There’s no place better for a road trip than Australia. There’s the Great Ocean Road, the world’s largest war memorial, and the beloved coastal drive from Sydney to Brisbane. Beautiful landscapes and views for miles make for an unforgettable experience when you explore Australia by car!
Not to be confused with our road trip to the Great Barrier Reef, this adventure through Western Australia covers more than 1,200kms of coastline from Perth to Exmouth. From surfing to sand boarding, walking to whale watching and every outdoor activity in between, it’s a natural playground.
You will see native Australian wildlife and migrating marine mammals as you tour the Coral Coast Highway. The Indian Ocean coastline runs from Perth to the Ningaloo Reef at Exmouth and the turquoise waters will be beckoning you to take a dip.
There’ll be plenty of time to explore the very best of Western Australia’s coast when you book your transfers with Daytrip!
Australia’s Coral Coast Itinerary
- Day 1: Perth to Cervantes
- Day 2: Cervantes to Geraldton
- Day 3: Geraldton to Kalbarri
- Day 4: Kalbarri to Monkey Mia
- Day 5: Monkey Mia to Carnarvon
- Day 6: Carnarvon to Exmouth
Day 1: Perth to Cervantes
Perth, Australia’s sunniest capital is both wild and cosmopolitan. If you’re feeling urban, walk among the vibrant street art on Wolf Lane, or sip a coffee or cocktail at one of the city’s many cafes and bars. Want to feed your wild side? Chill with quokkas on Rottnest Island or take a whale watching cruise. Once you’re done, set out from Perth to Cervantes to discover the beauty of the Coral Coast.
Nambung National Park
This National Park is like something from another planet or, at the very least, a sci-fi movie set. Thousands of massive limestone pillars rise from the yellow sands of the Pinnacles Desert, and make for an out-of-this world 2-hour visit.
It’s no secret that Australia is known for its surf, but things are done a bit differently at Lancelin. At Australia’s largest sand dunes, you surf, sled, or slide! On your 90 minute visit, it’s up to you how to ride – and if you need to cool off, there’s real waves too.
Arrival in Cervantes
At the beginning of the Coral Coast and just off the Indian Ocean Drive route sits Cervantes, the gateway to Western Australia’s Pinnacles Desert. The water here is bright blue and crystal clear, and teeming with marine life.
It’s a popular spot for swimmers, snorkelers and those looking to do a little cray fishing. If you prefer to stay above the water, take a boat trip, or enjoy the soft, white sand, ideal for relaxing in the hot Australian sun.
Pop into one of the cafes and bars surrounding the coastal areas that serve up top notch local seafood. Western Rock Lobster is a must-eat while you’re here and family-run Lobster Shack can’t be beaten. Take a factory tour before dinner for a first hand look at the region’s multi-million dollar lobster industry!
Lake Thetis is a must see, where 3,000-year-old thrombolites provide insights into what life was like at the dawn of time.
Duration with stops: 6h 57 min
Book a car from Perth to Cervantes
Day 2: Cervantes to Geraldton ⇧
Once you’ve soaked up the Cervantes sun, you’ll be on your way to small but cosmopolitan Geraldton for a coastal city escape.
Jurien Bay is a sea-lovers paradise with amazing beaches and bright blue crystal clear waters. The bay is sheltered by a string of islands so the waves are calm, making for good swimming conditions. On your 1-hour visit, you might even spot one of the rarest sea lions in the world lounging on the sandy shore.
Illegal Tender Rum
Australia has a rich rum history, and the sweet spirit was once even used as currency in the early colony. Visit the Illegal Tender Rum Co for a simple tasting session, or a guided tour of the facility. You’ll not only enjoy their award-winning spirits, but learn about its history and production.
Arrival in Geraldton
The Coral Coast shoreline is the key feature of Geraldton, with its pristine beaches, turquoise ocean and endless watersports on offer.
Make the most of Australia’s Indian Ocean with a boat trip out to the Abrolhos Islands. This group of 122 islands is surrounded by stunning coral reefs and picturesque scenery. The environment is packed with biodiversity and it’s a diver’s paradise and a haven for nature enthusiasts.
Back on the mainland, go to the Chapman Valley for some great biking trails, or visit Ellendale Pool, a naturally formed water hole surrounded by gum trees and a rocky gorge. Spend sunset at Point Moore Lighthouse to see the sky change the most magical colours! The candy-cane lighthouse is a great place for a photo opportunity.
Famous for its wildflowers, while in Geraldton see the bright and beautiful colours that explode throughout the region as wildflowers burst into bloom. Try the Chapman River Regional Park or the Mills Point Lookout for some of the best viewing spots!
Duration with stops: 4h 57min
Book a car from Cervantes to Geraldton
Day 3: Geraldton to Kalbarri ⇧
It’s now time head from flowery Geraldton to Kalbarri. Lovers of the great outdoors will thrive there, and we’ll take you to some great places along the way.
Imagine a pool of water bursting with shades of bright bubblegum pink, or lightly shimmering with a lilac hue. You’re picturing Hutt Lagoon! This surreal salt lake changes colour throughout the day and is best enjoyed as the sun begins to set. Expect pink, purple and red shades as the sun slowly goes down. What you see all depends when you make your 90 minute stop!
Formed from layers of Tumblagooda Sandstone, this bright red arch is one of Australia’s most iconic rock formations. The views are insta-worthy and worth the trip in themselves! If you want a little adventure, hit one of the hiking trails – though you might want to extend your visit past 75 minutes.
Arrival in Kalbarri
Kalbarri is known for its soaring coastal cliffs, and it sits within more than 180,000 hectares of spectacular national park. The dramatic cliffs at Island Rock have great views and you might even spot whales.
Adrenaline junkies love Kalbarri as hiking, canyoning, rock climbing and abseiling opportunities are plenty, thanks to the incredible rugged landscape. Go to the Murchison River to kayak and the nearby beaches to enjoy sun, swimming and surf. Between June and November you can witness humpback whales in migration from the soft, sandy shore!
Duration with stops: 5h 37min
Book a car from Geraldton to Kalbarri
Day 4: Kalbarri to Monkey Mia ⇧
After a wild time in Kalbarri you’ll be ready to slip back to serenity and there’s no better place for this than Monkey Mia. This popular tourist destination in the Shark Bay World Heritage area is a picturesque oceanside paradise, waiting to welcome you!
Take in dramatic views of the Murchison River Gorge from this natural lookout point.Your 2.5 hour visit gives you plenty of time to follow the trail to the river for a close-up look of the water below and even take a dip if you feel like it.
Arrival in Monkey Mia
Monkey Mia is most famous for its wild dolphin experience. We understand that the name doesn’t exactly give that away! “Monkey” actually references the name of a ship that visited the area in the late 19th century, whilst “Mia” is an aboriginal term for home, or shelter.
For more than fifty years the resident bottlenose dolphins have been coming to shore daily to meet visitors. We’d highly recommend booking a dolphin experience to get up close and personal with these magical creatures and even partake in their daily feeding if you are lucky.
There’s also sharks, rays, turtles and a variety of fish in the water and it’s fascinating to see the marine life in the clean, clear ocean.
Duration: 7h 15min
Book a car from Kalbarri to Monkey Mia
Day 5: Monkey Mia to Carnarvon ⇧
Now you’ve done some monkeying around in Shark Bay, head from Monkey Mia to Carnarvon, Western Australia’s fresh food capital!
This 60km white-as-snow beach is made up entirely of billions of tiny cockle shells. Take an hour to enjoy this childhood fantasy and a float in the hypersaline water of the UNESCO-listed Shark Bay World Heritage Area.
Arrival in Carnarvon
You’ve arrived in the “Food Bowl of Western Australia”! Carnarvon produces 80% of Western Australia’s fruit and vegetable crops, and most of the state’s delicious seafood. Crab, prawns, scallops and various fish come straight from Carnarvon so it’s safe to say you’ll be eating well during your time there.
Carnarvon is nestled between two World Heritage areas – Shark Bay and Ningaloo Reef – and sits at the mouth of the Gascoyne River. In the town there are several points of interest, including the Heritage Precinct for history buffs, the Railway Station Museum for train-lovers and for extraterrestrial enthusiasts, the Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum.
The main street has boutiques and cafes and features wall murals by talented local artists. The Fascine, a picturesque bay and Carnarvon’s central waterway, is the ideal place to sit and watch the water sparkle as the sun slowly sets.
Duration with stops: 4h 32min
Book a car from Monkey Mia to Carnarvon
Day 6: Carnarvon to Exmouth ⇧
Once you’re full of fresh produce and fresher seafood, drive north from Carnarvon to Exmouth. This town on the tip of the North West Cape has some of the best snorkeling and diving in Australia!
With one of the largest fringing coral reefs in the world, Coral Bay is a marine paradise with near year-round perfect beach weather. The huge reef and crystal clear water make for great snorkeling opportunities. On your two-hour visit, you could swim with manta rays, whale sharks and even humpback whales if you’re there at the right time! If you prefer to stay dry, take a tour on a glass bottomed boat to see some spectacular underwater scenery, including whale sharks and giant marine turtles!
Arrival in Exmouth
Home to the world’s largest fringing reef and some of the clearest waters on earth, Exmouth is seaside heaven. The World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef is a thing of natural beauty and a magnificent underwater playground for marine life such as dolphins, gentle whale sharks, manta rays and visitors alike.
Hop on a glass-bottom boat tour to see some of the 500 species of fish that live in the reef. From June to November it’s prime time for humpback whale watching and, from November to March, head to Exmouth’s Jurabi Turtle Centre to experience turtle nesting.
Duration: 6h 19min
Book a car from Carnarvon to Exmouth
Ready to tour Australia’s Coral Coast?
Ready to swim with the fishes, and maybe eat them too? Here are the links to each leg of our trip up Australia’s Coral Coast. If you ever need any help just contact Daytrip customer service – we’re cooler than an esky.