The natural wonders of Exmouth will leave you in awe. Located on the Coral Coast of Western Australia and on the doorstep of famous Ningaloo Reef, Exmouth has some of the most incredible beaches and wildlife encounters you can have anywhere. Here are 10 things to see and do, from travel expert, Craig Makepeace.
1. Ningaloo Marine Park
Ningaloo Reef is Australia’s largest and most accessible fringing reef. It stretches for 300 kilometres and is protected by Ningaloo Marine Park. And it’s just a stone’s throw from Exmouth. It’s why most people come to the town of Exmouth, and when they say accessible, you can just walk in off one of the beaches and be snorkelling 10 metres from shore. No 60 minute high speed boat rides like the Great Barrier Reef. If you’re in town to snorkel and need equipment and advice on the best spots, go see the guys at Tackleworld, they’ll have you kitted out in no time.
2. Cape Range National Park
Cape Range National Park’s boundary is just 40 kilometres from town and is a spectacular park of rugged limestone ranges, deep canyons and 50 kilometres of incredible beaches, including our favourites listed below.
Make your first stop the Milyering Visitors Centre, located in the heart of the park and chat with the friendly staff. The centre features interpretive information with videos, models and graphic displays to help make your visit informative. It’s also a handy bathroom break once you’ve driven out from town.
3. Turquoise Bay
Turquoise Bay is not only one of the most picturesque beaches in WA, it’s one of the best snorkelling spots within Cape Range as you’re swimming within metres of Ningaloo Reef. The “Bay” is brilliant for swimming, snorkelling or just a relaxing family beach day. The popular drift snorkel is one of the coolest snorkelling experiences you can have. Park at the “drift” car park for direct access to the beach, then swim out a few metres and let the current carry you north, making sure you exit before the sand bar which is prone to strong currents.
4. Sandy Bay
Paradise greets you when you arrive at Sandy Bay, and if you’re lucky like us you’ll have this beach all to yourself – that’s the beauty about WA beaches, less crowds. Sandy Bay is that postcard perfect beach with endless white sand, crystal clear water and dark blue skies. The shallow waters make it an excellent beach for kids, and when the wind is right apparently it’s a popular place for kite surfers.
The snorkelling here isn’t as good as Turquoise Bay but grab your towel, bring your own shade and supplies for a picnic with prime positioning overlooking the beach – there’s plenty of space.
We don’t dive, preferring to stick to snorkelling, but we have it on good authority from our friend who used to work at Exmouth Dive Centre who says if you get a chance to go diving, do the Navy Pier dive. One of the BEST dives you’ll ever do. And she’s done plenty of them around the world.
6. Jurabi Turtle Centre
Green turtles, loggerhead turtles and hawksbill turtles nest on mainland beaches adjacent to Ningaloo Reef and hatchlings may be sighted during turtle nesting season between November and April. The Jurabi Turtle Centre located 13 kilometres from Exmouth is an interpretive educational facility worth a look. They help manage turtle-visitor interaction and minimise disturbance on nesting marine turtles along the Ningaloo coast.
7. Yardie Creek Gorge
At the end of the sealed road in Cape Range you come to Yardie Creek. Here you can explore the spectacular gorge either on foot via walking trails or on a Yardie Creek boat tour. The one hour return Yardie Gorge Trail along the cliffs offers brilliant views and the chance to spot the local rock wallabies. The only downer can be the pesky flies, depending on time of year. It can also get very HOT here in summer so best to walk early in the morning and bring adequate fluids.
8. Swim with Whale Sharks
Exmouth is probably most famous as the place for swimming with the incredible whale sharks, the world’s biggest fish. These massive but harmless to humans filter feeders can grow up to 18m long. This is a seasonal experience from April to July when they congregate along the Ningaloo Reef and is a bucket list moment for many.
9. Charles Knife Canyon
Driving the Charles Knife Canyon you might feel like you’re in the south west USA, not on the west coast of Australia. The un-sealed road follows the ridges of Cape Range NP and takes you high up into the sky providing breathtaking views down into the multi-coloured gorges and all the way to the coast.
There are several lookout points along the way and keep driving until you can drive no more and loop back around. No need to have a four-wheel drive, our two-wheel drive handled it no worries!
10. Sunset at Vlaming Head Lighthouse
Why not end your day with a spectacular view of Ningaloo Reef and witness a famous Western Australian sunset. Bring some nibbles, a bottle of wine and watch the sun go down below the horizon with the Vlaming Head Lighthouse as your backdrop. You might even be lucky and spot humpback whales migrating south in season.