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Coral Bay and Exmouth

· Australia

Coral Bay is a great sandy place to rest for a few days. The area consists of a few caravan parks, a resort, and a handful of shops. It’s not hard to find anything in town, there’s only one road in. We spent two days here, intending to do a snorkeling tour, but as they were all either booked or didn’t have enough people signed up, we were left to our own devices. The cheapest place we found to buy snorkels was at the general store within the caravan grounds. After that, we spent a sun soaked afternoon snorkeling up and down the reef.

Heading further into the Ningaloo area is Exmouth. The town first came into existence in 1967, after it had been used as a base to support army personal during WWII. Today the area offers both a lot of history and natural beauty. The lighthouse is a best at sunset. You can park your vehicle on the side of the hill, read up on the history of the area, and catch a beautiful sky. If you squint your eyes and look to the right, you can see the oil rigs off the coast.

Cape Range National Park features the Turquoise Bay, a popular area to snorkel. There are some large coral formations, and lots of colorful fish to see, just make sure to be careful of currents and stonefish. Go early in the day to avoid the crowds and the sunburn. Further south on the coast is the oyster stacks, where large clusters hang just a bit off the beach.

The Mandu Mandu Trail is a hike down an old, narrow dirt road, also in the park. Once you get to the car lot, you walk first through the canyon bed, along with loose rocks, with a lot of heat. After about 1km the hike gets far more interesting. Here you work your way up the hill and rock to the top of the canyon ridge. The heat gives way to a great breeze and a splendid view of the canyons and ocean. The next 1.5 km you work your way up and down the slopes of the ridge. It was a very quiet area. The house hike was spent in complete solitude, only when we were leaving did we run into anyone else.

Most of the food was pretty average; the best two places we ate though were Pinocchio’s in the Ningaloo Reef Caravan Park. They had excellent Italian food. I got a macherroni with pink sauce, bacon, garlic, and bleu cheese. The Novotel Ningaloo’s in house restaurant also served an excellent meal. We went for lunch and I got the Wagyu Beef burger, the caramelized onions and pineapple made a great post- snorkel reward.

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