Ningaloo Reef is located 1,200 km north of Perth near Exmouth. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed reef is blessed with colourful coral reefs, sparkling turquoise water, pristine beaches and an abundance of marine wildlife. To get to Ningaloo Reef you can either go via Exmouth or Coral Bay (located 90 minutes south of Exmouth/Learmonth Airport).
Exmouth is a small town located near the coast and is the main jumping-off point for snorkelling and diving tours. The town is small but has shops, supermarkets, bars and restaurants, as well as other attractions and activities nearby such as Cape Range National Park. On the other hand, Coral Bay is a village right by the beach. It has a handful of cafes and shops where you can buy the essentials, but there's not much else other than the beach... oh, and the Ningaloo Reef right on your doorstep! If you're looking for a complete beach experience and aren't too fussed about doing other activities, travelling directly to Coral Bay might be a better call.
There are several ways to get to Exmouth and Coral Bay including air, self-driving and coach travel.
Learmonth Airport is 36 km south of Exmouth. Qantas is the only commercial airline that runs direct flights daily between Perth and Learmonth. If you’re travelling from further afield you’ll need to fly into Perth and transfer to Exmouth. From Learmonth, you can hire a car, jump in a taxi or use the Exmouth Bus Charter to the main township or to your accommodation. Adult tickets to Exmouth town are $40 one way or $75 return.
Exmouth is 1,270 km north of Perth and the driving time takes around 12-13 hours (not including stops). Many people decide to stop along the way to break up the long journey. If you’re travelling north from Perth, take North West Coastal Highway and turn left when you reach Minilya Exmouth Road and continue for 200 km to Exmouth. For southbound routes, turn off the North West Coastal Highway onto Burkett Road and continue on for 80 km until you reach Minilya Exmouth Road. From here, take a right and drive 90 km to Exmouth.
There’s plenty to see and do if you're road tripping including Geraldton and Yanchep National Park, the Pinnacles, the sand dunes in Lancelin, the Pink Lake near Port Gregory and Monkey Mia. Make sure you check out the current road conditions with Main Roads and be mindful of wildlife when you’re driving, especially at dawn and dusk as this is when the animals are most active. There are service stations and amenities dotted along the route, but amenities may be a fair distance apart so bring plenty of water and snacks to keep you going.
You can take a Greyhound coach from Perth to Exmouth. Coach services operate three times per week. The journey to Exmouth takes about 20 hours, and another two hours if you continue onto Coral Bay.
Getting around Exmouth and Coral Bay
Exmouth is a compact town and it’s easy to get around either on foot or by bicycle. The same goes for Coral Bay. However, if you want to venture outside of the main township you’ll need to hire a car or book onto a tour.
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