Australia / Destination Guides

The Ultimate Guide to Coral Bay, Western Australia

As a small town on the coast of Western Australia, Coral Bay is home to some of the most stunning white sand beaches and the clearest turquoise blue water. It is one of the few stops along Australia’s Coral Coast, and a family favourite of ours!

This popular coastal town is the perfect location for a family holiday, where you can enjoy the sunshine and sea life in a relaxing environment. We holiday here in October every second year, it truely is one of Western Australia’s must see destinations!

Read More: 10 Amazing Things to Do in Coral Bay, Western Australia

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission on purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. By making a purchase, you are directly supporting and allowing me to continue providing you with free high-quality travel contentThank you for supporting this blog!

Is Coral Bay Worth Visiting?

Coral Bay is one of Western Australia’s favourite destinations for a family beach holiday! Bills Bay makes for the perfect beach for families with kids of all ages! With shallow water for the little ones to play in and incredible snorkelling from the shoreline, there’s something for everyone.

The weather certainly impacts Coral Bay, so make sure you plan your visit for the right time of year. I’d also advise staying for more than a week so you can guarantee some sunny days on your holiday.

How Long to Stay in Coral Bay?

We visit every 2 years and stay for 2 weeks each time, so you can definitely plan a longer stay here! However, if you have limited time, I’d recommend staying for at least 3 days to have enough time for all the highlights!

How to Get to Coral Bay, WA

There are two options to get from Perth to Coral Bay: Drive or Fly. While flying is a much faster option, driving is more practical. It is extremely useful to have your own car here since everything up north is far apart and there is no public transport available.

Planning a road trip to Coral Bay? Then read my Western Australia’s Coral Coast Road Trip Guide

Driving to Coral Bay

Coral Bay is situated 1200km north of Perth, Western Australia. The most popular way for tourists to get here is to drive! It is a long drive, taking anywhere from 11-13 hours (depending if your towing and how many stops you need to make along the way).

If that many hours of driving sounds too long, I suggest making an overnight stop in Geraldton. However we prefer to leave early and drive the whole way in a day, making as few stops as possible! We especially find that this is the best way to go with kids in the car. Just make sure you are prepared to settle in for the long haul!

How long will it take to drive from Perth to Coral Bay, Western Australia?

It will take 11-13 hours to drive from Perth to Coral Bay. This will vary depending on if you are towing and how many stops you make along the way.

Flying to Coral Bay

You can also opt to fly to Coral Bay, taking a flight from Perth to Learmonth Airport. From there you will either need to hire a car, or arrange transport in advance from the airport to Coral Bay. The drive will take about 1.5hrs.

Although this may be a quicker option, driving to Coral Bay gives you a great opportunity to enjoy the vast and empty landscape, as well as providing you a car for when you arrive!

When to Visit Coral Bay, Western Australia

Coral Bay is a great place to visit, staying relatively warm and dry throughout the year. However, it is much windier over the summer months, from December to February.

Autumn and Spring are both great 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. If you are visiting Western Australia and planning a trip to Coral Bay, be sure to check when the School Holidays are as accommodation can book out up to 2 YEARS in advance!

Book your accommodation well ahead of time so that you won’t be disappointed.

Getting Around

Most of the roads along the Ningaloo Coast are unsealed, and you need a 4WD to access them. These tracks give you access to other beaches where you can go fishing, snorkelling or just spend the day relaxing.

I would recommend having a 4WD so you’ll have more control over your itinerary!

If you cannot take or hire a 4WD, you can always join a quad bike tour that takes you down the tracks. The downside is that you won’t get as much time to spend on the beach and experiencing the other activities it offers.

Things to Do in Coral Bay

Coral Bay is filled with amazing things to do. There are plenty of free activities for the budget traveller as well as amazing paid experiences, unique to Australia’s Coral Coast. However, the Coral Bay beaches are definitely the most popular reason for families to come here. With fishing, snorkelling, four-wheel driving and relaxing to fill your days at the beaches in Coral Bay.

Free Activities in Coral Bay, Western Australia

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. Located a 20 minute walk north of Coral Bay Beach, this is an incredible opportunity to see up to 30 reef sharks swimming in the water! Here are some details on How to Visit The Coral Bay Shark Sanctuary.

Snorkelling: 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.

  • 2-Hour Snorkelling Tour: You can even jump on a snorkelling tour where they’ll take you to reefs further out & you can view the coral through the glass bottom boat!

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.

Fishing: 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 Mackrel) you will need to head to deeper water!

Just be aware of the water sanctuary zones, where fishing is not allowed.

Four Wheel Driving: Four wheel driving is one of my top things to do in Coral Bay. It is the best way to see the coastline and get to the prettiest beaches. We even took little 2 month old Koby with us on our adventures! Just be mindful to stay on the approved tracks.

Relax on the Beach: With stunning scenery, the warm sun and the cool water, why not just spend the day relaxing on the beach? The beach in Coral Bay is large, has beautiful white sand and crystal clear water. Perfect for working on your tan!

Paid Experiences: Coral Bay Tours

Snorkelling: You can book a Snorkel Tour leaving from Coral Bay beach. Tour companies will provide you with snorkel gear and bring you out to the reef by boat.

Glass Bottom Boat: View the coral without having to get wet! This 1hr Glass Bottom Boat tour is a great activity if you have young kids

Fishing: You can take a charter trip, where they will take you outside of the reef. The water here is deep and so the fish are big!

Four Wheel Driving: If you don’t have a 4WD with you, you can book a quad tour that will take you along the tracks and the beach. It is something that everyone in the family will enjoy!

Scubadiving: If you are looking for a bit more of an under-the-water adventure, you can take a scubadiving tour. It is open to everyone, even if you have never been before, and is a great way to get up close and personal with the sea life. You even get the opportunity to swim with mantarays!

Swim with Manta Rays: Get up close to manta rays, sea turtles, and more on a 5-6hr snorkel tour around Ningaloo Reef. The highlight of this tour would definitely have to be swimming with manta rays!

Swim with Whale Sharks: If you are looking for something a little more adventurous, Coral Bay is one of the best places to experience whale sharks in Western Australia. This Whale Shark Safari provides one of the few opportunities in the world where you can swim with Whale Sharks!

Whale sharks make their annual appearance between March and June.

If this is something you are interested in doing, be sure to book your trip for that time of year.

Swim with Humpback Whales: Take this Humpback Whale Safari for the chance to see & swim with the humpback whales that migrate past the Ningaloo Reef every year.

Humpback Whales make their annual appearance between June and October.

Where to Stay in Coral Bay

Coral Bay is a small town with limited options for accommodation. The most common way to stay in Coral Bay is to go camping.

Camping: The most popular way to stay in Coral Bay is to camp at one of the two campgrounds: Bayview Coral Bay and Peoples Caravan Park.

Camping with your family can be a great way to really experience what Coral Bay has to offer. Without the usual comforts of a house, camping will encourage your family to really enjoy nature and embrace outdoor living.

Read More: Tips for Camping with a Baby

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.
  • 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.

Where to Eat in Coral Bay

Coral Bay Supermarket: Being a small town, Coral Bay has one small supermarket where you will find mostly everything you need. However, you should expect to pay a higher price so try taking pre-planned meals!

Read More: Easy & Healthy Meal Ideas for Camping

Coral Resort Bakery: This is our favorite place to eat in all of Coral Bay. With delicious cakes, and classic Aussie meat pies it is great at any time of the day. We would often pop in to get some breakfast… or morning coffee or lunch or an afternoon snack. Basically, we just love the bakery in Coral Bay!

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 have to try their “whale shark” flavour, it was definitely a favourite of ours and definitely suits the location! It’s a great place to visit after a warm day down at the beach.

Bill’s Bar: If you are looking for a pub feed or a place to watch some sport, Bill’s Bar is a great place for food and beer. It is best enjoyed from lunchtime until after dinner.

Reef Cafe: Reef Cafe offers dining as well as takeaway options. We love to grab some pizza from here for an easy dinner!

Shades Cafe and Bar: Located at the Ningaloo Reef Resort, Shades is open for breakfast, lunch & dinner. It has a relaxed family vibe and live music on Thursday nights!

Fin’s: Fin’s is located in People’s Caravan Park, and has delicious food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is great place to grab a morning coffee before taking a walk along the beach!

Overall

Overall, Coral Bay is a great place to enjoy the natural Australia landscape. It is perfect for kids of all ages. We’ve continued to visit every 2 years since our youngest was born in 2018 and have loved every trip as our family grows! There are plenty of activities to keep your family busy while you can relax on the beach.

10 Comments

  • Robert
    May 8, 2020 at 4:21 am

    Coral Bay looks beautiful! We’ve traveled to Australia on 2 occasions now from BC Canada and love it. We are still yet to visit this part of the Country. Would love to return for an extended camping adventure. Great posts and photos! Spotted you on Pinterest and have pinned for future reference. 🙂

    Reply
    • Megan
      May 17, 2020 at 8:26 am

      It really is a great place to visit! Hoping to head back there again later this year! We love BC… have been there several times to visit family. Thanks!

      Reply
  • Shayla
    February 16, 2020 at 9:31 pm

    Oh man, this makes me want to travel so badly! I’ve been wanting to go to the beach for years.

    Reply
    • Megan
      March 3, 2020 at 1:17 pm

      The beach is my happy place! You will have to book a trip!

      Reply
  • Christa
    February 16, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    I’ve been wanting to plan a big trip to Australia forever! Exploring as much as I can of it is a huge priority. Looks like I’m adding more to my itinerary after reading this post!

    Reply
    • Megan
      March 3, 2020 at 1:18 pm

      Western Australia is a HUGE part of what Australia has to offer so its definitely a destination that should be on your list!

      Reply
  • Rosemary
    February 16, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Have yet to visit Australia. Would love to check out Coral Bay when I eventually get there. Love how secluded it is and your stunning photos. Hope to get to Australia soon.

    Reply
    • Megan
      March 3, 2020 at 1:21 pm

      Hahah yes! Getting here is a bit of a journey, but its so worth it for the untouched beauty you get to see!

      Reply
  • Patricia @ Grab a Plate
    February 15, 2020 at 11:44 pm

    Oh! Your photos are amazing! How wonderful it would be to head out for a visit!

    Reply
  • Nicole
    February 15, 2020 at 8:10 pm

    Wow, this looks like a beautiful place to visit! I am for sure putting this in my bucket list.

    Reply

Leave a Reply