Adventure through West Australia’s Coral Coast
Just 2 hours north of Perth marks the beginning of Australia’s Coral Coast. From Cervantes to the World-Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef, you will find kilometres of incredible white sandy beaches, rugged landscapes, unbelievable gorges and untouched coral reef of which our extensive marine life calls home.
The Australia Coral is open for business to us lucky West Aussies and with all the current restrictions in place, there’s no better time to adventure out and immerse yourself in what our incredible state has to offer.
I’ve been wanting to take the kids on an up-north adventure for at least the past four years and this school holidays I made that dream become a reality.
I have three children, 7, 9 and 10 and for me, this was the perfect age to make adventurous memories and be able to explore as a family. Truth be told it was hard work doing it on my own. Think every wetsuit dressing and undressing, every snorkel fog and mouthpiece that filled with water, every wakeup and every snack that needed to be packed….so yes, an extra pair of hands would have been handy but as we found our little family groove, we managed just fine. Exhausted! But fine.
We set off from Perth on Friday afternoon. Coral Bay is a 12-hour drive north so I decided to stay overnight in Geraldton on the way up.
Geraldton is about 4.5 hours north of Perth.
We stayed at The Gerald Apartment Hotel. The rooms are gorgeous! And they have an awesome rooftop bar Old Man & the Sea Rooftop Bar with great food and a perfect spot for a Western Australian sunset. They will be opening a gin bar, Bob’s Bar, in August so the place will only become more vibrant. The perfect spot for a stopover on your way north.
The way to Coral Bay…
There are so many wonderful things to see and do on the way to Coral Bay but as I was facing a 7.5 hour drive on my way, I made the late call to take the most direct route possible. Here are a few of the attractions as you head north.
Kalbarri Skywalk – the brand new attraction to the Kalbarri region. This was on my ‘must-see’ list but I really needed another day to explore and make the most of this and the National Park too. Totally worth the drive if you can make the time.
Pink Lake – Also in the Kalbarri region.
Shark Bay and Monkey Mia – This world heritage listed destination is home to the ‘worlds smartest wild dolphins. Another of its attractions is the world-famous Shell Beach.
Carnarvon – The food bowl of Western Australia. I have been up to Carnarvon the past few years for the Gascoyne food festival (check out this year’s line up here). Carnarvon is a great place to stop for an overnight stay but as we had a couple of hours left to reach Coral Bay, we popped into the pub for some lunch and to catch a bit of the footy. Carnarvon is home to the One Mile Jetty, Space and Technology Museum, a gorgeous fascine and 40 minutes out of town you will come across the iconic Blowholes and incredible surf a little further on at Gnaraloo.
Known as the fruit bowl of the Gascoyne, Carnarvon produces 80% of Western Australia’s total fruit and vegetable crops and with farmers selling straight from their doors, it’s the perfect place to stock up on your trip (look out for stalls on the side of the road, don’t forget some cash!). It’s also home to the State’s thriving prawn, scallop, crab and fishing industry so make sure you stock up on your seafood as well. There is a ‘Fruit Loop’ that will take you on a drive past working plantations and a weekly Gascoyne Growers Market which takes place every Saturday between May and October.
Coral Bay – Our holiday destination!
About 12 hours north of Perth we set up camp in Coral Bay. This ‘one street’ sea-side town was perfect for the holiday that I wanted to experience with the kids. We stayed in a bayside villa at Ningaloo Coral Bay, us on one side of the street and the stunning Coral Bay beach on the other. You really can’t go wrong in a little town and I love the fact that if you wanted to spend a day not driving anywhere, you could! There was still plenty to do within walking distance.
We booked two tours whilst in Coral Bay. A Manta Ray tour and a Humpback Whale tour, both interactive swimming experiences which is exactly what I was looking for with the kids. There are heaps of tours to choose from… turtles, boats and lunch tours, tours for all different ages and capabilities, but these were the two that caught our eye. Van being 7 was definitely the youngest onboard both of the tours. We made sure we spent a few days getting him used to the snorkel equipment but as he’s a strong and fearless swimmer he kept up and got so much out of the tours. He was first in and last out every time. As you can move quite fast in the drifts you really need to be able to keep up so if you have any kids younger than this, just bear in mind that you might miss a bit of the action assisting them.
Ningaloo Marine Interactions – If you want an interactive tour which has it all then this is the tour for you. It’s flagged as a ‘swim with the manta rays’ tour but it was so much more than that. We encountered and swam with everything that day and it was nothing short of magical.
Coral Bay Eco Tours – The final bucket list item of our trip was a swim with the Humpback Whales. With the Whale Shark season finished in Coral Bay you can find tours that will take you to try and get in the deep blue with these huge majestic creatures. As these huge mammals can be quite unpredictable the experience is left up to mother nature. Unfortunately, due to the swell and a brand-new baby calf, the cards didn’t fall in our favour that day which I was told doesn’t happen very often. We had an incredible experience and were about to have a snorkel and interact with other incredible marine life.
FWD to Fiver Fingers Bay – If you’re in Coral Bay and have a 4WD then this track is a must. It can be a bit tricky to get too so make sure you let your tyres down and actually have a 4WD or you will likely get stuck (as a few had on our way out there). It’s only a short 10 minutes out of Coral Bay and has one of the best snorkelling drifts. Set up a spot for the day as there’s never a dull moment out in the water.
If you’re an avid down south person, I highly recommend you mix it up and wander out yonder to this stunning part of WA. With so many things to see along the way, you really can make a trip of it and explore all the ins and outs…it also breaks up the hours in the car.
Head to Australia’s Coral Coast website for more info. It’s jam-packed with driving and flying itinerary ideas, interesting places to stay and everything else there is to do on this incredible West Aussie outback adventure.