Coral Bay – awesome snorkelling paradise

Coral Bay

It was only a 150 km drive from Exmouth to Coral Bay. As we spent more time in Western Australia we learned it is a very dry state without trees at least in the northern part of it. The roads are very boring and surrounded by emptiness. Only small shrubs are visible from the road.

Coral Bay is a small town with a population of 200 that is obviously boosted in a tourist season. Due to Coral Bay being located at the edge of the Ningaloo Reef, its main attraction is snorkelling.

Coral Bay Camping
Coral Bay Camping

They also offer glass-bottom boat tours, diving tours, stingray snorkel tours, whale and shark watching tours and quad bike and sailing tours.

The turquoise, clear water is warm all year round. The reef is 40 meters from the beach so it is a matter of wearing your snorkelling gear and entering the water. The snorkelling is great.

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Coral Bay – busy but beautiful

Once we arrived in Ningaloo Coral Bay Resort we got the first surprise – no sites were available. The resort also offers villas, cabins and houses but there was something we were not interested in. We also knew there is no free Coral Bay camping around.

Somehow they found a small site for one night. The next day we were supposed to check the office if anything was freed up so we could stay longer. 

Damn, if we knew we would have called them and booked in advance. 

We still make these rookie mistakes…

Travel Spiced Life

Make an early booking if you know your next destination is a popular spot, especially in a tourist season (May – October in Northern Australia).

Next day, 7 am in the morning we rushed to the reception begging for more days. Fortunately, some people left and we were able to extend our stay. That would be a big miss if we could not explore Coral Bay.

Coral Bay
Coral Bay – I simply love this place

Before coming to Coral Bay everyone kept telling us that Exmouth has great beaches and a reef and Coral Bay is for families. Hmmm, maybe so, but in my opinion Coral Bay is incredibly beautiful, has a great atmosphere and is tiny, so it is not so crowded.

Huge snappers rubbing our feet and invisible stingrays

We only went to the beach for a moment for a little exploration, and we discovered the azure water, white sand and huge snappers rub against our legs in the water up to our knees. 

We also saw small stingrays sitting on shallow water. We had to be careful to not step on them.  What an amazing experience!

Coral Bay
Coral Bay – stingray right next to our feet

Mauds Landing Beach

In the afternoon we went to Mauds Landing Beach that is located a bit further, north of the town. 

This time we tried some fishing on the beach. Even I got a fishing rod. Marius absolutely wanted to put something on the grill. Surprisingly, right after casting, I had a bite and pulled a large fish. Marius had even prepared to pick it up, but unfortunately, I lost it two meters from the shore. 

Coral Bay - longtom
Coral Bay – longtom

Later, I got a small, 40 cm longtom, but we let it go.

Coral Bay
Coral Bay

My husband was just frustrated that no fish had touched his lure. It was hard to believe that giants are not caught every day like in Derby. Regardless, what was important – the beach was beautiful and four hours passed so quickly! 

After returning I discovered that Nell was wearing kilograms of sand on her (this happens when you do flips on the beach), but she was so happy and so tired that we couldn’t even be angry with her.

Our Coral Bay snorkelling experience

Later we went to the beach to relax and swim a bit. It was very hot today. We were shocked again as the small rays were hiding in the sand in shallow water just under our feet. We had to be careful to not step on them as that could be a painful experience.

While Marius supervised Nell playing in the shallows I tried snorkelling. The water was a bit cold for me (any water lower than 30 degrees is cold for me), but the snorkelling was amazing.

Coral Bay snorkelling
Coral Bay snorkelling

The quantity and colour of the reef fish could cause a headache. The colours were so unrealistically beautiful. The fish looked like they were made of rubber. It makes you want to look under the tail to check for the sticker “made in China”.

Coral Bay snorkelling
Coral Bay snorkelling

I can get used to such a simple life. In the morning we get up slowly, then walk to the beach – I snorkel and Marius supervises Nell.

Snapper feeding

There is one place on the beach where big snappers surround you immediately upon your arrival. In this feeding spot, people gather every afternoon to see snapper feeding. The snappers are not afraid to stick around, so it is even possible to touch them.

Once I finished snorkelling we went to see them. The big beautiful snappers surrounded us immediately.

Coral Bay
Snapper feeding – look how many snappers came

Coral Bay fishing attempt again

In the evening we went to Mauds Landing Beach beach again. Marius, as usual, began to complain because fish were not interested in what he had to offer. 

The water was clear, the fish jumped around happily and that upset him even more. I had a healthy approach to the subject – if I catch something, great. If I won’t, also fine, no drama.

Coral Bay Fishing
Coral Bay Fishing

Marius finally caught something! It turned out that he had caught a plump blowfish, which is very poisonous. I immediately felt suspicious and consulted with the people fishing next to us only to confirm it.

Coral Bay Summary

During our 7 day stay in Coral Bay, we mostly swam and snorkelled in the morning and went fishing in the afternoon. Life was simple. No obligations, just stay safe, relax and enjoy.

I would recommend Coral Bay to everyone. It is a perfect place to unwind. 

On the final day, we went for our last walk with a great sentiment. We all agreed to come back here in the future.

After Coral Bay paradise our next place on the schedule was Carnarvon. This place is famous for its one-mile-long heritage jetty. Let’s see what fishing will be like?

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is there any free Coral Bay camping?

Unfortunately, there is no free Coral Bay camping. The only other camping that is relatively close to Coral Bay is Warroora Station located 60 km south. They offer villas, rooms and camping grounds for a relatively small fee.

Other free camping can only be found off the highway.


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4WD Equipment Checklist

GPS Navigator or compass

Maxtrax – if you get bogged, you can use it for additional traction

Tire Deflator – deflate tires quickly when going on dirt or 4WD

Air Compressor – inflate tires quickly after going back on bitumen (we use MM)

Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)

UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency

Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road

High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks

Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking

Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places

Additional fuel canisters


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