Due to an abundance of accommodation, hot weather and habit, most of us in Perth tend to head south for our holidays. But in recent years, especially during the cooler months, the convenience and beauty of the Coral Coast, not to mention the brand new highway, has seen a massive increase in interest. Starting at Cervantes just 1.5 hours north of Perth, book now so you get the chance to explore some of these stunning sights.
Pinnacles of Nambung National Park
Located 200km from Perth at Nambung National Park are the incredible natural limestone structures, an icon of the northern coastal region. They were formed approximately 25 000 to 30 000 years ago and now stand as high as five metres. As one of WA’s most visited attractions, it is a must-do when passing through Cervantes!
Take the family on an afternoon cycling adventure and finish up by watching the amazing sunset, or choose to follow the Desert View Trail, an easy 1.5km return loop departing from the Discovery Centre carpark. If you’d prefer not to leave the car, simply embark along the driving trails to view the ancient pillars.
Ningaloo Reef at Coral Bay
A bit of a longer trek, drive just under 12 hours north of Perth and you’ll hit Coral Bay, the perfect holiday stay for exploring WA’s Ningaloo Reef. Swarming with turtles, tropical fish, manta rays, humpback whales and whale sharks, the Ningaloo Reef spans 260km along WA’s coastline. Undertake the ultimate wildlife encounter by joining a mega-fauna tour. Check out Coral Bay Ecotours or Ningaloo Marine Interactions.
Or for the braver at heart, plan your trip before mid-July and have the once-in-a-lifetime experience swimming with whale sharks. If visiting later in the year, you could instead swim with Humpback whales, one of the largest animals on Earth. Personal encounters with the manta rays are an all year round occurrence but don’t worry, unlike stingrays, they don’t have a sharp barb so they are safe to swim or snorkel with!
Take a glass bottom boat trip or join a snorkelling tour. Then round off your day by enjoying the sunset while dining at one of Coral Bay’s restaurants, or treat yourself to a beer at Bill’s alfresco bar.
At their best between July and September, the wildflower trails are not to be missed when travelling up the Coral Coast. Between August and September, witness the Everlasting Wildflower Carpets blanket the region with a profusion of colour, and from early September be in awe at Wreath Flowers in full bloom. If you head west of Green Head, you’ll reach Lesueur National Park where there are two possible locations providing great views of the flora.
Drummonds at the foot of Gairdner Range offers an 8km return hike to the mesa of Mt Lesueur, or alternatively complete an 18km drive down Cockleshell Gully Road providing scenic views of more than 900 species of floral diversity at Lesueur National Park.
Beaches at Monkey Mia
Known as one of the best and most reliable places for dolphin interaction in the world, the friendly bottlenose dolphins visit Monkey Mia’s shores up to three times a day. Located within Shark Bay Marine Park, the white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters make the beaches here truly unique. The waters are teeming with a variety of fish and you may even encounter a pelican or emu on the shoreline.
If you’re wanting to add to your shell collection, Shell Beach is close by and it’s the place to check out. A snow-white beach made up of billions of tiny shells and stretching for over 70km, a shell galore!
To reach Shark Bay Marine Park by road, take the Brand Highway to Geraldton and the North West Coastal Highway to Overlander, then turn left to Denham. Prepare to sit tight though as the 9 hour drive is a lengthy one.
As you head towards Kalbarri it’s a must that you pass through the small town of Port Gregory, admiring the extraordinary Pink Lake, also known as Hutt Lagoon. Changing colour depending on the time of day, the lake is at its most vivid when the sky is clear and the sun is overhead. For the ultimate experience, it’s recommended you visit between 10am and 2pm.
The best land-based view of the lake is via Port Gregory Road, where there is a designated parking area and a path leading you down to the edge of the water. Or, otherwise visit Port Gregory Caravan Park for a buggy tour, taking you 500m to the Pink Lake lookout. For something extra special, you could even take a Kalbarri Scenic Flight for a sky view over the lake!
Situated about 60km west of Geraldton and Kalbarri, the Abrolhos Islands and the surrounding coral reef communities form one of WA’s most unique marine areas. The cluster of 122 islands can be explored via a scenic flight or a seasonal live-aboard 3-5 day boat tour. From fishing, swimming and snorkelling, to bird watching, island exploring and spotting sea lions, dolphins and wallabies, you are spoilt for choice with activities to do here. The ultimate fishing trip or family holiday destination.
Alternatively, if you’re staying in Geraldton, Eco Abrolhos and Abrolhos Adventures both also offer sunset cruises of Geraldton Harbour. It could be the perfect romantic date night.
Learn more about the Islands and boat charter options here.
Francois Peron National Park
Where red desert cliff meet white sandy beaches, Francois Peron National Park follows the scenic coastline of the Coral Coast. The road access is via the Peron Homestead, a historic sheep station located 10 minutes from Monkey Mia. With a self-guided station walk trail and a ‘hot tub’ where you can soak in hot artesian waters, this destination is one you can look forward to. 2WD can access the area up to this point, however 4WD vehicles are ideal for adventuring further north into the park.
There are a number of designated campsites in the region, including Herald Bight, Big Lagoon and Bottle Bay. Little Lagoon is perfect for a picnic. For lovers of 4WD, beach fishing and boating, Bottle Bay might just be your calling.