Ningaloo Reef is a fringing coral reef located off the west coast of Australia, approximately 1200 km north of Perth. The reef is 260 km long and is Australia’s largest fringing coral reef and the only large reef positioned very close to a landmass.Ningaloo Reef is a two hour flight north of Perth. Or, allow two days to drive from the capital.
Ningaloo Reef on Western Australia's mid north coast, has gained an impressive reputation as one of Earth's last ocean paradises. It's one of the largest fringing reefs in the world and unlike many others, is accessed just by stepping off the beach.
Swim with Whale Sharks, snorkel and dive the reefs, or just wander along the shoreline exploring the crystal clear waters for an appreciation and close up view of the aquatic world and nature at its premium.
Nothing can compare to the thrill of swimming beside a whale shark. These docile creatures visit the reef each year between March and June.
Ningaloo Reef comprises 200 species of hard corals and 50 species of soft corals with over 520 species of fish. The reefs close proximity to the shoreline means it is easily accessible, being a diver's and snorkeller's paradise. The Ningaloo Reef is famous for Whale Sharks, Mantarays, Humpback whales, Dugongs, Turtles, Potato Cod and hundreds of other different fish species.
The Ningaloo marine park stretches 260 kilometres from Bundegi Reef near the town of Exmouth to Amherst Point near Coral Bay in the south. It reaches nearly 20 kilometres seaward, encompassing a massive 5,000 square kilometres of ocean.
Whale Sharks – The world’s biggest species of fish feed on the reef from March to June, following the mass spawning of coral in the Ningaloo Marine Park, after slowly passing through the tropical waters of the oceans.
The reef is also rich in coral and other marine life. During the winter months, the reef is part of the migratory routes for dolphins, dugongs, manta rays and humpback whales. The beaches of the reef are an important breeding ground of the loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles. They also depend on the reef for nesting and food.
Humpback whales visit the Ningaloo Reef between June to November each year migrating twice annually through the Ningaloo Reef Marine Park into the Exmouth Gulf. The first visit occurs in autumn during their northern migration, and they return in their southern migration each spring. Female Humpback Whales give birth in the deeper offshore waters where whales and their calves then spend their time frolicking in the calm Exmouth Gulf waters. Blue and sperm whales have been observed in the offshore regions of the reserve as have minke, Bryde's, southern right and killer whales. Dolphins are also relatively common in the reserve.
In 2006, researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science discovered in the marine park’s deeper waters gardens of sponges that are thought to be species completely new to science.
Rare turtle species hatch here in late January and February. Watch this amazing natural phenomenon on special guided, eco-interactive trails.
With the continental shelf only kilometres offshore, fishing and the Ningaloo Reef go hand in hand. There are many opportunities for beach, reef and game fishing in the diverse environment of Ningaloo. Sanctuary zones are special conservation zones where fishing is strictly prohibited but there are many other areas in the Marine Park where the fishing is superb.
Land based fishing is a popular recreational pastime as there are many different species to be caught. Beach fishing often produces surprising reef species while fishing in Exmouth Gulf turns up a variety of estuarine species. Mud crabbing and squid fishing are also popular activities. Enquire locally about what’s on the bite!
The reef protects a lagoon that is on average only 2-4 metres deep and is rich in marine life. There are limitless snorkel sites along the Ningaloo coastline and a variety of ways to access them. Experience the Ningaloo Reef from a dive boat, catamaran, coral viewing boat, sea kayak, from the air on a scenic flight, or by snorkelling from the beach. Slip on a snorkel or diving gear and swim with graceful manta rays, see dolphins and schools of brightly coloured fish in the clearest turquoise water imaginable.
And off the water, go four wheel driving to Cape Range National Park to see amazing red rock canyons and gorges.There has been a long association between Aboriginal people and the Ningaloo region. Materials found in rock shelters, shell middens and caves on the Cape Range Peninsula indicate that Aboriginal people have lived on the Ningaloo coast for over 30,000 years.