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The coastal town of Exmouth in Western Australia is one of those places that’s so beautiful that it has to be seen to be believed.
With its turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and stunning coral reefs, Exmouth is a true paradise, especially for adventurous souls!
Exmouth is a popular holiday destination for both locals and visitors from across the globe because it’s a gateway to the Ningaloo Reef, which is one of the largest fringing coral reefs in the world.
If you love adventure travel as much as we do, then you’ll definitely want to add Exmouth to your bucket list.
With that in mind, here are 21 of the best things to do in Exmouth, Western Australia.
- About Exmouth, Western Australia
- Things to do in Exmouth, WA
- 1. Swim with whale sharks
- 2. Go snorkeling on the Ningaloo Reef
- 3. Visit Turquoise Bay
- 4. Check out the turtles at the Jurabi Turtle Centre
- 5. Drink craft beer at Froth Craft Brewery Exmouth
- 6. Swim with turtles
- 7. Explore Cape Range National Park
- 8. Swim with humpback whales
- 9. Go scuba diving
- 10. Relax at the beach
- 11. Explore Charles Knife Canyon
- 12. Go on a Yardie Creek Boat Tour
- 13. Catch some fish
- 14. Ningaloo Aquarium and Discovery Centre
- 15. Play a round of golf
- 16. Check out Vlamingh Head Lighthouse
- 17. Mildura Wreck
- 18. Go on a scenic flight
- 19. Day trip to Coral Bay
- 20. Go camping
- 21. Check out the Ningaloo Inspired art gallery
- Where to Eat in Exmouth
- Where to Stay in Exmouth
- Thanks for reading!
About Exmouth, Western Australia
Exmouth is a small town with a ton to offer! It boasts of a “reef to range” experience with the stunning Ningaloo Reef and Cape Range National Park both nearby.
It is an isolated spot in Western Australia, located about halfway between Perth and Broome. While there are only about 3,000 people living here, the population triples during peak tourist season! It’s no wonder that tourism is the main industry here.
Exmouth actually has an interesting past tied to the military. The area was a submarine base for the U.S. Navy during World War II. Then, in the 1960s, the town was established as part of an American defense base during the Cold War. Exmouth was built to support the nearby Harold E Holt Naval Communications Base and provide a place for Navy families to live.
While it was used by the Americans for almost 30 years, Exmouth was like a little piece of America in Australia! U.S. money was used, food from America was flown in, and even a baseball field was built.
Nowadays, Exmouth is known for the wonders it offers under the sea and on land. It’s probably most famous for its proximity to the Ningaloo Reef and being an amazing place to swim with whale sharks – giant (but harmless!) creatures. Exmouth is also a fantastic spot to see humpback whales.
On land, Cape Range National Park is nearby with its impressive canyons and limestone ranges to explore along with a wide variety of wildlife from emus to red kangaroos.
Things to do in Exmouth, WA
1. Swim with whale sharks
If you come all the way to Exmouth and only do one thing, swimming with whale sharks has to be it! These creatures are not sharks at all, but actually the biggest fish in the world. They are harmless too and known as the gentle giants of the sea.
Whale sharks love hanging out around the reef here – who can blame them, it’s beautiful! So join these amazing creatures in their underwater world with this full-day swimming with whale sharks tour. This tour is super cool because you have a spotter plane in the air above you to help find whale sharks, so you know where to snorkel.
While you’re in the water swimming alongside these amazing animals, you’ll also snorkel over the reef itself so expect to see a TON of colorful fish, manta rays, turtles, and if you’re lucky, dolphins and whales too. This is something you’re going to want to remember and with underwater photography included in the tour, you can be totally immersed in the experience and still get some amazing photos to take home.
The tour is $430 AUD and includes absolutely everything you need for a full day of fun. You’ll get round-trip transportation from your hotel in Exmouth, all food and drinks including lunch, snacks, and a glass of champagne to toast to an amazing day in WA.
When you’re planning your trip, make sure you book the tour for the time of year the whale sharks are around here – typically from mid-March until August. Be sure to also book the tour well in advance as it does fully book during peak whale shark season!
If you want more info, you can read our complete guide to swimming with whale sharks in Exmouth!
2. Go snorkeling on the Ningaloo Reef
The Ningaloo Reef is located just off the coast of Exmouth. It’s a mecca for snorkelers and divers because of the abundance of marine life, and it’s actually the world’s largest fringing reef. This means that you don’t have to take a boat to see it – you can just paddle out from the beach!
The Ningaloo Reef is home to over 500 species of fish and 600 species of mollusks – like clams, oysters, and mussels. Seeing it up close is a must-do experience when you’re in Exmouth!
The good news is you can snorkel all year round as the waters stay warm. However, March through August are the best months for seeing whale sharks, so if that’s on your bucket list, try to plan your trip for around then.
Alternatively, you can join a snorkeling tour to learn more about the reef and have all the gear you need to explore it. This full-day, small-group tour is locally run and doesn’t follow a rigid itinerary – instead, the guides will take you to the best spots on the reef depending on the weather and sea conditions on the day. The $245 AUD tour includes a yummy BBQ lunch on the beach after a morning spent snorkeling.
Meanwhile, this adventure tour gives you the chance to kayak around the reef as well as go snorkeling. You’ll explore some of the lagoons in Cape Range National Park around Ned’s Camp, Lakeside, Osprey Bay, and Pilgramunna, depending on the tide and weather conditions. No need for any kayaking experience, the guides are great at teaching you what you need to know. Transportation, morning tea, lunch, all your gear, and photos are included for $240 AUD per person.
3. Visit Turquoise Bay
Turquoise Bay is just under an hour’s drive from Exmouth and it’s widely considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Western Australia, if not the entire country. Its name stems from the fact that its water is as clear and blue as the famous gemstone.
The Bay has incredibly vibrant coral reef beds! It’s one of the best spots in Western Australia for drift snorkeling, which is where the current takes you as you float along on top of the water. Get in at the southern end of the beach and let the current take control until you reach the sand bar.
You can visit Turquoise Bay at pretty much any time of year, as it receives little rain and the water is always warm enough for swimming. However, the winter months (from April to October) are probably the most comfortable because things can get seriously hot in the summer, with temperatures regularly climbing above 40°C/104°F.
Related read: If you’re exploring WA, one of the best things to do in Perth is visit one (or three!) of its amazing beaches.
4. Check out the turtles at the Jurabi Turtle Centre
The Jurabi Turtle Centre is one of the best places to learn about turtles that inhabit the Ningaloo Coast.
From December to March, they run a Turtle Eco-Education Tour where you can watch female turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs, or during the later part of the season, you can observe hatchlings emerging from these eggs and making their way toward the water for the first time.
The best part of this tour is that it allows you to do this in a way that doesn’t harm or disturb the turtles, and the proceeds go towards turtle conservation. You’ll also come away with an in-depth knowledge of these incredible creatures and the challenges they face in the wild.
If you’re visiting outside of the summer months, you can still take a tour of the Centre to learn about the different types of turtles that live in the area, and the work that the Centre does to protect them. The Jurabi Turtle Centre is open year-round with hours varying depending on the season but typically from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
5. Drink craft beer at Froth Craft Brewery Exmouth
If you’ve been following our blog for a while, then you’ll know we love a good craft brewery. Luckily, we found a great one in Exmouth to enjoy a cold drink after a warm day out on the water.
Froth Craft Brewery is a fun and friendly spot that’s great for anyone who loves beer, regardless of whether you’re a connoisseur or not. It has been an Exmouth institution since it opened its doors in 2017, and holds lots of fun events including live music gigs, movie nights, open mics, and even speed dating!
They’ve created over 40 beers so far, so you’re sure to find something you like. Grab a tasting paddle (like we did) so you can try 4 or 6 of their most popular beers to find what you like.
Related read: If you’re more of a wine drinker, make sure to visit some of the wineries while exploring Margaret River, WA!
6. Swim with turtles
Swimming with turtles is an unforgettable experience! These peaceful creatures are so graceful in the water and there’s no better place to see them than at Ningaloo Reef.
This half-day turtle tour will take you on a boat and let you jump in the water to swim through the gorgeous coral gardens of Ningaloo Reef to popular spots where turtles can be found.
The tour includes all snorkel equipment and the chance to explore several different snorkeling spots for $135 AUD. It’s also a small group experience so you’ll get lots of personal attention from your guides and don’t need to worry about a big crowd.
The turtles around here come up to the shore from December to March, but you can swim alongside these beautiful creatures all year round when visiting Exmouth.
7. Explore Cape Range National Park
Cape Range National Park is one of Western Australia’s most spectacular national parks. It’s located just a short drive (about an hour) from Exmouth and is home to an abundance of wildlife, including red kangaroos.
The park also has some of the most beautiful beaches in the area, including Turquoise Bay (that we mentioned earlier), which is renowned for its clear turquoise water.
You can also hike the Mandu Mandu Gorge trail, a 3-kilometer (1.9-mile) ocean trail which takes you to several lookout points where you’ll enjoy stunning views of the ocean and the national park. You also might meet some local wildlife along the way!
There’s also the Yardie Creek Trail which gives you amazing views of the park’s cliffs and mangroves, as well as the Ningaloo Reef. You can even enjoy a picnic at the top if you’re organized enough to pack one.
The Cape Range entry fee is $15 AUD for a vehicle with fewer than 12 passengers. For vehicles with over 12 passengers, the fee is $7 AUD per person. For motorcycles, the fee is $8 AUD.
This tour is a great option for those who want to explore the Cape Range National Park with a guide. You’ll learn about the park’s history and wildlife, and explore its canyons, beaches, and coastal dunes. There will also be time for snorkeling and bird-watching. This $175 AUD tour is a great way to ensure you get to see all of the highlights of the park in a single day.
8. Swim with humpback whales
We are HUGE humpback whale fans, so for us, swimming with them in Exmouth was something we couldn’t pass up. Humpback whales visit the Ningaloo Reef from June to November each year, when around 30,000 of these magnificent creatures migrate north from Antarctica to give birth.
In order to swim with the humpback whales, you’ll need to take a boat tour from Exmouth. We recommend this full-day tour, which has a maximum size of 14 so that you get a more intimate and personal experience.
The $525 AUD price tag includes a whole day on the water, multiple snorkeling opportunities, snorkel gear, and lunch. This is an incredible way to get up close with these beautiful, gentle creatures, and it’s an experience you’ll never forget.
9. Go scuba diving
Did you even go to Western Australia if you didn’t go scuba diving?
The Ningaloo Reef is one of the best places in the world to scuba dive, and there are plenty of dive sites to choose from, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver.
This scuba diving trip is an excellent choice for anyone who already has their certification. You’ll see everything from clownfish to manta rays, and plenty of other creatures as you explore two different dive sites. The $275 AUD tour includes drinks, snacks, and lunch, as well as hotel pickup and drop-off, so everything is taken care of for you!
If you don’t have your diving certification yet, you can do a 3-day course at Exmouth Diving. You’ll do several pool dives along with 4 ocean dives, so you’ll get to explore some spectacular spots as you learn the ropes with an instructor.
10. Relax at the beach
Well, duh. Exmouth is a beach town, so of course, you’re going to spend some time relaxing at the beach! We’ve already talked about the beautiful Turquoise Bay, but there are also plenty of other beaches to enjoy.
Bundegi Beach was one of our favorites. It’s a recreation zone where you can swim, fish, snorkel, and sunbathe. It’s super peaceful and laidback, making it the perfect spot for a chilled-out beach day.
Town Beach is the main beach in Exmouth and is very clean, although its shallow waters mean that it’s not great for swimming if you visit at low tide. However, it’s still a beautiful spot to enjoy the views, have a picnic, or go for a walk.
11. Explore Charles Knife Canyon
Charles Knife Canyon is a beautiful spot in Cape Range National Park. It’s a great place that reminds me of a mini Grand Canyon where you can hike and enjoy the peace and quiet.
It takes about 20 minutes to drive from Exmouth to the Charles Knife Road turn-off. It’s a beautiful drive up to the canyon, especially in the late afternoon when the light is golden.
Once you reach the car park, you can walk to Lookout Point, where you’ll be blown away by the views over the park and the stunning red rocks of the canyon below.
12. Go on a Yardie Creek Boat Tour
Yardie Creek is a gorgeous section of the Cape Range National Park. It’s home to red cliffs, turquoise waters, and plenty of wildlife.
The best way to explore Yardie Creek is on a boat tour. You get to sit back and relax on a shaded boat as you drift down the creek, taking in the sights of all the unique rock formations, wildlife, and local flora and fauna.
Tours cost $45 AUD for adults or $25 AUD for children aged 6-15, and you can book via the company website.
Boat tours depart at either 11 am or 12:30 pm from the jetty at Yardie Creek, which is about 90 minutes from Exmouth. You can drive yourself there or opt for a bus transfer as part of your ticket at an additional cost of $45 AUD, which includes the entry fee to Cape Range National Park.
13. Catch some fish
Fishing is a huge part of the Exmouth lifestyle, so if you’re visiting, you might as well give it a go!
The waters around Exmouth are known for being great for fishing, especially for game fish such as marlin, tuna, mackerel, and sailfish.
Blue Horizon Charters is the oldest fishing charter company in Exmouth, so you know you’re in good hands. They offer a range of different charter options to suit your needs, whether you want to go on a day trip or a multi-night tour.
If you’ve never gone fishing before, no worries – the crew will be more than happy to teach you everything you need to know.
If you want to take a day trip, you can either join a group tour or hire the whole boat out for you and your friends or family! If you’re joining a group, prices start at $320 AUD per adult, or it’s $3,400 AUD to hire out the boat for a private group of up to twelve people.
And for real fishing aficionados, you can take a 6-day tour of the Montebello Islands, where you’ll have the chance to catch some of the most sought-after fish in Australia while exploring the beautiful area.
14. Ningaloo Aquarium and Discovery Centre
Given the amazing marine life in the area, it’s no surprise that Exmouth is home to an excellent aquarium!
The Ningaloo Aquarium and Discovery Centre teaches visitors about the history of Exmouth as well as its fascinating and diverse marine life. You’ll learn all about the area’s unique coral reefs and the creatures that call them home.
There’s also a Cyclone Room which recreates the experience of Cyclone Vance, which hit Exmouth in 1999 and did significant damage to the town. Until 2010, it was responsible for the highest wind gust ever recorded in Australia!
The aquarium is open from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm every weekday. From November to March, it’s open from 9 am until 1 pm on weekends, and then for the rest of the year, it closes at 4:30 pm. Tickets cost $20 AUD per person and you can expect to spend around 1.5-2 hours here.
Related read: See more neat (and incredibly cute!) wildlife with a visit to Penguin Island, Perth. Yes, there really are penguins that call Australia home!
15. Play a round of golf
The Exmouth Golf Club is one of the best places to play golf in Western Australia. With amazing views of the ocean, the Cape Range National Park, and Exmouth itself, it’s no wonder that it’s such a popular spot.
There are 18 holes spread across a sand green course – so a bit different from a typical course, which is a fun challenge for experienced golfers or beginners like me.
Then you can celebrate after your game (or try to forget how many strokes it took to get that last hole…) with a drink and meal at their modern clubhouse.
16. Check out Vlamingh Head Lighthouse
The Vlamingh Head Lighthouse is 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) from Exmouth. It’s a beautiful spot to watch either the sunrise or sunset since this is one of the few places in Australia where you can observe both!
Stick around after dark to do some stargazing here. Pro tip: grab a takeout wood-fired pizza from The BBQ Father on your way out of town and enjoy a late-night meal under the stars.
During whale season (July to October), you may also be able to spot humpbacks breaching, which is always a special thing to see. Don’t forget to look down at the World War II radar station located below the lighthouse – a remnant from Exmouth’s time as a submarine base.
Vlamingh Head Lighthouse marks the end of a scenic drive from Exmouth and it’s also close to Yardie Creek, so you can easily combine a visit here with the boat tour we mentioned earlier.
Related read: There’s another lighthouse that’s one of the top things to see near Busselton, WA where you can climb to the top for panoramic ocean views!
17. Mildura Wreck
Close to Vlamingh Head Lighthouse is the Mildura Wreck, which you can see from Lighthouse Bay beach.
The SS Mildura was wrecked during a cyclone in 1907. It was a cattle streamer, which was a type of ship used to transport livestock. All of the crew survived the wreck, although the same cannot be said for the cows.
Sadly, the wreck is regarded as unsafe so it’s not a good idea to snorkel or dive here. You can, however, see it from the beach. The best time to see it is at low tide when more of the ship protrudes from the water.
18. Go on a scenic flight
The Ningaloo reef is so big that you can’t fully appreciate its size and scale from the ground – so why not view it from the air instead?
Ningaloo Aviation offers scenic flights over the reef and Cape Range National Park, allowing you to see the area in all its glory.
Not only are the views incredible, but the pilots will also help you to spot marine life below, so if you fly during whale season, you’ll be able to see whale sharks and humpback whales as you soar through the air. The planes are even painted to look like whale sharks!
There are three main options to choose from. You can opt for a 60-minute daytime tour, a 60-minute sunset tour, or a 90-minute tour to see even more of the spectacular Ningaloo Coast!
The prices are $530 AUD, $550 AUD, and $750 AUD, respectively, for an aircraft that can carry up to three passengers. This isn’t the cheapest thing to do in Exmouth, but it is a spectacular experience that you’ll remember forever!
19. Day trip to Coral Bay
Coral Bay is a tiny town that receives over 100,000 visitors every year thanks to its proximity to the Ningaloo Reef. It has a much more laid-back, small-town feel than Exmouth, and it’s perfect for those who want to experience a slower pace of life for a while.
There are plenty of things to do in Coral Bay, many of which you can also do in Exmouth, like swimming with whale sharks and exploring the Ningaloo Reef.
While you’re here, make sure to visit a special section of beach known as the shark nursery which welcomes hundreds of baby sharks each spring. (If you can go there without humming that irritating “Baby Shark” song, you’re a better person than I am!).
We also did an ATV tour there and loved it. We sped across the beach to a snorkeling spot to view tons of wildlife including sharks!
Coral Bay is around 1.5 hours from Exmouth by car. If you’ve got time, you can even stay overnight. Despite the town’s popularity, there isn’t a huge amount of accommodation available here, so make sure to book in advance. The Ningaloo Coral Bay Bayview or Ningaloo Reef Resort are both good options.
There are a couple of places to camp but again, you should try and reserve your pitch. People’s Park Coral Bay is a nice place to camp, but it has been known to book up two years in advance (yes, really!)
20. Go camping
Can you think of anything better than falling asleep under the stars after a long day spent exploring the great outdoors? Or, waking up next to one of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs?
No, us neither.
There are plenty of camping spots in and around Exmouth, so you can immerse yourself in nature and really get away from it all. There are several sites close to Exmouth and in the Cape Range National Park, including Osprey Bay, Yardie Creek, and Neds Camp.
If you’re planning on camping during the winter months, which is when the weather is at its best, you’ll need to book well in advance as spots fill up quickly! Booking typically opens about 6 months in advance. It’s an affordable option though with sites costing $11 AUD nightly per adult and $3 AUD per child.
The RAC Exmouth has cabins, pitches, and powered sites available, making it a great option for those who want a little more comfort than traditional camping offers.
21. Check out the Ningaloo Inspired art gallery
As we keep saying, the Ningaloo Reef is one of the most beautiful in the world, so it’s no surprise that it has inspired plenty of artwork.
The Ningaloo Inspired Gallery offers photo prints, resin gifts, glass art, and more, all of which has been inspired by the reef.
It’s the perfect place to pick up a souvenir of your time in Exmouth, or simply just check out interesting creations by talented local artists. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm.
Where to Eat in Exmouth
Spending some time in Exmouth means you get to try out a few of the local restaurants – lucky you! While the seafood is great as you would expect, there’s also just about anything in town from pizza to burgers to sushi and local baked goods.
Dig in at one of our top picks and you won’t be disappointed!
Whalers Restaurant – This restaurant does surf and turf (or reef and beef as they call it!) right. With views of the gorgeous pool at the resort here, it’s a nice night out or great for celebrating a special occasion. Try the seafood spaghetti with scallops, tasty prawns, and delicious mussels or the steaks that are cooked to perfection.
Ningaloo Bakehouse & Cafe – Start your morning with brekkie here for the tastiest breakfast wraps and fruit smoothies. They also do takeout, so grab a sandwich, pastry, or a whole loaf of freshly baked bread to go! This cafe has been around since the 1960s and it’s so popular there’s often a line – that’s how you know it’s good!
The BBQ Father – For awesome Italian food with a bit of a Texas feel, stop in here. There’s pasta, wood-fired pizzas, smoked beef brisket, and I can’t forget the incredible gelato!
Exhale Exmouth – Serving up breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can’t go wrong with a meal at Exhale. The homemade waffles and waffle burgers are scrumptious. Come back in the evening for tapas and cocktails and you might even catch some live music.
Where to Stay in Exmouth
Because of Exmouth’s remote location in WA, this is a place you’re going to want to stay a while once you arrive. You may have traveled halfway around the world to get here, so don’t rush off! Luckily, there are tons of places to stay so you can spend your days snorkeling and at the beach and then come back to sleep and do it all again the next day.
With Exmouth’s growing popularity, accommodations can book up quickly – like months or even a year in advance. If you know you’re coming, book soon! Here are our top recommendations.
Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort – $$$
Treat yourself to a stay at Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort overlooking Sunrise Beach. You’ll have direct access to the Ningaloo Reef or take a dip in the gorgeous infinity pool. Rooms feature private balconies with ocean or marina views, high ceilings, and a contemporary design. If you need more space, the resort offers 1 or 2-bedroom apartments complete with a kitchen and luxurious spa bath. Check availability and book your stay online.
Ningaloo Lodge Exmouth – $$
Right in the center of Exmouth, the Ningaloo Lodge has a home away from home feel. There’s a well-stocked communal kitchen to use and a fun games room. The lodge also supplies free snorkeling equipment for your days spent at the nearby coral reef. The rooms can be a bit small, but the large common areas help make up for that. Book a stay through Booking.com here.
RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park – $
For a variety of accommodations, RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park has you covered. You can pitch a tent, bring a motorhome, stay in a motel room or rent a cabin. There are swimming pools, a beach volleyball court, a BBQ area, and a playground for the kids. It’s also within walking distance of the aquarium and Town Beach. Check out the different types of rooms available and book online.
Thanks for reading!
With one of the most beautiful reefs in its backyard, Exmouth is a paradise for all of us who dream of days spent in the water or laying on the sand. While its remote location means you need to plan ahead to get here, it’s totally worth it once you arrive! If you can, avoid the sizzling summer heat and come in the winter when whale sharks are here and the warm, sunny days are perfect for exploring.
If Australia is on your travel itinerary, make sure to check out our other Australia blogs for ideas and inspiration. We’re happy to help you discover new activities and hidden gems that will make your trip memorable and fun!