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A little down the coast from Exmouth is the equally incredible Coral Bay. As the Southern gateway to the Ningaloo Reef, Coral Bay is all about getting in the water and exploring the world beneath the waves. Despite it being a small, sleepy place, there are plenty of great things to do in Coral Bay, WA.
If you’ve read my Exmouth guide, I raved about how incredible the snorkelling is there but I actually think the Coral Bay snorkelling spots are maybe even a little bit better. Controversial, I’m sure!
48 hours in Coral Bay would be enough to experience its highlights but for us, 2 days in Coral Bay soon turned into 4. It’s so chilled there so even if you don’t want to do all the activities, it’s the perfect place to stop and take a break, especially if you’re on a big Western Australia road trip.
So to help you plan your trip, I’ve put together a list of 16 awesome things to do in Coral Bay WA. So take a look to find out what to do in Coral Bay and a guide for visiting
How to get to Coral Bay
As a lover of road trips, I think the best way to get to Coral Bay is to hit the road and drive there. The West Coast is incredible and far quieter than the East Coast. As Tom and I were driving South from Broome, Coral Bay was a no brainer for us to stop at.
if you are planning on taking a road trip to Coral Bay, you have to check out my massive guide to road tripping Australia on a budget, it’s packed full of ways to make travelling this massive (and expensive) country a whole lot cheaper.
Driving to Coral Bay:
- Perth to Coral Bay – 1,122km, 12 hours
- Broome to Coral Bay – 1,350km, 13 hours (don’t forget to visit Karijini and Exmouth along the way though!)
- Exmouth to Coral Bay – 152km, 1.5 hours
If you’re wanting to get from Perth to Coral Bay quicker, take a look at flights to Learmonth Airport which is a 1.5-hour drive from Coral Bay. I always use Skyscanner to compare flight prices and fly with the cheapest airline. I also recommend looking on vroomvroomvroom.com to compare car or campervan hire. A 4×4 would also be great for Coral Bay as well!
The best time of year to visit Coral Bay
The weather at Coral Bay is fantastic all year round so you really can’t go wrong. If you’re looking to avoid crowds though, I recommend visiting in Winter between April and October and to avoid school holidays.
Where to stay in Coral Bay
At the time of our visit, WikiCamps was showing a small layby close to Coral Bay which is where Tom and I parked up each night, but I wouldn’t recommend this spot as I felt we were pushing our luck a bit.
As Coral Bay is a small town, campground spaces or hostel rooms might be limited so I would definitely book in advance if possible. An easy way to check availability is via booking.com as they actually list both campgrounds and hostels as well as hotels. Use the search box below to find a place to stay.
16 TOP things to do in Coral Bay, WA
1. Snorkel at Bill’s Bay
This is where we started every morning in Coral Bay and it did not get boring! The water is pretty calm here and like Exmouth, the reef starts as soon as you step from the sand into the water, so it’s perfect even if you’re not a strong swimmer. The Coral and fish here are fantastic- the kind of colours you see on posters so it does not disappoint.
2. Hire a canoe, kayak or SUP
You’ll find a Ningaloo Kayak Adventures in a little hut right on the beach at Bill’s Bay where you can hire a kayak, canoe or stand up paddleboard (SUP board) at an hourly rate. They also run tours so if you’re looking for a way to find the best spots easily, check them out.
3. Find Coral Bay’s own Ayers rock…
Sorry, what? Ok, it’s not actually a second Ayers Rock but it is still pretty cool. Amongst the reef at Bill’s Bay is one of the world’s largest living Brain Coral. This size of it has earned it its nickname of WA’s Ayers Rock and it’s a fun landmark (or seamark??) to snorkel out too.
The easiest way to find it is to look for the glass bottom boat tours as it’s one of their stops.
4. Walk from Bill’s Bay to Paradise Beach
I mean, does anything sound more dreamy than a walk to Paradise Beach? Well good news, it’s right around the corner from Bill’s Bay! If you’re standing at Bill’s Bay looking out to the ocean, Paradise Beach is around the cliff to your left. Just make sure you time your walk to avoid the tide as it does come in there, especially around the actual land point.
5. Ride the drift at Paradise Beach
If you’re a confident swimmer, Paradise Beach is another awesome place to go snorkelling. There is a fairly strong ocean drift here so you can enter the water at one point and effortlessly float along checking out the reef. Just be careful to pay attention to just how far you’ve gone!
6. Eat an epic burger at Bill’s Cafe
The burgers are no joke at Bill’s Cafe and you’re going to want to go there ravenous! If you’re looking to really go to town, you’ve got to go for the Big Al Burger. I don’t know if it’s the masterpiece from Al or Bill (or both? Whoever they are anyway) but it’s so, freakin’ good! It’s a challenge to eat and has some unusual components such as beetroot and pineapple, but it works!
7. Head to the bakery for breakfast
Ok, so Coral Bay isn’t the place to be worrying about your waistline (you’re swimming it off anyway, right?) so grab a delicious pastry from the bakery in town for breakfast. As I mentioned, we started every day at Bill’s Bay and it was made even better by having a freshly baked croissant as well.
8. Take in the sights at the viewing platform
On top of the sand dune behind the Ningaloo Kayak Adventures hut is a small viewing platform that gives you great views over the crystal clear waters. It’s a nice place to take in exactly where you are and how incredible Coral Bay is! Keep your eye out for wildlife below as well.
9. Enjoy the sunset over the ocean…
One of the best things about being on the West Coast of Australia is watching the sunset every evening over the ocean. It doesn’t matter where you are in Coral Bay, the sunset is always going to be beautiful so grab a couple of drinks and some snacks to enjoy the view.
10. And enjoy peaceful sunrises by the ocean, too
If you’re sleeping in a campervan, chances are you’ll be up pretty early anyway. Being up for the very start of the day right by the water is so serene. And if you want to go snorkelling without anyone else around at all, it’s the perfect time.
11. Walk to Five Fingers Reef…
Located about 4.5km south of Coral Bay, Five Fingers Reef is another fantastic place to go snorkelling. But the walk to get there itself is equally as impressive. You’ll need to park up the Coral Bay Boat Ramp where you’ll see the path for the Coral Bay Walkway.
The walk will take you up sand dunes to the top of the cliffs where you will be able to see for miles along the coast. When we did this walk, we were the only ones on it. Walking on sand can be a bit tough so make sure you’ve got plenty of water and sunscreen with you. The walk takes about 35 minutes and you’ll know you’re at Five Fingers Reef when you see the 4×4 track lead onto the beach.
12. Or drive over the sand dunes if you have a 4×4
If you’re lucky enough to have a 4×4 then definitely take a drive here. The 4×4 track to Five Fingers Reef takes you right over the sand dunes and onto the beach. We were travelling in our trusty campervan so didn’t get to drive this, but did accidentally end up walking next to it and it looked amazing!
13. Snorkel at Five Fingers Reef
If you’re wondering where the name comes from, it’s due to the five strips of parallel reef that reach out from the beach for about 200m. the water here is incredibly shallow so you have to be really mindful not to kick the reef as you swim. But the wildlife here is amazing! Tom and I had this place to ourselves when we visited and I found myself swimming with a turtle just a couple of meters away.
14. Keep your eyes peeled for Dugongs
What’s a dugong, I hear you ask? These super cute creatures are a species of sea cow, like a manatee, and there are over 10,000 that live in Coral Bay. They aren’t easy to find, despite their size but we did meet people who had found them whilst snorkelling.
15. See kangaroos by the beach
Most pictures of Kangaroos on the sand come from either Lucky Bay in Esperance or Cape Hillsborough, but I was surprised to see they also venture onto the sand dunes in Coral Bay too! Dawn or dusk is the best time to see these animals and we were lucky enough to spot them when we were chilling out at Bill’s Bay.
16. Join a tour to see some ocean giants
This is one of the top things to do in Coral Bay Australia, and while these tours were out of our budget, they do offer some incredible experiences. With such a wealth of marine life, the Ningaloo Reef gives you the chance to swim with Whale Sharks, Manta Rays, humpback whales, reef sharks, turtles and dugongs.
There is a big emphasis on eco-tourism in Western Australia and especially on the Ningaloo Reef. They use spotter planes to find these animals rather than bait and limit the number of people in the water at each time.
Find out more about the tours from Coral Bay and check availability below.
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