These beautiful pristine beaches are a bit of an adventure to get to from town, but it is always worth the effort if you like snorkeling and beach combing. As soon as you hit the water at either the Oyster Bridge or The Lagoon, you will find yourself surrounded by fish – even where it’s less than 1 metre deep right next to the beach.
The reefs of Bateman Sanctuary are rocky and don’t have as much coral as other places in the Ningaloo Marine Park, but the variety and number of fish is so amazing that it more than makes up for the coral.
Snorkeling Around the Oyster Bridge
On my most recent visit back in December 2011, I went snorkelling near the Oyster Bridge (a.k.a. Falsetooth Reef) and was thrilled to find brightly coloured fish of all shapes and sizes swimming around within right next to the beach. Swimming deeper, it only got better. I was amazed by some of the big, colourful fish that I saw.
Unfortunately, on this particular day it was blowing a gale from the south-west and the waves were on the large side, which made for difficult swimming and poor visibility beyond the Oyster Bridge. I really wanted to explore further along the seaward edge of the reefs, but when I tried to I found myself caught in a rip and being washed about by large waves, so I swam back to the safety of the shallows as soon as I could.
I remember this spot from a childhood holiday many years ago and it was completely different – the ocean was calm that day and the Oyster Bridge was absolute paradise.
Here are my photos of the Oyster Bridge, plus one from the WA Tourism site that shows what it’s like on a less windy day. The underwater shots don’t do this snorkelling site justice because they were taken only a few metres from the shoreline in water less than one metre deep. My camera broke shortly after taking them!
Beach Combing and Walking Along the Bateman Sanctuary Zone Beaches
“The Lagoon” is a kilometre or two further north from the Oyster Bridge. You can either walk there along the sand and rocks of the beach, or drive back up to the Cardabia-Ningaloo road and find the track down to the beach at the Lagoon.
I think that walking is the far better alternative!
On the rocks and orangey-white coloured sand of the beach between the Oyster Bridge and the Lagoon, crabs scuttle along the rocks, small fish swim around in rock pools and on the beach there are a variety of beautiful and interesting shells washed up. The more you look, the more you see! It is a beach-comber’s heaven.
Cowrie shells are plentiful here, and there are also turban shells and cone shells to find. Although it’s tempting, you should not take the shells home with you because they’re a part of the Ningaloo ecosystem and if everyone did this, there’d be none left to find.
The Lagoon, Another Amazing Snorkeling Spot in the Bateman Sanctuary Zone
The Lagoon is a rounded bay with reefs offshore extending from a sandy point and some platform reef next to the beach. While there are a few corals, the fish life is what makes it a top shore-based snorkeling site. The number and variety of fish that live in the lagoon is very impressive.
A family we met on the beach at The Lagoon before we went for a snorkel told us that every single time they swam there in spring and summer (the turtle nesting season), they saw a turtle or two. Sure enough, during our short snorkel, we spotted a large turtle and followed it through the water for a few minutes.
Getting to Bateman Sanctuary Zone From Coral Bay
The Bateman Sanctuary Zone is fairly remote, but is not too difficult to reach from Coral Bay with a little determination. Here are the options for getting there:
- Drive along the beach – you can get to the Oyster Bridge by driving along Bateman Bay from Maud’s Landing, but only between April and September. Most of the beach is closed to all vehicles apart from the quad bike tour during the turtle nesting season.
- Drive along the inland 4WD track – take Cardabia Road (4WD track off Maud’s Landing Road or the airfield) north for 6 or 7km and turn left onto the first sandy track. Take the first left off the track to get to the Oyster Bridge or the second right to get to the Lagoon.
- Quad Bike Tour
- Walk the Length of Bateman Beach – you have to be slightly mad to walk all that way, but it’s perfectly doable if you don’t have a 4WD. Park your 2WD at Maud’s landing and walk along Bateman Beach from there. It takes about 2 hours at a leisurely pace.
Last Updated: 18th June, 2014.
First posted on 15th December, 2013 by Bonny.
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