Ningaloo Reef

Ningaloo Reef is a great destination in Western Australia.

Ningaloo Reef stretches 260km along Western Australian coast between Coral Bay and Exmouth. Much smaller than the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Ningaloo is closer to the coast and quicker reached from the mainland.

Most people come here to swim with whale sharks, but there are a lot of other coral reef animals like manta rays, colourful corals and fish to discover.
Indian Ocean Surf Breaks on Ningaloo Reef, Australia
Ningaloo. Poster by AllPosters
. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Handy ways to visit Ningaloo:




What Are Corals?
There are about 220 species of coral in Ningaloo Reef. Corals always attract fish, mainly small fish that can get protection from predators when hiding amongst corals, but also larger fish that come to feed or mate in corals. While many world’s coral reefs are degraded by human impact, Ningaloo is relatively pristine because there isn’t much land development in the area, and there will not be either, because the coast along Ningaloo Reef is protected by Cape Range National Park.

Tube-Dwelling or Coral Hermit Crab, Paguritta Harmsi, in Coral, Australia
Coral. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Fish in the Coral Reefs
Because corals are colourful, coral reef fish are too - to be able to camouflage in corals. Coral reef fish are very territorial and spend their entire lives in and around the same coral, which they aggressively protect from other fish. Our Hollywood star Nemo - Clown Fish (Amphiprion bicinctus) has a very special relationship to its territory – sea anemones - which contain stinging cells similar to those of Box Jellyfish. Clown Fish is the only fish that has adapted to these cells and doesn’t get stung. All other fish keep themselves away from those stinging anemones so clown fish have the sea anemones all for themselves. You can always see these fish in sea anemones where they are perfectly protected from predators.

False Clown Anemonefish, in Anemone, Indo-Pacific
Clown fish and sea anemones. Poster by AllPosters
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to buy.

Other Coral Reef Creatures in Ningaloo Reef
There are other interesting creatures in the coral reef, such as sea stars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers, sponges, sea shells and crustaceans, but also some less known groups such as hydrozoans, sea slugs and nudibranchs, and the more obvious ones: octopus, sea snakes, sea turtles, large fish such as groupers and sharks, and large mammals such as dugongs and whales.

Turtle Underwater, Australia
Sea turtle. Poster by AllPosters
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Dangerous Coral Reef Creatures in Ningaloo Reef
There are also some dangerous creatures in coral reef. You don’t want to step on sea urchins, but they are not as bad as stonefish that are not only painful to step on, but also poisonous. Other poisonous coral reef creatures include fire fish, sea snakes, cone shells, blue ringed octopus, Irukandji jellyfish, and the world’s most poisonous animal – Box Jellyfish. Don’t let this discourage you but take care and don’t ignore warning signs, particularly those of Box Jellyfish.

Close-Up of a Stonefish and a Starfish on Rocks Underwater
Stonefish. Poster by AllPosters
. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Whale Shark Facts - Killer Whale vs Shark
Whale sharks are not whales but sharks, which means they are fish, not mammals. Whale sharks are the world’s largest fish weighing up to 21 tonnes and growing up to 18m in length. But the good news is that the world’s largest sharks are totally harmless – they are filter feeders that eat plankton and would not be interested in or able to kill humans.

Small Fish Swim Along with a Whale Shark, Rhincodon Typus
Whale Shark. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Swimming and Scuba Diving with Whale Shark
It so happens that the bottom depth in the Ningaloo Reef’s northern end drops suddenly to 100m only 6km off the coast. Ningaloo Reef is therefore one of the very few places in the world where you can see large fish that don’t like shallow waters, so close to the coast, and Ningaloo Reef is the only place in the world where whale shark migration happens this close to the coast every year. Tour operators will take you for a swim with whale sharks, and occasionally you can see a baby whale shark. Outside the whale shark season, you can swim with manta rays.

Whale Shark and Person Swimming in Silhouette, Indo Pacific
Swimming with whale shark. Poster by AllPosters
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Coral Bay Accommodation and Tours in Ningaloo Reef Western Australia
Coral Bay is a small one-street town south of Exmouth with a few small supermarkets and internet access, and in addition to the whale shark and manta ray tour operators there are snorkelling tours, glass bottom boats, scenic flights and reef cruises, and even trips to Cape Range National Park. Places to stay in Coral Bay are Bayview Hotel, Ningaloo Resort and Peoples Park Caravan Village.

Turquoise Bay, Cape Range National Park, Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, Australia, Pacific
Turquoise Bay. Poster by AllPosters
. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Tours and Accommodation in Exmouth Australia
Exmouth in the northern end of Ningaloo Reef is a bit bigger, has a shopping centre and an airport, internet access and lots of tour operator offices in the town centre.

Places to stay include Best Western Sea Breeze Resort, Blue Bones Holiday Homes, Blue Reef Backpackers Village, Exmouth Cape Holiday Park Cabins, Exmouth Escape Resort, Ningaloo Lodge, Ningaloo Retreat Hotel, Novotel Ningaloo Resort, Potshot Resort, Sal Salis Hotel and Sea Breeze Resort.

Ningaloo Reef, Ningaloo Marine Park, Western Australia, Australia
Turquoise Bay. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Here's a map of Ningaloo Reef Western Australia, where I have tagged the places that I mentioned on this web page. You can click on the tags to see what places they are, and double-click anywhere on the map to zoom it in and see the places closer. Drag the map to move around, and if you want to see the satellite image with Google Earth, click on "Sat" in the top right hand corner.

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Coral Bay Experience Not rated yet
Coral Bay is the most natural, beautiful and exotic place i have ever been to. Coming from Perth, it is a long drive up to get there but definately …

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I loved my experience at Ningaloo Reef in summer 2011. It was a wet wild adventure that everyone should get to enjoy! The color found under the …

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