Table of Contents
A Little History
The area of Exmouth is well known to Europeans’, specifically the Dutch as early as the 17th Century. During World War II a huge airport was built. In 1963 the Learmonth RAAF Base was established via a naval town serving the US Naval Communication Station. The US Navy left in the early 1990s, today part of the old naval base is still used by the Australian Navy. The town is now purely driven by tourism with deep sea fishing, the Ningaloo reef and Wildlife being the main attractions.
How to Get There
Exmouth is located on the North West Cape of Western Australia. It is roughly 1250 km from Perth CBD, 770 km from Port Hedland or 2345k from Kununurra. There are several ways you can get to this small resort town either via, flying, driving or a bus.
You can fly from Perth to Learmonth Airport, which is a 30 min drive out of Exmouth. Flights will cost you roughly $150-200 AUD one way. Qantas is the only company that offers flights to Learmonth. The shire of Exmouth runs a shuttle bus from Learmonth Airport to Exmouth with Exmouth Bus Charter. Shuttle bus prices are $40AUD per adult, $30 AUD per senior, $20AUD per child or $100AUD per family (2 adults and 2 children). You can choose a drop off point at either Exmouth Township, Lighthouse Caravan Park or Exmouth Aerodrome.
Driving is the most popular way to get to Exmouth, however if you choose to drive you should expect a full or 2 day drive from Perth. If you enjoy driving long distances non stop like myself, it will take you roughly 13-14 hrs from Perth. If you are not cable or comfortable with driving long distances, I recommend stopping for a night in Carnarvon or at Overlander Roadhouse. I highly recommend you drive to Exmouth if possible as there are alot of places that require a car to access. If you cannot drive, I recommend looking into renting a vehicle.
Integrity Coach Lines has a bus service which runs from Perth tourist stop to Exmouth. This bus will cost you roughly $250 AUD one way and will take about 18 hours. The buses have comfortable chairs, a bathroom and air-conditioning. They also make multiple stops along the way for food and snacks.
Best Time to Visit
Exmouth is a beautiful destination all year round, however due to its location it can bring in hot and humid weather or tropical storms. Planning your holiday in the correct months can make a massive difference to how enjoyable your holiday will be. I recommend visiting between April-May for the best weather conditions.
Summer months (December to February): The weather is hot, with an average maximum temperature of 37 C and minimum of 20 C. It is usually humid and windy during this time. I have visited Exmouth during December and haven’t had any problems with the weather, except it getting very windy in the afternoons.
Autumn Months (March to May): The weather is hot and can become very humid in the evenings. I highly recommend you have air-conditioning if visiting during this time, especially if you are staying in Exmouth Township. During this time the winds tend to be lower, making it the best time to enjoy the beautiful waters of the Ningaloo Reef. It’s also the best time for fishing and swimming with Whale Sharks.
Winter Months (June to August): The cooler months with average temperatures from 24 C during the day and 11 C at nighttime.
Spring Months (September to November): Can be very windy and very humid. It’s still a beautiful time to visit but I’d recommend air conditioning and if you are a fisherman, this wouldn’t be the best months to visit.
There are plenty of places to stay in and around Exmouth, your choice will purely depend on what type of traveller you are and how long you plan on staying. I have listed some recommendations below for different types of travellers.
- Cape Range National Park Camping: Campsites are $15 per night, and there are several locations to choose from. I recommend Osprey Bay as it has some of the best views from each individual campsite (only a short walk to an amazing beach for snorkelling). These campsite book out very quickly in peak periods so I recommend booking as far in advance as possible. The campsites are equipped with bathrooms and some have BBQ’s.
- Exmouth YHA: A mixed dorm room with costs $35 AUD per night, where as a queen with ensuite will cost $90 AUD. Each room has aircon and the backpackers is located on the grounds of the Potshot Hotel. I have stayed here once and the rooms as well kept, and their is a pool to keep you cool in the Exmouth heat.
Mid Range Travellers
- RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park: Offering a range of accommodation from cabins, motel rooms, powered and unpowered campsites. This is a great choice for families. Or people who want a comfortable place to spend their time in Exmouth without breaking the bank. If you choose to camp here, keep in mind that there is limited shade on the camping grounds. It’s best to bring your own. On my most recent trip I stayed in the 2 bedroom cabin (my dad wanted some luxury). It was very nice and spacious, would be great for a family or couples!
High Range Travellers
- Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort: Located on Sunrise Beach, servicing 68 rooms from hotels rooms, to bungalows and self contained apartments. Expect to pay $300 AUD per night and up for accommodation.
- Sal Sails Ningaloo Reef: A range of eco-luxe safari tents, situated right on the Ningaloo Reefs doorstep. If I had the budget, I would absolutely love to stay here. It’s the perfect location and they offer a range of lux experiences. If you are looking to treat yourself, then this is the place for you. However it will set you back about $1.5K AUD a night.
What to See and Do
There are an abundance of things to do in Exmouth, and if you are a water body then this is definitely somewhere to add to your bucket list. As Exmouth is the gateway to the Ningaloo Coast, there are many options including swimming, snorkelling, diving, fishing and wildlife encounters. I recommend spending at least 3 days in Exmouth to see everything.
Cape Range National Park is located a short drive from the town of Exmouth and is stunning. Here you will find gorges, beaches and cheap camping. This is one of the highlights when visiting Exmouth. You will need to buy a day pass to enter the National park, which will cost you $15AUD per day.
- Charles Knife Canyon: My favourite place in Exmouth. Located 30 minutes from the town, and amazing for sunrise or sunset! You won’t need a 4WD to access the view points, the roads are windy and steep in some sections. The views from the top of the gorges are incredible and it’s hard to believe that this is in Western Australia. It reminds me of a tiny Grand Canyon. Definitely add this one to your list!
- Yardie Creek: Located on the western side of the National Park, right at the southern end. It’s the only permanent water source in the National Park, and is worth a visit.
As there are way too many beautiful beaches around Exmouth, I am just going to list my three favourites.
- Osprey Bay: A beautiful protected strip of coastline, with amazing snorkelling, camping (best campgrounds!) and fishing opportunities.
- Turquoise Bay: Voted as one of the best beaches in Australia, and for good reason. This beach is amazing for two reasons. One side of the bay has a current which runs horizontal to the shore and amazing snorkelling. One this side you can jump into the water and let the current take you on a snorkelling adventure! Just be careful as the current can get very strong, always swim with caution. On the other side of the bay, it is a lot calmer. Here is great for beach bumming and swimming, but also has great snorkelling.
- Oyster Stacks: Great for snorkelling at high tide only. You will most likely see lots of turtles here!
Four Wheel Driving
There are a handful of four wheel driving tracks in and around Exmouth, if you are looking for a bit of adventure.
- Coral Bay to Exmouth Via Coast Road: This track runs along the coast, stopping at some beautiful beaches and campsites. The track is very sandy and soft in some areas, but is pretty much your typical coastal 4WD track. The track runs up to the southern side of Yardie Creek, which can become impassable if it is flowing. It’s best to check tide times and water levels prior to taking on this track, as if it is impassable, there is no way around it except to turn back to way you came.
- Shothole Canyon: A 24km return drive through the canyons of the Cape Range National Park. This track is pretty easy and doesn’t require a change of tyre pressure. I would not recommend you try this with anything but a 4WD, as the track is bumpy and rocky. It does cross a lot of creeks, which would be impassable in the winter months. Also be careful of those river stones, you can get bogged in them! Once you reach the end of the track, there is a small walk to a beautiful view point. There is a picnic table and bathroom at the end of the track, however, i’m not really sure why you would want to have a picnic here. Waaaaaay to hot and humid!
I have not personally done any wildlife encounters in Exmouth so I don’t have any recommendations. Its best to do your own research as there are several companies that operate out of Exmouth for each tour.
- Humpback Whales: June to October.
- Whale Sharks: March to September.
- Turtles: All year round.
- Manta Rays: All year round.
Exmouth has some of the best fishing in Western Australia, along this stretch of coastline you could catch: emperors, tuna, mackerel, trevally, cod and much more. If you don’t have a boat, you can book a fishing charter. There are a few companies that operate out of Exmouth, so it’s best to do your own research to find one that suits your budget. Not into boats? There are plenty of beach fishing and crabbing opportunities.
- Yardie Creek: There are two hiking trails at Yardie Creek, each offering impressive views. Yardie Creek is worth a visit if you are around the Exmouth area, you can also book a boat cruise.
- Charles Knife Edge Walk: I’ve never been able to find this trailhead myself, but have heard it is amazing! The trail takes you along the ridge of the gorges, it’s not for the faint hearted. I believe you can find the trail on alltrails.
- Badjirrajirra Walk trail: A class 4, 6 km return hike. This transverses the top of Cape Range, winding through gorges, gullies and open bushland. It is best to complete this hike in early morning as temperatures can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius in the gorges.
- Lighthouse: An impressive view point with a bit of history. It’s a great place to park up for sunrise or sunset.
- Mildura Wreck: A cattle steamer that wrecked in 1907 during a cyclone. Most of the remains were salvaged, however part of the ship still lays of the northern point of the North West Cape. It makes for some great drone shots.
Looking for a Perth to Exmouth road trip itinerary? You can check out my 3 week road trip here.
Like this post? Pin it and share it with others!