It’s not about the time it takes, or the miles driven, but the adventure, the experiences and the memories you create on the way.
It’s a long drive from Exmouth to Perth, but open roads devoid of traffic jams make this an exhilarating trip, with unplanned stops only made to admire awesome views. Your self-drive adventure will take you through a juxtaposition of beautiful beaches and rugged landscapes punctuated by quality hotels offering overnight revitalisation – we have suggested a few in our sample itinerary below. Highlights we’d recommend are the dolphins of Monkey Mia, the Blue Holes and red cliffs of Kalbarri and spotting/swimming with humpback whales at Ningaloo Reef. We recommend hiring a car through Avis, who offer the comfortable SUV Ford Kuga with enough space for all the souvenirs you pick up on your journey.
Recommended vehicle: SUV Ford Kuga from Avis with automatic steering, USB inputs, Bluetooth, tilt wheel and power steering.
Exmouth to Coral Bay – 153km
Travel time: around 2hrs
First used as a military base during World War 2, Exmouth sits at the tip of a beckoning finger jutting away from mainland Australia. Whales and dolphins frequent the shores of the town and the Exmouth visitor centre operates watching trips and snorkelling gear hire. Vlamingh Head Lighthouse is an informative visit. Built in 1912 the lighthouse is located on the northernmost tip of Cape Range and is one of the only few spots from which you can see both sunrise and sunset. Before you leave for Coral Bay, you must try the Whalers Restaurant. Known for its delicious seafaring food enjoy specials of the day and fine wine.
Check into Sal Salis, a beachside safari hotel, and experience its new programme called the swim with whales. Whale sharks tend to migrate between March and June. All equipment is provided by Sal Salis and beginners are encouraged to undertake a lesson or two with expert guides.
Stay: Sal Salis
Coral Bay to Shark Bay – 282 miles
Travel time: around 5hrs
Ningaloo Reef is a world heritage site and the only fringing reef in Australia on which you can dive, swim and snorkel. This is your next stop and it’s one laden with sea life discovery. Cruises along the reef, or further out into the Indian Ocean are a great way to explore the region. If you’re looking for a little bit of a challenge, a 2 or 3 hour guided Ningaloo Kayak Tour can be arranged. You can even hire glass bottom canoes and open glass boogie boards.
Shark Bay to Kalbarri – 169 miles
Travel time: around 3hrs
The World Heritage Centre of Shark Bay is made up of two peninsulas covering an incredible 25,000sqm. That’s a lot of ground to cover in such a short space of time, so we recommend travelling to Monkey Mia in Denham as a first point of contact to see the famed bottlenose dolphins who swim right up to the shores of the beach. Dolphins have visited every day in the last five years, so the odds are favourable that you’ll get to see one of these beautiful creatures up close and personal! If you’re a patient fisher and you fancy something out of the ordinary, Steep Point is excellent for cliff fishing. Helium balloons are used to float bait offshore and special gaffs are used to lure the fish up the cliff face.
Kalbarri to Cervantes – 234 miles
Travel time: around 4hrs
The route that passes from Kalbarri to Cervantes is one of discovery, winding its way through mesmerising snorkelling spots to the pillars of maritime history. Just south of Kalbarri lie the Blue Holes, a protected area for snorkelling. Wake up early to beat the tide and get the best views of the octopus and fish that live here. Travel further south to two stunning beaches, Coronation Beach and Sunset Beach are renowned for their windsurfing prowess. Geraldton is a city to explore with vigour, with so much to do and discover, including its 100 year old Yacht Club, its maritime museum and the Port Moore Lighthouse; the oldest surviving commonwealth lighthouse in Western Australia.
Stay: Kalbarri Beach Resort
Cervantes to Perth – 124 miles
Travel time: around 2hrs
On the final stretch towards Perth, Western Australia will still throw a few curve balls your way. Lancelin will tempt you with its close proximity to the shipwreck of Verdulge Draeck. Stop off at Two Rocks, a fascinating suburb of Perth that features a limestone sculpture of King Neptune and the Atlantis Maritime Exhibition.
After such an immersive experience adventuring across Australia’s West Coast, it’s understandable to be sad now that you’ve hit the finale. The flora and fauna of King's Park is a must see, and currently undergoing a huge redevelopment with lots of new bars, restaurants and experiences opening every month. Arts, crafts and culture are in abundance here, surrounded by the waters of Swan River which reflect the lights of the city so beautifully by night. Check into Crown Metropol Perth and head straight to the spa to relax while reflecting on what was a momentous journey.
Stay: Crown Metropol Perth