Friendly, laidback and surrounded by good-looking fish, Exmouth is the perfect place to position yourself to explore the Ningaloo Marine Park.
Halfway up the idyllic Western Australian coastline, Exmouth is a beachy holiday town with an aquatic wonderland on its doorstep.
Home to around 2500 people, this tiny town is surrounded by the huge World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Marine Park. Walk just a few metres off shore and pull on a mask and snorkel. Here, in aquarium-like waters, you can drift over the largest fringing reef on earth, home to turtles, tropical fish and manta rays.
If you take a short boat trip into deeper waters, you can snorkel with gentle whale sharks (from April to July) or alongside humpback whales (from July to October). Ningaloo Reef is one of the only places on the planet where large numbers of whale sharks – massive but harmless filter feeders – are known to visit so close to land every year.
Exmouth, Ningaloo’s hub town, sits at the northern end of Ningaloo Marine Park. It’s easy to reach. You can jump on a plane and fly in to Learmonth Airport, 36km from Exmouth. Or if you’re up for a road trip, this sun-kissed town can be found 1250km north of Perth, with plenty of stop-worthy spots along the way.
Best bars and cafés in Exmouth
Exmouth is home to several cafés that serve excellent coffees, smoothies and juices, including SeeSalt, the Ningaloo Bakehouse and Adrift Café.
For those with a thirst for something stronger, Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort serves up some delicious cocktails by the pool, and beer lovers rejoice! There are two recently opened breweries in Exmouth. Froth Craft Brewery is a funky, family-friendly establishment pouring crafty brews and artisanal cider. The kitchen serves up tasty dishes, including local fish and hand-cut fries, huge veggie and beef burgers, and plates of Exmouth prawns.
For more beer action, head over to Whalebone Brewing Company. Housed in a no-frills shed, at Whalebone you can kick off your boots (or thongs) and completely relax. When you get peckish, there’s delicious pizza on the menu and live tunes to boot. The kids will love it, especially the play area.
Best restaurants in Exmouth
Whalers, located in the Exmouth Escape Resort, is considered one of the area’s best restaurants and has a huge local following. The focus here is seafood: you’ll have a hard time choosing between dishes like New Orleans seafood gumbo, seafood spaghetti, reef & beef and the always delicious local fish of the day.
Parked at Exmouth Town Beach, The Short Order Local food truck whips up some unforgettable bacon and egg burgers, freshly baked muffins and coffee. Perch yourself on one of the rug-lined couches, read the paper and enjoy your morning feast. The food truck also does a curry-focused menu on Wednesday nights. Please note: The Short Order Local is temporarily closed (7 October 2020).
Smack-bang on Sunrise Beach, the restaurant at Mantarays Ningaloo Resort is made for seafood lovers. Aptly called Mantaray’s, it’s a perfect mix of fine dining and relaxed style. Popular dishes include the seafood platter and the sirloin beef, with grass-fed beef sourced from nearby Bullara Station.
Best hotels in Exmouth
Laidback Exmouth has a range of comfortable hotels and resorts. Looking for something super-special? Luxe glamping resort Sal Salis will satisfy. Hugging the beach, each of the safari tents are fitted with timber floors, comfy beds, verandahs, ensuites and sun-heated showers. Perhaps the best part of the experience is the canapés at sunset, followed by dinner (with matching wines) beneath the stars. The exclusive retreat, with numerous guided tours included in the tariff, can arrange airport transfers. It’s open from March to October.
If you’re after a self-contained villa or apartment, check out the 4-star Exmouth Escape Resort, home to the aforementioned Whalers Restaurant. For those who travel with a vessel, there are boat parking and washing facilities. Relaxation lovers will enjoy the two large outdoor pools (one is perfect for kids).
Also well-positioned in Exmouth, the RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park offers self-contained cabins, motel-style rooms, backpacking dorms, and powered and unpowered sites. It’s located just a short walk from Sunrise Beach, part of the new marina development in Exmouth.