If your next holiday calls for sand, surf and super friendly people, set your sights down under to the stammeringly beautiful town of Coral Bay on the Western coast of Australia. This tiny settlement is an ideal travel destination to escape the Northern winter and experience the wonders of nature at their best. Home to the Ningaloo, Australia’s sole fringing coral reef, the town is located about 120 km south of Exmouth in Western Australia.
No sooner do you leave the gleaming white coast than the coral reef begins boasting a variety of coral and other marine life such as several species of sharks, whales and turtles. The weather here is mild and pleasant all year round sans the humidity usually associated with tropical climates. As if the sheer brilliance of the scenery wasn’t enough, plenty of activities are available at your disposal such as fishing, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling and surfing to name a few. However, you would be perfectly content strolling along endless white, sandy beaches, feasting your eyes on scenic sunsets and enjoying romantic alfresco dinners.
The landing of the Schooner ‘Maud’ in 1884 marks the beginning of documented human activity in this region. In 1896, an old site reserve was gazette to protect this site which was officially named ‘Maud’s Landing’ in 1905. Due to this action, there was a marked development in the trade of the area and the settlement grew in size. A gorgeous bay called Bill’s Bay lay about 3 km south of Maud’s Landing which served as a popular vacation spot for the locals of the settlement.
In 1968, a hotel was established at Bill’s Bay and people started to settle there. The hotel was later renamed the Coral Bay hotel after the astoundingly beautiful coral reef that fringed the area. Consequently, the entire region came to be known as Coral Bay.
You can fly to Exmouth from Perth, the capital city of Western Australia via Skywest Airlines or Qantas. Make arrangements with your tour operator to be picked up at the airport. Alternatively, you can travel by bus or rental vehicles. If you are driving from Perth, it should take you about 11 hours to reach Coral Bay.
Coral Bay is most famous for its enchantingly beautiful natural wonders.
Visit the idyllic Purdy Point for snorkeling. It is a short walk away from Coral Bay. Bill’s Bay with its immaculate beaches and protected waters will offer you a sense of serenity in addition to the dazzling ambiance.
View marine life from the shore itself at the Coral Bay Walkway. This coastal walkway offers one of the best vantage points to spot dolphins, manta rays and other fish swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Ningaloo reef. Unlike other coral reefs, just stepping off the beach will take you to the Ningaloo, one of the largest fringing coral reefs in the world. Grab a snorkel and a mask and swim with whalesharks and wallow in the bright colours that adorn the pristine waters.
Coral Bay is far from short of stunning beaches. Visit Paradise Beach which lives up to its name with tranquil, clear waters and glistening white sand. You can enjoy your solitude in this protected beach which offers you opportunities to relax and snorkel in its waters teeming with life.
Most of the waters of Coral Bay are protected but you are permitted to fish anywhere north of Point Maud and anywhere south of the bay. Species like the Spangled Emperor, Sweetlip, Court, Trevally and Squid are found inside the reef and Red Emperor, Pearl Perch, Rankin Cod, Mackerel, etc. are found off shore. Take care not to damage any precious coral while fishing or sailing. Safety precautions such as life jackets, flares and radios are a priority. Most fishing tour operators provide preservation, filleting and cleaning services for your catch.
Snorkeling and scuba diving in the Ningaloo reef is simply a must while you are here. There are instructors to guide divers with all levels of experience. Even if you have never been scuba diving before, instructors safely guide you as you explore the treasures of the deep sea. Look out for a variety of fish, fabulous coral, turtles and reef sharks on your dive.
Small stores like the Ningaloo Reef Boutique allow you to shop for shell and coral jewellery, gemstones, clothing, sandals, sarongs, bikinis, bathers, board shorts and even 24 carat gold nuggets as souvenirs.
Accommodation and Dining
Plenty of accommodation options are available for every budget with hotels, lodges, villas, houses, chalets, shacks, cabins as well as powered and unpowered camp sites.
Cuisine from all over the world is available in the areas many cafes, bakeries and restaurants, but Coral Bay’s local delicacies are well worth a try. Tourist favourites are the Coral Resort Bakery, Fins Café, Ningaloo Reef Café, Seriani and Shades.
The tourism and fishing industries keep Coral Bay on its feet. The entire town is powered by a hybrid wind-diesel system.
For a quiet getaway from the hustle and bustle of daily life, Coral Bay is a dream. Touted heaven on Earth by locals and tourists, you must definitely go here if you love everything about the water and even if you don’t, you’ll learn to by the end of it. A true aquatic idyll, it is one of the few places on Earth where such stunning natural beauty still prevails.