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Ningaloo Reef from Coral Bay or Exmouth?

Singapore, Singapore
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Ningaloo Reef from Coral Bay or Exmouth?

Planning a self drive from Perth to take in Indian Ocean Drive to Ningaloo Reef. The itineraries I see online all go from Carnavon to Exmouth; Exmouth to Coral Bay. To save time, I was thinking of skipping Exmouth and stop at Coral Bay before making a return trip down towards Monkey Mia etc to Perth. Wondering if that's recommended or is Exmouth a must-see? Can I go to Ningaloo Reef via Coral Bay? Which is nearer? Which town is recommended? Thanks.

Eaton, Australia
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1. Re: Ningaloo Reef from Coral Bay or Exmouth?

Yes, you could stop at Coral Bay and enjoy the reef and then backtrack down the coast, but as Coral Bay is only around 3 hours south of Exmouth, you could visit both places, if you are keen to do so.

Coral Bay is a small coastal settlement, whereas Exmouth is a small town, with more accommodation and infrastructure. We've enjoyed staying in both locations.

Colorado
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for Western Australia
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2. Re: Ningaloo Reef from Coral Bay or Exmouth?

Coral Bay is only 152 km south of Exmouth, we did it in two hours with numerous stops.

Exmouth definitely isn't what I'd consider a 'must see' (it's just a small fishing town in a cyclone prone area), but it's the gateway to Cape Range Nat'l Park if that appeals to you. Within Cape Range you'll find Yardi Creek and the snorkeling nirvana of Turquoise Bay, but not a whole lot else. Ningaloo is more easily accessed from Coral Bay, as you merely walk from your accommodation/camp site and fall into the water. You need to take a boat trip to access Ningaloo from the town of Exmouth.

Singapore, Singapore
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3. Re: Ningaloo Reef from Coral Bay or Exmouth?

Thanks for your replies. As we are conscious of time we will prob head towards coral bay before making return leg. Tho i see that coral bay accommodation is more limited. Realized that distances are relatively far eg coral bay to shark Bay Area is at least five hours. Looking forward to snorkeling at ningaloo! The last time I snorkelled was at cairns and enjoyed it a lot! Oh do we need to book a tour out for snorkeling like in cairns?

4. Re: Ningaloo Reef from Coral Bay or Exmouth?

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Edited: 2:05 am, April 12, 2013
rural West Aussie
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5. Re: Ningaloo Reef from Coral Bay or Exmouth?

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Sydney, Australia
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6. Re: Ningaloo Reef from Coral Bay or Exmouth?

As mentioned Exmouth is nothing much its only Cape Range which is stunning. I would just do Coral Bay & enjoy the trip back to Perth from there. Coral Bay is fabulous for snorkeling.

You can just snorkel off the beach which makes Coral bay unique.

Perth, Australia
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7. Re: Ningaloo Reef from Coral Bay or Exmouth?

If you have a look at a map of the region, you'll see that Exmouth is not adjacent to Ningaloo, but you don't need a boat to get to it...you can drive very easily.

There are quite a lot of differences between the 2 places IMO:

-Exmouth is a bigger town

-the length of reef you have access to from Exmouth is much larger, with many different bays to snorkel and explore (Coral Bay essentially just has one)

-there are a lot of inland walks possible from Exmouth, which can be accessed from the West coast of the penninsula (near Ningaloo, such as Yardie Creek which is beautiful and you'll see loads of rock wallabies), or from the Eastern Side of the Penninsula (where there are walks through small gorges, like Shot Hole canyon)

-if you're interested there are also mangroves on the east coast to explore, which are full of wildlife - you'll see heaps of birds and if you wade about you'll also see loads of little stingrays

-Accommodation right next to the reef is more varied in Coral Bay - if you stay in 'Exmouth' and want to stay near the reef you will either be camping in the DEC sites or at Yardie Homestead caravan park

If you just want to relax near the reef, I think Coral bay is best. If you want to do some exploring and walking as well, I think Exmouth is good, although it depends on you accomm. preferences

Either way, you'll have a blast! Enjoy :)

Singapore, Singapore
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8. Re: Ningaloo Reef from Coral Bay or Exmouth?

Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions! Appreciate the sharing. Gives me a clearer idea of the places. We prob have about seven days for the drive so it's likely to be perth to geraldyon to carnovon to coral bay then back to shark bay to monkey Mia to kalbarri to perth. Prob two nights in coral bay. Hope this is workable. Cos not sure how tired from driving.

9. Re: Ningaloo Reef from Coral Bay or Exmouth?

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Removed on: 11:35 am, April 13, 2013
Perth, Australia
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10. Re: Ningaloo Reef from Coral Bay or Exmouth?

See how you go with the driving... but if you can cut down the stops and stay for longer on Coral Bay, it'd be worth it. We are heading up next week! Can't wait. But we are used to long distances, so very different to Singapore driving!