Coral Bay: Everything You Need To Know

Coral Bay - Things To Do
Everything you need to know about Coral Bay — from the best things to do to the best places to eat and drink.

Coral Bay: Everything You Need To Know

Everything you need to know about Coral Bay — from the best things to do to the best places to eat and drink.
Coral Bay - Things To Do
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For those in the know, Coral Bay is the definition of paradise. For those who don’t, read on. About 1,100 kilometres 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 fishermen 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 even a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Not only is it one of the most stunning underwater wonderlands in existence, but you can also walk straight into the sparkling blue oasis from the sand. There’s no need to board a boat and be taken to the middle of the ocean like the Great Barrier Reef. Here’s your guide to the best things to do, see, eat, and drink in Coral Bay.

Things to do in Coral Bay

Swim with whale sharks

Snorkelling with the whale sharks in Coral Bay
Credit: Coral Bay Encounters

This is one of the most unique things to do in Coral Bay. Whale sharks are — as you could probably 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 is that whale sharks are very docile, slow-moving animals that eat plankton, small shrimp, and fish. So, no, you’re not at risk of being chomped. Only astounded as this gigantic animal glides past you and the other snorkelers.

Fishing

Given the rich Ningaloo Reef is just a stone’s throw from the beach, it’s no surprise that Coral Bay is known for its fishing. Among the species you may reel in are queenfish, salmon, dart, whiting, spangled emperor, and coral trout. However, there are some sanctuaries where you’re not allowed to fish, so watch out for signage wherever you are.

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 four-wheel drive.

Stare at the sea floor

There is simply too much marine life to list 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 and manta rays. But if you really want to get up close and personal with the rays, there are snorkel and dive tours that allow you to swim with these majestic giants.

Scenic flight tours

Scenic flight over Coral Bay
Credit: Blue Media Photography

While you can swim, boat, or kayak among the marine life, you can only see so much. The best way to explore is by air. There’s not much better than taking to the skies on a scenic flight for a birds-eye view of the dreamy coastline below.

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 it’s whales, dugongs or mantas, you’re sure to see a slice of the great ecosystem that is the Ningaloo Reef.

Take a drive

Vlamingh Head Lighthouse, Exmouth
Credit: Tourism Western Australia

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 who don’t have quad bikes on hand, you can book a tour to see more of the region while revving through the dunes.

Kayaking

If you’re not keen on pruning away while floating in the bays of this coastal wonderland? No matter. 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, if you’re keen to get closer to the coral and fish. You’ll see plenty out and about, exploring what’s known as the Ningaloo Kayak Trail. You can navigate it yourself or why not book a tour to guarantee you won’t paddle off in the wrong direction.

Explore more of the coast

Turquoise Bay in Exmouth
Credit: Tourism Western Australia

If you’re down to explore more of the exquisite coastline, Exmouth is just a 90-minute drive north. Here, famous beaches like Turquoise Bay are ready and raring to be discovered.

There’s also a lighthouse right at the top of the peninsula — Vlamingh Head Lighthouse. This is a great spot to visit for 180-degree views of the sea below. It’s also a fabulous place to watch 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:

Bill’s Bar

Bill's Bar
Credit: Bill’s Bar

A staple among locals and blow-ins alike, Bill’s Bar can be a place to unwind with a drink or dress up for dinner. This is the sort of venue where you’ll find sports fans and wedding guests. It’s got something for everyone, from oysters and pints to seafood platters to schooners.

Fin’s Café

Fin’s is more casual than Bill’s, and proud of it. The vibe is relaxed, and it’s the perfect spot for a hot caffeinated brew after a swim. And maybe a cheeky egg benny, if you’re that way inclined. It’s not just a daytime venue though, you can also enjoy a seafood-heavy dinner menu as the sun goes down.

Coral Bay Bakery

When the weather is as beautiful as it is in Coral Bay, you need somewhere to 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 the perfect takeaway lunch pit stop.

Places to stay in Coral Bay

Coral Bay is a popular tourist spot, so when it comes to where to stay, there are plenty of motels, resorts, and camping grounds to choose from.

Ningaloo Reef Resort

Stay at the Ningaloo Reef Resort
Credit: Ningaloo Reef Resort

The Ningaloo Reef Resort is a cluster of apartments and chalets right on the beachfront. But of course, there’s still a pool for the kids! The apartments are self-contained and can house up to eight people each. The onsite restaurant, Shades, also conveniently plates up tasty fare so you can have a bite before hitting the sand and surf.

Coral Bay Bayview

Also referred to as a “holiday village”, Bayview has everything from villas and lodges to houses, cabins, and backpackers. However many of you and whatever your price range, you’re sure to find a spot to suit your budget.

People’s Park

Though a bit simpler than the reef resort, the People’s Park is still just a stone’s throw from the ocean and is packed with self-contained cabins that will provide everything you need. The kitchen and facilities are shared for some rooms, so you’ll be sure to fire up a friendship with other travellers as you cook your catch of the day!

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 globe, this backpackers is of a pretty high quality for shared accommodation. You’ll also find a pool, table tennis, and all the facilities you’ll need for a comfortable stay. Plus, you’ll make friends to bring on your Ningaloo Reef snorkel missons!

Plan your Coral Bay vay-cay via ningaloocoralbay.com.

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Featured image: @pam__sea