Throw on your explorer’s cap! It’s time for one-of-a-kind land and sea adventures
All Perth-ed out and lusting for adventures beyond the urban cool of Western Australia’s capital? Pack your bags and make for the Coral Coast, where the outback meets the sea, just north of Perth. Not to be outdone by the Great Barrier Reef and its surrounding islands in Queensland, the Coral Coast boasts two World Heritage-listed wonders, Shark Bay and Ningaloo Reef, an endless expanse of sand and priceless experiences from culinary to downright adventurous.
Getting to the Coral Coast is a breeze whether you’re flying or driving. A two-hour connecting flight from Perth will take you to the Learmonth airport, which is just over an hour’s drive from the Coral Coast. For those who prefer to travel by land, the scenic route to Ningaloo Reef, one of the world’s largest fringing coral reef, will only take you two days by car, with many attractions along the way that you should definitely stop to see.
Walk the Moon
No trip to the Coast is complete without a photo at the staggering Pinnacles desert in Nambung National Park, a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of Perth and one of your first stops if you choose to drive. Imagine a 30,000-year-old limestone pillar standing four metres tall. Now picture thousands of them at dawn, rising from shifting yellow sands, and you can see why this otherworldly, moon-like landscape draws visitors from all over. Believe it or not, these pillars are made out of ancient seashell deposits, gradually exposed to the elements by coastal winds over time.
Surf, Sand and Seafood
Have the urge to feel soft sand under your feet? Nambung National Park also has multiple secluded beaches at Kangaroo Point and Hangover Bay for you to discover. Snorkel, swim, surf and learn to shore-fish in the clear waters. Keep a lookout for bottlenose dolphins and sea lions, which can sometimes be spotted just off the shore. When you’re all surfed out, head to the nearby town of Cervantes, a short 30-minute drive away, and eat your weight in lobsters pulled straight out of the water for lunch at local favourite, Lobster Shack.
Swim with the Fishes
If you belong to the “fish are friends, not food” school of thought, get face-to-fin with all kinds of marine life, from dugongs to rays and turtles, at Shark Bay. While there, make some time for the resident bottlenose dolphins of Monkey Mia Beach, still within the Shark Bay region. Feed and splash about with friendly pods of wild dolphins, which regularly swim to the shore to interact with people up to three times a day.
Can’t get enough of the water? Lucky for you, water activities don’t get any better than at the Ningaloo Reef further north. So big you can see it from space, the reef is rife with underwater life. Bring a snorkel or rent one, wade into the water, and have your breath taken away (not literally!). You can even join a snorkeling tour to swim with gentle, stingless manta rays. Not enough socialising with the aquatic residents of the coast? Ningaloo Reef is also one of the few places on earth where you can swim with the world’s largest fish, the whale shark, from April to July, as well as humpback whales from July to October.
Adventures on Land
More of a landlubber? Pack a picnic and head to Cape Range National Park for its assortment of free-ranging wildlife, including red kangaroos, wallabies and emus that look like they have come straight out of a camera advertisement. A nature lover’s paradise, the park is also home to an ancient multi-coloured gorge, red limestone cliffs and breathtaking deep canyons. Keep your camera handy, as rare black-footed rock wallabies are known to peek out of their small caves.
Seeking more active pursuits? Visit the incredible winding gorges and cliffs of the Murchison River in Kalbarri National Park, as you make the return trip from Cape Range National Park, and get your adrenaline pumping by abseiling over rock formations that are millions of years old or hiking to Nature’s Window, a rock arch that will net you some incredible photos. If that seems excessive, the park also offers horseback riding and canoeing for a leisurely adventure through the best the outback has to offer. When you’re done with taking in the scenery, stay at nearby Kalbarri, live like a local and unwind by kicking back with an ice-cold beer and some fresh seafood on its famous Chinaman’s Beach.
With never-ending adventure and breathtaking landscapes around every corner, we don’t blame you if you don’t want to make the return journey to Perth.
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