The small town of Coral Bay in the Ningaloo Marine Park is edged by glorious white-sand beaches with calm, clear turquoise water, where large fish swim around your ankles in the shallows.
The Coral Bay beaches are paradise for swimming, snorkelling, fishing and relaxing. The sun shines hot almost every day of the year. The water temperature is pleasantly warm, ranging from 19oC – 28oC.
Best of all, within just a few hundred metres of the shoreline, the Ningaloo Reef lagoon teems with fish, sea turtles and coral.
Bill’s Bay is a huge, sweeping bay with a few different beaches and plenty of space to explore. The entire bay is protected by the Maud Sanctuary Zone.
Coral Bay town is situated at the southern end of Bill’s Bay, on a beautiful north-facing beach sheltered from most winds. If you’re wondering why this beach isn’t called “Coral Bay”, it’s because the town was named after the Coral Bay Resort, not the beach.
The northern half of Bill’s Bay is Skeleton Bay, and it is here that the baby reef sharks congregate in Springtime.
Swimming at Coral Bay Beaches
Between 1 and 4km offshore from the Coral Bay beaches, the outer Ningaloo Reef creates an almost continuous barrier against the big waves of the ocean ocean. The crystal clear water within the protected lagoon has only gentle small waves and is a safe place to swim for everyone.
All the beaches near Coral Bay are paradises for swimming and relaxing in the calm water, but the most popular place by far is the sheltered corner of Bill’s Bay that’s closest to town.
Other popular beaches to swim and snorkel at are Paradise Beach and Skeleton Beach, both a short walk from town and the main beach.
The southern corner of Bill’s Bay next to town is the most popular swimming area because it’s right next to town, is sheltered from the most common winds and most of all, is tranquil and beautiful.
The safe, calm water is shallow for a long way out, sloping to greater depths gradually. Snapper and other large fish are usually seen swimming around in the shallows.
It used to be a lively, interesting beach where boats were launched, tours departed and fishing catches were brought in to shore, but for the past few years it’s been designated Swimming Only, No Boats Allowed.
Exceptions are made for the coral viewing boats, which still moore off the Bill’s Bay Beach. All other boats are now launched and moored 3km south of town at Monk’s Head.
What the town beach has lost in liveliness, it’s gained in peace and tranquility, and conservation of the delicate coral gardens of Bill’s Bay.
A Guide to the Coral Bay Beaches:
The Coral Bay Town Beach
The Coral Bay town beach surrounds the southern half of Bill’s Bay. This is a beautiful beach sheltered from the prevalent southerly winds. The calm shallow water is perfect for swimming, and fishlife is plentiful. In just a foot of water you’ll see large spangled emporer and blue-barred parrotfish swimming about, and 50-100m out the coral gardens begin. See the Bill’s Bay snorkeling page for underwater photos and descriptions of what you’ll see snorkelling over the reefs of the Coral Bay foreshore.
The Coral Bay foreshore curves around a sandbar, becoming the Purdy Point beach after the big red rock. This beach is narrow and more exposed to the wind than Bill’s Bay, but the rocky outcrops provide some shelter.
The coral reef a few hundred metres off shore from this beach is the best Coral Bay snorkeling site close to town. You’ll be amazed by the number and variety of fish you’ll see, and the coral’s not too bad either! See the Purdy Point snorkeling page for photos and more details.
The name of this beach does not lie! It’s a beautiful long beach of white sand meandering south from Purdy Point down to the cliffs of Monks Head. Although it’s still within the Maud Sanctuary Zone, fishing from the beach here is permitted.
Skeleton Beach and the Reef Shark Nursery
The northern half of Bill’s Bay is Skeleton Bay. This long, deserted beach is an enjoyable walk from the Coral Bay foreshore. It’s a nice place for swimming and snorkeling, but what it’s most known for are the baby reef sharks that call the shallow waters of the bay home for a few months of the year.
The northernmost point of Bill’s Bay is Point Maud, named after Maud’s landing on the other side of the point (which itself was named after a boat that landed there). You can get there by walking for about 45 minutes along the beach, or by driving to the end of the airfield and walking from Maud’s Landing.
It’s a nice and remote place to go for a swim or for some peaceful and relaxing bird- or sunset-watching.
On the other side of Point Maud from Bill’s Bay is Bateman Beach and Maud’s Landing, a long Coral Bay beach that extends north all the way to the Oyster Bridge in the Bateman Sanctuary Zone.
If you want to try your luck at swimming with manta rays (without going on a tour), then the ocean off Point Maud is the place to go. They sometimes come in quite close to shore here.
The chances of seeing manta rays close to the beach aren’t anywhere near as good as if you go on one of the manta ray tours, but if you do see one, you’ll have saved about $160.
Bateman Sanctuary Zone – Oyster Bridge and The Lagoon
Further north is another equally good snorkeling site, The Lagoon. The Bateman Sanctuary Zone is a fair distance away from the town. You can get there on the quad bike tour, by 4WD or by walking for 2 hours from Maud’s Landing.
Five Fingers Reef
South of the Monks Head cliffs, a long beach begins. The most interesting part of this beach is Five Finger Reef, at its far end where it turns a corner into the next long white sandy beach. The “fingers” are long thin reefs pointing out to sea for 100-200m (there are actually more than five of them). This is a wonderful snorkeling area, with lots of fish and healthy coral in safe, shallow water. It’s also outside the Maud Sanctuary Zone, so you’re allowed to spear fish, or fish from the beach.
Last Updated: 15th June, 2014.
First posted on 17th October, 2013 by Bonny.
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