10 wildlife encounters on the Coral Way, FAQ, what to do
Inspiration for your holiday to the Coral Way is wrapped around the outdoors. Western Australia’s warm waters of the Indian Ocean are home to dolphins who tease visitors with their confidence and kangaroos graze for seed pods on the beach. You stand in crystal clear waters as manta rays glide slowly pass as their large bodies gently undulate in the current. A cruise introduces you to the majestic humpback whales and whale sharks whose massive size belies their majesty. Spend time with the natural world and feel enriched by the experience.
Best time to visit Western Australia: March – October
Frequently Asked Questions
- Do you have to join a tour to see whale sharks?
Yes, and it is important the tour company is an accredited eco-tour company that respects the habitat and marine environment.
- Is it expensive to visit the Coral Way Coast?
No, it does not need to be expensive especially if you are more interested in scenery and landscapes, you can hire a 4WD and undertake a self guided tour. For wildlife buffs it is necessary to join a tour for up close and personal encounters. This is similar to an African safari.
If you are interested in wildlife, similar to an African safari you need to pay for a professional tour guide to escort you to view marine life as well as follow wildlife welfare guidelines.
- Whale sharks
- Humpback whales
- Ningaloo reef (access and safety)
- Provide snorkeling and diving equipment (usually equipment does not fit in a backpack)
- Turtle nesting and hatching Jurabi Turtle Centre. Please ensure you read the Turtle Watchers’ Code of Conduct prior to heading to the beaches.
- Is it possible to stay in one location to see everything?
Yes, it is possible to stay in Exmouth and see most of the wildlife. Kilbarri is popular for its access to Kalbarri National Park with its stupendous natural rock formations and sculptured landscapes. If you wish to combine scenery and landscapes then it is advisable to stay in Kalbarri and then drive the Coral Coast to Exmouth.
It is suggested you stay in Kalbarri to experience?
- Visit Parrot breeding Centre
- Visit Abrolhos Marine National Park
- Snorkel Blue Holes beach to explore marine reef life
- Explore Kalbarri National Park for its landforms and wildlife such as rock wallabies, echinacea and other rare marsupials.
It is suggested you stay in Exmouth to experience?
- Swim with whale sharks
- Turtle encounters
- Meet dugongs of Shark Bay Marine Park (spotted September to November)
- Meet dolphins at Monkey Mia beach (supervised by National Park ranger)
- Yardie Creek black footed wallabies, bird life (Cape Range National Park)
- How can I ensure I do not miss my wildlife encounter with…?
Check the breeding season, the time of the year the animal is present and plan your trip accordingly. As with all wildlife encounters tour operators and nature do not guarantee you will observe the animal when you want to. Nature sets the timetable, not people.
- Can I see Kangaroos on the beach on the Coral Coast?
No, the best place to view kangaroos grazing on seed pods is Lucky Bay in Esperance.
- Turtle sightings, what is the best place to go?
Shark Bay Marine Park, north of Ningaloo Reef for sea turtles. The breeding season is between December to March. Turtle hatchlings observed between February to March. The Turtle Centre is an interpretive educational facility located 13km from Exmouth Township. It is situated between Hunters and Mauritius beaches, adjacent to a popular rookery for three threatened species.
- Do wildlife experiences finish in Exmouth?
Here are ten suggestions where to go and what to see from Kilbarri to Exmouth. Of course you do not need to stop in Exmouth you can continue north to Broome and the Kimberleys. That is another trip filled with more treats.
Location map: Route from Kilbarrie to Exmouth
Pelican Feeding, Kalbarri Foreshore. The story began in the 1970’s when a local began feeding the pelicans. Smart birds quickly established a routine and the visitors started turning up to watch. A gold coin donation is requested to support the local volunteers who tirelessly feed the birds daily at 8.45 on the foreshore
Australian Parrot Breeding Centre is an aviary and breeding centre for Australian parrots. A great place for families. It is a commercial enterprise and a ‘zoo’ for birds which might not be to everyone’s taste. Rainbow Jungle is open seven days a week – 9am to 4pm / School Holidays 9am to 4pm (Closed Christmas Day).
Visit Ocean Park Aquarium an award-winning, eco-friendly aquarium located on the shores of Shark Bay Marine Park. The park offers hump whale watching cruises (July – October), trips to Shark Bay Dive and Marine Safaris is the only PADI Dive Centre in Shark Bay. Choices range from scuba diving, snorkelling and scenic wildlife cruises of Steep Point and Dirk Hartog Island.
Hamelin Pool location
Take a stroll and observe the stromatolites on the Hamelin Pool Boardwalk. Hamelin Pool Stromatolites, part of Shark Bay Marine Park. The ‘rock’ in the shallow waters are not rocks at all, rather living fossils. They are examples of the earliest life on the planet.
Monkey Mia location map
The stunning red sand dunes of Monkey Mia beach are the setting for a special introduction to wild dolphins. Meet dolphins at feeding time. In the dunes you might observe pelicans and emus. Western grasswrens can skitter in the dunes near the car park. Start with a visit to the Dolphin Information Centre and check out the interpretive displays sharing insights into dolphin biology, behaviour, as well as the other marine life of Shark Bay. For enthusiasts who wish to know more about the wildlife check here for Publications. Especially useful for bird watchers.
Dugongs, with their habitat marine seagrass are usually spotted in the spring (September/October/November). Take a wildlife cruise or scenic flight into the Shark Bay or Ningaloo marine parks or Exmouth. With a life span average of 70 years the sea cow of the sea is a distant relative of the elephant. The dugong’s elongated snout faces downwards and its enormous, bristly upper lip is mobile. A heavy skeleton helps it stay down while feeding. The dugong has an extraordinarily long intestine—up to 30 metres — because its seagrass diet is hard to digest. For more information click here for details about the gentle dugong.
Ningaloo Reef, from the shoreline you can access the sheltered coral gardens of Ningaloo Reef – home to some of the 500 species of fish and 300 varieties of coral. To explore the outer reef, where you’re more likely to encounter dugongs, turtles, dolphins and graceful manta rays. The best option here is a guided tour with a glass-bottom boat trip and an option to join a guided snorkel tour.
Milyering Discovery Centre location
Yardie Creek is a bucket list trip for wildlife lovers. The ancient gorge with its deep aquamarine water, and stunning red limestone cliffs is memorising. The rare black-foot rock wallaby and red kangaroos call this place home.ardie Creek is about 38 km south of the Milyering Discovery Centre. Built of rammed earth and powered by solar energy, Milyering Discovery Centre was the first totally environmentally friendly building of its type in Australia. Displays, brochures and videos explain the natural communities of the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage area. The Centre is a great resource for wildlife lovers. A cruise on Yardie Creek is a highlight with the bronze, red and rust colours layers soaring above the waterline while you spend the time soaking up the atmosphere and whipping out the binoculars to spot eagles, the rock wallabies and other wildlife. Sit back, relax and enjoy the thrill of gliding through the ravines of Cape Range National Park. For self-guided enthusiasts there is the option of kayaking Yardie Creek.
Vlamingh Head Lighthouse
Vlamingh Head Lighthouse is worth a trek to take in the sweeping ocean sunset. Between June and November, you might also see migrating humpback whales from this scenic vantage point.
Swimming with marine wildlife manta ray and whale sharks is a bucket list encounter for many visitors. A guided tour offers the best chance of maximising your time with the sometimes elusive marine life. For booking details check out Swim With Whale Shark. For statements about the tour operator’s sustainable policies and connections with the traditional owners click here for details.
Travel Pack Information
- Marine turtles in Western Australia
- DETOUR to Francois Peron National Park, a remote wilderness with large tracts only accessible to an experienced 4WD operator. The historical precinct is accessible for 2WD. A popular location for bird watchers and history buffs interested in pastoral settlements.
- Dugong facts PDF
- Marine Turtles of Western Australia guide PDF
- Marine Wildlife of Western Australia guide PDF
- Monkey Mia dolphin encounters guide PDF
- Coral Coast tips, weather, road trip route map + STAY PDF
The journey is worth it.