Romance on the reef: 3 lovely ways to experience Ningaloo
With an abundance of wildlife experiences, five-star indulgences and 320 days of sunshine every year, there’s no better place to chase summer than along the breathtaking Ningaloo Reef.
Situated halfway up Western Australia’s coastline (about 1200 kilometres – or a two-hour flight – north of Perth), Ningaloo Marine Park comes with a full resume of reasons to visit. Starring a World Heritage listed site, the nation’s largest fringing reef and crystalline waters, Ningaloo also hosts a dazzling array of underwater residents, including tropical fish, turtles, manta rays, humpback whales and the world’s largest fish, the elusive whale shark. But the greatest draw-card is perhaps the balmy 24–34 degree days, making for year-round beach weather. It’s the perfect setting to chase summer and reconnect and spoil yourself with some of life’s simplest pleasures.
Indulge at Sal Salis
Nowhere does eco-luxe glamour quite like beachside safari camp, Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef. With 15 wilderness tents lying in the dunes of Cape Range National Park, each abode comes decked out with plush bedding and ensuite bathroom within a shell’s throw of the water. In the camp’s main lodge, a resident chef prepares a rotating menu of gourmet meals, including a nightly three-course dinner featuring local, seasonal produce alongside superb Western Australian wines, served under the dazzlingly sequinned night sky. During the day, guests have the opportunity to partake in some of Ningaloo’s most extraordinary experiences, including swimming with the famous whale sharks that frequent the reef between April and August, and humpback whales between July and October.
Sail in style
With more than 260 kilometres of vibrant coral reef, Ningaloo is home to more than 500 species of fish. To never miss a moment of the underwater action, lucky guests can join Sail Ningaloo’s luxurious, live-aboard catamaran, Shore Thing. The 51-foot vessel features a saloon, spacious decks, trampoline area and a comfortable helm, as well as four cabins (three with an ensuite bathroom), accommodating up to 10 guests in total. The shallow draft of Shore Thing also allows it to reach parts of the reef that other yacht charters can’t access. Out on the water, guests have their choice of fishing, kayaking, snorkelling or scuba diving tours, all lead by the experienced and dedicated crew.
Savour the simple things
Coral Bay is arguably the ultimate Australian beach town and, at local favourite Shades, you’ll find what’s arguably the ultimate beach town experience. Under a canopy of twinkling fairy lights and palm trees, discover a laid-back cluster of wooden tables beside the open-air restaurant, where you can grab a craft beer and settle into a deck chair to enjoy a natter with the locals. Set within a crab’s scuttle of the ocean, Shades is the perfect spot to watch the sun setting over the reef-protected water. Order something from the pub-style menu – you can’t beat the fish and chips – and as day turns into night, you can literally thank your lucky stars (the sky above is really something to behold). Shades sits within Ningaloo Reef Resort so, for a quick commute home, you can even stay right on-site, in beachfront accommodation. How convenient!