We arrived in Exmouth and spent 2 nights at the Ningaloo Caravan & Holiday Resort. Great park right on the main road and central to everything and right opposite the information centre. The in-house restaurant was great too, we ate dinner there on our last night and loved our meals. Great atmosphere sitting on the deck covered in fairy lights and overlooking the pool.Our main reason for visiting Exmouth was so that we could snorkel the World Heritage Listed Ningaloo Reef. The Ningaloo Reef, an intricate reef system stretching over 260km, is one of the world’s largest fringing reefs. Ningaloo Reef is a fringing reef, rather than a barrier reef, meaning that it is closer to the shore with shallow water separating the land and reef.We spent a day in Exmouth out snorkelling the pristine reef and we weren’t disappointed, another tick off the bucket list. We drove out to the Cape Range National Park which is full of turnoffs to various beaches and campgrounds. We went snorkelling at Lakeside, which had a self guided snorkel area.We literally walked in off the beach and we were there swimming above the coral and with the most colourful fish, stingrays, reef sharks, turtles …… to have these creatures swimming past or gliding under you was really a sight to see.Personally I enjoyed this a lot more than our snorkelling trip to the Great Barrier Reef.Whilst in Exmouth, we also drove to Shothole Canyon, this 4WD track takes you right through the base of the canyon. It’s not the smoothest of rides as you drive in and out of rivers/creek beds (all dry), but the scenery is quite nice.
It’s also worth taking a drive out to the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse. This gives a great view over the Ningaloo Reef.
We do love a good shipwreck story so we headed out to see the SS Mildura Shipwreck – During a cyclone in 1907, the SS Mildura (a cattle ship) came to grief on the reef. The crew were rescued, but they let all the cattle free. Unfortunately most of them drowned trying to make it to shore. The hull of the ship was later used for bombing practice in WW2. The wreck can still be seen quite clearly at low tide.
Another unique thing about Exmouth is their resident emus! They wander the park and the streets and it’s not unusual to see them wandering around the town. The morning we left we saw traffic waiting for one to cross the main road outside the caravan park!
Next up we were headed to Coral Bay for 2 nights. Coral Bay is a tiny little beach town on the coast of WA and it’s absolutely beautiful. Like Exmouth, the Ningaloo Reef runs through the waters of Coral Bay aswell, but it’s even closer to the waters edge here.
The coral here isn’t as colourful as other areas we’ve seen (eg Fiji) as this is hard coral and this normally takes on the more earthy tones, rather than the typical colourful coral you tend to see in photographs, which are generally from your soft corals.
George went in for a snorkel after our cruise, but it was a little cool for Shelly today (ok, it was 25 degrees, which may sound great to our poor rain soaked Sydney-siders back at home, but what can we do!).After lunch we went for another drive up along the dunes and found our own little piece of beach all to ourselves.Coral Bay is a little slice of paradise and we can see why it’s so popular as a holiday destination for WA locals.
A visit to the Ningaloo Coast should be on everyone’s bucket list, it really is an amazingly beautiful part of the country.