The tiny seaside town of Coral Bay is one of WA’s favourite winter holiday destinations. Located along the sunny shores of WA’s coral coast, far from the rush of day-to-day city life lies the perfect escape from it all.
If you are a lover of water activities, there is no shortage of awesome things to do in Coral Bay! From swimming with manta rays and whale sharks to lazy days spent lounging in the soft white sand, Coral Bay is an ocean lover’s paradise just waiting to be explored.
With stunning beaches and laid-back vibes, Coral Bay is one of those paradise destinations where you can easily lose track of time. After countless visits to Coral Bay over the years, I’ve put together this in-depth guide to help you plan the perfect holiday.
Whether you will include it as a stop on your Perth to Exmouth road trip or simply planning a short winter escape, read on to find the 10 absolute best things to do in Coral Bay!
Table of Contents
10 Best Things to do in Coral Bay Western Australia
Coral Bay Snorkelling Tours
Included on many people’s list of must-do’s when travelling to Australia is a visit to the famous Great Barrier Reef of far north Queensland. The Ningaloo Reef is often referred to as the ‘Great Barrier Reef of the west’. It’s just as impressive yet still largely undiscovered by tourists which adds to its appeal even more.
Taking a snorkelling/scuba diving tour on the Ningaloo Reef is by far the most popular of all the things to do in Coral Bay. With an abundance of wildlife to see ranging from manta rays, whale sharks, turtles, reef sharks and plenty of colourful fish, this day is sure to be the highlight of your trip to Coral Bay. Find a few of the top rated Coral Bay snorkelling tours below.
Swim with Manta Rays – My favourite thing to do in Coral Bay!
This full day tour departs Coral Bay at 8 am by boat and takes you to some of the very best snorkelling spots on the Ningaloo Reef. Enjoy a full day of swimming alongside the incredible marine life that inhabit the reef, including the star of the show – the manta ray!
This tour uses a spotter plane that flies around searching for manta rays which ensures that you will definitely see a few of them. Manta rays are present in this area year round, meaning no matter what time of year you choose to visit you will always have a chance to see them!
On our most recent visit, taking this tour was absolutely the best thing we did in Coral Bay. I joined the snorkelling group while Rick chose to go scuba diving but we were able to be on the same boat/tour for the day which was perfect.
Being able to get up nice and close to the majestic manta rays was such an unreal experience and something we will never forget!
Included in this tour is snorkelling equipment, experienced guides, morning and afternoon snacks, a buffet lunch, 3x different snorkelling spots, 1x manta ray swim.
Coral Bay Whale Shark Swimming Tour
Between the months of March – July, you will be lucky enough to see these gentle giants peacefully swimming around the Ningaloo Reef.
This 8-9 hour boat tour will depart at 7:30 am and take you on an epic snorkelling journey through the spectacular coral reef where you’ll see turtles, reef sharks, and many beautiful fish.
The best part of this tour will be the once in a lifetime opportunity to swim with whale sharks! A spotter plane is used to locate the whale sharks and inform the boat captain of their whereabouts.
You will be given an hour to enjoy being in the presence of the largest fish in the ocean, a true bucket list worthy experience that only a few places in the world offer.
This amazing whale shark tour is also run by Coral Bay Eco Tours. It includes all snorkelling gear, morning and afternoon snacks, a buffet lunch, champagne and fruit platter, 1 hr swim with whale sharks, and snorkelling at a number of spots around the Ningaloo Reef.
Of all the things to do in Coral Bay, swimming with whale sharks is the most popular and highly rated activity! For an extra cost, you can choose to have an underwater photographer swim along with you to capture this magical moment.
Ningaloo Reef Turtle Encounter
Turtles can be seen year round on the Ningaloo Reef. This popular 3 hour turtle tour sets off in a glass bottom boat and visits the very best spots to watch the turtles swimming around in their natural habitat.
Learn all about these fascinating sea creatures from your knowledgeable guide as you observe them feeding and going about their lives.
In addition to seeing turtles, you’ll be able to see many exotic fish, colourful corals and beautiful underwater scenery on this boat trip. The tour also includes the option to snorkel at 2 different locations if you wish to.
All snorkelling equipment, hot drinks and snacks are provided and included in the price of the day trip.
Relaxing Beach Day
With some of the most breathtakingly beautiful beaches in Western Australia, a relaxing beach day in Coral Bay is an absolute must.
The sand is soft and white, the water is calm and clear and there is an incredible coral reef only metres from the shoreline. To say this place is a complete paradise is an understatement.
So grab a good book, a mask and snorkel and make your way to Bill’s Bay for the ultimate beach day. While you’re there, make sure to take a 20 minute walk up the beach until you reach the neighbouring bay.
This bay is home to a protected shark nursery where at certain times of the year you can witness the magical sight of up to 200 reef sharks swimming around the shallow waters of the bay!
If you’re visiting during the months of September – March, this is when the sharks typically hang out in the bay. We were in Coral Bay at the beginning of September and saw hundreds of them! It’s worth mentioning that you aren’t allowed to get up close and swim with the sharks.
This is a protected area with signs posted advising people not to interact with them (we still saw a few ignorant people jumping in and ignoring these signs!) It’s best to admire the sharks from the shoreline, they do come surprisingly close.
Whale Watching Tours
Humpback whales migrate up the coast of WA and can be seen around the Coral Bay area from June – October every year. This 3-hour whale watching boat cruise will allow you to get nice and close to these playful whales.
Sit back and relax with a glass of champagne and some snacks from the comfort of the boat as you enjoy watching mothers and their calves rolling and breaching through the water. You will likely get to see other marine life on this tour, it’s not uncommon to see turtles, dolphins and other whale species.
If you’d prefer to get even closer to the amazing humpback whales, you should check out this awesome ‘swimming with humpback whales experience‘ which is offered through the same tour company.
Get Your Scuba Diving Certification
If taking up scuba diving is something that’s always been on your bucket list, there are few places in the world better than the Ningaloo Reef to do it.
Whether you’re new to diving or looking to upgrade your current certification, you can find every level of scuba diving course offered through Ningaloo Reef Dive & Snorkel.
If diving is something you’re curious to try but not interested in committing to a course, you have the option to take the Discovery Scuba Dive session. This is where an experienced instructor will take you out to swim with manta rays and show you the basics of diving. This is only an intro to scuba diving and doesn’t count toward any PADI certifications.
For more information on taking and booking a diving course, check out the official Ningaloo Reef Dive & Snorkel website. All diving courses include diving equipment as well as lunch and drinks on the boat.
If you’re already a licensed diver and just want to book a diving day trip, you can do so from the same website.
Take a Glass Bottom Boat Tour
Snorkelling and diving isn’t for everyone but the good news is that you don’t have to venture underwater to enjoy the sea life of the Ningaloo Reef. Marvel at the beautiful coral formations and the animals that inhabit them from the comfort of a glass bottom boat.
This is a short 1 hour excursion that caters to those who wish to admire the underwater world without having to get wet. A guide will bring you to a shallow section of the reef where an abundance of colourful fish can be seen and give you an in depth explanation of what you’re looking at.
Coral Bay Quad Bike Tours
Get off the beaten path in Coral Bay on a unique and exciting quad bike adventure. The Coral Bay coastline is truly an isolated wonder and these quad bike tours will take you to some of the most pristine and untouched beaches, dunes and lookouts. There are several tours to choose from but you can’t really go wrong with any of them!
The Turtle Adventure will bring you to a lookout where you can watch as turtles feed in the turquoise waters below you. The Sunset Trek is a great way to finish off a perfect day by riding out along the most beautiful beaches to an epic sunset spot. The Snorkel Trek will take you to some of the best snorkelling locations far from the crowds of the popular Bill’s Bay.
Tours depart at several different times throughout the day and each one lasts for around 2 hours. You can find more info about pricing and booking times at the official Quad Trek Adventures website.
Deep Sea Fishing
Fishing is a very popular Coral Bay activity and if this is something that interests you, perhaps booking a fishing day trip would be a great idea. Full day and half day fishing charters depart daily from Coral Bay and are run by experienced skippers who will take you to the best locations.
Some of the fish that you can expect to find in this area include Blue Marlin, Black Marlin, Mackerel, Sailfish, Dolphin Fish, Trout, Snapper, Cod and many more. Fishing equipment such as rods, bait and tackle are provided and included in the cost of the day trip. You can find more information about these excursions and book your fishing trip through the Mahi Mahi Fishing Charters website.
Get a different perspective of the Ningaloo Reef by taking a scenic flight. This is a fantastic way to admire the stunning landscapes of the coral coast and see many sea animals swimming and playing in the ocean below. The tour is led by experienced pilots who will guide you around the Coral Bay area and explain things as you go.
Some of the animals that you’ll see on this flight are dolphins, manta rays, dugongs, sharks, turtles, humpback whales and whale sharks (seasonal).
This is such a unique and memorable experience which makes a great idea for celebrating a special occasion. You have the option of booking a 15, 25, 40 or 60 minute flight, prices vary depending on the duration you choose.
You can book a scenic flight online through Ningaloo Reef Dive & Snorkel.
Kayak, SUP or Seascooter
Located on the main Coral Bay beach, at the far end of the main street you’ll find a caravan called Ningaloo Kayak Adventures offering a variety of equipment to hire.
The calm waters of Coral Bay make it an excellent place to try stand up paddle boarding for the first time, go for an ocean kayaking adventure or try out a sea scooter.
You can choose to hire any of their equipment for the day and head off on your own, or join one of the tours that they have on offer. Their kayak tours are quite popular and make for a fun day of kayaking around the reef and hopping in for a snorkel at numerous locations.
Visit the official website to find more info about pricing, tours and beach equipment hire.
Take a Day Trip to Exmouth
If you’re planning an extended stay in Coral Bay, you really shouldn’t miss out on a visit to Exmouth. The drive from Coral Bay to Exmouth only takes 1.5 hours which makes it the perfect day trip from Coral Bay or even as an extension of your trip up north.
The town is only small but there are plenty of awesome things to see and do in Exmouth that make the trip worthwhile. Find some of the best Exmouth attractions below.
Charles Knife Canyon – Just off of the main highway from Coral Bay to Exmouth, you’ll come across a winding road that takes you up into this incredible gorge. At the end of the drive you’ll arrive at the Charles Knife Lookout however, there are plenty of areas to pull over and take in the views along the way.
The view looking through the colourful gorge walls all the way to the Exmouth Gulf is simply spectacular. You don’t need a 4WD to get there however the road turns to gravel with some steep bits on the way up.
Yardie Creek – Located within Cape Range National Park, Yardie Creek is a beautiful limestone canyon with a gentle creek flowing through. This a nice spot to enjoy a boat cruise where you can take in the spectacular scenery and learn a bit about the local history.
There are several walking trails that take you along the top of the gorge walls and offer impressive views through the canyon and creek below.
Turquoise Bay – This is a beach that really lives up to its name! Famous for being one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia, Turquoise Bay is a paradise that you shouldn’t miss during your time up north.
In addition to its pristine white sand beach, Turquoise Bay has an amazing coral reef only steps from the shore. Hop in the water and be surrounded by turtles, fish and stunning corals within minutes of swimming away from the beach. You can see in the picture above just how close the coral reef is to the shore.
Due to the current, this spot is considered a drift snorkelling area which means you will get carried away and end up in a different location than where you started. Experienced swimmers should only attempt snorkelling here as currents can be quite strong at times.
Vlamingh Head Lighthouse – A lighthouse with over 100 years of history and breath-taking panoramic views. A 15 minute drive north of Exmouth town will take you to this historic lighthouse on a hilltop where you’ll find an epic view looking out over the North West Cape, Indian Ocean and Ningaloo Reef. This is a particularly great spot to sit and watch the sun sink below the horizon.
Getting From Perth to Coral Bay
Distance / Driving Time – 1,121 km / 11 hrs 30 mins
Drive – Making the long trek from Perth to Coral Bay will take up the better portion of a day. However, a great plan would be to stretch out the trip into a 10 day adventure along the west coast including other stops along the way such as Kalbarri, Shark Bay and Exmouth.
Be sure to check out our ultimate 10-day Perth to Exmouth road trip itinerary to be sure you don’t miss out on any highlights!
Flight – If you’re not into long drives then perhaps taking a flight would suit you better. Qantas offers regular flights from Perth to Exmouth (Learmonth Airport), search for flights at the official Qantas website. Airport transfers from Learmonth Airport to Coral Bay take around 1.5 hours and can be arranged from this website.
Best Time to Visit Coral Bay
Seeking some winter sun? Coral Bay enjoys year round sunny weather making it the ideal winter holiday destination. While Perth and the rest of the southwest region begins to cool down from April – September, Coral Bay enters its dry season and maintains a steady 30 degree daily average throughout these months.
During the summer from October – March, Coral Bay reaches temperatures in the high 30’s and even 40’s with higher levels of humidity. It’s definitely a better choice to plan your trip during the dry season (when it’s winter in Perth).
How Long to Spend In Coral Bay
As beautiful as the beaches are here, this isn’t a destination that you go just to sit on the beach. There are so many great things to do in Coral Bay that can easily keep you busy for an entire week.
Having said that, it is absolutely ok to just sit on the beach too, no judgement here! For the perfect getaway we would recommend spending 5 days to one week in Coral Bay.
Where to Stay in Coral Bay
Coral Bay Resort / Villa Rentals
Ningaloo Reef Resort – This is the most comfortable, resort style place to stay when visiting Coral Bay. With spacious air conditioned rooms, a pool, a restaurant & bar with oceanfront views, you really can’t go wrong here!
This resort gets extremely popular during peak season, booking in advance is essential.
People’s Park – This beachfront park has a few villas available to rent, some even have ocean views. It’s only steps from Bill’s Bay, the main Coral Bay beach and shops. Villas are fully equipped with kitchens but there is a restaurant on site as well. This is a great options for families.
Bayview – A large caravan park that also has a number of villas to rent. Each one has a private bathroom and some also include a kitchen. There is a restaurant however the Coral Bay shopping arcade is directly across the street and the beach is only a 2 minute walk away.
Coral Bay Holiday Parks / Hostel
People’s Park Campground – A clean and well kept campground directly across from Bill’s Bay with both powered and unpowered camp sites.
Bayview Campground – The largest campground in Coral Bay with plenty of powered and unpowered sites to choose from.
Ningaloo Coral Bay Backpackers – This is the only hostel in town. It’s airconditioned, clean, has a pool and offers a choice of dorms or private rooms with shared bathrooms.
Wild Camping Near Coral Bay
If you have a 4WD vehicle, this part of WA is home to some fantastic off road terrain and beautiful wilderness camping spots. There is truly nothing in this world that makes you feel more disconnected than camping on a remote beach, miles away from civilization.
We have tried a number of these spots over the years and below are some that we can recommend, see the WA Parks website to book any wilderness campsite.
Keep in mind that to camp at these locations, you must be fully self-sufficient, there are no toilets or any kind of facilities provided. These site are not first come first serve, you must book online in advance.
- 14 Mile Beach – Warroora Station
- Nick’s Camp – Warroora Station
- Elle’s Beach – Warroora Station
- Winderabandi – Ningaloo Station
- Osprey Bay – Cape Range National Park
- The Best Manta Ray Tour In Coral Bay
- The Ultimate 5 Day Perth to Kalbarri Road Trip Itinerary
- Top 10 Things to do in Shark Bay, WA
- 30 Essential Australian Road Trip Tips You Must Know
- The Perfect 5 Day Perth Itinerary
- 18 Epic Things to do in Exmouth
- Perth to Wave Rock Road Trip – Perfect 2-Day Itinerary
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