Ningaloo Reef Travel Insurance
Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef is the world’s largest fringing reef and among the longest near-shore reef systems on the globe. But most people recognise it as Australia’s go-to destination for spotting a majestic whale shark – the world’s biggest fish.
Located about 1,200km (745 miles) north of Perth, Ningaloo Reef is marketed as a “sparkling gem in Western Australia’s crown”. The reef stretches some 300km and is part of the UNESCO Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area which was established in 2011 and includes the Ningaloo Marine Park and the Cape Range National Park.Thousands of tourists flock to the region each year to take in the sights both on land and in the water.
Ningaloo Reef Whale Sharks
Ningaloo Reef is considered to be one of the best places in the world to swim alongside Whale Sharks for a magical once-in-a-lifetime experience. The reef regularly sees large numbers of Whale Sharks congregate in its waters, with estimates that up to 500 can be present at some times. The giant fish, which like warm and tropical waters, can live for up to 70 years and grow as big as 16m (52ft) long. Whale Sharks are categorised as a shark, given they have cartilage instead of bones. The term “whale” is part of their name only because of their size. Whale Sharks are often referred to as “gentile giants”. They only have tiny teeth and mostly feed on a diet of plankton and krill, as well as some occasional small fish and shrimp.
Ningaloo Reef Whale Shark Season
The best time to spot Whale Sharks in Ningaloo Reef is between mid-March and the end of July. Whale Sharks are drawn to Ningaloo Reef during annual coral spawning, which happens after the first full moon in March. More than 200 species of coral spawn their brightly coloured polyps during these events, attracting masses of krill and therefore Whale Sharks.
Ningaloo Reef Map
Ningaloo Reef is about 1,200km (745 miles) north of Perth on the West Coast of Australia.Alternatively, it is about 1300km (808 miles) south-west of Broome.
The vast Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area covers 1,742,130 acres (705,015 hectares).
Ningaloo Reef Flights
Qantas operates daily flights between Perth and Learmonth Airport, which is the northern and most popular gateway to Ningaloo Reef.The flight time between Perth and Learmonth Airport is just under two hours. Learmonth Airport is 36km (22 miles) south of Exmouth, which has a range of accommodation options, or 117km (73 miles) from Coral Bay.
Regional Express Airlines operates flights between Perth and Carnarvon, which is the southern gateway to Ningaloo Reef.
Ningaloo Reef Travel Insurance
It is strongly recommended that visitors to Ningaloo Reef take out travel insurance after booking their trip. The town of Exmouth and the surrounding area has only limited medical facilities, with any major injuries or medical issues needing to be transferred to larger towns or cities a long way away. Travel insurance can protect you with cover for medical expenses, evacuation and repatriation, as well as cancellation fees, lost deposits and damage to luggage and personal effects.
Make sure your trip to Ningaloo Reef is properly covered.
Ningaloo Reef Humpback Whales
Whale Sharks are not the only thing to see at Ningaloo Reef, with Humpback Whales also frequenting the reef in large numbers. Ningaloo Marine Park is the only place in Western Australia where tourists can spend time in the water among Humpback Whales. Humpback Whales can grow up to 19m (62 feet) long and about 40,000 whales migrate along the Western Australia coast each year. The best time to experience the migration is generally between July and October.
Ningaloo Reef Manta Rays
If you visit Ningaloo Reef outside of the Whale Shark or Humpback Whale seasons, there is still a good chance you will be able to get up close with a Manta Ray. The largest rays in the world, the highly intelligent and harmless Manta Rays are filter feeders who eat plankton and krill. They can grow to as much as 7m (23ft) in width. Manta Rays reside in the waters of Ningaloo Reef year-round and are particularly prevalent around Coral Bay. While Manta Rays can be seen all year, they are generally in their largest numbers between May and November.
Ningaloo Reef Accommodation
There are a range of accommodation options in Exmouth and Coral Bay to set up base while you explore Ningaloo Reef. There are resorts, caravan and holiday parks, villas and some backpacker accommodation. For a truly unique experience, take a look at Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef. Located inside the Cape Range National Park, it offers 16 eco-luxe safari tents on the beach which lie under a starry sky at night. Sal Salis is all-inclusive, with meals, drinks and some activities such as guided walks, snorkelling, paddle boarding and kayaking all included. The Ningaloo Reef Resort in Coral Bay and Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort in Exmouth are other popular accommodation options.
Ningaloo Reef Camping
It is possible to camp within Cape Range National Park, which lies on the doorstep of Ningaloo Reef. Beachfront camping spots are available along the coast, with prices starting at just $8 per night. Some spots are only accessible by four-wheel drive, but others provide easy access. For details and to book, visit the Western Australian government’s Park Stay WA website.
Ningaloo Reef Tours
There are a large range of tours on offer in the Ningaloo Reef region to help visitors explore throughout the year. Small-group snorkelling tours operate from Exmouth to get out on the reef and swim with the Whale Sharks and Humpback Whales. Manta Ray tours run from Coral Bay. There are also diving tours, fishing tours, helicopter tours, sea kayaking tours and hiking safari tours on offer in the region.
Cape Range National Park
The Cape Range National Park is a land-based park located on the edge of Ningaloo Reef and offers some stunning scenery and hiking. The park covers 50,581 hectares and enjoys 50km of pristine beachfront as well as limestone ranges and stunning deep canyons. A large amount of wildlife can be found in the park, including birds, emus, lizards, echidnas, wallabies, kangaroos and dingoes. Cape Range National Park also features over 630 species of wild flowers.