The vast coastline that stretches from Perth to Exmouth is one epic road trip adventure with plenty of stops along the way to add to your itinerary. This coastline is home to some of the most unique salt lakes and stunning beaches that you simply cannot miss! The drive from Perth will take roughly 13 hours but can be broken up into sections where there's plenty of beautiful sights to see. These are our favourite stops to add to your itinerary during your road trip from Perth to Exmouth. Be sure to keep reading to find out all of the best things to do while in Exmouth and where to stay during your visit.
When is the best time to visit Exmouth?
The best time to visit exmouth is during winter, from April to October. Unlike the south half of Australia, winter in Exmouth is full of warm sunny days. The water temperature is also incredibly warm, making it the perfect time for swimming and surfing. Whale shark tours will also be operating during these months. Low season in Exmouth runs from November to March when cyclones typically occur.
Perth to Exmouth road trip itinerary
Jurien Bay is only 2.5 hours out of Perth and is one of our favourite spots to go camping right beside the beach. You'll be met with crystal clear water that is protected, making it perfect for swimming and snorkelling. The pristine beach is also less than a 2 minute walk from the campsite.
There are a few campsites and caravan parks to choose from in Jurien Bay, but our go-to has always been the campsites at Sandy Cape. It's first come, first serve, so there are no booking allocations. A campsite only costs $20 which is definitely worth it for the location.
Hutt Lagoon is a must visit on your road trip itinerary from Perth to Exmouth. It's one of the most beautiful pink lakes we've seen in Australia, especially for taking photos. This dreamlike lake is famous for having incredibly pink water which is due to the presence of a certain type of algae.
There are plenty of stops along the outskirts of the lake where you can pull over to take in the views and grab some photos. A little warning if you plan on getting in the water as it's very stinky and incredibly salty! Some people swim in the lake but we'll leave that up to you to decide.
Although it can be hard to predict how the pink lake will look throughout the year, you're sure to come across a spectacular view. During the summer months, the lake can be more dry but you'll still see some beautiful salt crystallisation and pink colours. We've visited Hutt Lagoon a few times and although it looks different every time, the views are still beautiful.
The next location is Kalbarri which is only 40 minutes further north of Hutt Lagoon. Kalbarri has some of the most unique rocky coastlines and is home to the beautiful Kalbarri National Park.
Kalbarri's coastal cliffs are also where the outback meets the ocean. Massive red cliffs tower over the blue ocean below, creating a beautiful contrast in colour. Some of our favourite stops along the cliffs are Pot Alley as well as Red Bluff Beach.
When visiting Kalbarri National Park be sure to check out the popular attractions such as the newly built Kalbarri Skywalk, Natures Window, as well as the Z-Bend Lookout and walk trails.
Opening Hours and Fees: Kalbarri National Park is open from 6am - 6pm daily. Entry is $15.00 per vehicle.
Shark Bay is a little detour off the main highway on your way from Perth to Exmouth but definitely a worthy stop on your itinerary if you have the time. The contrasting colours of the rich red earth, white sand and clear blue waters create some of the most beautiful landscapes we've seen.
Additionally, if you have a high clearance 4WD, you won't want to miss Francois Peron National Park. There are plenty of tracks to go explore for an epic adventure amongst the red cliffs. The most popular spot in the national park is Big Lagoon, known for it beautiful clear water. It's the perfect location for kayaking and swimming.
Those without a 4WD can still check out Monkey Mia where you can say hello to the friendly dolphins that visit the bay every day. Another famous stop is Shell Beach which is a beach made up of millions of shells. Although it was worth checking out, it wasn't as beautiful as we imagined. The shells are tiny and most of them are broken but still unique nonetheless.
One of our favourite campsites in Shark Bay is at Goulet Bluff. It's a beautiful coastal camp along the peninsula. You can camp pretty much anywhere but we recommend going right down near the waters edge. Part of the beach that we camped on was also full of tiny shells which was super interesting. The seaside sunsets and sunrises from this campsite are so beautiful which is why we loved it so much.
Coral Bay is your introduction to the Ningaloo Reef and is also one of the few places in the world where you can swim with whale sharks. The reef is full of beautiful coral gardens and abundance of sea-life which can all be seen just metres from shore. All you'll need is some snorkel gear and you'll be set! There are also plenty of tours to choose from if you want to get up close to manta rays, whales and whale sharks depending on the season.
Whale shark season is from March to June. Swimming with these gentle giants is a once in a lifetime bucket list experience that shouldn't be missed. Every year the humpback whales can also be seen passing through the Ningaloo Reef during their seasonal migration from June to November.
Now for the final destination of your Perth to Exmouth road trip itinerary, Exmouth! You'll soon realise why the 13 hour drive from Perth is worth the hype. Exmouth is a surreal seaside escape, blooming with marine life and idyllic beaches. There are so many different things to do in Exmouth to suit everyones interests. These are some of the best things to do in Exmouth when visiting.
Best things to do in Exmouth
Turquoise Bay is undoubtedly one the most famous beaches on the west coast and for good reason! Just like the name suggests, the bay has some of the most breathtaking blue water and white sandy shores. Turquoise Bay is located in the national park so you will have to pay $15 for the vehicle entry fee.
Grab your snorkel gear and swim from shore to the Ningaloo Reef where you'll be able to see the abundance of marine life and beautiful coral. There are also two snorkelling loops you can do. The loops are natural currents that flow from one end of the bay to the other. This allows you to just float along as you take in the underwater views!
Bay loop is located on the northern half of the bay which typically has a weaker current. This is great for those that are not the best swimmers or are worried about the currents as they can sometimes be quite strong. Drift loop is the more popular snorkelling area. From the beach, walk to the southern end and the current will take you back to where you started. We found drift loop to be a lot more beautiful with plenty of coral, colourful fish and also turtles.
Before jumping in the water at either of the loops, be sure to check the strength of the current to make sure you're comfortable and safe.
Best snorkelling spots in Exmouth
Snorkelling in Exmouth is one of the most popular things to do. In fact, as the fringing reef can be accessed from most beaches, you can dive in and see the Ningaloo Reef from plenty of beaches in Exmouth. Some of favourite snorkelling spots in Exmouth other than Turquoise are Oyster Stacks and Osprey Bay.
Osprey Bay is another picturesque beach with calm waters, making it perfect for snorkelling. From the beach, you'll want to swim a bit offshore to be able to see turtles and vibrant corals. Osprey Bay is also a campsite right along the beach and is one of our favourites in the national park.
Oyster Stacks is a little bit tricky to snorkel as the entry is quite rocky and sharp. However, this area features some of the most beautiful coral and unique fish we've seen. Oyster Stacks should only be accessed during high tide so you don't destroy the coral. Be sure to check the tides before visiting.
Sunset or sunrise at Charles Knife Canyon
Charles Knife Canyon offers stunning views of the rugged landscape and is best visited in the early hours or evenings. It's 22km's out of Exmouth where the drive will take you along a winding road to the top of the viewpoint. The road to the top is sealed and suitable for 2WD's. From here the road becomes gravel where you can continue further to find your own secluded spot to take in the views.
Although the view is nice any time of day, we'd recommend checking it out during golden hour to truly see the place shine. The sunlight bounces off the various peaks, creating long shadows and adding a beautiful golden glow over the landscape.
Swim with whale sharks
Swimming with the whale sharks is an unforgettable experience. Exmouth is one of the only places you can swim with them in Australia. It's certainly one of the best things to do in Exmouth and is one of the reasons why so many tourists and travellers make their way to the Ningaloo Reef.
The best time to swim with the whale sharks is from late March to late July each year. Most tour operators have their own spotter plane for the best chance of seeing the whale sharks. These incredible gentle giants are truly an amazing sight to see in person and swimming with them feels surreal.
Tours aren't cheap and range from $400 - $550 per person depending on which tour operator you choose and what's included. Most will include transfers, equipment, lunch and refreshments during the tour.
Witness turtles nesting and hatching
The turtle nesting season runs from November to March every year. During this time you'll be able to witness large female turtles making their way from the ocean to the sand to lay their eggs. Roughly 60 days later, they start to hatch and the baby turtles make a run for it to the ocean.
The best place to try your luck at spotting them are the beaches south of Vlamingh Head Lighthouse. The Jurabi Turtle Centre is free to check out where you'll be able to find all the information you need about the turtles around Exmouth. This centre is also where the turtle watching tours start from.
We were lucky enough to spot a couple of turtles at Wobiri and Jansz beach ourselves when watching sunset. They are beautiful animals and getting to watch them lay their eggs right in front of your eyes was definitely an incredible opportunity.
Grab a beer at Froth or Whalebone Brewery
No Exmouth itinerary is complete without a visit to the breweries. Exmouth town is home to not only one, but two breweries! Froth Craft Brewery and Whalebone Brewery. Froth is located in the centre of the small township and Whalebone is just a couple minutes away. Both have delicious craft beers, live music, outdoor areas and also amazing food to enjoy.
Watch sunset at Vlamingh Head Lighthouse
One of our favourite things to do in Exmouth and a regular weekly ritual is to watch the sunset from Vlamingh Head Lighthouse. It's situated up on a hill that provides the best panoramic views of the coastline. The lighthouse is a great way to end the day as you watch the sun set over the ocean.
Where to stay in Exmouth
There are a variety of accommodation options to choose from in Exmouth, ranging from luxury hotels, cabins, holidays parks and camping.
Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort is one of the most luxurious stays you can have in Exmouth. It's great if you're looking for the ultimate getaway. The hotel has ocean and marina views, restaurant and bar and also an infinity pool.
RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park is great value for money with plenty of different accommodation options ranging from cabins to campsites. They also have an outdoor swimming pool, cooking facilities and a playground which is perfect for families.
Potshot Hotel Resort also has some great budget options available. They have budget and motel style rooms as well as backpacker dorm rooms.
Accomodation in Exmouth can be quite expensive, so camping in the national park is another great option. Campsites are $11 per person per night plus the park entry fee. They often book out far in advance so if you're out of luck, Yardie Creek Homestead is your next best option. Yardie is where we decided to base ourselves as it is directly in-between the national park and Exmouth town. This also meant that we were a lot closer to the beaches and main attractions in Exmouth.
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Perth to Exmouth road trip itinerary map highlights