Australia // 6 Things to do in Exmouth, Western Australia
1. Whale Shark Tours
The little town of Exmouth in Western Australia is mostly known as THE jump-off point for the awesome whale shark tours along the Ningaloo Reef. For more information about the whale shark tours, we’ve written 2 blogposts about these unforgettable trips: Swimming with the whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef and Going on a whale shark tour as an observer.
But what if you’re not interested in swimming with the whale sharks, is Exmouth still worth the detour? After all, the nearest town, Carnarvon, is more than 350 km away! Well, fortunately there is plenty on offer besides swimming with the gentle giants!
2. Cape Range National Park
Closer to Exmouth, this great national park is situated adjacent to the Ningaloo Reef. The park is excellent for those seeking a thrilling 4WD adventure, but for the lesser equipped (like us) there’re still plenty of sealed roads to cruise around!
There are dozens of beaches and bays in the park to chill out or go snorkelling. Here’s a few of them that shouldn’t be missed!
Probably the prettiest beach of them all… Dig your toes in some of the whitest sand on the planet and cool down in the bright turquoise water. Turquoise Bay will take your breath away for sure! The great thing about snorkelling here is that you can enter the water on the south side and let the current take you up north. Just go with the flow and enjoy the stunning underwater scenery!
A great place for snorkeling at high tide. This rocky area (the coastline here is the reef basically) is home to abundant sea life. At low tide the reef is exposed and visitors are asked to stay out of the water in order to protect the reef.
One of the bigger beaches in the park, and a good place for sunbathing or building a sand castle if you’re up for it! When returning to Exmouth in the late afternoon keep an eye out for the dozens of kangaroos and maybe even a dingo or an Australian bustard!
3. Charles Knife Canyon
This is a part of Cape Range NP that is definitely not to be missed! And it gets even better, because you can visit this part of the park without having to pay an entrance fee. Just take the turnoff from the Minilya-Exmouth Road about 25km south of Exmouth and drive up the Charles Knife Road into the hills where plenty of astonishing panoramas await!
4. Vlamingh Head Lighthouse
Only 15 minutes from town but without a doubt the best place to enjoy an amazing sunset over the Indian Ocean! It’s also an ideal stopover on your way back to Exmouth after visiting Cape Range NP. Don’t expect to be the only one there :-)
5. Harold E. Holt Naval Communication Station
Exmouth isn’t all about nature, it has a bit of naval history as well! Back in the sixties, a U.S. naval base was built to communicate with ships and submarines all over the world. The base itself was designed by and for Americans, complete with right-hand traffic, and a steakhouse and tenpin bowling alley where you could only pay in US dollars! They even built an American style water tower to make the base’s personnel less homesick… although we’ve been told the tower never functioned properly :-)
A few km further north of the base, thirteen huge VLF (Very Low Frequency) towers were built. The tallest one is 387m (1,270ft) high, that’s taller than the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building! Another goofy fact, the towers were numbered from 0 to 12 instead of from 1 to lucky number 13 to satisfy the superstition-crazy Americans ;-)
6. Coral Bay
A little bit further from Exmouth – 155 km, which isn’t far at all in Aussie measures ;-) – you can find another Ningaloo Reef hotspot: Coral Bay. It’s one of the most convenient places to discover the gorgeous Ningaloo Reef. Just get some snorkel gear and start swimming ‘cause the reef is only a few meters away from the beach (unlike the Great Barrier Reef)!
The perfect visibility allows you to spot the thousands of fish and some of the most colorful coral in the world! Those who are not too fond of swimming can still enjoy the stunning sugar white beach and crystal-clear turquoise water.
So there’s no doubt about it, Exmouth is a great place to spend a few days, even if you’re not going on a whale shark tour.
Have you been to Exmouth? How was your experience? Feel free to share your thoughts below!
- Exmouth is located on the most western point of Australia with Perth being the first major city nearby. “Nearby” meaning 1250 km away so be sure to plan your trip ahead!
- Cape Range National Park entrance fee is AUD 12 per vehicle, a campsite is AUD 10 per adult per night.
- Don’t risk free camping in Exmouth or on rest areas between Coral Bay and Exmouth. A ranger told us we’d get an on the spot fine!