Australia / Destination Guides

The Ultimate Perth to Coral Bay Road Trip Itinerary

The Perth to Coral Bay road trip is one of my favourites. Our family travels to Coral Bay from Perth every 2 years, so we’re very familiar with the drive and the best places to stop along the way. The Coral Coast is filled with so many incredible natural attractions, so turning the long drive to Coral Bay into a multi-stop road trip is definitely worth it!

Read on for all you need to know about driving to Coral Bay on an epic road trip.

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Getting to Coral Bay from Perth

The best way to get to Coral Bay from Perth is via car. The drive from Perth to Coral Bay is sealed the whole way, so you won’t need a 4WD.

However, if you plan on going off road or would like to be able to drive on the beach it may be worth it!

If you’re travelling from interstate or overseas and don’t have a car I’d recommend hiring one, as public transport to Coral Bay is non-existent.

Click here to compare prices on rental cars.

Make sure to double check the car rental policies if you’d like to take your rental onto any unsealed roads, such as in some of the National Parks.

Distance from Perth to Coral Bay

Coral Bay is situated 1200km north of Perth, Western Australia. It will take 11-13 hours to drive from Perth to Coral Bay all in one day. This will vary depending on if you are towing and how many times you need to stop along the way.

Therefore, I’d highlight recommend turning your trip to Coral Bay into a road trip, breaking up the long drive with overnight stops at other incredible places.

Perth to Coral Bay Road Trip Map

The most scenic route you can take to Coral Bay is along the Indian Ocean Drive. To make the most of your road trip to Coral Bay, you may also have to take some detours that will add to your travel time. These include heading into Kalbarri as well as up to Monkey Mia.

Note: this isn’t necessarily the fastest route, but it is the best route for road trips.

Click the image below for an interactive map which includes the best places to stop on your way to Coral Bay.

Flights from Perth to Coral Bay

If you’re looking to fly from Perth to Coral Bay, you’ll have to take a flight from Perth to Learmonth Airport (near Exmouth). There are no direct flights from to Coral Bay from Perth.

From there you will either need to hire a car, or arrange transport from the airport to Coral Bay. The drive will take about 1.5hrs.

Although this may be a quicker option, you’ll miss out on all the incredible sights you would see on a road trip to Coral Bay.

Perth to Coral Bay via Bus

If you’d prefer to sit back and relax, Integrity Coach Lines offers a bus service north from Perth up to Coral Bay, as well as from Exmouth down to Coral Bay.

Perth to Coral Bay Tour

If you’d prefer not to make the drive to Coral Bay yourself, you can jump on a group tour from Perth. You’ll find that a lot of group tour options will include the best places to stop and even head further north!

Best time to visit Coral Bay

Coral Bay is a great place to visit all year round, staying relatively warm and dry throughout the year. However, during the summer months (December-February) it can get much windier.

Generally, Autumn and Spring are the best seasons to visit Coral Bay. 

Peak season for Coral Bay generally runs from March until November, with the September/October School Holidays bringing in lots of local tourists. During the Western Australian school holidays, accommodation in Coral bay can be booked out up to 2 years in advance!

Perth to Coral Bay Road Trip Itinerary

If you’d like to visit all the spots on this itinerary, I’d recommend setting aside 5 days for your road trip up to Coral Bay. Alternatively, you can choose the places that interest you most and build your own itinerary to suit your travel time frame.

These are the main stops and attractions to see on the drive from Perth to Coral Bay. You can also use this itinerary in reverse as you drive back to Perth. 

Lancelin Sand Dunes

Lancelin Sand Dunes are only 1.5 hours out of Perth and a great spot for your first road trip stop. You can explore the huge sand dunes on your own, hire a sand board to go sand boarding or join a quad bike tour to see even more!

Read the 5 star Quad Bike Tour reviews here!

The Pinnacles, Nambung National Park

The Pinnacles, located in the Nambung National Park (near Cervantes), are limestone formations reaching up to 3.5 meters high! These unique formations are a popular place to stop as you drive along Australia’s Coral Coast.

You will need to pay the National Park Entrance fee of $17 (2024) per vehicle.

There are also tours from Perth available for here that also include exploring the Lancelin Sand Dunes. View the prices and availability here.

Accommodation in Cervantes is limited, I’d recommend staying at RAC Cervantes Caravan Park if you’re looking to stop here for a night on your road trip. It’s a great place to stay for families with both camping and cabin options.

Browse all Cervantes Accommodation options here.

Jurien Bay

Jurien Bay is another coastal town you’ll pass on your road trip to Coral Bay. Though still a small town, Jurien Bay is known for its sea lions that you can go swimming with! It’ll be worth booking a sea lion experience if you choose to stop here on your road trip.

From Jurien Bay you can also go visit the Lesueur National Park where you can see native Australian wildflowers!

Located just 20 minutes north of Cervantes, Jurien Bay has a much larger range of accommodation and dining options. You may find it a better option as the first stop on your road trip (plus you can book in your Sea Lion experience for the morning before you leave!)

Browse all Jurien Bay Accommodation options here.

Geraldton

Geraldton is one of Western Australia’s largest cities, located 4.5 hours from Perth. Commonly known as a port city, it is also home to a large range of cafes, art galleries and beaches. There are also plenty of accommodation options available in Geraldton.

While it isn’t necessarily a popular tourist destination, it can be a great place to stop on your way through to Coral Bay.

Browse all Geraldton Accommodation options here.

Kalbarri

Stopping in Kalbarri as you head to Coral Bay may seem like a detour. However, this beautiful nature destination is well worth the extra driving!

To make the most of your time in Kalbarri you’ll want to stay at least 3 days, giving you enough time to explore all the best things to do in Kalbarri. We chose to make a stop here on our trip up to Coral Bay, staying just one night and enjoy sights such as pink lake (Hutt Lagoon) and Kalbarri National Park for sunrise. However, we have since been back and stayed here for longer and found so much to do!

Although it’s a small town, Kalbarri has plenty of accommodation options. You can read my full guide on where to stay in Kalbarri. You’ll find options including hotels, resorts, home stays and camping.

Alternatively, browse all Kalbarri Accommodation options here.

Pot Alley in Kalbarri coastline

Hutt Lagoon

As drive along the road into Kalbarri you’ll reach this incredible pink lake, Hutt Lagoon. It’s a great place to stop, only 30 minutes out of Kalbarri, where you can stretch your legs before reaching your accommodation.

It’s literally along side the road you take into Kalbarri, so you can’t miss it!

Make sure to read my full guide with everything you need to know about Hutt Lagoon and how to get incredible photos while you’re here.

Kalbarri National Park

Kalbarri National Park is one of the best places to visit in Western Australia, and is a must see if you come to Kalbarri! While you’ll have to pay to enter the national park, once inside everything is free!

The two most common places to visit within the national park are the Kalbarri Skywalk and Natures Window. I’d highly recommend visiting these at sunrise, starting with the Kalbarri Skywalk (read my full guide here).

If you’re limited on time on your road trip stop to Kalbarri you can easily leave your accommodation early in the morning, stopping at the Kalbarri National Park before heading on towards Coral Bay.

Just note: if you’re towing a caravan/trailer/boat you’ll have to unhitch at the park entrance as they are not allowed inside.

Views from above of Kalbarri Skywalk

Monkey Mia

Monkey Mia is another incredible location that will also require you to make a detour up the Peron Peninsula, which leads off of the main road to Coral Bay. The most common reason people come visit Monkey Mia is to see bottlenose dolphins up close to shore of the beach.

However, as the dolphins are wild animals you’ll have to get lucky to get to see them. Especially if you’re only staying for a short time.

Accommodation in Monkey Mia is sparse and you may find that you need to book in for the nearby town of Denham.

Browse Monkey Mia Accommodation Options (& Denham)

animal encounter with wild dolphins in monkey mia western australia

Wooramel Station

We absolutely loved our stay at Wooramel Station, and while it’s not necessarily a well known attraction, its location is ideal if you’re looking for somewhere to stop on your road trip to Coral Bay. They offer accommodation options including: unpowered camping sites, self contained units and eco cabin tents.

The main reason for choosing to stop here is to soak in their artisan hot baths. You’ll want to make sure you wear old bathers if you go in as the water is full of minerals! They also have a cafe on site which is great if you love to grab a morning coffee or don’t feel like cooking.

Carnarvon Cacti Garden

Carnarvon is the final place you’ll pass before you reach Coral Bay. It’s always an exciting moment once you reach here, as you know your many hours of driving will soon come to an end!

Only 2.5 hours away from Coral Bay I’d highly recommend driving through this town, but making a stop over at the instagram worthy Carnarvon Cacti Garden.

However, if you are looking to stay in Carnarvon you can browse the accommodation options here.

Coral Bay

You’ve finally made it to your destination – Coral Bay!

Make sure to read my full guide with everything you need to know about visiting Coral Bay which includes all the best places to stay, where to eat and tips for your visit.

I’ve also written up a complete list of all the best things to do while you’re in Coral Bay. So make sure to read through that so you don’t miss out on any incredible experiences.

Where to Stay in Coral Bay

The most common way to stay in Coral Bay is to camp at one of the two campgrounds: Bayview Coral Bay and Peoples Caravan Park. If you’d prefer not to camp, here are a few other accommodation options for you to choose from:

  • Ningaloo Coral Bay Backpackers ($): Coral Bay Backpackers offers affordable accommodation, catering for budget travellers. There is an outdoor swimming pool, as well as barbecue and kitchen facilities.
  • Bayview Coral Bay ($$): Bayview Coral Bay not only has options for camping, but also has cabins of various sizes available to stay in.
  • Peoples Caravan Park ($$): Located opposite Coral Bays’ main beach, this caravan park also has a variety of apartment style cabins to stay in.

View all Coral Bay Accommodation

Tips for Your Coral Bay Road Trip

Little known to people outside of Western Australia, but road tripping along the Coral Coast can be quite dangerous if you’re not aware of a couple of things.

Kangaroos

I’d recommend that you avoid driving between dusk and dawn if possible when road-tripping in Australia in general. Kangaroos and other wildlife are very active at this time of day and can suddenly jump in front of your vehicle. Don’t be surprised to see a few pulled over to the side of the road, after being hit by a car or truck. 

If you are driving at this time, be alert! If you do see one, slow down by braking heavily in a straight line and only turn later if it’s safe.

Fuel

Fuel stations are few and far between along the Coral Coast. When you pass one, make sure you know where the next one is and that you have enough fuel to get there. If you’re not sure, fill up when you have the chance.

Be aware of flooding/ slick roads

Flooding along the Coastal Hwy is quite common during the summer months, especially between Carnarvon and Coral Bay.

However, the road can also become very slick and slippery from rainfall at any time of the year. We, unfortunately, witnessed an accident caused by slick roads and fog when leaving Kalbarri once. So be careful on the roads when they are wet!

Be confident with road speeds & overtaking

Road speeds along the Coral Coast Highway are up to 110km per hour. However, you will often find people driving much faster (or slower). Trucks and people who are towing are limited to 100km per hour. 

With people driving at a mix of speeds and very few dual lanes there is a lot of overtaking that happens on the road. Therefore, driving can become quite dangerous for those who aren’t confident behind the wheel.

Phone Reception

Along the Coral Coast highway, reception is very limited. The best provider is generally Telstra, however you’ll still find areas where you have no reception. Make sure you pre-download any maps you need and any games or movies for the kids. If you need reception along the way, you are most likely to get it when passing through a town.

National Parks

If you are spending some time in Western Australia and visiting a few national parks, it might be worth getting a 5-day Holiday Pass Parks Pass. This is far better value than buying individual tickets each time you want to enter a national park. 

Tips for Road Tripping with Kids

Coral Bay is a popular destination for families, but the drive is long! If you are planning to visit with your kids here are a few tips to help make the long road trip go smoothly:

  • Let the kids stretch their legs when you make a stop.
  • But, don’t stop until you need to!
  • Have as much room possible in the car – use a roof rack or trailer.
  • If your kids nap, drive during nap time.
  • Stock up on snacks.
  • Let them use the electronics… but wait till the right time.
  • Have an essentials (toys, food, wipes) easily accessible.

Overall

With so much to do and see on your road trip up to Coral Bay, you’ll need to plan your itinerary according to the amount of time you have! Start by choosing the destinations and attractions that you want to visit most, making sure you have enough time to make the drive comfortably.

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