The waters off Coral Bay, and elsewhere in the Ningaloo Marine Park, are home to some of the best fishing, diving and snorkeling in Australia. So towing a boat on the long journey up the West Australian coast to Coral Bay is always well worth the effort.
A boat will give you access to amazing remote and off-shore diving and fishing areas – without having to rely on an organised tours and charters.
The waters around Coral Bay and to the south are completely protected for several kilometres by the outer Ningaloo Reef. So even with just a small dinghy, you could spend days fishing for species common inside the lagoon (especially north west snapper!), snorkeling on the outer reef and exploring south to Five Finger Reef and beyond.
You’ll be sure to see some turtles, and if you’re incredibly lucky you could even spot dugongs or manta rays.
Many areas inside the lagoon are riddled with reefs and bombies, so care should be taken, especially at low tide or on a choppy day with poor visibility. The coral is so fragile and takes years to recover from damage caused by boats, and sadly you’ll see the evidence of this damage if you go for a snorkel in Bill’s Bay or near Monk’s Head. Not to mention the damage that the coral could do to your boat!
With a larger, more seaworthy boat, you can get out into the open ocean beyond the reef which opens up opportunites for what could be the fishing experience of a lifetime!
Not only that, whales are commonly seen between June and October, and between April and June there’s even the possibility (albeit a remote one) of spotting a whale shark.
Launching Your Boat at Coral Bay – Monk’s Head
In the past, there was no boat ramp at Coral Bay and boats were launched directly off the town beach by 4WD or tractor. All this boating activity was deemed a safety hazard to swimmers and was causing considerable damage to the coral gardens in Bill’s Bay.
The photo below shows the Coral Bay town beach in the old days before construction of the new boating facility:
The southern half of Bill’s Bay is now a no-boating zone for unauthorised vessels. Boats can be launched a few kilometres south at Monk’s Head, where ramps and jetties have been built, along with a paved road connecting Monks Head to town.
Hiring a Boat for Your Coral Bay Holiday
There aren’t any boats for hire in Coral Bay, so you’ll have to hire one from Exmouth 2 hours away and tow it down. Alternatively you could tow a hire boat up from Perth, Geraldton or Kalbarri.
Coral Bay Boating – Getting Beyond the Outer Reef
In the deeper water beyond the outer reef you can experience some of the best fishing that Western Australia has to offer.
The Ningaloo Reef near Coral Bay is one long barrier about 1 – 3km out with just a few breaks in it. The two options for getting outside the reef are the North Passage and Yalobia Passage to the south.
The Coral Bay North Passage (Cardabia Passage)
The north passage follows the inside of the reef north past Bill’s Bay and out into waters off Bateman Bay where the reef ends for a few kilometres.
The channel out through to the passage from Monk’s Head is quite narrow in places, but is well marked.
The Coral Bay South Passage (Yalobia Passage)
About 6 or 7km south from Monk’s Head, just beyond of Five Fingers Reef, there’s a gap in the reef about 700m wide with 3 leads up on the hill to line up the channel with.
A lot of care should be taken with the south passage. It doesn’t take much swell for waves to start breaking across it, and when it looks calm enough you could still be caught out by the one bigger-than-average wave. With swells over about 2m, it’s unnavigable.
In all but the calmest conditions, you’re much better off taking the safer North Passage, even if it’s the less direct route.
There’s another gap in the reef very close to Monk’s Head. It’s unmarked, narrow and even more trecherous than the South Passage. Best not to attempt it at all!
Coral Bay Moorings
There are a number of public moorings in the Maud Sanctuary Zone, many of which are excellent snorkeling sites. If you want to moor your boat overnight, you can hire one of the public moorings off Monk Head.
For more information on these moorings, download the brochure in the “Resources” section.
Coral Bay Boating Resources
Coral Bay Boating Guide
And here’s a link to the Marine section of the Department of Transport website where you might find more useful information.
Coral Bay Moorings
Download this brochure (PDF download link) from the DEC for information about mooring at Coral Bay.
Coral Bay Nautical Charts
You can buy the nautical chart for Coral Bay from the Coral Bay supermarket, or from boating shops down in Perth.
Last Updated: 15th June, 2014.
First posted on 18th October, 2013 by Bonny.
Subscribe to Keep In Touch!
Wild Western Australia is an ever-expanding website with new articles and photos published every week. To ensure you remember and keep in touch enter your email address to receive a weekly round-up of new posts on the blog: