For those who know, Coral Bay is the definition of paradise. For those who don’t perhaps you should read on.
About 1,100km from Perth sits a small town hugging one of the most beautiful and diverse stretches of coast in the country.
The wonder of the place is in the name; Coral Bay is a destination for the mermaids among us, the fisherman and boaters, the swimmers and sunbathers.
While the world knows about the Great Barrier Reef, the Ningaloo Reef is one of Australia’s better kept secrets. It’s literally a UNESCO world heritage site – who knew?
Not only is it one of the most stunning underwater wonderlands in existence, you can also just walk off the beach in Coral Bay onto it rather than needing to board a boat and be taken to the middle of the ocean like the Great Barrier Reef.
It’s no surprise there is so much to see and do in Coral Bay.
Things to do in Coral Bay
Swim with whale sharks
This is one of the most unique things to do in Coral Bay. Whale sharks are – as you’d guess – really big sharks. Huge. The biggest actually.
And in Coral Bay, you can swim with them without a cage, quite unlike the experience of swimming with any other shark.
The reason for this of course is that the whale shark is a very docile, slow moving animal that eats plankton and small shrimp and fish.
So, no, you’re not at risk of being eaten. Only astounded as this gargantuan glides past you and the other snorkelers.
Given the rich Ningaloo Reef, just a stone’s throw from the beach, it’s no surprise that Coral Bay is known for its fishing spots.
Among the species you may reel in are Queenfish, Salmon, Dart, Whiting, Spangled Emperor and Coral Trout.
There are some sanctuaries where you’re not allowed to fish, so watch out for signage wherever you go.
You can fish right off the beach at Warroora Station – a huge stretch of coast less than an hour from the centre of Coral Bay with different spots for fishing and surfing.
These include Lagoon, Stevens, Maggies and Sandy Point.
Closer by, Five Fingers Bay is a great spot accessible by 4WD.
Stare at the sea floor
There is simply too much marine life to list all individually. Rather than go out and snorkel or dive to see just one species, hop on a glass bottom boat and see all kinds of animals from Dugongs to turtles to manta rays.
But if you really want to get up close and personal with the rays, there are snorkel and diving tours that specialize in getting you to swim with these majestic giants.
Take a drive
WA coastline is particularly great to enjoy on four wheels because it just stretches on and on… and on.
Heading inland, there are some rolling hills and bumpy tracks to explore east of Coral Bay.
For those of us who don’t just have quad bikes on hand, there are tours you can book that give you the chance to see more of the region while revving through the dunes.
Not keen on pruning away while floating in the bays of this coastal wonderland?
Kayaking is another way to experience the Ningaloo Reef without getting (as) wet.
There are even moorings for you to tie off on and dive in to get up closer to the coral and fish. They’re spotted all-around what’s called the Ningaloo Kayak Trail, which you can try follow yourself or else book a tour and guarantee you won’t paddle off in the wrong direction.
Scenic flight tours
While you can have the chance to swim among marine life if you take a boat or kayak onto Ningaloo, you can only see so much.
Take a literal birds eye view from above and book yourself a flight instead.
There are plenty of scenic flight tours offered in Coral Bay and all specialise in getting you a glimpse of marine life from above.
Whether its whales, dugongs or mantas, you’re sure to see a slice of the great ecosystem that is the Ningaloo Reef.
Explore more of the coast
Exmouth is just 90 minutes away and famous beaches like Turquoise Bay are just waiting to be explored.
There’s also a lighthouse right at the top of the peninsula – Vlamingh Head Lighthouse. This is a great spot to visit and enjoy the 180 degree views of the sea. It’s especially good place to see whales passing through on their migration between August and October.
Places to eat in Coral Bay
In a town with a population of just a couple hundred, there are a few key places you will find yourself eating and drinking throughout your stay:
A staple among locals and tourists, Bill’s Bar can be a place to unwind with a drink or dress up for dinner.
This is the kind of venue you’ll see sports fans and wedding guests, it’s got a bit of something for everyone, from oysters to pints, seafood platters to schooners.
Fin’s is a more casual venue than Bill’s, and proud of it.
It’s got a chill vibe and is perfect for a hot coffee after a swim and maybe a cheeky eggs bennie.
It’s not just a daytime venue though, you can definitely eat here for dinner and enjoy a seafood-heavy menu as the sun goes down.
Coral Bay Bakery
When the weather is as beautiful as it is in Coral Bay, you need somewhere where you can grab a hearty pie or sweet cake to go.
Enter the Coral Bay Bakery.
Another staple of the coastal town, this quaint bakery offers all you’d expect, from croissants to sausage rolls, and is perfect for a lunch to go.
Places to stay in Coral Bay
As you’d expect, Coral Bay is a popular tourist spot. As such, there’s heaps of motels and resorts and camping grounds to choose from.
Ningaloo Reef Resort
This cluster of apartments and chalets is right on the beachfront, but of course, it still has a pool for the kids.
The apartments are self-contained, and can house up to eight people each.
There is also an onsite restaurant – Shades – which has good quality cuisine and makes it even easier to have a bite of breakfast before hitting the sand and surf.
Website: Ningaloo Reef Resort
Coral Bay Bayview
Also referred to as a “holiday village”, Bayview has everything from villas, lodges, houses, cabins and backpackers.
However many of you and whatever your price range, you’re sure to find a spot to rest your head for the night that suits you.
Website: Coral Bay Bayview
Though a bit simpler than the reef resort, the People’s Park is still just a stone’s throw from the ocean and is full of self-contained cabins that will provide everything you need.
For some rooms, the kitchen and other facilities are shared, so you’ll be sure to meet other travellers as you cook up your catch of the day (good luck).
Website: People’s Park
Ningaloo Coral Bay Backpackers
If sharing just a kitchen area isn’t enough, go full throttle and enjoy commune living at the backpackers.
Given the popularity of Coral Bay for tourists from across the world, this backpackers is of a pretty high quality for shared accommodation and offers a pool, table tennis and all the facilities you’ll need.
Plus, you’ll make the friends you need to always make sure you’ve got enough buddies for your snorkel missions onto the Ningaloo Reef.
Website: Ningaloo Coral Bay Backpackers
Plan your Coral Bay vay-cay via ningaloocoralbay.com.
Feature image: Instagram @pam__sea
Related Australia’s Coral Coast reads:
- An Oasis In Exmouth: 7 Ways RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park Is Raising The Bar
- Escape Perth Winter & Migrate To Where It’s Warmer
- Coral Colours: Where To Instagram Your Way Along The Coral Coast Highway
More WA travel inspiration on SoPerth.com.au.