manta rays ningaloo reef

Coral Bay, Australia: Best things to do in Ningaloo Reef & Warroora station

Coral Bay located in Western Australia belongs to one of the most beautiful places we have seen in this part of the continent.

As the name says, this place is famous for its marine life and beaches. In this post, we will share the best things to do in Coral Bay, including diving in the Ningaloo Reef, the best beaches, and other awesome days trip from Coral Bay such as visiting the incredible sand dunes of Warroora station.

arial shot of white sand beach with blue water near Coral bay, Australia
Welcome to Coral Bay and Ningaloo Reef

HOW TO GET TO CORAL BAY

You can find Coral Bay on the Western coast of Australia just around 140 km south of Exmouth and 1200 km from Perth. So If you are coming southwards from Exmouth and Cape Range NP you can’t miss Coral Bay.

If you are traveling from the direction of Perth we hope that you spend time at Shark Bay as it is an incredible place.

ABOUT CORAL BAY

A Coral Bay city is a tiny place with about 250 residents. There is one overpriced shop, 2 campsites (also overpriced) a few restaurants (haven’t checked any), and one coffee shop (probably still overpriced). There is also one backpacker hostel and few dive shops

Coral Bay is quite useless if it wasn’t for Ningaloo Reef and the beaches around. It also doesn’t have the vibe of holiday towns like Noosa or Broome but has more than Exmouth, which is not that hard to achieve. Every place next to the ocean has at least that going for itself: the ocean and all the fun stuff that comes with it.

White sand beach at the Coral Bay harbor
White sand beach at the Coral Bay harbor

READ MORE: 15 ICONIC LANDMARKS OF AUSTRALIA

BEST THINGS TO DO IN CORAL BAY, AUSTRALIA

NINGALOO REEF

Forget the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).

Ok, we are just joking.

We don’t want to compare GBR and Ningaloo, because they are somehow the same, but of course different.

We can just say that Ningaloo Reef absolutely blew our minds. Figuratively, but also quite literally, as it was incredibly windy there.

As Ningaloo reef is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the contract of the reef, fish is absolutely stunning. I don’t think we have seen so much diversity in colors like in Ningaloo reef.

Coral bay is home to around 260 different species of corals, reef sharks, whale sharks, and 6 different species of turtles.

underwater shots with red corals and blue water in Ningaloo reef
Lungs of our oceans: Corals, photo credit: Ningaloo reef dive

And if you traveling between April and August you can also dive with humpback whale sharks.

SWIMMING WITH MANTA RAYS

We visited Coral Bay in August and the whale shark season was over, but we had 2 incredible dives and 2 swimming trips with magnificent manta rays. 

Swimming with manta rays was absolutely a dream coming true. Thank you Ningaloo reef dive for showing us the Ningaloo Reef.

black manta ray swimming in the blue ocean surrounded by yellow fish in Ningaloo reef, one of the best things to see in Coral Bay, Australia
Swimming with manta rays, Photo credit: Ningaloo reef dive

FUN FACTS ABOUT MANTAS

1: The word manta comes from Spanish and means ‘blanket

2: Did you know that Mantas have the largest brain to body weight ratio of any living fish giving it enough smarts to make the average dolphin jealous.

3: Every manta is unique and can be identified by the spots on the underside of their bodies.

two manta rays swimming in Ningaloo reef, western Australia

4: A fully grown oceanic manta ray can reach a wingspan of up to 7 meters and weigh up to 2 tonnes!

HOW MUCH DOES THE DIVE COST?

Two dives cost around AU$210 pretty much everywhere on Ningaloo reef. 

If you are not a diver, then no problem. Snorkeling is a bit cheaper and costs 150$ per person for 2 snorkeling trips.

two manta rays dancing under near the surface of the Ningaloo reef
Manta ray dance

DIVING NINGALOO REEF

The water in the winter months is very cold. We did 2 dives and the water temperature was 19 degrees. 

During our first dive, after 15 minutes we were all shivering like crazy. As it’s a shallow dive you won’t use so much oxygen that means you will stay in the water for about 50 mins. Our both dives were about 48 mins.

When we got up to the boat every single human being was shaking. However, the beauty of the underwater world was super beautiful. We saw many beautiful coral walls and reefs, so many different fish that we would need just one blog post to name all of them.

female diver with diving gear diving in Ningaloo reef surrounded by orange coral walls, one of the best things to do in Coral bay in western Australia
Admiring corals and underwater life in Ningaloo reef

The second dive was much better, as the air got warmer and we got hoods so we were diving like gangsters this time without shaking and shivering.

male diver diving in Ningaloo reef
Happy to not be freezing

Things to know: There are strong currents and drifts which can pull you to the side and also shoot you up to the surface. We wouldn’t say it’s an easy dive, more medium. Of course, it depends on weather and how strong winds are, but there will be always currents. At the last point of the dive, we were supposed to get through the reef just 2 meters above the surface. You would try to dive and swim, but no matter what you do you are still at the same spot.

Ask for the cap hood for diving, they might have it (or recommend it) if you need it. 

Tip for drivers: It’s mostly shallow dive, which means you need to have extra weights (1-2 kg at least extra on top of what you usually have) as at the end of the dive with a nearly empty bottle (70 bars) will shoot you up to the surface. Happened a couple of times and it wasn’t fun. 

BEST BEACHES OF CORAL BAY, AUSTRALIA

Western Australia has a beautiful coast and you can spend a couple of days just beach-hopping around white sand beaches around Coral Bay

Our favorite one was definitely Skeleton Beach which also has 4WD access. There was barely anyone, just a few people fishing, and some cars almost running over us.

australian white sand beach with blue water near Coral bay
Skeleton beach, Coral Bay, Western Australia

Right in Coral Bay, you will find Bill’s Bay. It is quite beautiful as well, but with more people as it’s centrally located. Bill’s Bay is a true heaven for snorkeling and diving. Snorkeling is very popular among people as it’s very accessible and you can literally see coral just a few meters from the beach. 

woman in a blue dress posing near brown cliff on the beach in Coral bay in Western Australia
Bills Bay, Coral Bay town beach

There is a parking lot next to the beach with some green areas and barbecue spots. We tried to make some lunch there, but we almost flew away as it was super windy.

There are public bathrooms nearby with cold showers. Or just slip into a campsite for free hot showers (haha).

Further south of Bill’s bay is another fantastic beach where you can just hang is Paradise beach. It’s a very popular spot for snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, diving

white sand dunes, green bush and a view on the blue ocean
Paradise beach, Coral Bay

If you drive more south you can find Five Fingers Reef.

WEATHER OF CORAL BAY

The weather in Coral Bay was absolutely out of control.

The wind hindered us for most of our time there. In the mornings we couldn’t even make breakfast. We stayed in a free camping lot outside of Coral Bay. And one morning it was so bad that we didn’t even eat, we took off just before a sand storm went through the whole campsite. We couldn’t see anything for several seconds, this is how dusty it was.

We arrived at Coral Bay and waited till 12 until the wind got weaker. If we opened our respective car doors simultaneously things would fly out of the car (I still can see how Nico is trying to catch the kitchen cloth in the air). 

white car driving on the grey road surrounded by blue water
Ocean drive at the Coral Bay harbor

The wind also heavily impacted our scuba diving plans. We had to postpone several times until the wind slowed down a bit.

Unfortunately, the water was still freezing so we recommend you to bring or use a wet suit for any water activities if you visit during winter.

CAMPING IN CORAL BAY

We didn’t want to camp in Coral Bay as it is super expensive, AU$46 for an unpowered site. Really?

Anyways, we were always driving 60kms out of the village to a free campsite right behind the line of Capricorn which was much cheaper than staying at either of the two holiday parks in Coral Bay. Since we had to wait for our dives due to weather, we had quite some driving to do.

Yet it saved us money and it was funny to see the same backpacker cars but also big fancy caravans night after night on the same campsite. It was less funny to see the compostable toilet fill up more and more.

OTHER THINGS TO DO AROUND CORAL BAY

WARROORA STATION 

One of our favorite spots near Coral Bay is probably skipped or missed by many travelers. 50 km of beautiful coastline and pristine white sand dunes are waiting for you to explore. 

There are two roads going to Warroora homestead. We took the gravel unpaved road which is 23 km long.

If you decide to go to Warroora, make sure to deflate your tires. The road is not bad, mostly corrugated but that’s all. If you don’t have a 4WD or you have a caravan you can choose a sealed road coming down from the north.

Warroora station is owned and run by a local family. It’s a real wilderness station and if you are ready to have a proper camping experience then this is for you. There are no toilets, no showers, nothing. 

two people holding hands in the middle of white sand dunes in Warroora station
Warroora white sand dunes

CAMPING AT WARROORA STATION 

If you would like to camp by the beach at Warroora Station you need to be prepared for everything. Make sure to have enough water, food, and petrol/diesel. And bring your toilet with you.

You read that right. If you would like to camp at Warroora station, then you need to bring a chemical toilet with you. If you don’t have one (strange), you have to rent one at the office. I know, we were also shocked.

You can hire a toilet which costs AU$10 per person per day or AU$50 per week. 

I still can’t believe that I am writing about hiring toilets here, but that’s Straya (Australia).

At the homestead station, you can buy simple groceries and do laundry (AU$5 per load). If you caught some fish you can clean them behind the shearing shed.

TIP: Ask for the map of the Warroora station at the office to know where everything is located. 

Please drive slowly around Warroora, the tracks are narrow and winding. There are many blind corners where you won’t see upcoming traffic. Also this way you won’t kill any wildlife such as roos, cattle and bush turkeys. Also, let your tires down to at least 25PSI. 

Unfortunately, there are many people who just don’t care about nature. Please don’t walk or drive over vegetation and stick to the designated paths.

THINGS TO DO AT WARROORA 

ADMIRE BEAUTIFUL AND WILD COASTLINE 

Absolutely BREATHTAKING. I can’t even find correct words as there aren’t any. Simply beautiful! 

drone photo, white car standing on a brown soil and view on the beach and the ocean in Warroora

WHALE WATCHING (FOR FREE)

From June to October, you can spot migrating majestic Humpback whales. We haven’t even tried to look for them and suddenly we just saw several whales breaching out off the water. 

DRIVE TO STEVENS

Stevens was our first stop and we really liked it there. We almost got stuck in the sand, but nothing happened.

Sand around the bend is very dangerous as it’s usually deeper so drive with caution. If you happened to get bogged, stop, reverse, deflate your tires a bit, and try again and gather some speed. It’s all about the pressure of your tires, seems complicated but if I (Gigi) can get it, then you can do that too.

You can also drive north to Elle’s beach or Maggie’s. 

BLACK MOON CLIFF

Our absolute favorite spot, the views overlooking cliffs are so stunning! 

In Bulabatli, Nolan’s look and in Southern boundary you can go surfing.  

In between Stevens and Black Moon cliff, you will find a camping area. If you walk towards the north, you will get to gorgeous white sand dunes and this is where we took our drone photos.

two people popping out from a white car and looking out on the ocean in Warroora station, WA
Hello world from Warroora station, Western Australia

Also, from up here, we saw a couple of whales in the water.

WHERE TO NEXT?

After exploring Coral Bay we definitely recommend heading to other destinations in Western Australia.

Ready to see some sharks? Then off to Shark Bay.

How to take selfies with Quokkas, Rottnest Island

Perth to Esperance – Road trip

Esperance, and how to explore Cape le Grand NP

Hope you enjoyed this guide on the best things to do in Coral Bay and visit wild Western Australia.

Gigi and Nico signature in pink
About the author
Since I was little I always wanted to see the world. Travel to new places, get to know new cultures, see how other people live. I love beaches and I love discovering tropical destinations. That is why, together with my partner Nico, we created this blog to share with you the most beautiful beaches and stunning holiday destinations which we visited during our travels.

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