Western Australia is home to some of the most unique and breathtaking scenery, a coastline that shimmers with white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters and a thriving coral reef that offers world-class snorkelling and diving. The journey from Perth to Exmouth is sure to be the adventure of a lifetime. It’s even better if you have a 4×4 so you can explore some of the more remote beaches and less travelled areas!

Western Australia is a huge state and you can expect to spend many hours on the road, but every stop along this road from Perth to Exmouth will reward you with another view of wild, natural beauty that you just haven’t seen anywhere else. That’s right, this road trip is definitely one of Australia’s greatest hidden gems and a must if you’re visiting the islands of the Anglican west.

Explore the beautiful beaches of Coral Bay

Having recently completed this road trip ourselves, we’ve put together the perfect 10-day itinerary with all the best stops in your car from Perth to Exmouth! At the end of the trip, you can either make the long drive back to Perth, or leave your rental car in Exmouth and take a short flight home.

We have also planned the option to extend the trip to 2 weeks (if you have more time) and return to Perth via Karijini National Park. This will significantly increase your travel time, but I promise you won’t regret it!

Revision of Perth to Exmouth Road Route

  • Lancelin
  • Pinnacle Desert – Nambung National Park.
  • Cervantes – 1 night
  • Hutt Lagoon – Pink Lake.
  • Calbarri – 2 nights
  • Monkey Mia – 2 nights
  • Carnarvon Cactus Garden
  • Coral Bay – 3 nights
  • Charles Knife Canyon Gorge
  • Exmouth – 2 nights
  • Karigini National Park – 4 nights (optional)

Enjoy the beauty of Coral Bay

Summary of the journey from Perth to Exmouth

Day 1 – Leave Perth early in the morning and drive an hour and a half to Lancelin to visit the sand dunes. Continue north for another 1 hour to reach the Pinnacle Desert. The day ends in Cervantes, a 30-minute drive from the Pinnacles.

The first night is Cervantes.

Day 2 – Depart Cervantes in the early morning and begin the 3.5 hour drive to the Hutt Lagoon (Pink Lake). From there, it’s only 30 minutes to Calbarri.

Nights 2 and 3 – Calbarri

Day 3 – Day dedicated to the visit of the Calbarri National Park : Nature Window, Z Bend, Skywalk and more!

Day 4 – Begin the 4-hour drive from Calbarri to Shark Bay. Along the way, don’t forget to stop at Shell Beach for a photo stop.

Nights 4 and 5 – Monkey Mia

Day 5 – Get up early to watch the dolphins eat on Monkey Mia beach. Spend a day exploring some of the attractions at François Peron National Park, and perhaps visit the Ocean Park Aquarium to see sharks.

Day 6 – Leave Monkey Mia early in the morning and begin the long 6 hour drive to Coral Bay. A few short but wonderful stops along the way: Eagle Bluff lookout, Carnarvon’s cactus garden.

Nights 6, 7, 8 – Coral Bay

Day 7 – Spend the day at Coral Bay beach and enjoy snorkeling from the shore. Take a walk in the nearby bay to see the many reef sharks swimming in the shark farm.

Day 8 – Book a day trip to Ningaloo Reef to snorkel with whale sharks/manta rays (and more)!

Day 9 – Leave Coral Bay at any time and drive to Exmouth in an hour and a half, with an easy detour to Charles Knife Canyon Gorge along the way.

Night 9 and 10 – Exmouth

Day 10 – Spend the day exploring some of the beautiful beaches around Exmouth – Turquoise Bay is not to be missed!

Last Day – Fly back to Perth, return to Perth (approximately 2 days), or continue to Karijini National Park.

Navigation around Little Lagoon, Shark Bay.

Total travel time

13 hours from Perth to Exmouth, one way.

Longest distance travelled

6 hours Monkey Mia – Coral Bay

Total covered CMs

1,249 km

Perth to Exmouth Highlights

  • The most breathtaking and unique landscape you will not see anywhere else: huge canyons, unique rock formations, red rocks + pink lake!
  • Crystal clear turquoise water and beautiful white sandy beaches
  • World-class snorkeling and diving at Ningaloo Reef
  • Abundant native fauna: Kangaroos, emus, dolphins, sharks, turtles, manta rays, lots of colorful fish + more!

↓ Watch the video below to learn more about some of the great experiences you’ve had with ↓.

How long will it take?

If you plan to go both ways, from Perth to Exmouth and back, you will need about 12 days in total. The full route takes 10 days, but for the long round trip to Perth, allow 2 extra days to split the trip (this can be done in one go though if you have multiple drivers!).

If you plan to extend this itinerary and continue your trip to Karigini National Park, we recommend scheduling two weeks or more. It takes about 8 hours to drive from Exmouth to Karigini, which is a full day. Karijini is a huge national park with so many attractions, that it is best to take 3 to 4 full days to do all the hikes in and around the gorge.

Housing

You will have many options along the way to choose your place to stay. A very popular way to drive this road is to rent an RV or take a four-wheel drive truck and camp in a tent, which we did. If you don’t want to camp, the good news is that you can do this road trip without camping. At each stop there are plenty of accommodation options for those who prefer extra comfort. See our recommendations on where to stay in each section of this itinerary.

Best time of year to start

The north of Western Australia has a dry desert climate with higher temperatures than in Perth and the southwest. This means you should avoid the most intense summer months, from December to February. The best time to travel from Perth to Exmouth is between April and November. During these spring months (September to November) you can expect blue skies, warm weather and beautiful fields of wild flowers.

We made this trip in September and found it was the ideal time of year. The crowds were minimal, we didn’t see a drop of rain, and there was plenty of wildlife on the coral reefs!

Hutt Lagoon seen from above

Perth – Exmouth Roadtravel tips

  • Share the driving! The roads are straight and the aisles are long and tedious. It’s easy to fall asleep at the wheel. Therefore, switch from one driver to another often and don’t plan on doing everything yourself.
  • Don’t drive at night! If you’ve ever been on the road in Australia, you know that this is the time when kangaroos love to hang out on the hot road. A collision with a kangaroo can cause significant damage to your vehicle. Besides, hitting an innocent animal while driving is not pleasant. The goal is to finish the race before sunrise.
  • Fill it up! WA has huge distances between cities and houses on the roads. In some parts of Washington State (especially in the north) you can drive for hours through the desert without encountering a gas station. So prepare your route in advance and plan a refueling stop. You can also take a jerry can of gas with you, a good idea especially if you plan to do a lot of 4-wheeling.
  • Check your camping equipment! If you plan to camp, check your equipment before you leave. We’ve made this mistake before, and it’s no fun having surprises when you’re camping in a remote location, this time we had accidentally forgotten to fill the gas tank of our camp stove before we left Perth, oops!

Would you like more advice? Read our article on the 30 best Australia travel tips you need to know before you go!

Road Travel Insurance

Make sure you get travel insurance before you embark on this epic adventure, because you can’t travel without it! We usually leave with World Nomads because it’s the ideal insurance for adventure travel such as trekking, diving, car trips, etc.

Click here for more information and prices.

Car rental

Before you travel to Perth, you need to arrange a rental car. To find a rental car in all the countries we go to, we almost always go through Rentalcars.com. It’s an easy to use site, they have a great selection of suppliers with reasonable prices and no booking fees! Please use the form below to enquire about car rental options.

TripPerth – Exmouth Road – Washington State Coral Coast 10 day trip.

Lancelin Sand Dunes

Day

Lancelin

The first stop along the way is Lancelin, an hour and a half’s drive north of Perth. Lancelin is a small seaside resort known for its white sand dunes and beautiful beaches. Sandboarding in the dunes is the most popular activity here, and boards can be rented for about $12 for 2.5 hours. Click here for more information on pre-ordering.

Pinnacle Desert– Nambung National Park

After a few hours in the dunes of Lancelin, you will continue to the Pinnacle Desert in Nambung National Park. This spectacular desert full of limestone formations is truly impressive and will make you feel like you have been transported to another planet. The pinnacles formed about 30,000 years ago, when the sea retreated and exposed shell sediments to the coastal winds.

As you enter the park, you have the choice of making the 4 km loop through the Pinnacles. There are many exit points where you can stop and get out to take photos. Another option is to leave the car in the parking lot and walk around, which takes about an hour.

Before you leave, visit the Pinnacle Desert Discovery Centre, which has wonderful exhibits on the history of the park and the formation of the Pinnacles.

Entrance fee Nambung National Park: $15 per vehicle / free for National Park Pass holders

Pinnacle Desert

Cervantes

Cervantes is a small fishing village 30 minutes from the Pinnacles. It is known for its seafood, especially lobster. If there’s one thing you should do here, it’s eat at the Lobster Shack! Cervantes is quite small and there isn’t much to see or do in the town itself, but it is the perfect place to spend the night and break up a trip.

Where to stay in Cervantes

Pinnacles Edge Resort – We decided to stay here because we didn’t want to pitch a tent for just one night, it was perfect. With comfortable rooms and a restaurant, we couldn’t have asked for more!

RAC Cervantes Holiday Park is a seaside holiday park offering fully equipped campsites and villas. With a large swimming pool, barbecue area, playground and much more, this holiday park is a great choice if you are camping or travelling with the family!

Day 2

Laguna Hutt

The second day begins with a 4-hour drive to Kalbarri, with a stop at Hutt Lagoon aka Rose Lake along the way. On the way to Cervantes you will have the opportunity to explore Lake Thetis to see the ancient rock formations called Trombolites. This is one of five places in Washington where you can see these fascinating living fossils! The lake is only 2km inland from Cervantes, so it’s easy to include in a stopover on the way, and access is free.

Once you get close to Pink Lake, you won’t believe your eyes, the water really is that pink! The Hutt Lagoon is a salt lake that owes its bright colour to the carotenoid alga Dunaliella salina. Depending on the season, the weather or even the time of day, the hue of the lake can change radically. The best time to see Pink Lake is around noon, when the sun is high in the sky and there are no clouds.

On Port Gregory Road is the official viewpoint of Pink Lake, but you can stay where you want. We decided to stop randomly on the road from Cervantes to Calbarri, there was no one else around, so our photos are great!

Make sure your camera’s batteries are charged and ready to use. This Insta-worthy lake is the ideal place to take truly unique photos. If you have a drone, this is the place to use it! You will see that the lake looks even pinker from above.

Bubblegum Lake! Lagoon Hutt

Calbarri

Kalbarri is a small town surrounded by incredible scenery with spectacular coastal cliffs, spectacular inland gorges and beautiful beaches; a real gem in Western Australia. There are many picturesque hiking trails, but if you prefer to relax on the beach, you can do that too! After spending two nights in Calbarri, you will have ample time to visit the national park and explore some of the highlights listed below.

Pot Lane

A beautiful observation platform on the coast with jagged red rocks sloping to the breaking waves. Come here with a few drinks to watch the sunset and enjoy the view. If you arrive during the day, you can park your car at the top of the cliff and take a short walk to the beach for a swim in the sheltered bay. It’s a place not to be missed when you’re in Calbarri.

Red-billed

A short drive from Pot Alley will take you to another epic vantage point with panoramic views of the ocean and coastline. If you’re lucky, it’s also a great place to see humpback whales, which migrate north from May to November. These two viewpoints, as well as several others, are located just 5 minutes by car from downtown Calbarri.

Chinese Beach

A beautiful beach of soft white sand and a popular place for swimming in the calm waters. It is ideally located near downtown Calbarri, making it a great place to relax and sunbathe. Spend a cool day here and enjoy the grill and picnic area nearby.

Rainbow Jungle Bird Park

A colourful bird park with many parrots, cockatoos and other native Australian birds. Stroll through the gardens with water attractions and admire the beautiful birds flying around freely in the aviary. Some birds are kept in cages, but they all seem well cared for and have plenty of room to fly. The park is open every day from 9 am to 4 pm.

Tickets: Adults $16/Children $8

Window to Nature, Calbarri National Park

Lodging in Calbarri

Camping / Holiday park

Murchison House Station – On this trip we wanted to stay closer to the national park and found Murchison House Station the perfect place to do so. If you like hiking in the middle of nature, this is a great place that we cannot recommend enough. Disconnect from reality and enjoy the nightly environment of nature and starry skies.

We pitch our tent on a quiet spot next to the flowing Murchison River. Toilets, showers and a communal kitchen are nearby. Reserve your storage space here.

Kalbarri Tudor Holiday Park – Located in the heart of Kalbarri, this property offers camping or villa/cabin rentals with or without electricity. It is close to all shops, restaurants and the beach and is very well reviewed on Booking.com. Click here to book your villa or click here to book your campsite.

Hotels

Kalbarri Beach Resort – Fully furnished apartments on the Murchison River with a large swimming pool and Jacuzzis. Free parking is available and Calbarri National Park is a 25-minute drive away. Book your apartment here.

Kalbarri Edge Resort is a centrally located hotel with clean and well-maintained rooms, a heated pool, barbecue facilities and a restaurant/bar. There is also free parking on site. Book your stay here.

View other accommodations in Calbarri

Pot Lane Rocks at Sunset

Day three

Calbarri National Park

Today is all about discovering the wonders of Calbarri National Park. There are several must-see sites in the national park, and the good news is that you don’t have to hike or have a 4×4 to reach them. They are easily accessible by paved roads and hiking trails from 10 to 15 minutes. For those interested in hiking, there are some great optional hikes.

Nature’s Window – An iconic landmark in Western Australia, this natural rock arch is a sight to behold. What’s especially impressive is that we couldn’t decide whether to go there at sunrise or sunset, so we were there on the same day! It is 1 km walk from the Fenêtre sur la Nature car park.

Z Bend Lookout – Another epic viewpoint at the top of the gorge, on a section where the river makes a sharp bend. It goes without saying that it is an ideal place to take pictures and also to walk. See below for recommended walking route. To get to Z Bend Lookout, take the 1.2-mile hiking trail from the parking lot. The hike is moderately easy with a few stretches and ascents.

Amazing viewpoint Z Bend.

Kalbarri Skywalk – The newest addition to Kalbarri National Park are two brand new skyscrapers side by side with breathtaking views of the Murchison River and Gorge. There is no additional cost as the entrance fee is covered by the parking fee. The Skywalk is directly accessible from the parking lot and is therefore open to everyone. The Skywalk kiosk serves food and drinks every day from 7:30am to 2pm, so grab a coffee and enjoy the view!

Ross Graham Lookout – Breathtaking views over the Murchison River Gorge, with an easy 700m walk back from the riverside car park. This is the easiest trail in the park for those who want to explore it along the river. If you come here in the spring, during the months of July to September, you have the chance to see beautiful wild flowers in full bloom. This observation platform is accessible to everyone, directly from the parking lot.

Breathtaking views from the Kalbarri Skywalk

Hiking in Calbarri National Park

Trail Z, along the Bend River, is a fairly challenging 2.7-mile hike with steep descents, uneven terrain, and stepped climbs. The hike starts at Z Bend Lookout and takes you to the river. Although it is relatively short, the scenery of this walk will not disappoint you. Highly recommended for those going for more adventurous terrain.

The Loop – This 8km walk starts at Nature’s Window and takes you along the edge of the gorge to the banks of the Murchison River and back to Nature’s Window. The scenery on this hike is breathtaking. Make sure you wear suitable walking shoes as the ground is very rough and steep in places. Another three or four hours or so.

Calbarri National Park entrance: $15 per vehicle / free for National Park Pass holders

Fourth day

Shellfish range

Begin the 4-hour drive to Shark Bay from the Shell Beach stop before reaching your final destination of the day, Monkey Mia. Shell Beach is a unique and spectacular location that can only be seen close to the main road. As the name suggests, the entire beach is made up of tiny white shells that stretch for an amazing 70 km, some of which are 7 to 10 metres high.

The landscape beyond gives way to beautiful, clear water that invites you to swim. The water is very salty, so you can easily swim on your back, but the shells are quite sharp on your feet, so bring water shoes!

There are toilets here, but camping is prohibited. You don’t have to spend much time here, because the beach is right next to the parking lot. It’s a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy the unique scenery.

White shells instead of sand on a shell beach

Monkey Mia

On the other side of the Shark Bay peninsula, opposite the main town of Denham, lies the Monkey Mia Conservation Area. There is something magical about this beautiful region, and after several visits I always look forward to returning.

Monkey Mia’s undisputed strength is its daily interaction with dolphins. Years ago, fishermen in the area began feeding the dolphins, and the dolphins showed up every day, waiting to be fed. Currently, dolphins are still arriving daily, but their feeding is strictly regulated and controlled by marine biologists.

Access to Monkey Mia’s secure grounds is fee based and includes daily access to each visit. You’re standing on the waterfront and you see wild dolphins just a few feet away. This is truly an unforgettable event.

The beach is also beautiful and you can rent kayaks and other water sports equipment and take affordable trips to see red rocks falling into the blue sea or go turtle diving. The resort has an excellent restaurant and beach bar, where you can prepare your own picnic and find your own spot on the beach.

Participation fees : Access to Monkey Mia Reserve is subject to a separate entrance fee, payable to the park. Day passes and long duration passes bought in other parks are not valid. More information about the Monkey Mia Sanctuary.

Resolution during the day (per person)

  • 15,00 per adult
  • a concession of 10.00
  • 5,00 per child from 6 to 15 years old
  • 35,00 per family (2 adults, 2 children)

Authorisation to leave (four weeks)

  • 25,00 per adult
  • a $20 concession
  • 10,00 per child from 6 to 15 years old
  • 60,00 per family (2 adults, 2 children)

Feeding dolphins in Mia’s monkey house

Day 5

Shark Bay

Spend the day exploring the main attractions of Shark Bay. The beautiful region of Shark Bay is as western as Western Australia. It is a huge UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is full of amazing natural attractions and fun things to do that you could easily spend an entire vacation in this place, which many people do!

It’s a long straight line past the main exit from the north-south highway, but once you’re in Denham, all the attractions are pretty close together. You can stay in one place for a day trip, or you can stay in several places for a mix of camping and resort. We stayed at the Monkey Mia Resort and from there we took an easy tour.

The National Park François Peron is only accessible with a 4×4, but all other attractions are accessible with conventional vehicles and there is plenty to do and even a large wilderness campsite accessible without a 4×4.

Below is a detailed overview of each section of Shark Bay.

The magnificent colours of the François-Peron National Park

Denham

Denham is the only town on the Shark Bay peninsula, so it’s the best place to stock up on supplies for a hike or a visit to the Monkey Mia Resort. However, this is still a very small town, so keep in mind that you may not find everything you need here.

Denham is very well located to all the attractions in the area and is a charming town in its own right. The Monkey Mia Resort can be expensive as you have to pay daily or weekly parking fees in addition to your accommodation. A trip to Denham can save money, and it’s an easy day trip to the Monkey Mia area.

You will also need to buy permits here if you want to wild camp on the peninsula. Campgrounds in the national park are managed by the state, but there are a number of two-wheeler campgrounds in the county that are managed by the local municipality.

The Visitor Centre is on the main road and there is a small gallery describing the history and highlights of the Shark Bay area when you purchase your camping permit.

Welcome to Denham.

François-Peron National Park

This national park covers the entire tip of the peninsula behind Denham and Monkey Mia. The whole park is only accessible by 4×4 and has great wild camping spots right on the coast. Here you will find breathtaking views of rich red trails that transition from white sand to turquoise water.

Big Lagoon is an ideal place to launch a kayak or paddle board, there are shelters and fences, as well as camping. It is located a short distance from the park entrance and is suitable for day trips.

At the tip of the peninsula is Cap Peron, a beautiful beach known for its striking contrasts of bright red rocks, white sand and turquoise water. Due to the strong currents, swimming here is unfortunately not recommended. Cape Peron is accessible by a 50km trail in 4×4 from the entrance of the national park.

There are several wilderness camping areas in the park, see below for reservation details. They all have toilets and some have gas grills. Make sure you have plenty of water with you and that you can recover, as there are some areas of very soft sand.

Participation fees : Day Pass: $15 per car, $8 for seniors and $8 for motorcycles. Day passes are available at the park entrance. Annual subscription: $120 per vehicle (all fleets in Washington State).

When the scenery looks more like a painting than reality – Grand Lagoon, Parc national François Peron

Ocean Park Aquarium

This place is one of my favorite places in the north. Admission to the aquarium includes a guided tour by a marine biologist to see and observe marine animals up close.

These are not just large glass aquariums like many others, most things are in large open tanks at waist height, and the guide will feed some animals to bring them to the surface.

The best part is a huge shark tank filled with all kinds and huge fish. You cross the boardwalk and can stand in the middle of the pool and enjoy a 360-degree view. The guide hangs the food and you can see the sharks jump out of the water to catch it.

After visiting the aquarium, there is a large deck overlooking the ocean with refreshments. The food is excellent, and it’s a great place to come for lunch or even for a few drinks.

The aquarium also organizes scuba diving excursions and sea safaris around Shark Bay for a fee. For more information, visit their website.

Entrance fee: 27$ adults 19$ children, includes a visit with a marine biologist and a shark meal.

Housing in Shark Bay

Monkey Mia Resort

It’s a great place to stay and we always stay there for at least two nights when we visit Shark Bay. Dolphin interaction starts at 7:45 (and if you want to find the best spot on the beach, you have to be at the office at 7 to get a token, so driving from other places means starting very early.

But it’s not just about the comfort, it’s also about the cleanliness and the good design of the campsite. The property has been recently renovated and has a shop, beach bar, gourmet restaurant and other amenities.

There is a wide choice of accommodation, from campsites and dormitories with no meals to luxury cabins and simple rooms. If you have the money to go crazy, you won’t regret it if you book one of the oceanfront cabins.

Reserve a room at the Monkey Mia Resort

Observation of feeding sharks at the Ocean Park Aquarium.

Wild camping

There are a number of wilderness camping opportunities in the area. If you have an all-terrain vehicle, you can go to the François-Péron National Park, as indicated above. There are drop toilets and some pitches are equipped with gas barbecues, but otherwise you have to bring everything yourself. To make reservations in the national park, use the online reservation system.

Some places do not take orders and operate on a first-come, first-served basis. However, check the website first as you will be penalized if it is one that requires orders.

There are also large areas around Denham that are accessible by two-wheel drive vehicles. Some of these places have toilets, but others do not. The advantage is that you’re only a short drive from town, so you can make trips to get everything you need and get back to camp.

To reserve these places you must go to the Shark Bay Discovery Centre in Denham or call 08 9948 1590 to purchase a permit. They cost $15 per night and can only be purchased on the day you plan to camp. For more information, visit the official Shark Bay travel website.

Denham

There are trailer parks as well as hotels in Denham. They are sometimes (but not always) cheaper than the Monkey Mia Resort, so shop around in the market and find the option that suits you best. From Denham, you’ll have easy access to all the area’s attractions as well as the town’s restaurants and pubs.

View all accommodations in Denham

Day 6

Eagle Bluff’s Viewpoint

Get ready for a long 6-hour drive to Coral Bay, with beautiful views along the way. Just south of Denham on the highway is Eagle Bluff Lookout. These high cliffs offer a breathtaking view of the coast, and from a wide angle you can see the beautiful flower carpet of the sea below.

If you’re lucky, you can see all sorts of marine life swimming in protected waters, so bring binoculars if you can. Sharks and turtles can often be seen, and there is a jetty and viewing platform where you can go to the shore.

One of the wilderness campsites is not far away. So if you manage to book into town and do some wild camping, this would be a great place to see the sunset. A few years ago we camped at Eagle Bluff and it was such a beautiful place to relax, surrounded by beautiful nature!

Eagle Bluff Lookout can be visited as a final farewell when you leave the Shark Bay area.

Eagle Bluff Lookout, Shark Bay.

Carnarvon Cactus Garden

Carnarvon is a great place to stop for lunch and break up a long drive. One place that has become very famous on Instagram over the years is the Carnarvon Cactus Garden. It’s a nice place to stop, stretch your legs and take some great photos. Admission is free and it is located in the front yard of one of the local orchards. Someone had the brilliant idea to plant a bunch of cacti, making it the perfect place for madness!

Coral Bay

As the name suggests, Coral Bay is an absolute paradise and is home to one of the largest and most beautiful coral gardens in the world, Ningaloo Reef. Just steps away from the coast, you can spend the day relaxing on the pristine white sand beach and snorkeling with turtles, sharks and colorful fish as you please!

Coral Bay, it’s the joy of the water: Swimming, diving, snorkeling and fishing, there is something for everyone! There really is a lot to see and do, we recommend spending 3 nights here so you have 2 full days to really explore this incredible place.

Where to stay in Coral Bay

Camping / Amusement park

Ningaloo Coral Bayview – We camped here during our stay in Coral Bay. It is the largest holiday park in the city and offers all types of motorhomes, mobile homes and caravans, as well as studios or villas to change into. It is very well located, opposite all the shops and less than 5 minutes walk from the beach. Book your campsite or villa/studio here.

People’s Park – Located directly across from Coral Bay beach, this park houses campsites, recreational vehicles and fully furnished apartments, some with ocean views. An ideal pitch, a clean and well maintained campsite, a restaurant on site and direct access to the beach, it couldn’t be better! Check prices and availability here.

Youth Hostel

Ningaloo Coral Bay Backpackers is the only hostel in Coral Bay, so if you’re going hiking, this is your only option. It is a clean hostel with cheap dorms and private rooms with shared bathroom. Each room has a swimming pool, bar, barbecue, sitting area, free parking and air conditioning. Book a room at the Backpackers.

Hotel

Ningaloo Reef Resort – Looking for a little more comfort? Located right on the beach, with comfortable air-conditioned rooms and ocean views, this is a great option for those making this trip by car without camping. There is a restaurant, bar, outdoor pool and free on-site parking. With the good reviews on Booking.com, you can’t go wrong with this place. Check prices and availability here.

Beautiful coastline at Coral Bay

Day 7

Coral Bay Beach Day

It’s a pretty quick trip, so it’s a good time to relax and unwind. Coral Bay beach is beautiful and is definitely worth spending a day lying on the soft, white, pristine sand and swimming in the clearest water you can find! With the reef nearby, you can do some incredible snorkeling so close to shore.

Don’t miss the walk to the shark hatchery when you stroll through Coral Bay. If you follow the coast 20 minutes north of the main beach, you will be rewarded when you reach the adjacent bay. Watch hundreds of reef sharks swim ashore in the shallow water! From September to March, you are most likely to see sharks.

You might be tempted to jump in the water and swim with them, but that’s actually forbidden. It’s a protected area and it’s not good to interact with these sharks, there are even signs warning people not to swim with sharks (there are always those who ignore them!). Admire the sharks from the shore, you’ll be surprised how close they are!

Coral Bay Hark Hatchery Beach promenade

Day 8

Dive or snorkel day

When you visit Coral Bay, one of the must-see activities is a day trip to snorkel or dive. The guides will take you to the best places where you can see an amazing variety of corals, sharks, turtles, exotic fish, manta rays and even whale sharks at certain times of the year!

We booked a full day of surfing/diving with Coral Bay Ecotours and had a great day. There were divers and snorkelers on the same boat (Rick dives, I dive), which was great so we could always do the same tour. The boat leaves from Coral Bay at 8am and you can do 3 dives/arks on Ningaloo Reef, lunch is also included in the price of the tour.

Besides observing the many sea creatures, swimming with the majestic manta rays was the highlight of the visit – a truly unforgettable experience. A tour company uses a reconnaissance plane to fly in search of manta rays to warn the boat captain where to go. This way you are sure to see at least one of them during your excursion. Don’t forget to bring your GoPro!

We also had the chance to see a family of humpback whales on our way back to Coral Bay at the end of the day! The boat was able to get quite close, so we could take photos and film shots without any problems. This day is without a doubt a highlight of our trip from Perth to Exmouth, and we can’t recommend it highly enough!

Book a full day of Marine Eco Safari

Glass bottom boat trip

If freediving is not your thing, but you still want to get close to Ningaloo Reef (without getting wet), then this might be the best option for you! During this one hour excursion, you will cruise the reefs and admire the coral and marine life from the comfort of a glass bottom boat. The guides will explain to you what you will see while walking. This excursion is also conducted by the same company as above, Coral Bay Ecotours.

Book an excursion on a glass bottom boat

Coral Bay

Other entertainment in Coral Bay

Quadrilateral Tours – Explore spectacular beaches and coastal scenery on a quadrilateral tour. It allows you to go off the beaten path and see some truly beautiful places. Choose from a variety of tours, snorkeling tours, sunset tours and more. For more information, visit the official website of Quad Tours.

Fishing – With an abundance of fish, Coral Bay is a great place to fish. If you are interested in fishing, you can find more information about fishing trips to Coral Bay here.

Sightseeing flights – Sometimes the best way to see a place is to see it from above! Flying over the Ningaloo Reef is an extraordinary way to see whales, sharks and much more. The coastline is also beautiful when seen from above. Visit this page for more information.

Dive training – Have you always wanted to dive? There is no better place than Ningaloo Reef. Get your PADI certification amidst the incredible diversity of marine life. For more information on booking a dive course at Ningaloo Reefs, click here.

Day 9

Charles Canyon Gorge Knife

It’s an hour and a half drive from Coral Bay to Exmouth, and a stop at Charles Knife Canyon Gorge is well worth the drive. The gorge is located in the beautiful Cape Range National Park and offers spectacular views with the Exmouth Gulf as a backdrop.

The entrance to the gorge is close to the main road you follow to Exmouth, so it is easy to find. The 11 km winding road leading to the gorge is paved at the beginning and turns to gravel on the way up.

This road does not require four-wheel drive, but it is quite steep in places. There are many places where you can stop and get out of the car to enjoy the view. If you have a drone, this is the perfect place to fly it.

Once you’re done in the gorge, continue to Exmouth to stock up on food and provisions before heading to the campsite of your choice.

Charles Knife Canyon Gorge

Housing near Exmouth

Wild camping

If you want to camp in the wilderness, this is definitely the place to do it. There are many beach campsites along the Ningaloo coast on the other side of the Exmouth Peninsula. Imagine camping on a secluded beach with crystal clear water, just steps away from your tent!

Some of these campsites are quite remote and only accessible by 4×4. A full list of campsites and a map showing the location of each can be found on the WA Parks website.

I should also mention that during the busy months of April through October, these campgrounds are often booked up long in advance. Some of them are particularly interesting to check out and book: Winderbandy, North Lefroy, Jaynes Bay, Point Billy, South Lefroy. They are all located at the Ningaloo station and require 4×4 access. Camping in these areas costs $8.00 per night, and it is best to make reservations online in advance.

Recreation parks

RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park – This large holiday park is situated close to the beach, 1km south of Exmouth, and offers a wide choice of accommodation. From camping to bed and breakfast, this holiday park has something for everyone. There are 3 swimming pools, a mini market, 2 kitchens, a barbecue area and much more. Find out more and book your stay at the Exmouth RAC.

Yardie Homestead – Located on the other side of the Exmouth Peninsula, this is a great place to relax if you plan to spend time in Turquoise Bay or at one of the beautiful beaches along the Ningaloo Coast. We stayed here for a couple of nights and the park was clean, there were toilets and showers, a communal kitchen and a restaurant.

Yardie Homestead welcomes all types of RVs, motorized or non-motorized. There are also cabins/chalets for those who don’t want to camp. Reserve a table at the Yardy Manor.

Diving with turtles underwater

Hotels

Ningaloo Lodge Exmouth – Beautiful accommodation in the heart of Exmouth with a beautiful pool surrounded by palm trees. A barbecue area and a shared kitchen are at guests’ disposal. Snorkeling equipment is free and parking is free on site. Prices and availability are available here.

Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort – Looking for luxury? This beautiful resort offers ocean views from your private balcony. Located just a 5-minute drive from Exmouth, it has an infinity pool, restaurant and bar, gym and tastefully decorated rooms. Prices and availability are available here.

Salis Ningaloo Reef – Nestled in the white dunes of Cape Range National Park, this is a unique and amazing place to stay. A stone’s throw from the water are luxury tents with beds and private bathrooms. An on-site chef prepares delicious dishes using local ingredients. So you can dine while enjoying the sea view and watching the sunset.

If you want to camp on the beach with all the amenities of a hotel, this is an excellent choice! A stay at Le Salis will be an unforgettable experience. Prices and availability are available here.

More houses close to Exmouth

Turquoise Bay

Day 10

Exmouth

On the last day of your trip, spend the day exploring the Exmouth area. There are many activities here, but I highly recommend going to Turquoise Bay to relax on the beach or booking a trip to swim with the whale sharks.

Whale Shark Excursions – Spend the day on a catamaran and swim with the biggest fish in the ocean! Whale sharks are found in Exmouth six months of the year. The best time of year to see them is March-August. On a whale shark tour day, visit the best snorkeling spots around Ningaloo Reef and then swim with the majestic whale sharks.

The excursion includes pick up and drop off at the hotel, lunch and tea in the morning and snorkeling equipment. These tours are very popular during peak season, so it’s always best to book in advance so you don’t miss out. Check prices and availability of tours here.

Turquoise Bay – We have both seen many beaches over the years, but this one is the most spectacular we have ever seen. Imagine the softest white sand and the clearest turquoise water! Add to that a thriving reef full of turtles and colorful fish just a few feet from shore and you have a pretty amazing place to spend the day.

Turquoise Bay is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. If you want to snorkel, you should take into account that there is a current here. Snorkeling is definitely worth it here, as there are few places in the world with such a good reef so close to the beach!

Paradise, Turquoise Bay

Sunset Humpback Whale Watching Tour – If you decide to spend the day at the beach, a good way to end the day is a sunset whale watching tour. Watch humpback whales play in the ocean as the sun sinks behind the horizon, while enjoying a complimentary glass of beer or wine. You can also bring your own alcohol on board. You can read more about this visit here.

Fleminghead Lighthouse – Just 11 km north of Exmouth stands a historic lighthouse that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and Ningaloo Reef. You can take a tour of the lighthouse to learn more about its history. It’s a great place to watch the sunset.

Ningaloo Centre Aquarium – An excellent introduction to the Exmouth area is a visit to the Ningaloo Aquarium. Interactive displays and large aquariums present the history of the area and provide information on the marine life of Ningaloo Reef. Tickets cost $19 for adults, $14 for children.

Look at the colour of the water!

Day 11 – Return to Perth

flight

Of course, the fastest and most convenient way to return to Perth is to return the rental car and take the plane. Qantas operates 12 flights per week between Perth and Learmont Ningaloo Airport. Remember that you also have the option of arriving in Exmouth first, renting a car at Leermont airport and driving in the opposite direction. In any case, car rental companies charge a transfer fee if you want to drive one way and fly the other.

Airfares from Exmouth to Perth start at around $150, depending on the time of year you want to fly. For more information on booking your flight ticket, click here.

Pipe

If you have not rented a car, you will have to take the long way back along the coast. I recommend spreading the trip over two days. A full day (8 hours) driving from Exmouth to Calbarry, staying overnight in Calbarry and continuing the next day (6 hours) to Perth. It’s definitely easier with multiple drivers, so you can change cars every few hours!

Proceed to Carigini

It takes 8 hours to drive from Exmouth to Karigini National Park, which is a long day drive. I recommend adding 4-5 more nights to this itinerary if you hope to go to Karigini. Spend 2 nights at the Eco Retreat Campground and then another 2 nights on the other side of the park at the Dales Campground. This way you will have easier access to the nearest gorges of each camp. There is so much to see and do in this national park that it is well worth the long drive!

Swim with the fishes in the Turquoise Bay

Karijini National Park

Karijini National Park appears on the horizon as a series of large hills randomly arranged in a flat, featureless desert that stretches for miles in all directions. You have no idea of the fairytale gorges and sacred springs that await you until you are right in front of them.

The national park has two entrances, one in the east and one in the west. They coincide with two camping areas, located on the west side of the Dales camping accommodations and on the east side of the Karijini Eco-Retirement accommodations and campground.

There are so many incredible sights in Carigini, and it’s hard to fit them all in when you spend an entire week in the park. It can be very hot in this area, and although some of the hikes only take a few hours, it can really wear you out. You can probably do 2 walks a day if you’re fit, but you don’t want to do it every day!

Walking in the Dales Gorge

Here we list the canyons we recommend and some other options if you have a little more time. We spent 3 nights in the park, which in retrospect was too little. Each campsite is close to a group of attractions, and we decided it was best to stop at each one so we didn’t have to drive for hours on bumpy dirt roads to get back at the end of the day.

Participation fees : Day Pass: $15 per car, $8 for seniors and $8 for motorcycles. Day passes are available at the park entrance. Annual subscription: $120 per vehicle (all fleets in Washington State).

I will first describe each campground and then the canyons nearby.

Carigini ecological shelter

As the name suggests, it is an ecological subdivision and also the only one in the park. It offers cottages, eco-friendly tents and regular camping, in addition to facilities such as a restaurant and a bar.

Eco tents are really great and are a great experience. If you’ve been camping in the wilderness for a while and need a break, this is a great place to get away from it all. But the campsite is also well equipped, with barbecues, flushing toilets and hot showers.

This is the best place as a base to explore the surrounding canyons, and also if you plan to climb Mount Bruce, which is the best place to start early and is closer to this place than Camp Dales.

Sunset at Carigini’s eco guesthouse

Hancock Canyon

About 10-15 minutes by car from the eco-resort, on a bumpy dirt road, you will find a parking lot for the Hancock and Wino Gorge.

Of the many attractions in this park, Hancock Gorge is probably the most important. The fantastic geology of this narrow canyon will impress you at every turn. The walls are almost like works of art and the colors and contours are so pleasing to the eye.

Besides the natural beauty, hiking is also a lot of fun. A fairly difficult crossing requires clinging to rock walls above the water, wading through streams and sometimes standing waist-deep in water. On this trip, it is best to bring your swimming gear, and if you have electronic devices with you, keep them in a waterproof bag.

At the end of the hike, you’ll find the famous Spider Trail, whose extremely narrow walls allow you to climb up to the last pool. Your reward is a dip in the refreshing emerald waters of Kermit Basin, with a gorge above you.

Hancock Keel, don’t forget to bring waterproof boots!

Hancock Canyon Exploration

Vine throat

The Weano Gorge hike, located in the same area as Hancock Gorge, is a long and easy hike at the bottom of the gorge. This hike is similar to the Dales Gorge hike we had already done, so we decided not to do it and instead do the more difficult Rim Pool hike, which is a tributary at one end of the Weano Gorge.

If you want to do this and pass Weano, make sure you start at the farthest entrance to the parking lot. There is also a road that leads to an observation platform with breathtaking views of the canyons and another small parking lot.

You can park your car near the observation platform or on the other side of the original parking lot. Access to the gorge is on this short stretch of road.

Handrail Pool – The path to the handrail pool is short but has some difficult sections. The final section of the hike is divided into title and involves using the trail to make the steep descent to the large basin at the end.

There is actually a second pool and a very nice winding ravine that connects it to this pool. However, it can only be reached by swimming in a narrow channel in super-cold water! I recommend being brave, because the prospect is worth the commitment.

Before descending to Hancock Canyon

Camp Dales

It is a government-run tent city and the only area where you can camp next to the environmental center. This huge campground has plenty of sites, but it’s always busy, so try to make reservations in advance. There are drip toilets on site and a short drive away you can get fresh water.

The Dales is located on the east side of the park and borders the Dales Gorge. It is divided into several sections or loops. We stayed in the Euro Loop and had a hiking trail that led directly from our campsite to the top of the gorge, a 5 minute walk.

The ground is coarse gravel, so this is not the best option for tents, but the sites are surrounded by short metal poles, so if you are camping, bring enough rope to reach the poles. There is no electricity or water at the campsite, so you should be able to bring/storage everything you need for your stay.

Happy Hour from Camp on Land

Dales Gorge

The immense Dales Gorge is the most accessible of the park, just a stone’s throw from the campsite. There is a walk along the upper part of the gorge with spectacular views, and another along the lower part with equally amazing views.

But the most beautiful are the pools and waterfalls hidden in the canyon. The first thing you’ll encounter are the Falls of Fortescue. This perfect swimming spot is surrounded by a natural amphitheater where you can sit and warm up after a refreshing swim. In fact, soaking is the only way to get a good view of the waterfall, and it’s in a rather uncomfortable place.

Near the top of this pool there is a path leading to the Fern Pool. This beautiful tree-lined pool is another great place to swim. Behind the waterfall is a cool cave where you can climb and sit under the falling water.

At the other end of the gorge path is a circular pool. It was closed when we were there, but it still offers great views from the observation deck.

Dales Gorge is also the only one where flying drones is allowed. So if you want to see the big picture, do it here.

Hiking and swimming in the gorge

Other gorges of Karijini National Park

Kalamina Gorge, Joffre Gorge/Falls and Knox Gorge are all along the road between Dales Camp and the Eco Retreat. They all offer great walks and views, and if you have the time, they may be less crowded than the more popular places near the campsites.

Hamersley Gorge

This gorge is on the edge of the park and is a very dusty and bumpy 50 km (in both directions) circular road that is not developed. If you make the effort, you will be rewarded with the most beautiful pool in the park and probably a much smaller crowd.

Mt. Bruce

It is the second highest mountain in the state of Western Australia and can be reached directly from the main road through the park. The climb to the top is 9 km long and takes 4 hours, but like most climbs in the park it can be done in much less time. You have to start early, because it can be dangerous to get up in the heat.

There is also a short and medium trail that leads to panoramic viewpoints if you don’t want to do the whole climb. The short trail overlooks a minefield that forms the typical Pilbara landscape.

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frequently asked questions

Is it worth it to drive from Perth to Exmouth?

The journey from Perth to Exmouth is one of the most scenic in Australia, especially if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle. Here we offer you a seven-day adventure, with travel times between cities in parentheses. The secrets of Western Australia are slowly spreading, so there’s never been a better time to book a WA holiday.

How long does it take to travel from Perth to Exmouth?

The journey from Perth to Exmouth takes about 12-13 hours, so we decided to shorten it by making a few stops along the way.

What’s there to see between Perth and Exmouth?

Route Perth – Exmouth 10 days ride! From Perth to the Coral Coast.

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