Hidden up the North West coast of Australia is one of the best coastlines on Earth. That might sound like a bold statement but you’ll have to trust me on this, or if you get the opportunity, head up there for yourself! Whatever you find interesting whether its marine life, quaint little towns or wild emu sticking their nose in your camper to steal your breakfast… it’s all available up the North West coast.
Now it might sound strange to say that this area is ‘hidden’, obviously I don’t mean this literally, but against it’s rival the Great Barrier Reef in the East, Ningaloo is scarcely visited and rarely spoken about. Making it an almost dream-like idyllic place to visit. I was in two minds about whether to write about Ningaloo in my blog because I thought, in the chance that this post becomes popular, I would never want to be responsible for an influx of people suddenly arriving and messing up the marine life in the area, as has been seen with The Great Barrier Reef! After much thought I figured that if people are curious enough to search the internet and read a post like this, then it’s only fair that they should have the opportunity to read and make a decision on whether they want to explore this area! So well done you!
The photograph above is a drone image of the town of Exmouth, inlcluding Coral Bay and Ningaloo Reef. As you can see Exmouth isn’t the largest place around so if it’s nightlife and shopping you’re after it’s probably not for you (Although Grace’s Tavern is great for quality food and drink if you fancy a night out!).
In terms of accommodation I stayed in the Exmouth Cape Holiday Park which, for anyone looking for budget accommodation with a real outback feel to it, is just about perfect! It even came with its own wild emu who popped their heads through your kitchen window on a morning! So maybe keep the windows closed if you value your toast.
By far the most spectacular thing about the Ningaloo Coast line is the reef itself. With over 200 species of hard coral, 50 soft coral and over 500 species of fish, there’s no way a trip to this area is complete without heading out onto the reef itself. A few people have asked me whether it is worth incurring the cost of a scuba dive on the reef, and if you are really interested in the ocean floor you may take this option, but in all of the areas I swam the water never seemed any deeper than between 5-10 metres, meaning that a sturdy snorkel set was all I needed to see everything in the reef. In some areas the water was only around a foot deep, which presented it’s own issues! (Turns out coral is extremely sharp so watch your knees!)
I’d like to try and pick a highlight of the reef but I can only narrow it down to 2 things! The first has got to be swimming with the sea turtles, because how can anyone not love that?? (Photo below!) And the second has got to be witnessing what can only be described as a swim-off between a group of dolphins and 1 shark. You can imagine our panic when we saw a dolphin being chased by a shark (not looking good, right?) but before long we saw the shark swimming back our way being amusingly followed by not 1 but around 5 different dolphins, clearly the shark decided against his initial lunch plans!
Now everything I’ve mentioned so far can be achieved with little effort and with as little cost as the price of a snorkel, but if you want the opportunity to spot some of the bigger marine animals such as the amazing majestic manta rays, tiger sharks, duogongs, and whale sharks, you’re going to need to get yourself on a boat! I would recommend hitching a tour with Coral Bay Eco Tours (https://www.coralbayecotours.com.au/). The staff were beyond helpful, both in their knowledge and practical skills helping the weaker swimmers. All staff had superior inside knowledge and really knew exactly the places to look for the manta rays and other animals and all in all provided us with an amazing day out on the reef for a fair price. Below are some photographs of my day out with them! Highly recommend!
So overall if you love marine life, swimming, sunshine, kangaroos, having your breakfast with emus and watching dolphin and shark chases, then a trip to Ningaloo Reef is definitely somewhere to get yourself to if you can! If anyone wants anymore tips on anything please feel free to comment or drop me a message 🙂