Many people plan a road trip to the Kimberley Region in Western Australia. But once you have completed the Kimberley, what then? You have just travelled to one of the most remote areas in Australia. Do you turn around and go back the way you came? Or, do you continue on down the Western Australian coastline?
As retirees enjoying travel we decided to continue our road trip by travelling on towards Perth. Here is our best 11 coastal destinations north of Perth, Western Australia.
Before we started our road trip around Australia we really didn’t know a lot about Western Australia. Obviously, we knew a bit about the major tourists destinations. So, one of our great delights has been discovering the beauty of the Western Australian coastline. This is some of what we discovered.
Distance between Derby and Perth, Western Australia.
The distance between Derby and Perth is 2,374.2km, and that is if your road trip is a direct journey. To enjoy the Western Australian coastline you very often have to turn off the highway and drive in to coastal towns. So, the kilometres continually blow out. Basically, this is a massive road trip – one way.
Retirees Enjoying Travel – Our 11 Best Coastal Destinations North of Perth
Derby – in the Kimberley Region
Derby was the first place we actually saw the Western Australian coastline, and the first place we saw the sun set over the Indian Ocean.
This was such an interesting area. The huge tides are amazing. It is intriguing to see the huge tidal movements and mud flats. And the views of the ocean and tidal mud flats out from Derby, as we flew to the Horizontal Falls, are stunning. And so was our overnight experience at the Horizontal Falls (which we both vote as our No. 1 experience in Western Australia).
Broome – also in the Kimberley region
Broome is considered by many as the star of the north. It is amazing that such a small town is such a major tourist destination. We just loved Cable Beach – swimming, the sunsets, the camel rides, 4WD on the beach. So much fun.
We were also lucky to see Stairway to the Moon in Broome (a full moon coming up over water). Try and plan your visit to Broome when there is a full moon, as Stairway to the Moon is beautiful to see.
Eighty Mile Beach – halfway between Broome and Port Hedland.
Eighty Mile Beach is a remote destination. There is nothing there bar a caravan park and the beach. It is popular with grey nomads travelling around Australia. Eighty Mile Beach is a popular fishing destination. It is also a pretty spot with beautiful sunsets. Plus it is a great place to simply enjoy a rest from the road.
Exmouth and the Ningaloo Reef – on the North West Cape.
The Ningaloo Reef is a World Heritage listed site. This marine park is a safe haven for Whale Sharks, Humpback Whales, Dolphins, Turtles, Manta Rays and reef fish. It is simply a spectacular area.
We had never heard of Ningaloo Reef. Can you believe it? This is probably Western Australia’s the best kept secret. Ningaloo Reef is so close to the coastline. Just jump in at Turqoiuse Bay or Oyster Stacks and snorkel over sections of the coral reef. Amazing!
Then, for an experience of a lifetime, we swam with Whale Sharks. We never dreamt we would do such a thing – simply because we never knew you could do such a thing.
Coral Bay, at the southern end of North West Cape
Coral Bay is protected by the Ningaloo Reef. This is such a pretty bay, with lovely still waters, and is one of Western Australia’s most popular holiday destinations. Coral Bay is another snorkeling and fishing paradise, plus it offers all the wonders of the Ningaloo Reef marine park.
Carnarvon – in the Gascoyne Region
Carnarvon was initially a port town located at the mouth of the Gascoyne River. This area has a warm, semi-arid climate and is renowned as a food bowl area for Western Australia. We drove around the market gardens and plantations, and bought beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables.
We also enjoyed walking along the beautiful Carnarvon foreshore area. We were very impressed with the recent redevelopment of this area.
Denham, Shark Bay World Heritage Area – in the Gascoyne region.
Denham and Shark Bay is another truly picturesque area, again with stunning white beaches and crystal clear waters.
The waters, islands and peninsulas around Shark Bay have been heritage listed because the area has one of the most diverse sea grass beds in the world. In this marine park you may be lucky to see dugong, turtles, dolphins, manta rays, and whales. Plus,the Hamelin Pool stromatolites are the oldest and largest living fossils on earth. During our visit to Denham we also enjoyed learning the history of the area. Dirk Hartog was the first European to set foot in WA 400 years ago.
Monkey Mia, Shark Bay World Heritage Area – in the Gascoyne region.
Monkey Mia is another very beautiful area. It is famous for the friendly pod of wild bottlenose dolphins who regularly swim to Monkey Mia’s shore to interact with humans. Dolphins have been hand fed for over 30 years. These days there is a strict management program to ensure more dolphins do not become dependent on being hand fed for tourism. We really enjoyed our visit to this very beautiful area and we admired how the well-being of the dolphins is being cared for.
Kalbarri – in the mid west region
Kalbarri is a small coastal town located on the mouth of the Murchison River. This is another popular tourist destination, and we totally understand why. We found dramatic coastal cliffs with beautiful ocean views, a very pretty river inlet, plus the Kalbarri National Park. We spent 10 days in Kalbarri and fell in love with the area.
We recommend a visit to the Kalbarri National Park. We enjoyed exploring the rock formations at Nature’s Window, the Murchison River Gorge, and the Z Bend.
The Kalbarri Coastal Cliff walks are also a must. We walked along the 13 km cliff tops and enjoyed the many lookouts. From the cliff tops we watched whales, dolphins, and sea birds. We enjoyed visiting natural rock formations, such as Mushroom Rock, Red Bluff, and the Natural Bridge. Plus, storyboards along the cliff top walks told us about historic ship wrecks.
We also enjoyed visiting the historic Murchison House Station – one of the oldest pastoral stations in Western Australia.
The Pinnacles – Coral Bay Region of Cervantes and Jurien Bay
The Pinnacles are limestone formations (some as high as 5 metres) within the Nambung National Park. These intriguing structures were formed approximately 25,000 to 30,000 years ago, after the sea receded (there are sea views in the distance). To see the numerous formations you can walk or drive through this unique park.
If you have travelled all the way down the Western Australia coastline from Derby, make sure you do not bypass Perth. The distances are so great in Western Australia that some may be tempted to continue their road trip. Yet, we found Perth a refreshing change. Perth is a very beautiful city, and so easy to get around. Visit Perth’s beautiful beaches, Kings Park and Botanical Gardens, cruise down the Swan River to Fremantle, enjoy a wine and food tour of the Swan Valley, plus a whole heap more.
If you plan to visit the Kimberley region, make sure you have time to travel down the Western Australia coastline to Perth. The colour of the Western Australian coastline is stunning. It is very often turquoise in colour and simply breathtaking. We were surprised to see the coral reef, just off the coastline, for a good proportion of the trip.
Western Australia is a huge state. In size, it is basically one third of Australia. The state is very sparsely populated. Therefore, you will travel huge distances between towns. And, when we arrived at the towns, they were generally smaller than we expected. Yet, we were always able to access everything we needed. The roads were very good, with lots of free camps sites between towns. And remember, you will not be alone during the tourist season. There are so many grey nomads, in caravans, motor homes, and campers, continually travelling along the Great Northern and the North West Highways. We recommend you join the crowd. It is certainly a road trip of a life time.
What about you?
What are your thoughts about a road trip along the Western Australian coastline? Does this appeal to you? Have you visited Western Australia? If so, what did you like best?
Please join in the conversation. We’d love to hear your comments .
Wishing you safe and happy travels
From Estelle and Greg – Retirees Enjoying Travel.