Coral Bay is a water lover’s paradise located about 1200km north of Perth
. This small friendly tourist town sits on the shores of the Ningaloo Marine Park and is the perfect place for both relaxation and adventure. The town consists of one bitumen road with a few shops and a peaceful holiday atmosphere.
The Ningaloo Reef is the main attraction, being so close to the shore and home to all sorts of sea creatures. See the marine life and coral reef up close by snorkeling, scuba diving or boarding a glass bottom boat. If you’re lucky you might even see dugongs, manta rays, turtles, dolphins or whales.
The Whale Sharks come in to feed around Coral Bay between May and June. If you visit during this time you will have the opportunity to tour with the locals and swim with these enormous fish up to 8m long, enjoying the ultimate Ningaloo experience.
Fish feeding is held at 3.30pm daily at Bills Bay, the main beach across from the caravan parks. Spangled Emperor appear everywhere and swim around your feet waiting for the tour guide to feed them. The fish feeding frenzy is quite a sight.
Bills Bay is “the beach” to enjoy safe swimming, snorkeling, sunbaking and taking in the stunning surroundings. The crystal clear water gradually turns from turquoise blue to azure blue. The bay really is breathtaking. Coral viewing tours leave from here and are well worth experiencing. Dogs are prohibited on this beach as is fishing being in a sanctuary zone.
Sanctuary Zones prohibit both recreational and commercial fishing and ultimately protect all marine life. There are many of these zones along the coast between Coral Bay and Exmouth. All areas are well sign posted in regard to these regulations so take note or pick up an informative brochure in town.
Pet owners note that there is a dog friendly beach past Maud's Landing and the Airstrip. Just drive over the landing and you'll reach the coast. 4WD beach access is closed between October and April to protect nesting turtles, however you can park a few metres from the beach anyway. It's a great swimming beach for families and pet owners.
Maud’s Sanctuary is located at the southern end of Coral Bay and is another scenic delight. The sea green water is striking in colour and the views from above are superb. An excellent boat ramp is here and there is plenty of rock groyne to fish from. The four-wheel drive track to the left leads down to the beautiful protected beach with calm, shallow water perfect for swimming. Dogs are permitted here.
If you continue along the track through the dunes, you'll find plenty more 4wd beach access and fishing ground. We saw a bit of action in the water, catching Blueline Emperor, Spangled Emperor and Humphead Maori Wrasse (which is a protected species so it was catch and release). Great fun catching though.
Fishing is a very popular activity around Coral Bay. Whether you’re fishing from the beach, rock groyne or out on a boat you’re bound to catch something here. Snapper, Coral Trout, Red Emperor, Spanish Mackerel, Spangled Emperor and Sailfish are common catches in this area.
There are plenty of good fishing spots north of town if you have a four-wheel drive. Take the coastal access road 10km from town and find yourself the perfect spot. We suggest calling in to the CALM office (the wooden shack on the main street) for a map and current local knowledge.
If you plan on taking the coastal access road (approx 54km) between Coral Bay and Yardie Creek you should be experienced in four-wheel driving. The main track is corrugated and rocky and beach access tracks are sandy and boggy. It is advisable to let your tyres down for a smoother ride and in the best interest of your vehicle. We suggest about 30 psi (pounds per square inch) to begin with and down to about 16 psi when you hit the soft sand. In the case of bogging don’t accelerate any further, simply let your tyres down to 16 psi as suggested and if at that pressure already clear any sand that may be touching the vehicle’s underbody, diff and wheels. In desperate circumstances we suggest reducing pressure to 10 psi at the most but no further. At first opportunity on a hard surface resume tyre pressure according to track or surface conditions. When tackling sandy four-wheel drive tracks such as this one it is a good idea to carry an air compressor, shovel, stretch strap, and tyre pressure gauge.
There are many subsidiary tracks leading to the beach from the coastal access road and some allow bush camping. Bruboodjoo Camp is located about 16km in from the start of the track and is a fishing camp with nice beaches, some shade, but no facilities. We hooked up a few Giant Trevally here. Camping fees are $15 per vehicle per day and day use fees also apply. Chemical toilets are required to camp here.
Between Ningaloo Station and Yardie Creek is some remarkable coastline, however, unfortunately camping is no longer permitted here. The sparkling blue green bays are protected, the water is calm and the snorkelling is magnificent if you get out amongst the reef. We spent days on end soaking up the sun and the view, participating in many water activities and eating fish most nights. The offshore fishing is fantastic if you have your own boat or access to one. Fish caught by our happy campers include Spanish Mackerel, Spangled Emperor, Golden Snapper, Golden Trevally, Flat Head and Squid. Note the sand is very soft and suitable for four-wheel drives only. Dogs are permitted. It's a pity camping is now prohibited but you could certainly make the most of this stunning coastline on a day trip and camp in the designated areas at Cardabia and Ningaloo Stations.
At the end of the coastal access track is Yardie Creek which is part of Cape Range National Park. The creek bed opens to the ocean and water levels fluctuate on a daily and seasonal basis. Only experienced four-wheel drivers should attempt to cross the creek and only during low tides. The creek bed can become extremely boggy so caution should be taken and conditions investigated before attempting to cross. The crossing was dry during our visit so it was done with ease.
The Coral Coast area is a magnificent holiday destination offering so much in the way of scenery, beaches, water sports, fishing, four-wheel driving and camping. It’s the outdoor lover’s paradise on Earth.
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Destinations in Western Australia
Cape Le Grand
Cape Range National Park
Eighty Mile Beach
Fitzgerald River National Park
Gibb River Road
Kalbarri National Park
Kennedy Range National Park
Porongurup National Park
Port Denison Dongara
Torndirrup National Park
Wellington National Park
William Bay National Park
Return from Coral Bay to Western Australia