Look no further to create your bucket-list itinerary of the best things to do in Exmouth than our ultimate travel guide!
It may surprise you that Western Australia occupies roughly one third of the entire continent of Australia; yet some of Australia’s top attractions and incredible marine life co-exist in the tiny north western corner in Exmouth WA.
Many tourists forget about travelling to Exmouth mainly due to its distance from the larger cities of Melbourne and Sydney, but to miss exploring the coral coast and all its intricacies is to almost ignore half of the country!
Everything from swimming with whale sharks, snorkelling Ningaloo reef, incredible surfing spots and stunning turquoise waters, there are a ton of activities in Exmouth that every traveler to Australia should experience.
Where is Exmouth WA
This distant land is located on Western Australia’s coral coast, which stretches just north of the capital city of Perth through to Exmouth.
Geographically speaking it is almost the western most point of mainland Australia only being beaten by Dirk Hartog island below it.
How to get to Exmouth
If travelling from Perth then take the Coral coast highway north until you reach the Minilya-Exmouth road turn off.
The 1250 km drive along the Coral Coast highway is easy enough and passes through spectacular natural landscapes and national parks, including Cape range national park and the Ningaloo coast along the Indian Ocean.
A great way of getting around is to hire a can and make the journey yourself. You get to see the countryside and choose to stop at any point you want. Road trips are a fantastic way to see the state.
You have to fly into Perth if you want to experience the best things to do in Exmouth and the good news is that it’s a short 2 hour flight time.
Qantas have JUST launched their brand new Melbourne to Exmouth direct flights for around $300 AUD one way per person which is great news for locals living on the eastern coast of Australia.
Best time of year to visit Exmouth WA
March through to April is hands down the best time of year to travel to Exmouth for a number of reasons.
The weather is generally warm with average temperatures of about 32C° and both Ningaloo Reef and the entire coral coast play host to a myriad of incredible wildlife like the whale shark, humpback whales and manta rays.
How long do you need to spend in Exmouth
We could generalise and say 1-2 weeks but it really depends on your budget and your willingness to move around.
Considering the distance needed to travel to Western Australia in the first place it seems wise enough to us to make the most of it and spend minimum 2 weeks here.
That way you can plan on different Exmouth day trips and ensure you cover all of the incredible things to do in Exmouth.
21 Top Things to do in Exmouth
Now that you have an idea of this top tourist destination in WA, we’ve collated all of the very best activities on the internet to give you the best itinerary for your time away.
Swim with Whale Sharks at Ningaloo Reef
The largest fish in the ocean calls Ningaloo marine park home between the warmer months of June to October on their migratory path to Antarctica, and it’s here where you can book a tour to swim with whale sharks.
Few other places in the world offer whale shark swim experiences and right here in Ningaloo Reef is one such place.
With such tight rules and regulations on tour operators to provide ethical and responsible marine life encounters, rest assured these guys are respectful in their service.
Other marine life such as manta rays, reef sharks, humpback whales and sea turtles are all locals to the marine park here so you wont be disappointed.
Most companies provide lunch on board, a spotter plane above to search for the whale sharks and up to 9 hours on the sea.
-Tour length: 8-9 hours (730AM start)
-best price guarantee
Visit the Jurabi turtle centre in Exmouth
One of the best Exmouth nature activities can be found here on the north west cape at the Jurabi turtle centre exmouth. This educational and interactive centre gives guest a guided turtle viewing experience on some of the most threatened turtle species in the world, including their nesting habits.
A popular place for Hawksbill, Loggerhead and Green Turtles, nesting season is from December though March and if you’re lucky enough to see nesting turtles or baby turtles hatching up close it’s one of the most exciting things to do in Exmouth.
Location: Jurabi turtle centre, Yardie Creek rd, Cape range national park
Price: Free entry into the Jurabi turtle centre, standard entry fees apply for Cape range national park.
Go on a hike through Cape Range national park
Covering over 50,000 hectares of land on the western cape of the north west cape, and over 60 km of pristine beaches, if you’re wondering what to do in Exmouth WA that doesn’t involve snorkelling then this is it.
Cape range national park is a unique geological environment with plants and animals like the Black-footed rock wallaby and the green bird flower being entirely endemic to this region alone.
Other wildlife like Dingoes, emus, echidnas, lizards and kangaroos all frequent this region of Western Australia also and make for incredible wildlife photography.
There’s also plenty of hikes to attempt here like the 3km return Mandu Mandu Gorge trail, the 1.2km return Yardie nature trail and Yardie Gorge Trail there is something for everyone.
This section of Cape Range national park has some of the most underrated and loved beaches in all of Western Australia, so while you’re here also check out Charles Knife Edge walk to Charles Knife Canyon for the 3.5km.
Things to remember:
– Entry fee into Cape Range national park is $15AUD/day
-Temperatures can get close to 45°C, bring lots of water
-Consider a personal location beacon for added safety if you wander off trail or get lost.
For updated park closures and restrictions closer to the date check out Milyering Discovery centre on Yardie creek road.
Whale watching tours on Ningaloo Reef
One of the most incredible things to do in Exmouth and indeed in all of the animal kingdom is to swim with Humpback whales, or simply join a whale watching tour.
Humpback whales have some of the most magnificent migratory patterns in the world, using both the eastern and western coasts of Australia as migration and breeding routes.
Very few places in Australia offer the opportunity to swim with Humpback whales but these tour groups offer both a swim and watching options.
When your trained staff deem it safe to swim, guests enter the water 7 at a time wit 2 crew members in the water, giving the whales plenty of room, letting them come to you if they choose.
This is the best eco-friendly tour option for swimming with Humpback whales!
Vlamingh head lighthouse views
The view from Vlamingh head lighthouse is just incredible and unique due to the fact that it overlooks one of the most dangerous stretches of coast in the world, and one of the few points where you can see both sunrise and sunset.
Only accessed via Yardie Creek road, the SS Mildura wreck lies north east of lighthouse Bay and if you can, stay till after sunset for dramatic views of the starry sky and the milky way, a this is a dark sky reserve there is next to no light pollution (other than the lighthouse itself)
While you’re down here we found it fairly practical to make the journey from the lighthouse to spectacular beaches like Turquoise bay, Jim’s beach and Mauritius beach.
Snorkelling Ningaloo Reef
Whenever you talk about diving or snorkelling along Ningaloo reef theres the ‘Big 3’ wildlife encounters you HAVE TO TRY!
The reef is one of the largest fringing coral reefs in the world with 2 main areas you can explore for incredible Exmouth attractions waiting for you.
Exmouth and Coral bay stretch over 230km along the incredible Ningaloo reef and contain over 220 species of coral and over 500 species of marine life.
One eco-friendly option is to join a 6 hour Marine Eco-Safari with the resident Manta Rays and both morning tea and lunch included.
If you prefer to stay dry then this 1-2 hour glass bottomed boat tour is perfect for viewing colourful fish and coral.
Price: Marine Eco-Safari $300AUD
Time: 6 hours
Food: Lunch provided
Visit the SS Mildura shipwreck
Best viewed from the air or the top of the lighthouse, the SS Mildura was a cattle steamer wrecked during a cyclone in 1907.
A lot of the hull was salvaged and used for spare parts and renovations however it was used as bombing practice during World war ii and now serves as an intriguing diving site in the waters off the northern tip of the North West Cape.
SS Mildura wreck lies only 80 metres off the coast but its best viewed at low tide.
Join a tour of Navy Pier
Globally recognised as one of the Top 10 shore dives in the world, spending a day at Navy Pier on the eastern side of North West Cape has to be top of your Exmouth things to do list!
The Navy Pier is a a part of a working Australian Navy facility called the Harold so your only option to explore the hidden aquatic life is by joining a guided scuba diving tour.
What makes Exmouth Western Australia so fascinating for both locals and tourists from all over the world is the convenience of having coral reef so accessible at almost any part of the coast.
Literally walk to the edge of the coral coast and you’re in the second largest coral reef system in Australia.
Grey Nurse Sharks, Giant Queensland groupers, reef sharks and turtles are all visible on dives to this magical pier.
Harold E Holt Naval communications station
If you fancy a change of pace and keen to learn history of Australia’s Naval defence system then the Harold Holt naval communications station is a great alternative Exmouth activity to try.
It serves jointly under both the Australian Defence Force and the United States military and transmits frequencies to naval vessels and submarines in the Pacific and Indian oceans.
It is the largest and most powerful radio transmitter station in the entire southern hemisphere and whilst there is no paid tour option available there is still public access to the surrounding grounds where you can learn about the role it played during World War 2.
Drive along Yardie Creek road to Murat Road and just after the turn off for Bundegi Beach and the beach shack is the entrance.
Price: free entry
Take a scenic flight over Ningaloo Reef
Nothing quite beats being up in the air in a plane looking down at the fascinating landscape of Ningaloo marine park and Cape Range national park at most times of the year but especially during whale shark season.
For one of the best things to do in Exmouth we seriously recommend flying with the legends at Ningaloo Aviation who specialise in both whale shark and Humpback whale spotting.
Both fixed winged aircrafts called the ‘Wingaloo’ and ‘Krill Seeker’ fly high above the reef and offer customers a 60 minute Ningaloo explorer flight or a sunset flight for $540AUD.
If you’re interested on exploring a little further out of town then this full day tour with a scenic flight over Abrolhos island might be for you!
See the Oyster stacks
If you’re wondering what to do in Exmouth WA then the Oyster stacks should be on your list.
Snorkel from the shore at high tide, these are quite literally Oysters stacked onto the colourful reef, protected as a sanctuary zone under Ningaloo marine park.
An abundance of fish and coral can be found here, and whilst its pretty and ay seem delicious you cannot take these Oysters home.
To get here, follow Yardie Creek road north along the western coast and you will find a small car park in between Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef safari camp and Turquoise bay.
Ningaloo Reef aquarium and discovery centre
Looking for awesome family friendly things to do in Exmouth? Make sure you don’t miss out on the Ningaloo Reef aquarium and discovery centre based in town.
This is also the Ningaloo Visitor centre if you have further tourist questions when you’re in town.
This popular attraction showcases the unique aquatic life found along the worlds largest fringing coral reef with interactive displays and educational exhibits where guests can use a touch tank for a hands-on experience with sea cucumbers and starfish.
This place is a must for anybody interested in the fascinating underwater world of Western Australia.
To skip the line and be the first through the door you can purchase your ticket here for less than $20AUD
Yardie Creek Boat tour
A highlight of our things to do in Exmouth itinerary is the Yardie Creek boat tours that take visitors through the red limestone creek at the southern end of Cape Range national park.
Visitors here can embark on a 1 hour eco-friendly tour beginning at the Yardie Creek jetty learning about the local flora and fauna and biodiversity.
With options to be dropped off and visit Turquoise bay, you can book your adventures through Yardie creek boat tours here.
Go for a hike along the Yardie creek nature walk for a 40 minute 1.2km return hike or the Yardie Gorge trail for 2km.
To get here, if your’e already up the northern end then travel back down the western coast till you get to the Yardie creek campground and car park.
If you’re coming from Exmouth, the route is much the same you just have to travel right around the cape as there is no road through the national park that travels east to west.
Go for a swim at Town Beach
Right outside the heart of Exmouth town on the eastern coast is Town beach, a popular spot for yachting and jet-skis, with a yacht club right on the foreshore.
If you have a 4 wheel drive then it’s perfectly safe to drive your car on the sand and park up with a picnic and shade for day.
The southern corner is Sunrise beach just in front of MantaRays Ningaloo beach resort and the Exmouth Marina.
Exmouth Western Australia is a beautiful place to set yourself up for a week or two while you explore this part of the world.
All beaches along the eastern coast of the Cape is considered part of the Exmouth Gulf, an inlet of the Indian ocean where fishing, swimming and snorkelling are very popular.
Explore Exmouth’s best breweries
Make a day of brewery-hopping to Exmouth’s best breweries, the first of which should be Froth craft brewery.
This award winning, family run micro brewery also doubles as a live music event and caters to all taste buds serving up local produce at its finest.
Whalebone brewery is another fantastic option for a well-earned beer at the end of the day spent surfing, sun-bathing and exploring the town.
Serving locally produced beer and pizzas it’s less than 5 minutes from the town centre, there’s a really nice outdoor dining and patio thats perfect for a hot summer day, and when the sun goes down the fairy lights turn on and create a very chilled vibe.
Beach hop Exmouth’s BEST beaches
Australia can be very overwhelming when it comes to picking the best beaches, and (un) fortunately Western Australia doesn’t make it any easier!
Narrow it down further and Ningaloo Reef and the entire Coral Coast is simply overpopulated with incredible beaches and epic national parks to visit.
Your number one beach to bathe at when visiting Exmouth is Turquoise bay that has the most intense turquoise blue water you have ever seen!
Next is Osprey bay on the west coast of Ningaloo Reef, it also sits next to one of the best campgrounds in Cape Range national park. This is the best place to bring a kayak or Stand up paddle board.
They have even placed public moorings out on the reef so you can hook your vessel on and go for a snorkel.
Dunes beach is the ultimate surf beach on the Ningaloo coast and a top choice amongst local surfers. The best swells here are between July and October which also coincides loosely with whale watching and whale shark seasons.
Last but not least is Sandy Bay where the whole family can spend a day at this awesome Exmouth beach. It may not have quite the same coral reefs as other beaches but it’s sandy bottom means its safe and family friendly.
Alternative day trips near Exmouth
Whilst there’s no shortage of incredible day trips in Exmouth, if you want to get further down the coast and explore even more then read on for more!
Day trips to Coral bay
Coral Bay is still technically considered a part of the Ningaloo Reef so it has some of the amazing experience you can get closer to Exmouth, but if you don’t feel up to the drive past Cape Range national park then this is for you.
In such a small space there is so much to do, like kayaking or SUPing on the reef with Ningaloo kayak adventures, visiting paradise beach and Bills bay for a swim.
Bills Bay shark sanctuary
Within Bills Bay is a protected sanctuary called Skeleton Bay where the largest recorded congregation of reef sharks anywhere in the whole Ningaloo Reef.
Between September and March you can view the black tip, white tip and grey tip reef sharks and various other lemon shark species from the shore only, as the local government try to minimise our interaction with them to protect them.
Where to stay in Exmouth
Just like you would expect, Exmouth has a range of accommodation options to suit every type of budget, and you can be sure that there are incredible reef side resorts waiting to be stayed at!
On the contrary there are still cheaper alternatives like backpackers lodges, campgrounds and hotels.
With ever increasing flight routes being made available all over the country, this popular Western Australian destination is filling up well ahead of time.
The best eco-retreat in Exmouth – Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef
Whats not to love about being mere metres away from the worlds largest fringing coral reef, camping on the shores of the Dunes of Cape Range national park in a glamping style tent? Not much..
With a surprise gin bar on the sand and top local chefs serving quality local food it’s hard to look past this unique type of accommodation in Exmouth Western Australia.
16 off grid tents all but 50 metres from the Ningaloo Reef, theres a minimum stay of two nights and prices start at around $2200/night.
It is by far one of the most expensive accommodation options but..how many people can say they slept on the Ningaloo Reef?
5% of their revenue generated here goes directly back into the parks and wildlife services for Cape Range national park and they have an outstanding sustainability profile you can check out here.
Best mid-range accommodation – Exmouth escape resort
Located in Exmouth town itself with a rage of both 1 and 2 bedroom apartments and Deluxe Villa style rooms, this is more than just accommodation.
This all in one resort has both a pool on site, convenient car hire, a restaurant serving delicious local food and even a boat wash down service, the rooms here are very well priced offering modern furnishes, gourmet kitchen appliances, a master bedroom and en-suite with full laundry service.
This a great place for couples and small families with 2 children to enjoy the on site ammenities, or walk to Town beach 600m away.
Additional luxury resort – Manta Rays Ningaloo Resort
The best 4 star luxury hotel in Exmouth sits literally on the foreshore of Town beach.
There’s a large outdoor pool on site with a total of 68 rooms, less than 5 km from the Exmouth city centre.
This family friendly resort in Exmouth also has a the Manta Rays bar and Brasserie for local dining options.
Best budget accommodation in Exmouth – RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park
If you prefer to splurge on activities and go cheaper on sleeping then booking a night or two here is a great way to do that.
One bedroom cabins, bunk bed units and even powered/unpowered tent sites is what RAC does well.
Choose to have either a shared or private bathroom with the option for cheaper shared cooking facilities or basic cook stove tops with fridges and freezers included.
This way you can save money on buying out and cook your own meals.
Best places to eat in Exmouth Western Australia
With no shortage of local seafood and great coffee, we’ve compiled a short list of our favourite coffee spots and restaurants you simply have to try
For a relaxed and peaceful evening for dining head to Whalers Restaurant for stunning indoor and outdoor garden settings overlooking beautiful swimming pools.
Whalers is right inside Exmouth Escape Resort so if you stay here this can be your go to, or head here before a an evening walk along Town Beach, Western Australia.
Whalebone Brewery – a local favourite (and ours)
We mentioned this place before for their beer, but there oven baked pizzas combined with outdoor live music and craft beers on tap, this place melts our hearts.
A hard day spent exploring Ningaloo marine park or swimming with whale sharks this is one of the best places to eat in Exmouth.
Best vegan restaurant – The social society
These guys have the best coffee & vegan breakfast in town right on Thew st. For us it’s a no brainer because of the friendly, chill vibe and amazing staff, it has both free internet wifi and the owners’s ethos are all about treading lightly on the earth.
A place where you can get wholesome, vegan and vegetarian food – and when you’re done why not try one of their yoga classes, bees wax making session or a sustainability workshop.
Best places to grab a coffee
The Beach Shack
Right on Bundegi beach, this little known shack on the foreshore serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a mean cup of coffee.
We’re obsessed with coffee, so any excuse to grab a cup is good enough for us, but perfect after a day snorkelling the foreshore along Exmouth Gulf or after the Navy Pier scuba diving activity.
Simple, rustic and authentic food is the name of the game here with head chef Matt being a north west cape local for the past 10 years.
Grab a coffee to go, or sit and enjoy a seaside breakfast.
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