Coral Bay is a little beach side town, perfect for a 2-week holiday packed full of fun activities, adventures and relaxation. You can spend your days by the beach, experiences the Ningaloo reef and enjoy the best of Coral Bay town. Here are our top 10 things to do in Coral Bay, Western Australia.
This post was originally published in 2020 but was updated in 2023.
Things to do in Coral Bay, Western Australia:
- Spend a Day at Coral Bay Beach
- Go to the Bakery
- Enjoy Gelato at Sweet Ningaloo
- Take a Glass Bottom Boat Tour
- Enjoy a Pub Meal at Bill’s
- Walk to the Shark Sanctuary
- Go Scuba Diving
- Swim with a Manta Ray
- Four Wheel Driving
- Go Snorkelling
- See Whales
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Coral Bay Beach
Being a small beach town, the beach in Coral Bay is literally at your doorstep. Whether you are camping, staying at the hostel or resort you can easily walk to the beach from your accommodation.
Spend the Day at Coral Bay Beach
Coral Bay beach is a very kid friendly, especially at high tide. When the tide is high there is a large expanse of shallow water that is perfect for toddlers to play in. As the tide starts to go out, the shallow water becomes great for skim boarding!
Read More: 10 Tips for Taking a Toddler to the Beach
Being in a sanctuary zone, there is also a lot of fish that will happily swim up to you in the water. Just walk out to where the water gets deeper and there will be plenty of fishing coming to say hello! When the tide is low, you can see fish without even getting your feet wet!
Coral Bay beach is also a great spot canoeing and paddle boarding! If you have access to either, make sure you head out on a calm day… early mornings are usually best. While paddling through the clear water you can see all the coral and fish without having to get wet!
Watch The Sunset at Coral Bay Beach
Being in Western Australia, Coral Bay has stunning sunsets over the ocean. So, during your stay, don’t forget to walk down to the beach to watch a few sunsets!
If you walk to the left side of the beach, there you will find the limestone rocks. If the tide is low you can walk around them. This is a stunning spot for some family photos! We visit Coral Bay with our family every two years and take a photo in the same spot each time. It’s so incredible to reflect on how our family has grown between each visit!
Tip: You can also watch the sunset from up in the dunes! From here, you will have views of the whole bay!
Go to the Bakery
Yes, I am including the local bakery on the list of things to do in Coral Bay, because it is amazing! Visiting the Coral Resort Bakery is basically a daily occurrence for many visitors to the town.
We would often head to the bakery for some lunch. There is a wide selection of pastries, cakes and rolls… and there is coffee!
Enjoy Gelato at Sweet Ningaloo
While we’re on the subject of sweets, you’ll definitely want to visit Sweet Ningaloo! A handcrafted Italian gelato shop located in both Coral Bay and Exmouth, you just have to try their “whale shark” flavour. It’s a great place to visit after a warm day down at the beach.
Take a Glass Bottom Boat Tour
Looking for a family friendly way to experience the Ningaloo Reef? A glass bottom boat tour is a great way to see what is beneath the surface of the ocean, without having to go snorkelling. Therefore, it’s a great option for families with young kids!
- 1-hr Glass Bottom Boat Tour: This is a 1 hour tour, leaving from Coral Bay beach, perfect for families!
- 2-hr Glass Bottom Boat Tour (snorkelling included): Ride a glass bottom boat and also enjoy a snorkel at two different locations! Snorkel gear included.
Enjoy a Pub Meal at Bill’s
Bill’s Bar is the ideal spot to enjoy a meal and watch the latest sporting match. Open 7 days a week from 11 till late it’s a great place to sample the best of the local seafood.
Family friendly, with alfresco dining, we love heading here for both lunch and dinner or just to grab a drink while we watch some live sport! They even have a small section with toys to keep your kids entertained while you relax.
Walk to the Shark Sanctuary
No trip to Coral Bay would be complete without at least one attempt of seeing wild reef sharks swim around in the Shark Sanctuary.
The Shark Sanctuary is located in Skeleton Bay, a 20 minute walk north of Coral Bay Beach. From here you can see adult reef sharks, pregnant females and baby reef sharks.
At the best of times you can see up to 30 reef sharks swimming in the water! On our most recent visit to Coral Bay we were lucky to see at least 100 reef sharks swimming in the bay.
When to See Reef Sharks at the Sanctuary in Coral Bay
The best time of the year to see the sharks is between September and March. Read the full blog post on visiting the shark sanctuary for more details.
Getting to the Shark Sanctuary
The walk from Coral Bay Beach to the Shark Sanctuary gets rocky in some places. If you have sensitive feet, definitely wear shoes!
If you are heading here with young kids, I suggest you take them in a carrier, since the walk can get quite difficult at times.
Best Practices for Seeing Wild Reef Sharks
When visiting the reef sharks it is your responsibility to minimise your impact and act appropriately. Simply observe the sharks and don’t interfere with them in anyway.
Go Scuba Diving
If you are looking for something a little more adventurous, scuba diving on the Ningaloo Reef is one of the most incredible things to do in Coral Bay!
The Ningaloo Reef is one of the longest near-shore reefs in the world. It is World Heritage-listed and an amazing place to see marine life and coral gardens.
Scuba diving is a unique experience and is the best way to really appreciate the reef. This was my first experience with scuba diving! As a discover diver we were able to go up to 12m deep and were underwater for approximately 45 minutes. Our tour even included swimming with Manta Rays, another iconic thing to do in Coral Bay. We also saw tonnes of fish, turtles, dolphins and tiger sharks! However, there are plenty of tour options available, so make sure to pick the one that best suits your needs.
Swim with a Manta Ray
Included in our scuba diving tour was the opportunity to swim with manta rays! This experience was amazing, to say the least.
Swimming with manta rays are one of the ‘Big 3’ bucket list experiences of the Ningaloo Reef (along with swimming with whale sharks and humpback whales) and is one of the best things to do in Coral Bay. Manta rays are found around Coral Bay all year round.
They are extremely majestic and DON’T have a sharp barb. Therefore, they are very safe to swim with.
However, they are also extremely fast! Swimming with them is a thrilling experience. You need to enter the water and swim very quickly, so its best to use a mask, snorkel and flippers.
- Swim with Manta Rays in Coral Bay: This 5-6 hour tour will take you snorkelling around the Ningaloo Reef, up close and personal with the majestic Manta Rays. Snorkelling gear and food is included.
Four Wheel Driving
Four-wheel driving is my favourite things to do in Coral Bay. It is the perfect way to have a land based adventure!
Obviously, you will need to have a 4WD to take on the sandy tracks.
When four wheel driving in Coral Bay, remember to stick to the tracks. It is important that you don’t drive on other areas to conserve the sand dunes and wildlife.
Best Beaches in Coral Bay to 4WD to:
Even though you will be off-roading, you can get directions to various beaches via google maps. These tracks will take you to some of the most pristine areas around Coral Bay. However, some of these are very popular during school holidays and can become quite busy!
Five Fingers Reef
Five Fingers is located south of Coral Bay. Here you can go snorkelling and fishing. The beach is also quite wide and flat, perfect for a soccer game or setting up a volleyball net.
Oyster Bridge (pictured)
Oyster Bridge is north of Coral Bay, located in the Bateman Sanctuary Zone. This means that you cannot fish here. However the snorkelling here is incredible.
If you are driving along the beach near Oyster Bridge, be aware that when the tide is high the beach disappears.
If you don’t have a 4WD with you, you can book a quad tour. This is a great way to explore more of the coastline and have some fun on the tracks.
The Ningaloo Reef is one of the best places to go fishing in Western Australia. You can fish straight off of the beach or out by the reef by boat. If you are looking to score a big catch (like Jason’s prized Spanish Mackerel) you will need to head to deeper water!
We had a boat along with us and we took it outside the reef for some fishing. Even though the wind and swell was low it was still quite rough out on the open water. But after a few hours of fishing I managed to reel in a big catch, a pearl perch (pictured).
You can also book a charter, where they will take you outside of the reef. The water here is deep and so the fish are big!
Coral Bay is most famous for being the doorstep to Western Australia’s stunning Ningaloo Reef. You can snorkel right from the beach at Coral Bay or take the 4WD tracks to other popular places such as Five Fingers Reef and Oyster Bridge.
The Turquoise Bay Drift Snorkel is another great place to enjoy the stunning coral. It is accessible from the Drift Snorkel car park, meaning you won’t need for a 4WD to get there. However, it is located just over 2 hours out of Coral Bay.
You can also experience snorkelling by going out on a tour. This option will take you out to the reef by boat, to some of the most pristine coral in the area.
There are 3 bucket list experiences to do along the Ningaloo Reef. Swimming with manta rays, whale sharks and humpback whales. While swimming with manta rays is avalaible throughout the year, swimming with whales is seasonal.
When to see whales in Coral Bay:
- Whale Sharks: March – August
- Humpback Whales: July – October
While I would love to experience this, we often visit Coral Bay outside of these seasons. But, if swimming with whale sharks is on your bucket list then “Ningaloo Reef is the best place in the world to swim alongside the gentle whale shark” – Australia.com.
The best company to go with from Coral Bay is Coral Bay Eco Tours.
- Whale Shark Safari: A day long cruise with a chance to snorkel before heading out to find the whale sharks.
- Humpback Whale Safari: A full day tour where you can get up close with the gentle giants sea giants.
Coral Bay Accommodation
- 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.
- Ningaloo Reef Resort ($$$): Temporarily closed as undergoing renovations. Located at the end of the peninsula, Ningaloo Reef Resort offers stunning beachfront accommodation. Suitable for all travellers, your accommodation will be air-conditioned. There is also a swimming pool, barbecue facilities and manicured lawns and gardens.
While Coral Bay may seem like a small beach town, there is definitely plenty of amazing things to do here! With options for adventure, family outings, dining and relaxation there will be something to suit everyone in your family.
If your planning a trip to Coral Bay, then go read my complete guide to this incredible Western Australian destination.
If you’re travelling along Australia’s Coral Coast, Coral Bay is a must visit for nature lovers and families! The coastline and water is beautiful and it’s hard not to love the quaint little town.
Coral Bay is worth visiting for any amount of time! Ideally, you should visit anywhere from 3 days – 2 weeks. We visit for 2 weeks every two years and love every trip. There is plenty to do, but you can also spend your days relaxing by the beach and dining at the many cafes and restaurants in the small town.
The best time to visit Coral Bay is from April till October. The days are often warm and sunny, with minimal rainfall. Just be aware it can get quite windy, particularly in September/ October.