Ningaloo Reef’s little sister Coral Bay is so much more than just whale sharks; number 71 on Australian Traveller’s ‘100 amazing places you haven’t been to yet’. Nominated by: Simon Westcott, owner of LUXE City Guides and co-founder of luxury hotel guide Mr & Mrs Smith.
Simon Westcott is more than familiar with high-end luxury, but one of his favourite places in the world is a one-street town you can find on the road trip between Perth and Exmouth.
“What’s amazing about Coral Bay is the access to Ningaloo Reef,” he says. “You just walk off the beach and snorkel, and there it is.” The next town down from Ningaloo’s main port, Exmouth, Coral Bay, isn’t home to much more than two caravan sites, a motel, a “fantastic” fish and chip shop and possibly the west coast’s best pies (at Coral Resort Bakery), but visitors often fall in love with it.
“The drive in is 50 kilometres of pretty flat, scrubby, quasi-desert,” admits Westcott, “but the light is extraordinary, the space is extraordinary, the wildlife on the way is extraordinary.
You can’t really explain how all those separate Australian components add up to something so incredibly special. We could have stayed there for weeks.”
Indeed, some do. You can swim with manta rays and Ningaloo’s famous whale sharks, take diving and boat tours, go quad biking through the sand dunes or swim off that beach directly onto the world-famous reef.
And how’s this for a local fact: if you face the water, turn right and walk to the end of the beach then wade in, you’ll even find yourself surrounded by harmless reef shark pups, as the north end of the beach is home to a reef shark nursery.
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