Ningaloo Marine Park is one of the world’s largest fringing reefs. Stretching for 260 km off of Western Australia’s mid north coast, it is also Australia’s most accessible as at its closest point, it is less than 100 metres off shore, allowing visitors to step right off the coastline and practically be right at the reef.
Stretching for 300 km, the Ningaloo Marine Park begins at Bundegi Reef and ends at Red Bluff.
It encompasses over 5,000 square kilometres of ocean.
The Ningaloo Marine Park has some of the country’s best snorkeling and diving.
The shallow lagoons coupled with the deeper offshore sites make for a variety of habitats catering a colorful variety of more than 500 species of fish, 200 species of hard coral, and 50 species of soft coral.
Whale sharks, turtles, dugongs, dolphins, and humpback whales also frequently visit the reef.
Many of the snorkel sites can be accessed by normal vehicle, although some do require a 4WD vehicle. The park also contains a number of pristine white beaches, perfect for relaxing on after a trip below the surface.
The marine life at Ningaloo serves as the primary attraction for visitors.
If you aren’t up for snorkeling or diving, there are a variety of other ways you can experience the wildlife the park has to offer.
In January and February visitors can see sea turtles hatch from the land on some of the guided eco-trials on the island.
Likewise, visitors to the park during humpback whale migration season can spot the whales passing by from various viewpoints on land.
There is also a popular sea kayak route through the park starting in Exmouth that allows visitors to experience a variety of the marine life in the park.
The park offers a number of other boat tours that allow guests to take in the the wildlife. Visitors to Exmouth or Coral Bay only have to step off the beach to enjoy clownfish bathing in anemone tentacles, lionfish, predatory moral eels, and hundreds of other species of tropical fish.
Best of Ningaloo Marine Park:
The Ningaloo Reef is also a fantastic fishing destination, as long as you are fishing in the right areas.
Fishing is not permitted in the sanctuary zones, so make sure you have a zoning map before you set out to fish.
There are a variety of boat ramps throughout the park that allow for easy sea access, whether you want to fish, or just enjoy a day out on the water.
If you want a true castaway experience, check out one of the day tours to the Muiron Islands. The Muiron Islands are classic dessert islands with surrounding waters that are teeming with marine life.
Those who take these tours can snorkel in Turtle Bay, a turtle nesting sanctuary, or dive in any number of fantastic dive sites in the area.
Conversely, you can just relax on your own deserted beach. If you really want a retreat, obtain a permit to camp overnight on the islands.
If you want a break from the water, take a trip to the Cape Range National Park, only 35 kilometres from the centre of Exmouth.
Cape Range National Park is a fantastic spot for 4WD enthusiasts, who can drive along the popular Slothole Canyon Road or the Charles Knife Canyon.
Additionally, much of the coastline here is open to 4WD vehicles.
This park offers fantastic campgrounds with stunning views over the park’s many gorges, which flow right into the clear turquoise waters and the Ningaloo reef.
The hike to Yardie Creek, where visitors can take in the wildlife, including the rare black footed wallaby, and wildflowers that the park has to offer.
The three kilometre walking trail through the Mandu Mandu Gorge also makes for an excellent day of hiking. At the end of this trail, hikers are treated to a fantastic panoramic view of the ocean.