walking trails, many of which offer spectacular views over the ranges as well as to Ningaloo Reef and the Exmouth Gulf.
Choose from a network of scenic bushwalking trails including the Mandu Mandu Gorge, Yardie Creek and Lightfoot Heritage trails. Another choice is the popular Thomas Carter trail, a 5km (3mi) walk that links the Shothole and Charles Knife canyons.
More about Cape Range National Park…
Coral Bay has limited accommodation, which includes the Ningaloo Coral Bay Caravan Park, Ningaloo Coral Bay Backpackers and Ningaloo Reef Resort, therefore booking ahead is essential during the peak season of March to November.
Ningaloo Reef Resort
Location: 1 Robinson Street, Coral Bay
Prices: from AUD242 per night
Description: The Resort offers absolute beachfront accommodation with a range of self-contained accommodation from units to apartments. Rooms include air-conditioning, kitchenette and free in-house movies. The resort has an outdoor swimming pool, casual dining at Shades and the occasional live entertainment at the bar. Features include a tour desk, free WiFi, restaurant, bar / lounge, cafe, onsite free parking, BBQ facilities and guest laundry.
The best time to visit Coral Bay and Turquoise Bay is in winter from April to October when the days are sunny and warm.
Winter temperatures reach an average high of 32°C (89°F) in April, 27°C (80°F) in May, 23°C (73°F) in June and July, rising to 24°C (75°F) in August, 27°C (80°F) in September and 31°C (87°F) in October.
June and July are the coldest months with an average low of 12°C (53°F).
Summer, from November to March, is windy and hot, with temperatures averaging 36°C (96°F) but occasionally soaring beyond 40°C (104°F).
Seawater temperatures range from 26°C (78°F) to 31°C (87°F) in summer and 19°C (66°F) to 24°C (75°F) in Winter.
More information about Coral Bay weather…
Coral Bay – the southern gateway to Ningaloo Marine Park – is located on the west coast of Western Australia, about 155kms (96mi) from Exmouth, and about 1200km (750mi) north of Perth.
The most convenient route to Coral Bay is by air to Learmonth Airport (LEA), located near Exmouth and about 116km (72mi) north of Coral Bay – about 1 hour 10 minutes by car or shuttle bus.
From all international destinations this requires first flying into Perth Airport (PER), followed by a connecting flight to Learmonth Airport (LEA), Exmouth and shuttle bus or taxi to Coral Bay.
More information about how to get to Coral Bay…
Latest update: Coral Bay, WA: 18 April, 2022