What to Do in Exmouth – Your Ultimate Guide
If you’re after an expansive Australian adventure away from the crowds, Exmouth has your name on it. This idyllic coastal town in Western Australia, offers unforgettable experiences – with scenery to match. Here’s your guide to the best things to do in Exmouth.
How to get there
A two-hour flight from Perth or a five-hour direct flight from Melbourne, Exmouth sits quietly on the tip of the North West Cape in WA and is the ideal jumping-off point into a world of wonder. Not all of the natural attractions are within walking distance, so hiring a car is recommended if you’ve not booked a tour, especially if you want to explore the ancient red rocks in the surrounding national parks, or the turquoise waters of the Ningaloo’s coral coast.
What to do in Exmouth
Ningaloo Marine Park
The vibrant little town of Exmouth, with a population of just over 2000 residents, is the gateway to the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo (Nyinggulu) Coast. At Ningaloo Marine Park, you’ll find some of the world’s most unique coral reefs and diverse marine life. Visitors can venture out via glass-bottom boats, some of which include half-day or full-day snorkelling in their tours. Dive in and keep an eye out for manta rays, whale sharks and turtles. The park is also home to many species of birds, making it a must-visit for birdwatchers.
Cape Range National Park
The Cape Range National Park is one of Exmouth’s most popular attractions, and for good reason. Located within the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area, the jutting limestone cliffs and red-stained mountains give way to spectacular canyons that are – quite literally – crawling with wildlife, including wallabies, kangaroos and echidnas. Embark on a walking trail or take a boat tour along Yardie Creek, which winds between huge cliffs. There are also picnic areas and lookout points, providing plenty of opportunities to pause and take in the views.
Swimming and snorkelling at Turquoise Bay
Named the best beach in the South Pacific and third-best beach in the world in Trip Advisor’s 2022 Traveller’s Choice Awards, Turquoise Bay, with its crystalline water and soft sand, is a 50-minute drive from Exmouth’s centre. Temperatures average 28 degrees Celsius in September and climb all the way up to the high 30s in the summer months. The beach is not only beautiful, it’s also known for its incredible marine life and is often named the best place to snorkel on the coral coast. Book in for a sea kayak and snorkel tour or a “drift” snorkel experience, where you allow yourself to be carried by the warm water current around the colourful coral reef and keep your eyes peeled for manta rays, turtles and dolphins.
The Western Australian Parks and Wildlife Service conducts tours of marine turtle habitats from the Jurabi Turtle Centre, which sits directly opposite the shore. Dedicated guides will lead you as you watch turtles nest in December and January, while between February and March, the service offers tours that follow the tiny babies as they hatch and make their way to the sea.
Swimming with whale sharks
Every year from late March to July, whale sharks gather off the coast of Western Australia to feed at Ningaloo Reef. Weighing as much as 11 tonnes each and growing to the size of a bus, it’s fortunate the sharks only eat plankton and the occasional fish, making them safe for humans to play with. Yes, that’s right: all-day tours are available, where you can fly over the water, spot a whale shark and quickly land to disembark and swim alongside it. Described as a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience, it’s an environmentally friendly one too, with proceeds from each tour going back into whale shark research.
Where to eat in Exmouth
Exmouth’s food and drink scene is laid-back, with a range of restaurants and bars to choose from. Seafood restaurants are especially plentiful here, serving up fresh, locally sourced fare. Try Whalers, which features options like goldband snapper and lime, coriander and coconut prawns for dinner (though it’s open for breakfast and lunch, too). You’ll find it within the Exmouth Escape Resort; there is often live music and a thoroughly relaxed atmosphere. If you’re after a cocktail or two with your meal, Exhale Exmouth serves margaritas and mojitos alongside tasty tapas such as snapper ceviche.
Where to stay
For families and groups of friends who are looking to get away from it all, you can rent an entire private island for 12 people, with a minimum three-night stay. Wilderness Island, in Exmouth Gulf, is 38 kilometres away from Exmouth and guests take a 20-minute plane ride to get there. A handful of private cabins, each containing a bed and ensuite and sitting almost directly on the beach, await. Wake up to the sound of water lapping at your doorstep, then hop on a boat and go fishing, diving, snorkelling or exploring on a complimentary marine tour. At Wilderness Island, you’re even allowed to eat oysters fresh off the rocks.
For something more centrally located, Ningaloo Reef Resort, with its breezy, tropicana energy (thanks to swaying palm trees and a pristine waterfront location) is hard to beat. Situated in Coral Bay, the resort is close to all the must-see attractions, including, of course, the Marine Park. Book yourself into an ocean-view self-contained apartment and take a dip in the pool or the sea after a breakfast of mushroom bruschetta and Nutella waffles for the kids at Shades Café, the onsite restaurant.