This post is shared in collaboration with One Road at a Time ~
There’s certainly no shortage of picturesque drives to take in Australia, with some of the more famous including the Great Ocean Drive in Victoria and a drive through the rugged Outback. However, an often-overlooked – yet no less spectacular option – is to take a road trip along the Coral Coast, wedged between the Indian Ocean and the expanses of the Outback.
Stretching north from Perth, this area is home to stunning scenery and a variety of activities that the whole family can enjoy. The following are a few of the top highlights.
Shark Bay and Monkey Mia
One of the primary reasons to explore the Coral Coast is to get up close and personal with some of Australia’s most intriguing wildlife. The Shark Bay World Heritage Area and Monkey Mia dolphin park are prime examples of this opportunity, located to the north of Perth off of the Northwest Coastal Highway. In addition to spotting the world’s oldest living fossils in these waters, you can also go swimming with friendly bottlenose dolphins at the Monkey Mia attraction.
It’s hard to take your eyes off of the deep blue and turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean on this coastal drive, but if you look to your other side you’ll see the desert landscapes of the Outback. A particularly surreal attraction is the Pinnacles Desert. This region features a range of limestone pillars working their way out of the Outback’s red sandy landscape, creating eerie and alien rock formations in the desert.
Kalbarri National Park
Stretch your legs after a long day of driving and set out into the rugged landscapes of Kalbarri National Park. You can enjoy bushwalking, canoeing, or off-roading to enjoy the rocky scenery along the Murchison River gorges or from the cliff tops. A particularly scenic time to visit is between July and October, when the park comes alive with over 800 wildflowers. If you opt for off-roading, be sure that you’re driving a suitable vehicle – you can take a look at carsales for inspiration. Another option is to get a birds’ eye view from a helicopter.
With its seaside location and tropical climate, the Coral Coast provides ample opportunity to sample local produce and freshly caught seafood. The port town of Carnarvon is an ideal location to stop and enjoy a casual or gourmet meal alike, with its fragrant mango plantations and upscale bistros. Take a stroll along the promenade and enjoy the views from a restaurant terrace.
Finally, no trip to the Coral Coast would be complete without stopping by the Ningaloo Reef. If you’ve never heard of it you’re not alone… it’s often overshadowed by the Great Barrier Reef on the opposite side of Australia. Yet the Ningaloo Reef is actually larger, sprawling over an area of 300 kilometres. There are over 500 species of colorful fish which live in this reef, not to mention the living coral and dolphins, sea turtles, whale sharks, and humpback whales. Spend some time exploring the coral reef by boat, or take a dip in the warm waters on a snorkeling adventure.
From fresh fruit to unique wildlife, you’ll find a wide range of reasons to visit Australia’s Indian Ocean coast. Whether you only have a day or a full week to explore, you’ll find no shortage of memorable diversions along the way.