Calling All Melbourne Mates: Catch A Direct Flight To Exmouth And Meet Me At Ningaloo!
Western Australia’s list of dreamy must-do experiences is as long as our coastline, but it’s fair to say a visit to Exmouth and the spectacular Ningaloo Reef is something everyone should do at least once in their life.
And for those of us with friends and family in Melbourne who are keen to visit, that experience just got a little bit easier with news that Qantas will be launching direct flights between Melbourne and Exmouth from April 30 next year – here’s what you need to know:
TIMETABLE + COST
Flights will be running on Sundays and Thursday from April to October (during the Coral Coast’s peak season), departing Melbourne at 10.10am and departing Exmouth at 1.55pm.
Flights are just under five hours, which means you could be escaping Melbourne’s wet weather in the morning, and arriving to brilliant warmth and sunshine in Exmouth just after lunchtime!
Fares-wise, if you book at least 45 days in advance a one-way flight starts at $399.
GETTING THERE FROM PERTH
If you live in Perth and are keen to link up with some visiting friends or fam in Exmouth it’s an epic 1250km drive along the beautiful Coral Coast Highway. You can jump on a two hour flight with Qantas if you’d prefer, or mix-and-match by taking advantage of Avis’ discounted one-way relocation fees and drive one way before flying the other.
WHAT TO DO
Read on below for a few highlight experiences – ranging from otherworldly marine experiences to traversing awe-inspiring national parks, and head to the Australia’s Coral Coast website for more inspo.
Swim with the Big 3:
As far as once-in-a-lifetime experiences go, swimming with whale sharks is one we hear time and time again at the top of the list. Not only is Ningaloo the best place in the world to do so, with tours running from Exmouth and Coral Bay from March-September, you can also see humpback whales (June-August) and manta rays (year-round from Coral Bay), not to mention Ningaloo Reef’s 300 species of coral and 500+ species of fish, turtles and dolphins.
Watch the sunset at Vlamingh Head Lighthouse
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.
Conquer the Cape Range National Park
There’s plenty of adventure and exploration to be done on land as well, with the Cape Range National Park home to an array of spectacular, otherworldly landscapes like Charles Knife Canyon, Shothole Canyon, Mandu Mandu Gorge and Yardie Creek. Jump on a tour with Yardie Creek Boat Tours, Ningaloo Safari Tours or Trek Ningaloo to get a deeper understanding of this unique and ancient region.
If you really want to immerse yourself in the enchanting surrounds of Coral Bay and Ningaloo Reef, you can link up with Sail Ningaloo and jump on their world class sailing catamaran, Shore Thing, for a three-, five- or nine-night live-aboard tour. Quality meals are included, along with a host of activities like snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking, eco-fishing and whale watching (seasonal).
Go snorkelling and diving
The best way to get up close and personal with the smaller sealife and stunning corals is by snorkelling and diving world-class sites like the Navy Pier and Muiron Islands. If you prefer to stay above the water, you can also explore the abundant reef and marine life by cruising over them on a glass-bottom boat or kayaking tour.
Visit the Ningaloo Discovery Centre
If you want to enhance your understanding of this magical part of the world, the Ningaloo Discovery Centre is a fun and engaging way to do so. Along with learning about the reef, national parks and Exmouth’s history, you’ll also enjoy three great galleries and the excellent 55,000L aquarium.
Soar on a scenic flight
One awesome way to truly take in the dramatic scenery of the Coral Coast’s national parks and reef atolls is on a scenic flight. Ningaloo Aviation offers some great options to do exactly that, including whale shark and whale spotting in the right season.
Make way for the Mackerel Islands
Stay a little longer and escape to an island paradise at the Mackerel Islands, accessible via scenic flight from Exmouth. One of the 10 island atolls, Thevenard Island, has accommodation. The island is surrounded by fringing reefs and can be explored on foot along the Thevenard Eco Walk Trail, which will take you around 3.5 hours.
Enjoy fresh local produce + locally-brewed craft beers
As Exmouth’s popularity expands so does its burgeoning food and bev scene. Places like Amba Felafel, Mantarays, Whalers and The Social Society are serving up delicious meals, while there’s not one but two local breweries to choose from – Froth Craft Brewery and Whalebone.
WHERE TO STAY
Similar to food and bev, Exmouth’s accommodation options are plentiful and only increasing. From hotel and motel-style accomm to caravan parks, national park camping, luxury glamping like Sal Salis (below) and station stays – there’s something to suit all travellers. You can check out the best of Exmouth’s accommodation HERE and Coral Bay accommodation HERE.
For more info on Qantas’ new direct flights between Melbourne and Exmouth head to the Australia’s Coral Coast website.
This article is sponsored by Australia’s Coral Coast and endorsed by us. Please see our Editorial Policy for more info.