Turquoise blue waters, dusty red earth and fairy floss-pink lakes – welcome to the Coral Coast, one of Western Australia’s most vibrant regions. Stretching from the small fishing town of Cervantes through to the ocean lovers’ playgrounds of Exmouth and Coral Bay, this popular destination features one-of-a-kind coastal experiences, #instaworthy sights and an abundance of fresh food. Add cheap one-way flights from Perth to Exmouth thanks to Qantas (subject to T&C’s), and one-way car hire by Avis, and you’ve got a road trip just waiting to happen.
Before you hit the road (or runway), check out our Perth to Exmouth road trip itinerary for some holiday inspo:
LEG ONE: PERTH TO CERVANTES
Get your Spotify playlists ready, folks! You’ll want your favourite tunes on hand for this epic coastal-hugging journey, which kicks off from Perth to Cervantes. As you cruise along the Indian Ocean Drive, stop at the sugar-like sand dunes of Lancelin, discover the peculiar limestone pillars of the Nambung National Park and ancient thrombolites at Lake Thetis, then spend the night in Cervantes.
1. Lancelin sand dunes.
Lancelin’s pristine white sand dunes is the ultimate sandboarding playground. Hire a sandboard and test your balancing skills as you slide down one of the dunes.
2. The Pinnacles, Nambung National Park.
The Pinnacles are a strange assortment of limestone pillars that look like they belong on Mars rather than inland WA. From August to October every year this eerie setting is surrounded by colourful wildflowers, making it an out-of-this-world sight.
3. The Lobster Shack.
The Lobster Shack specialise in all things Western Rock Lobster. Jump on board one of the Lobster Shack’s charters to catch your own dinner, or order half a lobster for lunch at their seaside restaurant and bar.
With a range of brand new two- and three-bedroom poolside villas and camping sites, along with a pool and nature playground for the kids, the RAC Cervantes Holiday Park is the perfect base for the first leg of your epic Coral Coast road trip.
RAC Parks & Resorts are located all along Australia’s Coral Coast, offering accommodation to suit a variety of travellers including family villas, studio rooms and powered sites, offering state of the art facilities. RAC members save up to 20%* on accommodation at all RAC Parks & Resorts.
LEG TWO: CERVANTES TO GERALDTON
Depart Cervantes for Geraldton, stopping by the picturesque Jurien Bay for a snorkel, swim or fish. See why locals call this part of the world ‘wildflower country’ with a visit to one of the region’s wildflower hotspots. In Geraldton, try a water sport like yachting, windsurfing or diving, then kick back at one of the city’s cafes, restaurants or bars to watch the sun set into the ocean.
1. Jurien Bay sea lions
The Jurien Bay Marine Park is home to one of the cutest creatures in the world – the Australian sea lion. Jump on a boat tour from Jurien Bay or Green Head for the chance to snorkel with these ‘puppies of the sea’.
Wildflowers bloom across the Coral Coast between August and October every year. Be sure to visit the Lesueur National Park for a glimpse of more than 900 species of plants – many found nowhere else in the world – and the Coalseam Conservation Park, where the landscape is covered by a natural carpet of vibrant colour.
3. Abrolhos Islands
The Abrolhos consists of 122 small islands, located just 60km off the coast of Geraldton. It’s a sea lover’s oasis, complete with an abundance of wildlife, beautiful corals and ancient shipwrecks. Hop on board a boat or plane tour to explore this special place.
LEG THREE: GERALDTON TO SHARK BAY
Drive from Geraldton to Shark Bay and you’ll pass through the historic town of Northampton, where some of WA’s oldest buildings have been masterfully restored. Veer left for Kalbarri, another coastal town renowned for its protected swimming bays and spectacular rock formations. Then, it’s on to the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, a biodiversity hotspot featuring rare species of flora and fauna and endless seascapes as far as the eye can see.
1. Pink Lake, Hutt Lagoon
Nope, your eyes aren’t deceiving you – Hutt Lagoon is indeed pink. Thanks to a presence of carotenoid-producing algae called Dunaliella salina, the lake can appear to be anywhere from red to bubble gum pink and even lilac. Want to capture the lake at its pinkest? Try mid-morning or sundown for the most vivid snaps.
2. Nature’s Window, Kalbarri
Formed from layers of Tumblagooda Sandstone, Nature’s Window perfectly frames the flowing Murchison River below. Pack plenty of water, slip, slop, slap and enjoy the 1km return walk through rocky terrain.
3. Monkey Mia dolphins
Ever wanted to get up-close-and-personal with a bottlenose dolphin? Head to the beach at Monkey Mia and you might just get the chance, as droves of inquisitive dolphins swim up to the shore for a play and a feed each morning.
Stay: Overlooking the pristine Dolphin Bay, RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort is perfect for all holidaymakers – from the luxury seeker to the no-fuss camper. It also features a large swimming pool, pirate-themed playground, a restaurant and bar, plus plenty more to suit your entertainment needs.
RAC members save up to 20%* on accommodation at RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort.
LEG FOUR: SHARK BAY TO CARNARVON
It’ll be hard to leave Shark Bay, especially after you fall in love with the seemingly unspoiled white beaches of Denham and rust-red sand dunes of the Francois Peron National Park, but we promise the food bowl of WA (AKA Carnarvon) is well worth the sacrifice. Thanks to a tropical climate, Carnarvon is abundant in all sorts of fruit and veg, ripe and ready for eating.
1. Shell Beach
One of only a handful of places in the world where millions of tiny shells replace sand, this snow-white beach gleams next to a vibrant blue-green sea.
2. Hamelin Pool Stromatolites
The Hamelin Pool stromatolites have been around for 3.7 billion years, and continue to grow (albeit a mere 0.3mm) each year. View the stromatolites via Hamelin Pool’s purpose-built jetty, or get a bird’s eye view on a scenic flight.
3. The Fruit Loop
Just out of Carnarvon’s town centre you’ll find The Fruit Loop, a self-drive trail through a number of working plantations. Pull over at roadside stalls and shop fronts along the way, where you can purchase everything from bananas and mangoes to chillies and even ice cream. (Psst! If you’re into cacti, keep your eyes peeled for Carnarvon’s incredibly #instagrammable cactus farm.)
LEG FIVE: CARNARVON TO CORAL BAY AND EXMOUTH
Before you leave Carnarvon, visit the Gascoyne Hinterland and its rugged gorges and cliffs. Alternatively, check out Quobba’s blowholes or go surfing at the Bluff, before you arrive at the Ningaloo Reef – a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site home to a whopping 300km of tropical coral gardens plus more than 500 species of fish.
1. Honeycomb Gorge
This gorge gets its honeycomb-like appearance from years of battling the elements, including a seasonal waterfall that washes over its cliff face. Located within the Kennedy Range National Park, Honeycomb Gorge rises 100 metres above the valley, making it the ultimate spot to watch the sunrise or sunset.
2. Snorkelling at Coral Bay and Turquoise Bay
No need to jump on a boat to enjoy the Ningaloo Reef. Just step off the edge of Coral Bay’s shoreline to be instantly greeted by coral gardens, fish and the odd turtle. Ready for something bigger? Keep up with giant manta rays as they glide effortlessly through the sea, on a manta ray swim tour. Want to try a drift snorkel? Let the current carry you over spectacular coral formations and schools of fish at Turquoise Bay.
3. The Exmouth Navy Pier
Voted as one of the top dive sites in Australia, the Exmouth Navy Pier is teeming with marine life – think colourful nudibranchs, scorpion fish, octopi, huge groupers and the occasional grey nurse. See how many different creatures you can spot on a half-day or full-day dive and then discover a whole new underwater world at night.
Staying in Coral Bay? Nothing quite beats the Ningaloo Reef Resort’s absolute beachfront location.
In Exmouth, the RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park is nice and close to town, with one- and two-bedroom cabins, as well as powered and unpowered caravan and camping sites available.
RAC members save up to 20%* on accommodation at Ningaloo Reef Resort and RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park.