I've just arrived home from Coral Bay and had a fantastic holiday so thought I’d let you know about it in case it’s a destination you are considering. If you have 2 to 5 days to spare then this is a great place to visit. Longer is an option, however here’s how I filled my days in this coastal sunny town.
Day 1 – Arrived mid-morning. Checked in and walked down to Bill’s Bay (this is the name of the bay in front of the Coral Bay town). The tide was out with white sand and shallow water, which was clear and sparkling. There were people around but it wasn’t crowded. This was one very nice bay. Walked up the main street and visited the Information Centre, who were very helpful with discussing the things I’d like to see and do. Popped into the Coral Bay Bakery and bought lunch, quite a choice! After lunch I wandered up the beach from Bill’s Bay to the Shark Sanctuary, and then up to Skeleton’s Beach. Wear thongs or reef shoes as there’s a few rocky bits on the way. I didn’t see the baby sharks, but I learned afterwards that it’s best when the tide is high, so I’ll have to do this walk again another time. As I returned, the easterly wind had come in and brought the flies with it - they were awful for about 3 hours, hanging around your eyes, nose and mouth, they don’t taste so great 😊. Then the wind changed and they left, and I didn’t have a problem with flies again for the rest of the trip, although might be worth bringing a fly net though just in case. Headed off to Bill’s Bar for tea, a lovely place with wonderful food, the “local fish curry” was perfect.
Day 2 – Coral Bay Eco Tours, they were awesome. They took us by bus from the town down to the boat jetty and we hopped aboard and headed out to a part of the coral reef called “The Maze”. The staff on board were great, taking us in groups and directing us through the maze and they catered for the various snorkeling abilities. I’m an average swimmer but not a confident snorkeler, so they gave me a noodle to take with me so I could just hang off it and have a break when needed. They also supplied snorkeling gear, fins, and wetsuits. The coral and the fish were beautiful, well worth putting myself out of my comfort zone to see! Back on board they had tea, coffee, milo, cake and biscuits. Off to the next part of the reef, can’t remember what this one was called, but it was deeper with larger fish, turtles and reef sharks. Just WOW! Back on board again and heading out to see the Manta Rays. A plane goes up as a spotter and directs the boats to where the Manta Rays are so you have a good opportunity to see one. My first plunge in I a saw one, it was a little unusual as Manta’s are normally black on top and white underneath with black markings. This one was black on top but also black underneath with white markings. Every one at the tour had the opportunity to board the boat and re-enter the water at different spots to see Manta Rays three times. Fabulous. Back on board, a lunch was available to eat on the way back to the jetty. I did purchase the photo package offered as there was no way I could take photo’s as well as snorkel. The photos were amazing and glad I made the purchase.
Day 3 – Beach Buggy time. The tracks go south of the town and are quite open with little shade, so sunscreen or long sleeves is a must. Went to Five Finger reef and Turtle Cliffs. Brought my snorkel gear (a mask and snorkel as that's all I had), but for this area, the coral is close to the shore so fins weren’t necessary. Along the reef edge there were plenty of various colored fish and reef. Kangaroos and goats were also around. When talking to others, I heard about more coral called ‘Ayres Rock’ in Bill’s Bay, so hired a kayak in the afternoon and paddled out about 300m to the mooring. Popped on my snorkel again (beginning to get used to it now) and swam to the area known as Ayres Rock, the colours in the reef were amazing and there were heaps of little fish swimming around me, it was great. However, if you hire a kayak, ask them how on earth you get back on it when in deep water! I’m sure I was providing entertainment for those sitting on the beach with my different attempts. Got there in the end, that’s the main thing! The van for hiring the kayaks is near the lookout, so wandered up there and sat for a while taking in the view afterwards.
Day 4 – My last day, so this time I strolled south from Coral Bay town to Paradise Beach. This was a lovely beach. The crabs were out and great to watch them scurrying up to their holes in the sand and washing in and out on the backwash. I think I could have kept walking to the boat ramp, however, I was conscious that I needed to check out of my accommodation so wandered back. Just as I arrived back at Bill’s Bay, I saw children and a few adults swarm around something in the water just at the end of the shallows where the water gets deeper (but isn’t real deep yet), so wandered over and discovered that the park rangers were “fish feeding”. They allowed everyone to have a few pellets to feed the fish which were now swimming around their legs. This can only be done when the rangers are there and only with the food they provided. You can find out which days this occurs on from the Information Centre. I wasn’t expecting to see this, so it was a bonus at the end of the trip.
For those that like fishing, you are nearly guaranteed a catch, but you must check you are in the right area as there are sanctuary areas where you cannot fish.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Coral Bay, and for someone who isn’t all that fussed with putting her head under the water, I did a lot more snorkeling than expected, but each time was different and so worth it for the different views, fish, coral and colours. The Manta Rays were great, though I liked seeing the coral and fish just as much. If you prefer to not snorkel, there are other options available, such as glass bottom boats. The highlight of my holiday were the coral and fish, though the beaches were lovely too!
The weather in Coral Bay is lovely all year round. I went at the end of December and there were storms further up the coast so it was overcast, with temps during the days of mid to high 30’s and nights of low 20’s. It was lovely, sunny some days and other with cloud cover, perfect for enjoying the outdoors.
So, how to get there? Well, I work for the bus company, so I know it's good way to get to and from Coral Bay and they come right into the townsite for deaprting and boarding the service, their website is Integrity Coach Lines. It leaves Perth and Geraldton heading north to Coral Bay 3 times a week, heads south from Broome to Coral Bay 2 times a week, and from Hedland, Karratha and Exmouth to Coral Bay 3 times a week.
Coral Bay is the place to be for Manta Rays, Sun Rays and Happy Days!