Cruising the Coral Coast - 4WD Edition
Now everyone knows that most great adventures in Western Australia involve a 4WD. The Coral Coast Highway is no exception which is why we have a special guide just for those lucky enough to be exploring with a 4WD vehicle. The Coral Coast is one of the most gorgeous stretches of coastline in the country. The Coral Coast starts in a town called Cervantes and continues over 1,100 kilometers north to the turquoise waters of the Ningaloo reef. Your days will be filled with white sand beaches, pristine coral reefs, unforgettable marine interactions, outback desserts, and some of the most beautiful national parks.
The adventure begins just a short 200 kilometers north of Perth at the otherworldly desert moonscape otherwise known as the Pinnacles. Here a lost city of stoic pillars emerges from the depths of the ever shifting sand dunes that make up the Pinnacle Desert. These extraordinary ancient rock formations are part of the Nambung National park and are so stunningly unique that hundreds of thousands of visitors come each year to bear witness as the limestone pillars stand tall against the vast yellow desert beneath them. These pillars are to be found in this desert alone and they gather by the thousands, some of them reaching up to heights of 5 meters.
Next stop is just a quick 30 minute drive down the road. The town of Cervantes is the home of the Australian Western Rock Lobster. In Cervantes you can hop on board a state of the art lobster fishing vessel and see first-hand how and where your lobsters are caught. Once back on shore take a tour through the lobster factory and see how the lobsters are processed and handled for their live shipment to destinations all over the world. And last but not least be sure to enjoy a fresh lobster meal of your own at the Lobster Shack.
Just another 20 minute drive north of Cervantes you will find the small town of Jurien Bay. A great spot to bring the kids and family or head off for a fishing adventure. However the highlight of any visit to this little bay would have to be the snorkeling encounters with the endangered Australian Sea Lions. Be sure to book a sea lion tour with Sea Lion Charters and see these playful creatures up close and personal on a guided snorkel of the Jurien Bay Marine Park.
Horrocks- Little Bay
A three hour drive from Jurien Bay will land in the beach oasis of Horrocks. This little coastal beach town is often overlooked on many Coral Coast adventures and itineraries but if you are looking for a town that offers a bit of everything with a laid back coastal feel that gives you instant holiday vibes then Horrocks is your town. Here is where you will find our number 1 favorite spot for 4WD camping in all of Australia. Just north of town there is a 4WD track that will take you to a little known place called Little Bay. This tiny secluded bay has water front sheltered campsites with basic drop toilet amenities. Spend your days catching crays in the bay, hiking the sand dunes for a spectacular sunset, surfing the Bowe’s River Mouth, and reminiscing by the campfire.
Just a quick 20 minute drive past Horrocks you will find yourself at the famous Hutt Lagoon. More commonly known as the Pink Lake, this dreamlike destination draws visitors from far and wide to gaze at the mesmerizing colors of its vivid waters. The astounding color of the lake comes from a specific type of algae that grows there and is supposedly great for skin health and used in a variety of cosmetics and supplements.
This is probably one of the most well-known sites for 4WDing and 4WD camping along the Coral Coast. Here you will find a tidy little ranger-run campground amongst the scrubby sand dunes brush. Once you air down your tires you can venture out over the dunes to the magnificent Lucy Bay. A popular spot for fishing, diving and crayfishing if you are lucky your evening meals will be fresh caught daily.
Another 40 minutes’ drive down the road will lead to the famous tourist town of Kalbarri. From whale spotting to abseiling down a 400 million year old river gorge Kalbarri is one of the most popular towns along the Coral Coast. The town is situated at the meeting point of the Murchison River and the Indian Ocean which invites deep river gorges and soaring coastal cliffs. One of the highlights of the town is the outstanding national park that offers a variety of viewpoints and hikes both long and short. Spend your days swimming in protected bays, exploring superb walking trails, and spotting migrating whales.
Francios Peron National Park
This park is an amazing location for 4WD adventures. Here you will find some of the reddest dirt around that is perfectly contrasted by the gorgeous turquoise blue waters and white sandy beaches. This is one of the rare sites in the world where the ocean touches the desert. While in the area be sure to also check out the Monkey Mia Reserve and say hello to the group of resident bottlenose dolphins that come for a visit every day.
Hamelin Pool Stromatolites
Next up on the list are the Hamelin Pool Stromatolites, located about an hour and half drive from the Monkey Mia nature reserve. This is a must see attraction for any nature or history buffs in the group. The stromatolites found here are actually the oldest and largest living fossils on earth and they play a significant role in the Earth’s evolutionary history.
Next stop on the list is the town of Carnarvon. Now for most people cruising the Coral Coast this is a crucial supply stop before heading up towards Exmouth where there are limited stores and inflated prices. However between buying your groceries and filling up your fuel tank be sure to check out these two places. First up is Morel’s Orchard just down the street from the IGA. Here is where you can stock up on fresh locally grown produce as well as some really yummy ice creams and our personal favorite, frozen chocolate covered bananas. From there you can take off down the Fruit Loop Drive Trail and see where 80% of Western Australia’s fruit and vegetables come from. Also be sure to stop by the Cactus Garden and get a selfie.
Quobba Station & Red Bluff
These two spots are a must when cruising along the Coral Coast. Located about an hour from Carnarvon, Quobba station is a sheep station but it is most well-known for its spectacular camping. The Quobba coast stretches from Point Quobba in the south all the way to Red Bluff in the North which is also the start of the Ningaloo Marine Park. This is the best spot to settle in for a couple of days and enjoy the simple pleasures of life amongst the rugged scenery. From fishing to snorkeling to world class waves for surfing there is something here for everyone to enjoy.
Coral bay- 5 Fingers Reef
Coral Bay is an absolute marine paradise. Your stay here will be undoubtedly centered around the water. Whether you are spending your days sunbaking and swimming in the calm turquoise blue waters of the bay, or out along the outer reef learning to dive or swimming with Manta Rays, there is no doubt you will return home salty, sandy, sun kissed, and full of smiles. Be sure to check out the drift snorkel that is just meters off the shore of the main beach. If you are keen for a short swim then paddle out to what the locals lovingly call Ayers Rock. Here you will find a massive coral rock within a beautiful coral garden. For a bit of 4WD adventure be sure to head out to 5 Fingers Reef and go for a snorkel.
Exmouth- Cape Range National Park
Now for the 4WD fanatics we highly recommend driving to Exmouth via the Coastal 4WD track. Check the conditions and information before heading out to make sure it is safe to do so! Along the way you will pass through Warroora Station, Ningaloo Homestead as well as Yardie Creek.
The final destination along the Coral Coast Highway and also one of the most coveted holiday destinations in North Western Australia. Here you can swim with the largest fish in the sea, spot migrating humpback whales, see the sunrise and the sunset over the ocean, and so much more. Exmouth is most renowned for its Whale Shark encounter tours. Here you can go out for a day long experience where you will be able to swim with these wild and beautiful creatures. While in town be sure to catch the sunset at the lighthouse, enjoy a frothy beer from some of the craft breweries in town, and enjoy the live music as you celebrate your amazing holiday adventure.