Shark Bay is located on the most West point of Australia and is official a UNESCO World heritage sight. The crystal clear waters, sea-grass beds full of turtles and dugongs (sea cows), dolphins and much more makes it to a place which should definitely be on your bucket list to visit.
We drove in one day from Coral Bay to Monkey Mia via the 130 KM long World Heritage drive. The drive starts at the Overlander Roadhouse via North West Coastal Highway all the way to Monkey Mia. It’s a beautiful drive passing viewpoints, beaches and lots of wildlife. I’ll definitely recommend staying minimum 3 nights around Shark Bay as there is so much to see and to do.
Which places to visit on the World Heritage Drive?
Hamelin Pool Stromatolites: After a 30 minutes drive you will reach the Hamelin Pool Stromatolites. These stromatolites are said to be the largest and oldest living fossil in the world (3.5 million of years old). A short walk via interesting explanation signs leads you to the viewing platform. There are only two places in the world where you can see them and Shark Bay is supposed to be the largest and most diverse. They are the best to view when it is low tide as you can then see how tall they are, realising that they only grow 0.33 mm per year.
Shell Beach: Another hour drive brings you to Shell Beach this is one of the few places in the world where you can find a beach completely made of billions of tiny white shells. It creates a beautiful landscape with a crazy contrast of white shell beach and immense blue sea water. The shells make the bay here very salty so it is perfect to float around and enjoy the landscape. Also, the water temperature is the best of what I have experienced on the West Coast. Finally a bit of warm water instead of freezing cold sea water temperatures.
Eagle Bluff: Eagle Bluff is a high cliff that overlooks the ocean. You can walk along the boardwalk to see incredible views of the ocean. They say that the sunset here is one of the best on the west coast. From the viewing platform, you can sometimes even see sharks, dugongs, and dolphins.
Denham: Denham is a small beach town and a perfect base to explore Shark Bay. Definitely, stop at the visitor center to get more information about the area. There is also a small shop, some campings/hotels, and a few restaurants. Most people stay either in Denham or in Monkey Mia to explore shark bay.
Dolphin paradise, Monkey Mia
The world heritage drive ends in Monkey Mia and this is probably the most famous place in Shark Bay. When entering Monkey Mia reserve you need to pay a National Park entry fee of $10 per person which is valid for 24 hours. Monkey Mia is the place where people can witness wild dolphins near the shore and is extremely popular with tourist from all over the world. For over 40 years the curious wild dolphins are playing near the beach and in the earlier days, they used to feed them and that’s how it became a popular tourist attraction. Te place is now monitored by rangers, who still feed them every morning, but it is more controlled and every dolphin only get 5 fish per day so that they still need to find their own fish. Every morning at 7.30 am you can come to the beach to witness the feeding and to learn more about the dolphins from the rangers. Every day 5 lucky person got chosen to give the fish to the dolphins.
When we were there in March, it was luckily not the high season but it was still very busy. We actually didn’t really enjoy the dolphin feeding as it is just busy with people and the dolphins don’t behave as wild dolphins. I see them much rather unexpected in their own habitat than to see them begging near the beach for fish. But of course, that is just personal opinion.
Also, Monkey Mia is not just dolphins, it is, in general, a heaven for wildlife lovers (like us). There are Emus walking around the campsite (trying to steal your lunch), pelicans everywhere, see turtles and much more.
Where to stay in Shark Bay
We stayed 2 nights on a unpowered campsite at the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort. I was not cheap, $35 per night, but there weren’t much free camp possibilities around and actually the resort was really comfortable. We really enjoyed our stay there as there was a beautiful pool, a bar with affordable drinks, a small shop, wifi and a very big kitchen to use for people on the campsites. Also, it is located on the beach where in the morning the dolphin feeding is so that was really convenient. Just keep an eye out for the emus who are walking around the campsites, we had an emu stealing our food out of the car when we were preparing our breakfast 😉