Coral Bay

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Sandy beach and calm waters, taken at the beach of Coral Bay in Western Australia

Coral Bay is a beautiful beach with coral gardens just metres from the shore, Australia’s only fringing reef, it is the most accessible we have been to.

The coral reef is part of the Ningaloo Reef, an Aboriginal word meaning ‘promontory’, a point of high land that juts out into the sea.

The Ningaloo Marine Park protects the 300-kilometre long reef with more than 500 tropical fish species and over 200 species of coral. Coral Bay is in the Maud Sanctuary Zone.

Fishing is restricted in the sanctuary zones, however, shore-based fishing permitted in some areas. In the Maud Sanctuary Zone, shore fishing is allowed from Paradise Beach and southwards. Maud is the name of the schooner that landed in 1884 with the first Europeans to visit the area. Mauds Landing is about 4km north of Coral Bay.

Boats can launch in Maud Sanctuary Zone from a designated area, however, any fishing from boats must be outside of the zone.

The best part about Coral Bay is the coral reef that you can swim out to from the shore. With a pair of goggles, snorkel and flippers, swimming around the coral reef was a magical experience and a highlight on our Western Australia trip.

The abundance of fish swimming around the reef was great also. The fishing restrictions clearly provide a safe area for the marine life that makes snorkelling around the reef such a wonderful experience.

So much is said about how good the Great Barrier Reef is to go visit. For us, coming to Coral Bay and seeing the reef here, compared to seeing the Great Barrier Reef off the coast from Cairns, makes us choose this as a better place to come.

We went on a tour boat with a glass bottom where we were able to see the reef in a different way. Looking through the glass bottom boat isn’t the same as snorkelling and the glass bottom mutes the colours to a degree but it is an ideal option to see the reef for those who are not comfortable or unable to go snorkelling.

There are charter tours of various kinds around the reef. For example, you can go swimming with manta rays from a tour boat. Dugongs, turtles, and whale sharks are other large marine animals that you can see at Coral Cove.

Another activity to do is the fish feeding off the beach. The fish swarm for the handout of food and raise themselves out of the water at times. They are obviously used to the feedings happening, done on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

Sunset over the beach, at Coral Cove on the coast of Western Australia

We arrived late afternoon and took the opportunity to watch the sunset. The sunsets are gorgeous on the western coast of Australia and Coral Bay did not disappoint. Coral Bay is very remote with a lot of kilometres to the next major town so it has been saved from over-tourism. It has become very popular, it is one of our favourite spots and we would not hesitate to come again, so we hope it is looked after and remains a true natural treasure.

To get there:

Brown sign for Coral Bay, 14km, white sign for Burkett Road

From Carnarvon, head north on the NW Coastal Hwy. Turn left into Minilya-Exmouth Rd at the brown sign for Coral Bay and follow for 78km. Turn left into Coral Bay Rd and follow for 13km to reach Coral Bay.

From Karratha head west on NW Coastal Hwy and follow for about 370km. Turn right into Burkett Rd and follow for 78 km to the end. Turn left onto Minilya-Exmouth Rd and follow for 52km. Turn right into Coral Bay Rd and follow for 13km to reach Coral Bay.

From Exmouth, head south on Murat Rd (becoming Minilya-Exmouth Rd) and follow for around 135km. Turn right into Coral Bay Rd and follow for 13km to reach Coral Bay.

Cost:Free

Hours:Anytime


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