Although smaller and not as well known as the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, the Ningaloo Reef is much closer to the shore and offers much the same attraction for divers.
The Marine Park stretches for 250km and includes 250 different species of coral and over 500 different types of fish. Diving here is fantastic, and the easy access to the reef makes snorkelling a cheaper and very popular alternative.
Lakeside is the closest snorkelling spot to Exmouth, but Turquoise Bay isn’t much further and it is a lot more popular. There are strong currents at Turquoise Bay that you need to swim through to get to the reef so inexperienced swimmers should avoid snorkelling alone.
Cape Range National Park adjoins the marine park and offers an abundance of flora and fauna as well as impressive gorges. The northern entrance to the national park is 40km from Exmouth and most people base themselves in Exmouth and visit as a day trip.
Entry to the park is $10 for a car and eight passengers or $4 per person if you arrive by bus.
It’s best to drive here yourself, particularly if you have a 4WD as this will open up more of the park for you to explore.
If you just want to visit for a day’s snorkelling at Turquoise Bay, then you can go on one of the trips that are sometimes organised by the hostels around Exmouth or you can take the Ningaloo Reef Bus (tel 1800 999 941). The bus operates every day Nov-Mar, but only on Mon, Tue, Fri and Sat during Apr-Oct.
The Easyrider bus also makes an excursion to Turquoise Bay and it is well worth the trip if you’re travelling this way.