Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
Guide to Ningaloo Reef
Aboriginal name: Nyinggulu (pronounced Neen-ga-loo)
- Getting to Ningaloo Reef
- When to visit
Beside the red soils of the Cape Range lies the turquoise lagoons of Ningaloo Reef, home to some of the world’s most incredible marine creatures.
Some 1,200km (745mi) north of Perth, the fringing Ningaloo Reef is a sparkling gem in Western Australia’s crown. Right on the coast, the reef is UNESCO World Heritage-listed and offers a slew of outdoor adventures. Ningaloo’s most notable visitors are the whale sharks. This is one of the world’s largest aggregations, making it a great place to swim with them, along with manta rays, turtles or humpback whales during their migration.
Ningaloo/Nyinggulu Coastal Reserves are home to the Baiyungu and Jinigudira people; a culture with strong connections to the ocean, waterways and tidal landscapes of the region. Aboriginal artefact discoveries, including one of the oldest pieces of jewellery in the world, date back over 32,000 years – a testament to how long the Baiyungu and Jinigudira people have called Nyinggulu home. Unleash your sense of adventure and gain a greater understanding of the Ningaloo Coast’s culture-rich landscape with Baiyungu Dreaming tag-along tours.
- Traditional name: Nyinggulu (pronounced Neen-ga-loo)
- Indigenous Peoples: Baiyungu and Jinigudira people
- Traditional languages: Bayungu
There are two main hubs on Ningaloo Reef: Coral Bay and Exmouth. Fly into Learmonth Airport to reach both destinations. You can fly here from all Australian states and territories.
- Exmouth is located 36km (22mi) from Learmonth Airport (LEA)
- Coral Bay is located 117km (73mi) from Learmonth Airport
- Hire cars are available from Learmonth Airport; book ahead to avoid missing out
- Bus, shuttle and taxi services are available from the airport to Exmouth and Coral Bay; pre-booking is advised for these services
The best way to get around the region is by car. Alternatively, join a guided tour, which may arrange transport to and from your accommodation.
Ningaloo Reef has enjoyable weather and opportunity to swim with wildlife all year round, but if you’re eager to swim with the reef’s most famous visitors – the whale sharks – it’s best to plan your trip between March and July.
- High season: Dry season (August to December)
- Low season: Wet season (May to June)
- Don’t miss: Whale shark season (late March to late July) – you can even swim alongside them on a tour