Coral Bay along the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia is a magical place to visit. Mostly because it's not really commercially developed, and features some of the most incredible beaches, water sports, fishing and snorkelling anywhere in the world. It's fairly remote, but it's not too hard to drive to Coral Bay from Perth. It'll be a trip you won't forget!
What Does Coral Bay Look Like?
Coral Bay is 1200 km north from Perth, Western Australia, but only 150km from Exmouth. The year round population of Coral Bay is only about 200 people, but that swells due to tourists coming to wildlife tourism. I would describe it more as a village. There is a small shopping arcade, surrounded by large caravan parks for tents, campers and trailers and units. There is also RAC Ningaloo Reef Resort, which is the most upscale resort in town. Everything here revolves around the beach and the ocean and wildlife.
Conveniences in Coral Bay
Ok, so it's far, but not so far that there is no modern conveniences up there! Coral Bay shopping might cost more money than in Perth, there is everything you need up here. So if you forget something, you can likely source all the basics here.
- Coral Bay Supermarket
- Post Office
- Petrol Station
- Caravan Parks
- Convenience Store
- Nursing Post
Top Things to Do in Coral Bay
Swim with Whale Sharks
So Whale Sharks aren't really sharks, but a really large, gentle fish that visit Ningaloo every year from March until June. They can grow up to 12 metres long, and if you are here during these months, you have to swim with the Whale Sharks. There are several charter companies that offer whole day boat tours.
They use airplanes to spot where the fish are, and you are allowed to swim with them. You can book online, or at the shopping village in Coral Bay. Snorkel gear is provided. It's an amazing experience.
Snorkeling in Coral Bay
Ningaloo Reef is World Heritage listed, and it's truly a special place. It's a fringing reef, which means you don't need to take an expensive boat ride to see the corals. They are right off the beach. Literally, right off the beach! There are about 500 types of fish, and 300 species of corals living here. You will go snorkelling everyday, so incredible. You can also go scuba diving for a different ocean experience.
Glass Bottom Boat Coral Bay
Another way to see the corals and fish is to go on a glass bottom boat tour. There are usually 2 sailings a day, and they last for about 3 hours long. The glass bottom boat tour also takes you out about 15 minutes from shore, where you can snorkel and see different fish and corals. The colors and variety are unbelievable. This is a whole family event, even if you don't want to swim, you can still see the reef through the glass.
Fishing in Coral Bay
Coral Bay offers some of the best off shore fishing in Australia! We went on a charter fishing boat with Seaforce Coral Bay. They were friendly and helpful over the phone, especially for first timers and all my questions. This is an all day, deep sea fishing charter with a group of people. They provided everything you need to fish, and even cleaned and filleted the fish at the end of the day.
There is no guarantee how many fish you catch, if any at all. However the crew at Seaforce always tries their best to find the best fishing spots. I'd bring a cooler or Eskie to bring your catch home. Plan ahead for a way to freeze your fish. Does your hotel have a freezer? Or will you just eat the fish for dinner all week long, we made grilled snapper. Final tip: take ginger tablets or seasick tablets. You might get seasick and they can help.
The types of fish you can catch off Coral Bay is incredible. Many of them look like they are from a cartoon, bright and colorful. Here are the fish you can catch around Coral Bay.
- Goldband Snapper
- Tomato Cod
- Coral Trout
- Dolphin Fish
Dune Buggy in Coral Bay
If you are more adventurous, you need to book a Sunset Tour on Dune Buggies along the Ningaloo Coast. Meeting at the arcade, you set off on a 2 hour ride. The road getting to the beach is quite bumpy, however it's worth the views and experience. Stopping on the beaches, looking for turtles and sea life, and finally enjoying the sunset over the ocean. Off Road Rush in Coral Bay is located at the shopping arcade. They also provide snorkel tours on their dune buggies to beaches only accessibly with a 4x4 truck.
Sea Life in Coral Bay
There are too many species of fish and wildlife to mention in a post. However, when snorkelling in Coral Bay, you will likely see or swim with these animals.
- Manta Rays or Eagle Rays
- Reef Sharks
- Sea Turtles
- Tropical Fish
- Sting Rays
Activities in Coral Bay
- Hire a jet ski
- 4 wheel driving along coastal tracks
- Paddle Boarding
- Scuba Diving
- Walking trails and beach walks
- Visit the Shark Sanctuary
What to Bring to Coral Bay
Everyone's needs will be different, depending on what you are expecting to do in Coral Bay. Here are my suggestions
- Food - Bring as much food as you can as it's expensive to buy. Non perishables are easy to transport, long life milk, cereal, frozen steak or frozen burgers to grill, and potato chips and sweets...
- Drinks - plenty of bottled water, soft drinks, juices
- Sunsmart - hat, sunscreen, rashie, bathers, beach chairs and umbrellas (or outdoor shade shelter)
- Jumper or sweater - nights can be cool
- Esky or Cooler - for fresh food or to transport back your fish
- Beach Gear - bring your own snorkel and flippers, and any water sports or beach games, water shoes
It's truly an amazing time that everyone in Western Australia needs to experience. So many things to do in Coral Bay, a fun, family friendly holiday.