Underwater Adventures in Exmouth, Western Australia

Posted by PSR_AXP

Screeching cockatoos, the possibility of dingos, and the occasional wandering emu give Exmouth an authentic Australian adventure feel. The nearby Ningaloo Reef is the main event with excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities year round with visitor numbers spiking during the whale shark season (April to July) and humpback whale season (August to October).

Getting to Exmouth

I considered driving from Perth to Exmouth, a 1200+ km journey, but I did not want to spend upwards of 3 days getting to Exmouth and another 3 on the return trip. From what I understand it’s a mostly monotonous drive across flat, desert-like scrublands with a couple of small towns barely worth stopping at along the way.

Flights on Qantas from Perth to Exmouth are priced upwards of AUD1000 round trip but if you factor in the cost of a rental vehicle, accommodation along the way, and very expensive petrol prices in this remote region of the country, flying was more cost-effective.

Where to Stay in Exmouth

The sleepy Learmouth Airport is 33km from the town. It comes alive for the single flight from Perth with the car rental agency staff awakening from their siestas and passing out keys to arriving passengers.

Exmouth is a compact sea-side town of less than three thousand people, so hotel location is not an issue. There is a single road running through the town with a 50km speed limit and most hotels, restaurants and tourism operators are located on either side of the road. It is impossible to get lost!

I decided to split my time in Exmouth between two hotels kicking back with a few nights at Ningaloo Lodge. This is a cheap and cheerful hotel with a large, clean, common kitchen and small spartan rooms. I am not keen on eating every meal in a restaurant so the cooking facilities were the main attraction.


I shifted to the upscale Mantaray’s Beach Resort for a 3-night stint. This is a cavernous property that felt a bit on the soulless side. The rooms are expansive, and I had a pool/ocean view.

Between the two, I preferred my stay at Ningaloo Lodge, however I’d recommend doing some additional research as there are other good options.

I was snorkeling in the Cape Range Park and noticed this safari-chic hotel from the beach. It’s highly rated although it is more of a boutique destination resort located nearly 40km from Exmouth. It’s pricey with rates in excess of AUD1000 per night. It is in an ideal location for underwater enthusiasts with many of the best snorkeling beaches nearby.

Dining in Exmouth


Whalers is a step above other restaurants in Exmouth and it definitely lives up to its billing on the review sites. They have a good range of fresh seafood and salad options as well as top cuts of beef. I had dinner twice and lunch once at Whalers.

I was seriously disappointed with my meal at BBQ Godfather. The ribs were a concoction of overcooked, dry meat with a slathering of what appeared to be bottled BBQ sauce. It probably wasn’t out of a bottle, but it hardly lived up to the claims to fame on their website.

Things to do in and Around Exmouth (Highlights)

Scuba Diving


If you visit during the winter months, the Whale Sharks will be in the house so be sure to book a dive and get a close look at these magnificent animals. Snorkel tours are also an option.


In terms of other dives, the only one I would recommend is the Navy Pier Dive which is listed as one of the top ten shore dives in the world. Dive Ningaloo is the only operator allowed onto the pier and they run an excellent operation. The reef dives on offer are mediocre and not worth spending the money.



There are a number of excellent snorkeling opportunities in the Cape Range national park a 30-minute drive from Exmouth. The water is generally calm, and the coral and fish are no more than 3 metres below the surface at high tide so accessible for anyone with decent swimming skills. Be sure to check the tides before you head out as the water is too shallow to snorkel unless it is high tide.

There are numerous beaches along the reef that you can snorkel; I spent 3 and a half days in the park and my favourite was Oyster Stacks.

Day Trip – Manta Rays


Wake up early and head south to Coral Bay to snorkel with the majestic giant manta rays. Fraser, who is completing a PHD studying manta rays, and his crew at Ningaloo Marine Interactions were superb.

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