Exmouth is located about 12 hours north of Perth on the tip of the North West Cape; from the incredible Ningaloo reef to the gorges and canyons of the Cape Range National Park, here are some of the best things to do while in Exmouth:
Swim with the Whale Sharks
Ningaloo Reef is the only place in the world where whale sharks regularly appear close to land and also in large numbers. These gentle, slow moving sharks can grow up to 18 metres long and are safe to swim with. The whale sharks usually arrive around March and stay until August each year and tours are available daily from Exmouth. There is also an annual Ningaloo Whale Shark Festival, which this year will be held May 24-26, and features a number of events and activities including concerts, art exhibitions, cooking demos and live bands.
Photo by @emmajanephillips
Drift snorkel Turquoise Bay
Turquoise Bay is located a few hours drive from Exmouth in the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area. Turquoise Bay is not only famous for its pristine sandy shoreline, but also for the fact that you can swim out to the reef from the beach. One of the great things to do here is drift snorkel; walk over to the southern side of the beach, swim out about a hundred metres then let the current drift you back to where you started from over the colourful coral reef teeming with fish and other marine life. Be mindful of strong currents if you’re an inexperienced swimmer and watch for the signs indicating where to get out of the water before the rip.
Photo by @kyliessv
Explore Charles Knife Canyon
Located south of Exmouth in Cape Range National Park, the partially sealed road (the last section is a gravel track) takes you along the ridges of the range and allows for great views into the colourful gorges and towards the ocean. There are several lookouts along the way as well as a marked walking trail from the Thomas Carter lookout.
Photo by @mitch.toft
Watch sunset from Vlamingh Head lighthouse lookout
The lookout at Vlamingh Head lighthouse offers fantastic views over the tip of the North West Cape and it’s a great place to watch the sun set over Ningaloo Reef as well as spotting humpback whales during their annual migration. Also visible from here are the Harold Holt Naval Communication Station transmission towers which are some of the tallest manmade structures in the southern hemisphere.
Photo by @elektrablackphotography
Take a turtle hatching (or nesting) tour
The Jurabi Turtle Centre is one of Australia’s major breeding areas for sea turtles and it’s a fantastic place to learn more about these animals as well as the Turtle Watchers Code of Conduct on how to safety observe them nesting and hatching. Nesting season runs November to March, with nesting beginning in November and hatching typically beginning in February. Guided tours run by the Department of Parks & Wildlife from Jurabi Turtle Centre during nesting season are a great way to observe this incredible experience without disturbing the turtles. Tours can also be booked through the Ningaloo Visitor Centre in Exmouth.
Photo by @yardiehomestead
Go whale watching (& swim with them too!)
An estimated 30, 000 humpback whales migrate annually along the west coast from Antarctica to their breeding and birthing grounds off the Kimberley coast between June and November. They can be seen along the Ningaloo coast during this time and can be commonly found in Exmouth Gulf while resting up before their return journey south. While you can watch them from the shore and the Vlamingh Head lookout, whale watching tours are also available. In the last few years tours enabling you to swim with the humpback whales have been trialed and are approved to continue until 2021.
Photo by @jesshaddenphoto
Drive into Shothole Canyon
This 12km 4WD-only track south of Exmouth takes you through the bottom of the canyon across dry creek beds with great views of the canyon walls and their colourful layers of rock. The drive takes you past interesting rock formations, and ends with a picnic area and a walking trail. Wildflower season is typically August to October and the canyon is home to over 600 different types of flowers, including many that are unique to the area. This track is prone to flash flooding.
Photo by @arianachloestp
Paddle, kayak or cruise Yardie Creek
At the end of the Cape Range National Park is the picturesque Yardie Creek Gorge with its red limestone cliffs and deep blue water. There is a walking trail that can be accessed via the car park but one of the best ways to explore the gorge is by water and it’s a great place to SUP, kayak or join the guided boat cruise that runs twice-daily on selected days. Keep an eye out for the rare black-footed rock wallaby on the southern cliff face as well as nesting osprey.
Photo by @passengeronearth
About the author:
Alex is a photographer and writer who loves exploring the Kimberley and the outback. When she’s not stuck in the office, she’s out hiking, traveling down dusty roads and taking photos. See more of her photos at: Instagram.com/alex.vp.
Cover photo by Alex herself!