Guide to Visiting Coral Bay, Western Australia

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Coral Bay is a small coastal town on the Coral Coast of Western Australia that is the famous gateway to the Ningaloo Reef.

It doesn’t take long to walk around Coral Bay. There’s only a handful of shops, and most of which could do with a little TLC, and a beach.

But that doesn’t mean Coral Bay isn’t worth visiting. In fact, there are plenty of reasons. In this guide, I’ve shared what to do in Coral Bay, and given you some helpful information to help you plan your visit there.

white sand beach and turquoise water of Coral Bay, Western Australia

Is Coral Bay Worth Visiting

So many other travellers we’d met, and folks on our Facebook page, had been raving about this Aussie holiday town but my first impression was – what’s all the fuss?

Prior to arriving in Coral Bay, we had just visited two of the most beautiful white-sand beaches we have seen on our road trip around Australia, Sandy Bay and Turquoise Bay in Exmouth, and the wonders of Karijini National Park.

So the bar had been set at record highs!

It didn’t take long for Coral Bay to show us why this was one of Western Australia’s favourite holiday spots.

It’s funny what a good nights sleep and a blue sky can do to brighten up your mood, and a town.

Bill’s Bay went from windy and overcast to become this:

A sandy beach next to a body of water

I would say that Coral Bay is definitely worth visiting, but only when you have good weather. Many of its attractions require you to visit the outdoors – the beach, the reef, and the beach bars with outdoor terraces.

We soon learned that Coral Bay may only have a few shops and a slow pace of life, but this is actually what makes this place special and gave it that addictive vibe.

It was a vibe I would soon fall in love with.

Things to Do in Coral Bay, Western Australia

Now you know a little bit about what to expect from the vibe, it’s time to show you the best attractions in Coral Bay…

1. Visit Bill’s Bay Beach (Main Beach)

caz and craig wearing snorkeling gear.

Bill’s Bay is a huge, sweeping bay protected by the Ningaloo Reef making it a snorkelling and swimming paradise.

The water is that calm, clear turquoise blue (much like Sandy Bay and Turquoise Bay) where large fish swim around your ankles in the shallows, we even saw a few rays close to shore.

And it was here we would come for a morning snorkel, or we would start snorkelling at the point and let the current carry us back to Bill’s Bay.

clear turquoise water of bills bay beach

The great thing about Bill’s Bay is how kid friendly it is, Kalyra felt comfortable snorkeling and swimming off the beach as the water level only ever really went waist deep.

If we weren’t snorkeling we were relaxing on the soft white sand whilst the kids played, or I’d take an afternoon run and finish off here with a refreshing dip.

savannah standing next to an umbrella on the beach
rocks on the beach

It’s also a great place to pack up a picnic and head to one of the beach shelters, which has clean picnic benches overlooking the coastline.

picnic table next to the beach

2. Have Breakfast at Coral Resort Bakery

Located on Robinson Street is Coral Resort Bakery which is the best bakery in town. It has everything, from sandwiches, to fresh bread, to pies and sausage rolls.

It’s the perfect place to pick up a light lunch or breakfast pastry.

3. Rent a Kayak or SUP

One of the best ways to take in the coastal views of Coral Bay is to get out on the water, but you don’t need to go out too far to enjoy it.

If you head to Main Beach, you can rent a kayak or stand-up paddle board from Ningaloo Kayak Adventures and explore the coast for yourself.

They also have glass bottom canoes, and snorkelling gear for rent too.

4. Hit the Walking Trails

kalyra standing on cliffs overlooking the ocean

Coral Bay is also a great place to put on your hiking shoes and head out on a coastal walk.

You can walk to Paradise Beach along the rocky shores, whilst stopping to take a look in the rock pools, or head up onto the Coral Bay Walk Way trail which is the most popular hike.

It’s a 2km walk that runs along the entire coast. If you take a walk around sunset, then you might even see some turtles nesting on the beach.

Coral Bay Tours

If you’re thinking about taking a tour from Coral Bay, here are some of the ones we loved…

Quad Biking the Sand Dunes

people riding dirt bikes on coastline

It wasn’t all relaxation and snorkels. I took Kalyra on her first quad biking adventure with Quadtrek and it was the best quad biking track I’ve ridden yet.

The incredible coastal scenery, we rode up and down big sand dunes, drove over to Mauds landing, spotted turtles off “Turtle Cliffs” and even went snorkelling at Five Fingers Reef.

kalyra riding on dirt bikes

Kalyra couldn’t stop talking about how much fun this was! It’s a must do when in town.

craig and kalyra standing on rock cliffs
people riding on dirt bikes
people riding bikes down sand dunes
line of the quad bikes on the sand

Snorkelling at Oyster Bridge

Oyster Bridge is a 20 minute drive out of town and can only be reached by four wheel drive, the sand is soft and the road windy.

Luckily our friends let us ride with them in their hard core four-wheel drive and once there we were rewarded with our own little snorkelling lagoon.

Us adults took turns snorkeling the lagoon whilst the kids enjoyed sand boarding down the dunes. Put it on your list for Coral Bay.

clear blue ocean water surrounded by rocks
caroline swimming in the ocean
craig snorkeling in the ocean

Swimming With Manta Rays

Whilst I did quad biking, Caz and Kalyra had a mummy and daughter date and went swimming with the Manta Rays in Ningaloo Reef Marine Park with Coral Bay Eco Tours.

This is one of the top things to do in Coral Bay and one of the main reasons to visit the town.

manta ray swimming
caroline snorkeling giving a peace sign to the camera

The tour takes you out onto the Ningaloo Reef to a place where manta rays visit pretty much all year round.

These gentle giants are harmless and used to humans in their warm turquoise waters. That being said, it’s important not to touch them.

You can read all about my experience swimming with manta rays in Coral Bay here, and check prices and availability for manta ray swimming experiences here.

Glass Bottom Boat Tours

There are so many boat tours you can take out on the Ningaloo Reef, and if you’re into scuba diving then there are plenty of options you can take.

But for those of us who prefer to keep their feet dry, there’s always the glass bottom boat tour.

This full day tour takes you out to the Ningaloo Reef where you can see the coral gardens through a glass floor in the boat.

You still get to see a thriving community of marine life, including sea turtles and reef sharks if you’re lucky, but without getting in the water. You may also spot manta rays and dugongs.

This is a great option for travellers with kids. They also run all year round so if you miss whale shark or humpback whale season, you can still take a boat tour.

Swim with Whale Sharks

Swim with the Whale Sharks, Ningaloo Reef, Exmouth, Western Australia
image via Shutterstock.com

Manta rays are not the only “swimming with wildlife” experience you can have in Coral Bay. Ningaloo Reef is also home to another gentle giant of the ocean – whale sharks.

During March to June, Ningaloo reef’s coral spawns each year which brings in a lot of plankton and krill – whale shark’s favourite food.

This is the perfect opportunity for visitors to swim along with these beautiful creatures and admire them in their natural habitat, but without disturbing them.

Whale sharks may be huge animals (sometimes even up to 12 metres long), but they are also allusive, and whale shark sightings are not easy.

Ningaloo Reef Whale Shark
Swim with the gentle giants

This is why the boat tour companies use a spotter plane to search for them, and you spend a full day on the boat waiting for a chance to swim with them.

Visitors are also split into groups to swim with them so the whale sharks are not disturbed too much.

All gear, fins, and snorkel masks are provided.

Humpback Whale Sightseeing Tour

Another boat cruise that is worth doing in Coral Bay is a humpback whale tour, which takes place from June to October – just after the whale sharks leave.

This is when the humpback whales are on their annual migration with their newborn baby calfs.

You might even get to see a playful pod of dolphins joining them.

There are some tours that allow you to swim with humpback whales but this is an additional fee.

Fishing Charters

If you enjoy fishing, then you can charter a fishing boat to take you out to one of the best fishing spots in Western Australia.

Try your hand at catching bream, marlin, sailfish, mahi-mahi and even tuna.

Best Time to Visit Coral Bay

coral in the ocean

The best time to visit Coral Bay is when the weather is warm and sunny, but also when the marine life are thriving in the waters.

If you want to swim with whale sharks, tours operate from March to June. Humpback whales visit the area from June to October.

From October to February, you can expect the weather to be windy and hot. Also, December and January is during the school holidays, so you can expect there to be crowds this time of year.

July and August are also quite busy with international travellers as this is when schools in Europe close for their summer.

The quietest months are June and November.

How to Get to Coral Bay

a beach

Coral Bay is located 1,121.7 km (11 hr 40 min) from Perth via State Route 60 and National Route 1 and 152.3 km (1 hr 33 min) south of Exmouth. The nearest airport is Learmonth Airport, which is a 90-minute drive north of Coral Bay.

You can get a direct flight with Qantas from Melbourne to Learmonth Airport.

If you are visiting Coral Bay, you will need a car to get there, but once you are there the town is walkable.

Where to Stay in Coral Bay

When it comes to staying in Coral Bay, you can find a lot of accommodation options. Coral Bay Accommodation

We stayed at the Bayview Caravan Park (Ningaloo Coral Bay – Bayview) across the road from Bill’s Bay (Main Beach) because we were staying in a camper, but they also have little lodges and villas which look quite sweet.

Another popular place to stay is the Ningaloo Reef Resort, which is right on the beach and offers comfortable apartments and studios.

See the map below for more accommodaiton options in Coral Bay.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Coral Bay

So Coral Bay lived up to it’s reputation, and after road tripping Oz for 18 months it’s now on our list of one of Australia’s best coastal destinations.

Sure it might heave a little in the peak school holiday periods, but certainly not on the level of an east coast Byron Bay or Cairns.

Hopefully this guide helped you understand what to expect from a visit to Coral Bay and gave you some insight on how to plan your trip there.

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Can you share any tips or stories for travel in Coral Bay in Western Australia? Let us know in the comments.

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