Ningaloo Reef is located on the Coral Coast of Western Australia. Ningaloo’s most famous transient residents are the ginormous whale sharks. They migrate through this area between March and June, which is autumn in Australia. It is located in the centre of Western Australia, 1,200 km north of Perth or 1,200 km south of Broome.
When travelling to Ningaloo Reef, you can hire a car in Perth or Broome and also closer to your destination in Carnarvon to the south or Exmouth to the north. Having your own vehicle gives you the flexibility to tour the sites on your own schedule and at your own leisure. Whale sharks are the largest known fish in the ocean and can reach up to 18 metres in length and are said to intelligently interact with swimmers.
There are very few places in the world where you can swim with these gentle giants because of their migration patterns, they are not very close to shore often. Ningaloo Reef is considered by many nature enthusiasts to be the best place to swim right next to these graceful creatures who seem just as curious about us as we are about them. Swimming with the largest fish on the planet is a once in a lifetime and magical experience.
About Ningaloo Reef
Ningaloo Reef is a fringing coral reef in Coral Bay where the outback meets the reef. The outer reaches of the beach and reef are the western most part of mainland Australia. Ningaloo was named a World Heritage Site by the United National in 2011.
There are many different resorts, accommodations, and nearby camp grounds where you can stay during a visit to Ningaloo. Since the reef is now in a marine park, it is protected; conservation and sanctuary are enforced and respected by the local resorts and tours that allow visitors to witness the beauty while ensuring its protection. Most of the accommodations are eco-friendly and environmentally conscious.
Variety of Marine Life in Ningaloo Reef
If you can’t make it during whale shark migration season, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come to Ningaloo. The shallow waters fringing reef here is teaming with life year round that are easy to see and explore no matter what level diver you are. Glass bottom boat rides and fishing charters are also available.
The deep blue waters of the Indian Ocean here are home to 500 different species of fish, 300 corals, and 600 species of molluscs including loggerhead turtles, green turtles, and hawksbill turtles. Plus, if you can’t make it during the fall, during other times of the year you can catch the migration of dolphins, dugongs, manta rays, and humpback whales.
All of the exotic marine life is easy to see because the water is so clear and visibility is high, but the reef is easily accessible too. Many areas of the reef are less than one kilometre from shore, and some parts are very shallow. Both snorkelers and SCUBA divers have plenty to explore under the sea.
We already said that the time for whale sharks is March through June. Depending on what time of the year you visit, you can have a completely different oceanic experience:
- January: The sea turtle eggs hatch on the beach at Coral Bay and make their way back to the Indian Ocean.
- March and April: This is when many of the 300 different species of coral that give Coral Bay its namesake spawn during this time. The best time to plan to see the coral spawning is right after the full moon.
- August and September: Late winter in Western Australia is known for the beautiful array of colours of the wildflowers.
- June through November: Once the whale sharks leave the waters here, the humpback whales begin their annual migration up the Coral Coast. The females come here to give birth in the deeper waters off shore. Charters can be hired to take you out to see these magnificent creatures of the sea.
Things to Do in and Around Ningaloo Reef and Coral Bay
If you are visiting Ningaloo Reef, then likely you are there to swim in the waters there and explore the amazing marine life. However, that is not all there is in this corner of Australia. If you want to get close, but not that close under the sea, you can still explore the Indian Ocean and Coral bay on boat, cruise, or on fishing expeditions.
There are many different types of resorts in the area, you can plan a wedding or other event and celebrate your special occasions close to nature. Other nearby places to visit on holiday includes Cape Range National Park, Yardie Creek, and Mandu Mandu Gorge.