Add to this the 250 species of corals and over 500 different species of fish and Exmouth is an impressive diving destination all year round.
There are many snorkelling sites along the Ningaloo coastline and a variety of ways to access them. The best known of these sites is Turquoise Bay. Located 60 km from Exmouth in the Cape Range National Park this crystal clear lagoon offers white sandy beaches and snorkelling over fabulous coral and marine life.
Ningaloo Reef stretches from Bundegi Beach near Exmouth for 260km south along the West Coast. The reef protects a marine rich lagoon that on average is only 2-4 metres in depth. It is unique because of this and its proximity and accessibility to the coast.
Some 250 species of coral and 500 species of fish have been recorded in the park. Ningaloo Reef can be experienced from a dive boat, catamaran, yacht, a coral viewing boat, from the air, by sea kayak and by snorkelling
The main towns are Denham, Exmouth and Carnarvon. The drive from Perth to the southern point of the region, the Shark Bay World Heritage Area takes about 10 hours.
Exmouth, with a population of about 2500, is a gateway to the Cape Range and the Ningaloo Marine Park. There is also good range of caravan park accommodation.
Whale Shark, Ningaloo Reef WA
The northern border of the Cape Range National Park is 40km south of Exmouth. There are fees for entry and camping in the national park.
With the continental shelf only 12km off shore, fishing and the North West Cape go hand in hand. Hire a boat or relax on the beach and throw in a line. Or join one of the professional charter boats that depart Exmouth daily. Catch and enjoy North West Snapper, Blue Bone, Coral Trout, or Red Emperor.
Exmouth is recognised as the premier Game Fishing area of Western Australia - it is one of the few places in the world where such famous species as Black Marlin, Blue Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Spanish mackerel and Sailfish are hooked regularly.
There is adventure both underwater and on land.
Aboriginal artifacts and rock etchings underline the presence of the original inhabitants of Australia and it was on this coast, on October 25, 1616, the Dirk Hartog, Dutch captain of a trading ship, landed on Cape Inscription.
He nailed a pewter plate to a post 152 years before Captain Cook set out for Australia.
The first Englishman to visit the West Coast of Australia was adventurer William Dampier, in 1699. He spent seven days and gave Shark Bay its name.
Hartog is the first popular record of a European landing, but as Kenneth McIntyre proposes in his book The Secret Discover of Australia, his study of the Dauphin and Dieppe maps and research of the Portuguese back to Prince Henry the Navigator, leaves the matter of who was first open to debate.
Certainly the Dutch sighted the west coast in 1606. European navigators beat Captain Cook to Australia by more than 200 years. Cook has the honour of finding the harbours of the east coast and making settlement possible with his landing in 1770.
It is in this region that two impressive landmarks stand to the voyaging spirit of the human race, reminders of the role Australia played as a base for the United States Satellite Communications in Carnarvon and Exmouth.
It was off this coast that the Australian Navy suffered its greatest loss with the sinking of the HMAS Sydney by the German raider Kormoran, probably off Carnarvon on November 19, 1941.
The original cairn memorial to the Sydney is north of Carnarvon along the North West Coastal Road via the Point Quobba turnoff and the sea cave blowholes. The Carnarvon Tourist Bureau is in Robinson St (Civic Centre).
Editors Note: Fuel and water should be considered in self-driving experiences. If in doubt seek advice. This stretch of spectacular coastline is notorious for king waves, lives have been lost, take care.
Shark Bay is one of a handful of special regions in the world, which meet all the criteria for World Heritage listing. Rare plants, mammals and birds are found only in the area. There are 10 species of mammals, 98 species of reptiles and over 100 species of land-based migratory birds living in the area.
Shark Bay attracts humpback whale, dugong, manta ray, turtle and dolphin. Monkey Mia is known worldwide for the dolphins, which interact with human visitors.
Hand-feed the local wild bottlenose dolphins from the shore in front of the Monkey Mia resort; bathe on Shell Beach - made up of over 6 km (4 miles) of tiny white shells up to 10 metres (33 feet) deep; and be humbled by the oldest and largest living fossils in the world - the Hamelin Bay stromatolites.
A fee is payable to Conservation and Land Management when entering the Monkey Mia Resort area. The funds are used for the care and management of the local dolphins.
There are an estimated 10,000 dugongs, living in Shark Bay. This is 10 per cent of the world population. Linked to the myth of mermaids, the dugong can live up to 70 years.
The region also has 700 species of wildflowers and Western Australias longest flowering period. The area is in three climatic zones that result in the rich flora and fauna.
Visitors can stand on the edges of the gorges, canyons and creeks and explore the Cape Range National Park, 4WD drive not required.
GoSeeAustralia suggests -
- Visitors can stand on the edges of the gorges, canyons and creeks and explore the Cape Range National Park (4WD drive not required).
- Whale shark charters run between April and June, but for those who are not as adventurous, there are over 520 species of fish, 250 species of coral and an abundance of turtles, whales and other marine creatures.
- Day tours to swim with Whale Sharks depart daily during mid April to the end of June and the experience is as easy as donning a swimsuit, a mask and snorkel a Lycra suit and a pair of fins.
- The hinterland area of the Outback Coast Region includes attractions such as the town of Carnarvon, Mount Augustus, the worlds biggest monocline, and the magnificent Kennedy Ranges.
- The seaside town of Denham, centre of Shark Bay tourism, has buildings made of the tiny shells that make up the nearby Shell Beach.
- For a true appreciation of what this region offers leave the sandy white coast for the rugged red terrain of the outback.
- Hike, backpack or camp through the inland areas by day and by night, sleep under some of the brightest stars in the world.
- Visit Western Australia's biggest island - Dirk Hartog, on which there are a number of eco-tours, great fishing and the stunning Francois Peron National Park.
- At Carnarvon there is plenty of excellent fishing just offshore and along One Mile Jetty.
- The blowholes and Cape Cuvier coastal cliffs are other popular nearby attractions, as are the coastal breaks of Gnaraloo and Red Bluff for surfers.
- Visitors can stand on the edges of the gorges, canyons and creeks and explore the Cape Range National Park by 4WD drive.
- Shark Bay is one a handful of special regions in the world that meet all the criteria for World Heritage listing. Rare plants, mammals and birds are found only in the area.
- There are 10 species of mammals, 98 species of reptiles and over 100 species of land-based migratory birds living in the area.
- Exmouth is recognised as the premier Game Fishing area of Western Australia - it is one of the few places in the world where such famous species as Black Marlin, Blue Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Spanish mackerel and Sailfish are hooked regularly.
For more information about the area contact the Exmouth Visitor Center on free call 1800 287 328.
More information about holidaying in Western Australia is available by contacting the WA Visitor Centre on 1300 361 351.
Editors note: GoSeeAustralia thanks Tourism Western Australia for assistance with this feature and the pictures which accompany it.
Editor's Note also see: