Fly in from Perth arriving at 7.30am, get picked up by your whale shark tour provider, and then hire a campervan from Exmouth Camper Hire for the duration of your stay.
Drive from Perth (1250km). Recommended stops: Pinnacles Desert, Dynamite Bay, Hutt Lagoon, Kalbarri, Tamala Station, Steep Point, Gnaraloo Station, Warroora Station, Five Fingers Reef.
Drive from Broome (1370km). Recommended stops: Barn Hill Station, Eighty Mile Beach, Cleaverville, 40 Mile Beach, Bullara Station.
Sandy Bay in Cape Range National Park.
Day 1 – Whale shark tour, pizza and beers at Whalebone Brewery
Get straight into the action by hopping on a whale shark tour and getting right out there on the Ningaloo Reef. Your day will start with a 40-minute ride out to Tantabiddi Boatramp where your powerboat or catamaran awaits. On the way look out for dingoes and the lone woolly sheep that call the cape home whilst your guide provides you with information about the largest fish in the sea.
Once you’re on the boat it’s all go! Wetsuits and snorkel gear are handed out and you will be in the water for your first reef snorkel in under 20 minutes. The first dive gives the crew a chance to suss out everyone’s level of swimming experience and to provide some advice on making the most of your day. Then it’s back on the boat headed for the outer reef. The skipper will be getting information from the spotter planes and pointed in the direction of your first whale shark. Pretty quickly you will be jumping off the boat into the big deep blue and face to face with the most beautiful giant fish.
Get up close and personal with a whale shark on the tour.
The experience is actually hard to describe, but we loved every second. We were in and out of the water for a few hours and so tired by the end of the day. Luckily, food was provided so we were full too, topped off with a glass of bubbly at the end of the tour. By the end of the day, we also had a link to all the photos the onboard photographer had taken of the day.
Whalebone Brewery is the perfect wind down after an exciting day with $10 pints and big $20 pizzas all consumed to the background music of a live band. We would recommend one of their pale ales, spicy ginger beer and the Moby Dick pizza. Whalebone is walking distance from both the RAC and Ningaloo Caravan Park.
Swim out amongst the fish in Turquoise Bay.
Day 2 – Turquoise Bay drift snorkel, Oyster Stacks, Osprey Bay
Exmouth is all about the water and Turquoise Bay sparkles. Walk along the white sand a few hundred metres before swimming out for one of the most effortless snorkels across diverse coral, colourful fish and cruisy turtles. Make sure you get out before the sandy point where the current flows out to sea. Walk back up the beach and just do it all again on repeat.
Go snorkelling in the Oyster Stacks.
Check in at the ranger information centre to find out the best times for snorkelling Oyster Stacks. It can be too shallow to swim over sections on the lower end of the tide. Large rock pillars rise up off the reef and are home to not only oysters but a wide range of marine life and coral.
You might be snorkelled out by now and Osprey Bay is the perfect place to sit back and take it all in. Campsites book out quick so be sure to check availability online and lock in your dates. There is a reason this campground books out fast, it is beautiful. It is also the best place to see turtles. Just offshore, there are thick weed beds that the turtles come to feed on and you’ll be able to see them whether you are in or out of the water.
Book your campsite at Osprey Bay in advance.
Day 3 – Paddle Yardie Creek, hike Charles Knife Canyon, sunset at the old lighthouse
In the morning take a paddle, kayak or SUP, up Yardie Creek. Cool dark water contrasts against rising walls of orange as you take a peaceful ride down Yardie Creek. You can also take a ranger-guided boat tour down the gorge which runs twice daily.
Go for a paddle up Yardie Creek.
If you’re travelling in a four-wheel drive you can take the inland track from Sandy Bay to Charles Knife Canyon and the views are rewarding.
If not, take the outer road back round through town. Charles Knife has been described as Exmouth’s Grand Canyon and there are so many places to stop and lap up the views. Take a hike and explore the different cliffs on either side. If you’re around longer Charles Knife is a great place to catch the sunrise.
Take in the incredible views at Charles Knife Canyon.
The old lighthouse is every local’s favourite place to watch the sun go down with drinks and a picnic. What a way to end an epic few days on the Ningaloo Reef, watching the sunset over the ocean you’ve spent most of your time in.
The beach near the old lighthouse is ideal for watching the sun go down over the horizon.
Access to the lighthouse is via the dirt track 50m north of the Ningaloo Lighthouse Caravan Park. Flights generally leave Exmouth to head back to Perth at 10.10am. It was so hard to pull ourselves away from Exmouth. It’s an easy place to spend a few weeks, but I know it’s hard to allow yourself the time when all you can get is a long weekend away from normal life.
I hope you see all the beauty that we were consumed in and that you meet a few friendly travellers along the way that make this a meeting place for north and south migration.
Have you experienced Exmouth for yourself? What was your favourite spot?
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