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Coral Bay Snorkeling Sites - Snorkelling at Coral Bay
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Coral Bay (and the rest of the Ningaloo coast) is just about my favourite place for snorkeling in the whole world. I can't think of anywhere else I've been where such prolific and beautiful wildlife and underwater scenery is so easily accessible.
Keep reading to discover some of the best Coral Bay snorkeling sites...
What to Expect When Snorkeling at Coral Bay
When snorkeling off the beaches at Coral Bay, expect to see coral that's mostly fairly dull and brownish in colour, with patches of brighter colours here and there. The further out to sea you swim, the more colourful and interesting the coral becomes so I recommend swimming out as far as you feel comfortable, and if at all possible, getting to the outer reef at some stage during your Coral Bay holiday.
The fishlife everywhere, even right in close to shore is exceptional, and for most people more than makes up for the brownish colours of the coral.
One of the most wonderful experiences you can have while snorkeling at Coral Bay is to swim with a sea turtle. Five Finger Reef, the Lagoon and anywhere on the outer reef are some places where you're highly likely to see one.
If you can get to the outer reef, you'll find the brightly coloured corals there. Neon purple, lime green, bright pink - all the stereotypical coral reef colours are there. The fishlife is also even better on the outer reef. Big fish and other marine life, especially the reef sharks, are far more common on the outer reef than they are close to shore.
Expect the Unexpected!
Even at the most shallow and easy of Coral Bay snorkeling sites, you can come across something surprising and amazing at any time. Sea turtles, reef sharks, rays and some incredible and unusual fish will often be right in close to shore when you least expect to see them.
Sometimes people go for a swim off the Point Maud beach not expecting to see anything much, and end up swimming with a manta ray!
Some Great Coral Bay
Snorkeling Sites From Beaches
A Short Walk From the Village
If you swim out beyond the shallows with a mask and snorkel - and you don't have to go far at all - you'll be rewarded with the beautiful sight of coral gardens extending as far as you can see in every direction, and brightly coloured tropical fish going about their fishy ways.
The general rule when snorkeling off the beaches close to town is that the coral and fish life get better and better the further out to sea (ie. away from civilisation) you go.
Luckily, swimming a long way out to sea isn't scary or difficult at Coral Bay. The water is a pleasant temperature, warm enough to stay out snorkeling for an hour or more. All the big waves break out on the barrier reef, so everywhere inside the lagoon, the sea is safe and calm.
The following beaches are right on the doorstep of Coral Bay, or an easy stroll up or down the coast:
Snorkeling at Bills Bay is safe, easy and interesting.
It's a large bay with a 4km long beach. Coral Bay village curves around the beach at the south end of the bay (the town was named after the Coral Bay Resort - not the bay it was built on!).
The beach and protected lagoon of Bills Bay is a relaxing paradise riddled with coral reefs, which begin only 50m from shore in places.
Walking north from the town beach, you'll eventually get to the Skeleton Beach section of Bills Bay. During spring and summer, baby reef sharks congregate here.
Find out more about snorkeling at Bills Bay (and Skeleton Beach):
- Click this link to go to the page all about snorkeling at Bills Bay.
- Or you can click here to see the Bills Bay section of the Coral Bay Beaches pages.
This is my favourite place to snorkel when I'm staying in Coral Bay.
If you thought you saw lots of interesting fish in Bills Bay, just wait 'til you try this snorkeling spot! The fish and coral off the Purdy Point beach are much better.
The beach at Purdy Point is just a short stroll around the corner from Bills Bay. It's a west-facing beach exposed to the sea breeze. A few hundred metres out is a large area of dense coral and prolific fish life that just keeps getting better the further out you swim.
It's another safe and easy snorkel, but less suitable for children and beginner snorkelers than Bills Bay because you have to swim further.
Find more information about snorkeling at Purdy Point and to see some great underwater pictures:
- Here is the page all about snorkeling at Purdy Point, with some great photos.
- This link goes to the Purdy Point section of the Coral Bay Beaches pages.
Coral Bay Snorkeling Sites - Beaches Further Away From Town
Beyond the town and the beaches that everyone goes to, you'll find the true pristine, untouched Ninagloo Marine Park.
Getting to these places is a fun adventure and you'll be rewarded for your efforts with some exceptional snorkeling and an excellent chance of seeing sea turtles, birds of prey and other wildlife that's less common close to town.
To get to these extra special snorkeling sites, you need a 4WD or quad bike, or else be prepared to make a day of it and go on an organised tour or a hike down the coast.
If you don't have your own suitable vehicle and don't want to embark on an epic trek, check out the quad bike tours. They visit several special snorkeling and wildlife watching sites along the coast, including those mentioned here.
Five Finger Reef is about 5km south of town and only 2 or 3km from Monk's Head (the furthest south you can get with a normal car). Here, parallel lines of reef extend out to sea for a few hundred metres, providing excellent snorkeling with lots of fish and coral close to shore in quite shallow water. Beach fishing and spear fishing are permitted.
The Bateman Sanctuary Zone is about 8km north of Coral Bay. The rocky stretch of coast beginning at the end of Bateman Beach is an area with plentiful fishlife and some of the best Coral Bay snorkeling to be found right in close to shore.
Coral Bay Snorkeling: the Outer Reef
The best Coral Bay snorkeling of all is to be found on the outer reef. This is where the coral is most colourful, the fish are the biggest and most numerous, and where you're almost guaranteed to see creatures like sea turtles and reef sharks.
If you have a boat, it's very easy to get to the outer reef.
Off shore from Coral Bay, and not too far from Monk's Head, there are several moorings along the channel out to the North Passage where the tour boats tie up. These are all excellent snorkeling sites, you just have to be prepared to move along if a tour boat wants to use the mooring.
Apart from these moorings, you can explore south, or even north past Bateman Bay, anchoring anywhere near the reef and discovering your own snorkeling sites. The possibilities are endless.
Read More: Coral Bay Boating
Coral Bay Snorkeling Tours
If you don't have a boat of your own, there's no need to miss out on a snorkeling adventure on the outer reef. The tour companies in town offer snorkeling tours ranging from a few hours to a whole day that visit the outer reef and areas within the lagoon that are too far out to swim to from the beach, such as the Snapper Holes. Check out the Coral Breeze Catamaran, the kayaking tours and both glass bottom boats.
If you don't have your own snorkeling gear, you can hire it from the dive shop or from the caravan at the south western end of the main beach.
Swimming to the Outer Reef!
Alternatively, at the beach at Five Finger Reef, the outer reef is within 1km of shore - a swimmable distance for competent, experienced snorkelers.
Leave a Comment
Have you been to Coral Bay?
Did you love it as much as I do? Or maybe you went there and found it boring? Either way, you can share memories of your Coral Bay adventures, favourite photos and tips for other travellers here.
Also feel free to ask me and other readers a question about travelling to Coral Bay.
Coral Bay Pages
About Coral Bay
Things to Do
- Coral Bay Boating Guide
- Monks Head and Merv