I could give you 100 things to do in Exmouth, but I’m going to settle for our top 10. We’ve been on the road for over 15 months now and Exmouth is up there – our absolute favourite place so far.
1. Drift snorkel, Turquoise Bay
It’s one of Western Australia’s favourite beaches. Turquoise Bay is a dazzling shimmer of blues on white sand, and oh my! It is special. There is a strong current that flows north up the beach which makes for an easy snorkel. Take your snorkelling gear and walk a couple of hundred metres up the beach before you swim out the short distance to the reef. It’s an effortless way to interact with the Ningaloo Reef, float alongside turtles and observe the colours of this intricate coral maze. Take note of the signs and make sure you know where to get out before the sandy point.
2. Swim with whale sharks, Ningaloo Discovery
You have to do it! Swimming with these giants of the sea was one of the most unreal experiences. We travel on quite a tight budget but I am so glad we splashed the cash for this amazing marine encounter. We were in and out of the water for hours and swam with them for way longer than we ever expected.
There are so many different companies to choose from which can make it really confusing but all tour operators have a very similar success rate when it comes to finding the whale sharks. You’ll find little difference in prices but the more expensive charters run fancier food.
If you are travelling out of peak holiday times I’d suggest trying to score a last minute deal by calling the company the night before, and see if there are spaces they are still trying to fill for a cheaper price. A big draw card that some companies try to promote is having their own spotter plane, but when you’re out there you’ll realise how little this matters. Ultimately all the tour operators are very respectful, work together and share the animals. I also love the fact that they all have a photographer on board so you don’t even need to worry about trying to capture the moment.
3. Beers and pizza, Whalebone Brewery
$10 pints and $20 pizzas. Hidden in the industrial estate just out of town this is a busy little spot with just enough room for the large crowds it attracts. The mood is set with strings of warm light bulbs and chilled out tunes. Whalebone Brewery is open Wednesday to Sunday from 4pm till late, often hosting live music on weekends. There’s a selection of beers to choose from but we would recommend a pale ale or the spicy ginger beer.
4. Paddle Yardie Creek
If you have a stand up paddle board or kayak get it out on the smooth waters of Yardie Creek. It’s not a long paddle, it’s an easy and peaceful cruise to the end. There’s a few birds of prey overhead looking down on their nests wedged into rock shelves all around. And you might spot the rare black-butted wallaby in the wildlife sanctuary that borders the southern side of the creek. As you paddle further in, the big orange cliff faces grow on either side. You can also take a ranger guided boat tour down Yardie Creek which runs twice a day.
5. Take a hike, Exmouth’s version of the Grand Canyon
It’s hard to even imagine this place exists in the middle of Cape Range National Park. The road up is fairly narrow, steep and windy and jumps between dirt and bitumen. I wouldn’t suggest towing anything in. On the way up there are so many places to turn off and catch amazing views of the canyons below that you don’t really even need to take on the 6km hike if you don’t want to. But at sunrise and sunset it would be silly to miss the opportunity to walk amongst the colours and beauty of Charles Knife Canyon.
6. Sunset at the lighthouse
The locals’ favourite spot to watch the sun go down, the retired lighthouse. Access is via the dirt track just 50 metres north of the Ningaloo Lighthouse Caravan Park. Park up and watch the Ningaloo Reef swallow up a golden sun.
7. Join the turtle club, Osprey Bay
Osprey Bay is one of the most popular campsites in all of Western Australia and there’s a good reason for it, it’s stunning. Camping availability is few and far between so you’ll need to book in with plenty of notice. There are cute little beaches and rocks to lounge on that drop down into crystal water. The weedy reef located directly off shore is the perfect feeding ground for turtles. Early evenings and mornings are the best time to swim alongside the biggest chillers in the sea. They are pretty used to having people around so I have no doubt you’ll get a turtle-selfie within a few minutes.
8. Find the fig tree’s hidden cave, Learmonth
Look, I won’t lie, this spot is a little tricky to get to, easier to access from the east but easier to find from the west. You’ll need to use Wikicamps to find its exact location as you get close. A low lying fig reaches down through the rocks opening in to a large cave below. Exmouth locals have run a chain link ladder down into the cave, just BYO torch.
9. Catch a wave, Yardie & Dunes
If you’ve got a board, Dunes is your break. If you’ve got a board and a boat, Yardie might be your pick. Dunes is usually a mellow break, just be aware that there is quite a lot of reef to walk over depending on the tides to get in and out. Yardie breaks out on the Ningaloo Reef and is a popular spot for surfers to set up camp at Yardie Creek and head out there every day for a wave. So you can imagine the chilled vibe back at camp post hours of surfing.
10. Sit back and relax, Sandy Bay
Sandy Bay is so underrated. If you are just looking for a pristine beach with good swimming, soft white sand to walk on, Sandy Bay is the winner. I’d give it the “Best Beach in Australia” vote if I had my say. I don’t even have nice enough words in my vocabulary to describe it.
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