Kaya/Hello, it’s Wendy here! If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I have a soft spot for the beaches of Western Australia. Having lived in this magnificent state since 2000, I’ve been fortunate enough to explore some of its most scenic spots. Today, I’m thrilled to talk about one of my absolute favourite destinations in WA – Coral Bay.
I’ve been there a handful of times, and each visit feels like a beautiful dream I never want to wake up from. Tucked away in the northwestern region of the state, this charming coastal haven is a true embodiment of paradise – sparkling turquoise waters, colourful coral reefs, and a variety of marine life.
In this post, I’m excited to share with you some of my favourite activities to do in Coral Bay.
Table of Contents
My Favourite 17 Things To Do in Coral Bay WA
The white sand beaches and the world’s largest fringing reef (604,500 hectares) are the biggest drawcards for people visiting Coral Bay. Whether you snorkel from the beach or dive the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef, you are in for a treat. The crystal turquoise water allows you to see marine life clearly.
1. Swim with Whale Sharks – March to June
If you time your trip to Coral Bay right, you have the chance to swim with the biggest fish in the ocean, the whale shark. Coral Bay Eco Tours allow you to swim with these gentle filter-feeding giants from March to June every year.
This is a bucket-list item for many, including us. It was an incredible experience that we will never forget.
I was a bit scared at first, but soon the adrenalin kicked in, and it was one of my best wildlife experiences in the world. The thrill of being so close to these massive animals in their natural environment was incredible.
The success rate of this tour is high due to their use of a dedicated spotter plane, which guides the boats to where the whale sharks are. The crew give an informative talk and guidelines for swimming with the whale sharks, so you know exactly what to do.
A buffet lunch is served once back inside the reef while the crew searches for other marine life. Depending on the month, you may be lucky enough to see humpback whales, dolphins, turtles, reef sharks, tiger sharks, and manta rays.
This tour was definitely worth spending money on.
2. Whale Watching Tour & Interaction – June to October
Whale Watching Swim and Tours depart from Coral Bay from June to October to view and possibly swim with the humpback whales.
On this tour, we travelled outside the reef to find the humpback whales with the help of the spotter plane. When the skipper thought the whales were suitable, we attempted a swim with them. We were divided into two groups of seven to allow the most time in the water with these majestic creatures.
The crew onboard were highly trained and experienced, including divemasters and instructors that knew Ningaloo Reef well. Lunch, snacks, tea and coffee, and a glass of sparkling wine were included.
3. Marine Eco Safari – Swim with Manta Rays
This Marine Eco Safari provides the opportunity to get close to various marine life that calls Ningaloo Reef home. We snorkelled with manta rays, sea turtles, reef sharks, and a tiger shark!
The first snorkel was in Bills Bay, where various fish, reef sharks, and beautiful coral gardens exist. After some morning tea, we headed to the turtle sanctuary to see turtles feeding and coming up for air. A spotter plane found some manta rays to swim with in Batemans Bay.
This was my daughters favourite experience in Coral Bay.
4. Turtle Encounter Tour
Who doesn’t love turtles? Well, this 3-hour tour showcases these beautiful marine animals in their natural habitat on a custom-designed glass bottom boat.
The crew provides an interesting insight into turtles, and you visit two fantastic sites for snorkelling, fish feeding, and coral viewing.
This is the only turtle tour that uses a glass-bottomed boat. Drinks and snacks are provided.
5. Glass Bottomed Boat Snorkel and Coral View Tour
The best way to experience Coral Bay is by taking a snorkel tour like this two-hour guided tour. You get the chance to explore Ningaloo Reef and view marine life as you travel between two stops, where your guide will provide an in-depth commentary on what you see.
The boat itself, Nhanya-Ku, has been custom designed with shallow draft for easy access, a spacious layout for the comfort of up 12 people, and a superior design that includes fitted glass bottoms so that everyone can enjoy unobstructed views inside these beautiful coral gardens full of tropical fish and turtles!
This tour is perfect if you’re new at snorkelling or want a more relaxed tour because crew members stay close with available noodles just in case you need extra help.
6. Coral Bay 1-Hour Coral Viewing on Glass Bottomed Boat
This Coral Bay Glass Bottom Boat Tour is a 1-hour tour that allows you to experience the magical Ningaloo Reef without getting wet. The Nhanya Ku boat crew gives an informative talk on what can be seen through the boat’s glass bottom as it travels over and around beautiful coral formations in lush lagoon gardens inside reef walls.
7. Snorkel off the beach & Five Fingers Reef
Snorkelling off the beach at Bill’s Bay is incredible. There aren’t many places in the world where you can step into the water, and the reef is literally a few steps away. If you snorkel further out, you will most likely come across reefies, reef sharks, as they are pretty common at Coral Bay but are generally harmless.
Go on a lovely drift snorkel by walking to the 5-knot sign in the main bay and swim to the dark water about 50m out. You will then drift back into the bay. As we entered the water, we saw a huge pink snapper and lots of smaller reef fish.
Locals Tip: If you see a pile of shells in the shallows, this could mean there are octopuses around.
Paradise Beach is a stunning soft white sand beach with crystal waters on the other side of the lookout (south of Purdy Point). The snorkelling off this beach is fantastic too.
If you have a 4WD, drive along the track south of the boat ramp until you get to Five Finger Reef, which runs from the beach to around 200 metres offshore. It’s the best place in Coral Bay to swim with turtles and perfect for children and beginner snorkellers due to the shallow water and the amount of marine life close to shore.
Oyster Bridge and the Lagoon, north of Coral bay, are also fantastic snorkel sites but only accessible by 4wd.
Coral Bay has some of the best fishing opportunities in Western Australia, but you must follow the rules and guidelines and only fish in the designated areas. You can find out more on the Fisheries site.
Ningaloo Reef is a premier game fishing destination where you can catch blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin, sailfish, wahoo, mackerel and dolphin fish (mahi mahi), red emperor, spangled emperor, cod, perch, trout, and many more species.
9. Four-wheel Driving
There are some great opportunities to do some four-wheel driving in Coral Bay. The track to Five Fingers Reef is 4wd only, and north of Coral Bay is Mauds Landing, and further up is Oyster Bridge, Lagoon, Five Mile and Ningaloo Station. If you’re an avid four-wheel driver, you can even drive all the way to Exmouth from Coral Bay on 4wd tracks, although you will need to cross Yardie Creek. Unfortunately, this is only crossable at certain times, and many vehicles have got stuck crossing it.
10. Stingray Spotting
I read a tip that you can go stingray spotting at Bills Bay at night. You may see spotted lagoon rays if you stand in the shallows with a torch.
After all that activity, sometimes it’s just lovely to lie on the beach reading a book.
There aren’t many shops in Coral Bay, but you will find a supermarket, bakery, dive shop, and tourist shops. If you like art, pop into The Bubble, a local gallery inspired by the Ningaloo Reef.
13. Watch the Sunset
Western Australia is one of the best places in the world to watch the sunset over the ocean. Coral Bay is no exception. The lookout at the end of Coral Bay Road is a great spot.
The sunrise was impressive too.
14. Quad Bike Tour
Take a dune buggy over the sand dunes around Coral Bay. Coral Coast Tours offers various tours, including the southern adventure, southern lights sunset, and snorkel adventure.
15. Hire a Kayak, SUP or Seascooter
Ningaloo Kayak Adventures offer snorkelling tours with underwater sea scooters as well as the hire of equipment, including wetsuits, masks and fins, kayaks, and SUPs. The sea scooter tour is definitely on our list when we return to Coral Bay.
16. Skeleton Bay Reef Shark Nursery
If you walk north of Bills Bay, you get to Skeleton Bay. This is known as the Coral Bay Reef Shark Nursery, where hundreds of baby reef sharks come into the shallows in spring.
17. Fish Feeding
Fish Feeding occurs during peak periods at 3.30 pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in Bills Bay.
3 Night Ningaloo Reef Snorkel and Dive Getaway from Coral Bay
For a truly magical experience, you can book three nights on board the luxury catamaran, Shore Thing. Your snorkelling, scuba, and kayaking gear are provided, as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
You will snorkel, swim, kayak, and dive at a range of bays, reefs, and coral gardens and visit secluded locations for undisturbed snorkelling.
There’s also a 5 night onboard experience from the same company.
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- Coral Bay Travel Guide
- Perth to Exmouth road trip itinerary
- A guide to Australia’s Coral Coast
- How to plan your trip to Western Australia
- Western Australia Travel Guide
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