See and do
Things to do in Exmouth and Ningaloo
We may sound biased, but there is no better place than Exmouth if you are looking for an unforgettable holiday in Western Australia. Lying on the northern edge of the spectacular World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef, Exmouth is a charming country town. With a fantastic climate, it’s perfect beach weather all year round here.
Whatever time of year you visit, there is so much to see and do. To help you get the most out of your time in Exmouth, we have put together a list of our favourite things to do in the area.
Swim with whale sharks
There are only a handful of places in the world to swim with whale sharks. And Western Australia is one of them. If swimming with the world’s biggest fish is on your bucket list, then you’ve come to the right place.
Tourists visit from far and wide for the opportunity to see and swim with these incredible creatures. There are several local tour operators in and around Exmouth who can facilitate this awe-inspiring experience. We highly recommend Ningaloo Discovery Whale Shark Swim & Eco Tours, and Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours. Both of these local tourism operators are based on site for your convenience.
Whale shark tours take place between mid-March and August, with sightings most common around March and April each year. Few experiences can compare with being in the ocean with these gentle giants. If you’re in the area during whale shark season, make sure to book yourself on a tour. You won’t regret it!
Visit Ningaloo Marine Park
An area of outstanding natural beauty, Ningaloo Marine Park covers more than 600,000 hectares and protects the warm turquoise waters of the Ningaloo Reef. It is home to some of the most spectacular natural coral and marine life in Australia, making the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Marine Park a must-see destination.
Stretching from Red Bluff on Quobba Station in the south to Bundegi in the north, Ningaloo Marine Park is teaming with marine life. The reef is easily accessible. In some areas, it is only 5 – 10 metres offshore. Meaning magnificent reefs are just a short swim away.
Home to approximately 250 species of multi-coloured coral and 500 species of fish, the Ningaloo Marine Park offers visitors outstanding opportunities to fish, swim, snorkel, dive and watch the enchanting marine life.
A visit to Ningaloo Marine Park will be one of many highlights of your Exmouth adventure.
Take in the views from Vlamingh Head
Sunset and sunrises in Western Australia are the best in the world. Watching the sunrise or sunset over the Indian Ocean is the perfect way to start or end your day. Vlamingh Head Lighthouse is a prime spot to take in a sunset or sunrise. Situated 17 km north of Exmouth, the panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and Ningaloo Reef from the lookout point are unforgettable. Vlamingh Head Lighthouse is also one of the best vantage points to spot humpback whales between June and November. For astrophotography-enthusiasts, it’s a popular spot to head to after dark to photograph the night sky.
Cast a line and try to catch the “big one”
For anyone who enjoys fishing, Exmouth is a must-visit destination. With enticing clear, shallow warm waters, Exmouth is a fishing paradise. Here you will find some of the best fishing spots in Australia and the world. With the continental shelf only a short distance offshore, the Ningaloo area offers many opportunities for game, reef, and beach fishing.
There are a few sanctuary zones where fishing is strictly prohibited, but the diverse area of Ningaloo has plenty of excellent fishing spots. Both beach fishing and fishing in the Exmouth Gulf can produce a surprising variety of species, with some of the most sought after species being the North West Snapper, Blue Bone, Coral Trout and Red Emperor. Professional charter boats depart from Exmouth daily and have a range of tours on offer, including private charters.
The Ningaloo area is the premier game-fishing destination in Western Australia. Acclaimed and sought-after species like Blue Marlin, Black Marlin, Spanish Mackerel and Mahi Mahi are caught in the waters regularly. So this makes Exmouth the ideal destination for fishing enthusiasts of all levels.
Snorkel the Ningaloo Reef
Like swimming with whale sharks, snorkelling the Ningaloo Reef is an iconic experience around these parts. The World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Coast – a jewel in Western Australia’s crown – is where you’ll find around 300 km of the most pristine coral reefs you’ll ever see. The reef is home to 250 different species of coral, turtles, manta rays, dolphins, dugongs, humpback whales and an abundance of tropical fish. If you’re up for an undersea adventure Ningaloo Reef’s crystal-clear waters will take your breath away.
If you prefer to stay more local, you’ll find Exmouth’s premier snorkelling spots in Cape Range National Park. Just 40 km from the town, most of the snorkelling sites are easily accessible from the shore. If you haven’t brought your own, snorkelling gear can be hired or bought in town. Water temperatures vary from 18 to 28 degrees, depending on the time of year you visit. Some of the most popular snorkelling sites, like Turquoise Bay and Oyster Stacks, can be reached by conventional vehicle. Several local tour operators can also take you to the best spots on the Ningaloo Reef. Exmouth and Ningaloo are home to some of the top-rated diving sites in Australia. Whether you’re an experienced diver or a novice, enjoy exploring some of the most accessible reefs in the country. Once you immerse yourself in the underwater world, you’ll soon realise why the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef is so beloved by locals and tourists.
Discover breathtakingly beautiful beaches
Western Australia has some of the best beaches in Australia, if not the world. We’re talking whiter-than-white sand fringed by the exquisite crystal-clear emerald waters of the Indian Ocean. If quiet, white sandy beaches are your thing, we highly recommend spending a day exploring a few of them.
One of the most beloved local beaches is Turquoise Bay, a gem in the Cape Range National Park. A popular beach for snorkelling and swimming, with a pristine stretch of soft white sand, Turquoise Bay is nothing short of breathtaking. It certainly lives up to all the hype. The stunning shores of Turquoise Bay lie around 60 km south of Exmouth, in Cape Range National Park. Soak up the beach vibes or grab your snorkel and fins and explore the unbelievably clear waters of the Ningaloo Reef.
Cape Range National Park is home to so many stunning beaches. You will be spoilt for choice. While Turquoise Bay is easily the most famous, Sandy Bay is another one of our favourite spots. Crystal clear water and endless white sand ensure Sandy Bay has the wow factor. It’s just as beautiful as Turquoise Bay and generally less busy.
Lakeside Beach is a calm sheltered beach and a popular spot for snorkelling the marine life rich Ningaloo Reef. Bundegi Beach, just 13 km north of Exmouth, marks the start of Ningaloo Marine Park. It is a lovely, sheltered beach for kayaking, snorkelling and swimming. If you have time, Osprey Bay and South and North Mandu Beach are well worth checking out too.
Take a tour with a local tour operator
Whether it’s swimming with whale sharks, exploring Cape Range National Park or snorkelling Ningaloo Reef, there’s so much to see and do here. There are many delighted locals who want to show you the sights. A tour operator will ensure you see all the hidden gems and have a memory-making trip of a lifetime.
For visitors keen to explore the reef, we recommend Ningaloo Discovery Whale Shark Swim & Eco Tours, and Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours. Both tour operators are located on-site at the Ningaloo Caravan and Holiday Resort. Bookings can be made directly on the tour operator’s website. Please remember to take sunscreen, hats, bathers, towels and something warm such as a jacket or jumper for the return trip.
Explore Cape Range National Park
Situated on the west side of Exmouth, the park is part of the North West Cape, a remarkable place, home to rugged limestone ranges and magnificent deep canyons. Fringed by beautiful beaches, the clear turquoise water of the Indian Ocean is protected and calm and flourishing with tropical marine life. There are beaches like Turquoise Bay, regularly voted one of the best beaches in Western Australia, where you can snorkel straight off the beach.
Cape Range National Park spans more than 50,000 hectares, with its northern border just a 45-minute drive from Exmouth. Keep an eye out for native wildlife, such as red kangaroos, emus, echidnas, rock wallabies, lizards and a variety of birds, as you explore just a fraction of the National Park. The gorges provide a haven for flora and wildflowers, including Mulla Mulla, Everlastings, and Dampiera.
Regarded as one of the best National Parks in the whole of Australia, visitors flock to Cape Range National Park to enjoy the numerous walking trails and take in the spectacular contrasting scenery. There are lookout points along the way, providing plenty of opportunities for photos. It is advisable to check with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) at 08 9947 8000 for current conditions as roads in the national park can be affected by weather conditions.
Gorges like Mandu Mandu Gorge, Charles Knife Canyon and Shothole Canyon offer extraordinary scenic drives with bushwalking opportunities. One of the most accessible, Mandu Mandu Gorge is a 3 km return walk and will reward you with stunning views of the Ningaloo Reef. At 3.5 km, Charles Knife Edge Walk is a little trickier but equally worth it for the views.
When walking in outback Australia, always wear good walking shoes and remember to take suitable quantities of water with you. During December to March, temperatures often exceed 40°C. We don’t recommend walking in these temperatures.
Trail walks and awe-inspiring views aside, Cape Range National Park offers an abundance of recreational opportunities including bird watching, camping, canoeing, beach fishing, swimming and snorkelling. For a different vantage point of the National Park, take a boat tour through Yardie Creek, an impressive gorge and the only one in the park with permanent water. Keep an eye out for sea ospreys and black-footed rock wallabies, as you cruise up the gorge.
Exmouth is the gateway to Cape Range National Park. And Ningaloo Caravan and Holiday Resort is right on its doorstep. So, there’s no excuse not to visit this remarkable National Park. Entrance fees apply to access the park. For more information pop into the Milyering Visitors Centre, 52 km south of Exmouth on the Yardie Creek Road.
Other tourist attractions
Head to the tip of the North West Cape and check out the wreck of the SS Mildura. A cattle steamer wrecked during a cyclone in 1907, the remains of the ship rest 80 metres from the shore. For best visibility, visit during low tide.
Visit the Jurabi Turtle Centre to learn more about sea turtles. The Centre is open all year round, and admission is free. The Interpretive Centre is unstaffed during the day. Between December to March, it is possible to book a tour and observe nesting turtles and hatchlings in their natural habitat.
Get a bird’s eye view of the world-famous Ningaloo Reef. Book a flight in a microlight aircraft and enjoy a whole new perspective of Exmouth and the surrounding area. Look out for migrating whale sharks and humpback whales.
Visit The Navy Pier, rated one of the top ten shore dives in the world. It’s like an aquarium, but without the glass. Home to a diversity of fish life (over 200 different species) all dives must be guided to protect the site.
Don’t forget to visit the Ningaloo Visitor Centre for inspiration and more information about things to see and do. The Visitor Centre is opposite Ningaloo Caravan and Holiday Resort and is open daily throughout the year.