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Guide to The Coral Coast

Guide to The Coral Coast

Monkey Mia. Photography Dan Paris

Starting just two hours north of Perth, via Indian Ocean Drive, this region offers an easy escape to more than 1000km of coastline.

Tens of thousands of visitors head to the sunny Coral Coast each year, to play on unspoilt beaches and explore rugged and unique national parks. 

The southernmost seaside towns make great day-trip or short-break destinations. Cervantes is probably best known for the astonishing Pinnacles Desert. People also visit to feast on fresh seafood, spot sea lions, view wildflowers, and camp on the beach in Dongara-Port Denison. 

On the North West Coastal Highway, is the region’s hub. Geraldton is
a trendy seaside city with new cafes, shops and art galleries. Beautiful beaches and a warm, windy climate attract water-sport enthusiasts.
Two hours further north, Kalbarri is surrounded by national park, with quad-biking, sandboarding, skydiving and horseriding adventures on offer.

While Monkey Mia’s friendly dolphins are a major drawcard, Shark Bay has so much more to offer. Check out the area’s contrasting landscapes, wildlife and flora to see why it is listed as a World Heritage area.

On the highway north of Shark Bay, Carnarvon enjoys a warm, sunny climate all year round and is a great place to sample local fruit, vegetables and seafood. The entire coast makes for a magical roadtrip, with phenomena like the Carnarvon blowholes, 75km north of the town.

At the top of the reef is another World Heritage area. The Ningaloo Coast spans 300km along pristine coastline, from Red Bluff to Exmouth. While it offers boundless opportunities to see marine life on the world’s largest fringing reef, the area is best known for its giant whale sharks. 

Top 10

  1. Swim with whale sharks (the largest fish in the sea).  
  2. Surf winter swells at Red Bluff and Gnaraloo Bay. Catch summer winds in your sails at Sandy Bay.
  3. Discover Carnarvon’s Indigenous culture at Gwoonwardu Mia, Gascoyne.
  4. Meet Monkey Mia’s famous friendly dolphins. 
  5. Visit attractions along the Shark Bay World Heritage Drive. 
  6. Get a bird’s eye view of the coast with a skydive or microlight flight.
  7. Abseil, hike or canoe in Kalbarri National Park. 
  8. Check out vibrant wildflowers during late winter and spring.
  9.  Dive the South Tomi shipwreck, or the Abrolhos Islands wrecks
  10. Wander the eerie golden spires of the Pinnacles.

When and where... 

WHALES All Coral Coast Jun-Oct.

WHALE SHARKS Coral Bay and Exmouth Mar-Jul.

WILDFLOWERS Shark Bay, and all Coral Coast national parks Jul-Oct.

DOLPHINS Monkey Mia, Shark Bay Year-round.

MANTA RAYS Coral Bay Year-round; Exmouth May-Nov.

SEA LIONS Jurien Bay, Cervantes, Leeman, Geraldton and Abrolhos Islands Year-round.

TURTLES Nesting Summer; hatching in Shark Bay, Gnaraloo Bay, Coral Bay, Exmouth Feb-Mar.

BEST FISHING Cervantes (Hangover Bay and Kangaroo Point), Port Gregory, Steep Point, Zuytdorp Cliffs, Point Quobba, Shark Bay, and Coral Bay. Charters available from Geraldton, Carnarvon, Kalbarri, Coral Bay, Exmouth.

ROCK LOBSTER SEASON Kalbarri, Cervantes, Jurien Bay, Geraldton and the Abrolhos Islands Nov 15-Jun 30.

Whale sharks are among the region’s prime attractions (photography Nick Thake).


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