Road trip day 19 & 20: Snorkel and dive paradise Coral Bay

Coral Bay, is together with Exmouth, the getaway to the Ningaloo Reef. This charming small beach town is a perfect place to stay while diving the Ningaloo Reef, snorkelling with Manta-Rays and swimming with Whale Sharks.

Coral Bay has a beautiful beach which is very suitable for swimming and snorkelling. The water is crystal clear and spending a day just relaxing on the beach and enjoying the beautiful bay is definitely a must. From the beach, it is only a short walk to the main street, where you will find a small supermarket, some restaurants, a bar and a bakery. There are also lots of picnic tables around and free barbecues.

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There are lots of things to do around Coral Bay but the main reason people are coming to this town is because of the swimming with whale sharks, world’s biggest fish, and diving the Ningaloo Reef. We were actually surprised that there was only 1 dive shop in Coral Bay. We expected to be lots like there is in Cairns for the Great Barrier Reef.

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Swimming with Whale Sharks

The Whale Sharks season around the Ningaloo Reef is from March – July. Coral Bay gets really busy during the whale sharks season. We were there just in the beginning of the season but we decided not to swim with the whale sharks this time as it didn’t fit in our budget, unfortunately. We did visit several companies who run whale shark tours in Coral Bay and we really liked Coral Bay Eco Tours and Ningaloo Reef Dive. They were very friendly and their tours did sound really good. For $395 (which is the standard price for any whale shark tour in Coral Bay) you get a 10 hour tour with guarantee whale shark sighting (if you don’t see them you get a ticket to go for free another time), buffet lunch, all equipment, snorkelling on Ningaloo reef and they use their own spotter plane to spot the whale sharks.

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Diving the Ningaloo Reef

Like I said earlier, Coral Bay has only 1 dive shop called Ningaloo Reef Dive. The dive shop is located on the main street. I booked a very good deal for $220 for 2 dives plus snorkelling with the manta rays. The boat was really comfortable, a lot of space and not too many people. With the dive tour, you also mix on the boat with the snorkelers but nobody is really bothering each other as they keep the diving and snorkelling separate. I had 1 dive in the morning than snorkelling with manta rays and 1 dive in the afternoon. It was all very well organised and the dive masters were really good! Diving at the Ningaloo Reef is really beautiful, we saw lots of sharks, turtles, and beautiful corals. I was surprised that the dive depth was maximum 10 meters, but they said it is because the reef is that shallow. They also made us a delicious buffet lunch, the best I ever had during a tour!

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Snorkelling with Manta Rays

Snorkelling with Manta Rays is included when you book a dive or a snorkel tour. The spotter planes go out and try to find the mantas who are usually around the cleaning stations. With small groups, you will go in the water to snorkel with these beautiful creatures.

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Where to stay in Coral Bay

Coral Bay has plenty of places to stay in diverse price ranges. We stayed at the campground: Bayview Coral Bay for $36 per night for an unpowered campsite. This was the cheapest we could find. It is not easy to find a free camp spot around Coral Bay and Exmouth, there are a lot of signs saying that you are not allowed to camp outside campgrounds. We did stop at a beach on the way from Exmouth to Coral Bay for breakfast and to watch the sunrise where we even saw some dolphins from the jetty!

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How to get to Coral Bay

Skywest airlines and Qantas fly to Exmouth from Perth, from there it is a 150 KM to Coral Bay. When driving, Coral Bay is roughly 1125 KM from Perth and 650 KM from Karijini.

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