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Coral Coast

Coral Coast

Western Australia’s Coral Coast – midway along the Western Australia coastline – extends for over 1000km. Take the Indian Ocean Drive from Cervantes in the south, some 2 hours north of Perth, up to the Coral Coast’s main centre of Geraldton and onto Exmouth in the north. The sea is bluer here, the skies clearer and the rich colours of the coastline make this drive an adventure to fill the senses with extraordinary natural sights both onshore and underwater and unforgettable experiences including hand feeding dolphins in the wild and swimming with whale sharks.

The journey begins at Cervantes, home to WA’s prized Western Rock Lobsters, while nearby at Lake Thetis is the world’s oldest known organisms – stromatolites – with local fossils dating back 3.6 billion years. Another highlight of the southern part of the Coral Coast is Nambung National Park and the curious Pinnacles limestone spires. At Jurien Bay lookout for sea lions basking on the beach.

Geraldton is a major stop for those touring the Indian Ocean Drive, and this popular port and beach town is especially popular with windsurfers. Geraldton is on the Batavia Coast, a reference to the famous Batavia shipwreck that features in the town’s museum, and a memorial commemorates another famous ship loss, the HMAS Sydney II, sunk by a German Raider HSL Kormoran in World War II. Offshore lie the Abrolhos Islands, a popular dive spot and home to pearl farms.

The natural highlights grow ever more impressive as you continue north, firstly to Kalbarri, including nearby Kalbarri National Park with its stunning ochre-coloured gorge and Nature’s Window; then further north to Shark Bay World Heritage Area where visitors can see more stromatolites at Hamelin Pool; visit Shell Beach with its 120km stretch of shores composed entirely of cockleshells 8m deep; then finally Francis Peron National Park and the very popular Monkey Mia where visitors can hand-feed dolphins under the supervision of Rangers.

The Ningaloo Coast stretches for 300km north as far as Exmouth and the 604,500 hectares of Ningaloo Marine Park is the crowning glory of the Coral Coast, supporting over 500 species of fish and 250 species of coral. A haven for divers and a delight for visitors snorkelling on its coral reefs, perhaps the biggest highlight is the opportunity to swim with whale sharks. These massive but harmless sharks that feed on krill, make their annual visit to the waters off Coral Bay and Exmouth from mid-March to July.

For more experiences, check out the Coral Coast Bucket List

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