Coral Bay, Ningaloo Reef, WA

We can see why so many people head to Coral Bay for holidays, it’s beautiful.

There’s a lovely swimming beach across the road from the two caravan parks. The water level drops off suddenly becoming quite deep and you’re on the Ningaloo Reef, about 100 metres from shore. Lots of tropical fish and coral. The coral is not colourful, but is healthy and abundant. Mostly browns and greens with the occasional splash of colour. The colourful coral doesn’t appear until further north where water temperatures are higher. The best time to go snorkeling was at low tide so you could walk to the reef across the sand bars.

The best place to snorkel was around the point starting at at the 5 knot marker for boats going into the snorkeling zone.  But that required walking through the water around the point. The first day it was very windy and rough, I lost sight of Tim a few times in his black wetsuit so the next day I bought him a bright yellow rashie to wear so I could find him easily in the water.

As with most places on the mid-west coast, water suitable for drinking is an issue. At the two caravan parks here you can buy rain water to fill your van tanks on the way in but the only other water available is bore water which is not suitable for drinking, smells like sulphur and is very salty. We used the amenities block for showers and used our van water for drinking and cooking.

We went on a ‘Ningaloo Reef Dive’ boat to swim with the manta rays. Manta Rays can grow to 5 metres wing span and live for more than 30 years.  A fabulous day out. We highly recommend them if you’re in the area. The captain and crew, all females, were extraordinary, so knowledgeable and intent on making everyone’s day great. They have a spotter plan that looks for the manta rays.  We saw turtles, 4 manta rays, loads of tropical fish, sharks and loads more.

Our GoPro had stopped working but there was a professional underwater photographer as part of the crew (the only male).  We were surprised when we spotted the tiger shark, quite large at about 3 metres, we followed it and when we got close, Pete the photographer jumped in the water and chased it trying to get photos. Then the boat circled around to try to herd the shark back to him in the water. But it kept swimming away from him. I must say that made us feel a whole lot more comfortable on our next snorkel because we saw a shark very close but they really didn’t take any notice. Apparently tiger sharks are lazy feeders, if something looks alive they can’t be bothered, they try to find dead things or things that are dying. The time they attack is when the water is murky and they just bite at things (like surfers) to see what they are. Pete said he would never get in the water with one if it was rough and murky but often jumps in to photograph them on clear days and they mostly swim away. So now we have a new rule for snorkeling, if it’s murky we don’t go out far.

Pete works for Ocean Collective photography, this is him with his underwater camera.

When the photos from Pete the photographer come through I will post them (here).

Heading to Exmouth Lighthouse today where we will spend the next 4 weeks. Just hope it’s as good as here.

cheers from Helen and Tim