Our Exmouth and Karijini loop is recommended to be a 14- day itinerary, however you can take as much time as you like exploring the West Australian coastline before turning inland for Karijini and Paynes Find.
This trip can be done in the reverse direction, however we find that doing the coast first is beneficial in case it becomes too windy. If it’s too windy, you can head inland to Karijini earlier than expected where it is more protected. If you do Karijini first you don’t have anywhere new to go to get away from the wind.
Leg 1 Perth to Cervantes
∼ 200 kms | 2 hours 30 minutes
On the way to Cervantes, stop at Yanchep National Park. This is a great place for the kids, offering a koala viewing area, caves and an Aboriginal experience.
Cervantes is well-known for its Pinnacles Desert. You can learn all about those strange structures at the Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre.
Just a kilometre from the town centre lies Lake Thetis, where you can observe stromatolites, most commonly known as “living fossils”. Those have been dated to about 3370 years old!
Further north of Cervantes, you will find Sandy Cape, a nice little spot where you swim and watch the sunset.
Leg 2 Cervantes to Kalbarri
∼ 378 kms | 4 hours
Kalbarri is a popular stop over for people on their way to Shark Bay or Monkey Mia. There are many natural attractions to visit such as Natures Window and the Z-Bend Lookout located in Kalbarri National Park. The Kalbarri Skywalk is a fantastic addition to the National Park showcasing stunning views of the Murchison River Gorge.
You can also go whale watching as the humpback whale migration happens between May and August.
▲ Stay at the Kalbarri caravan park.
Leg 3 Kalbarri to Monkey Mia
∼ 397 kms | 5 hours
If you want to break up the drive, Hamelin Pool has a museum and boardwalk over the stromatolites. Interesting history and the tea rooms do meals and a fantastic Devonshire Tea.
▲ Camping could be in either Denham Township or Monkey Mia.
Explore Monkey Mia
Monkey Mia is world-famous for its dolphins. A group of wild bottlenose dolphins come to the shore nearly everyday to be fed by humans. South of Monkey Mia, you will find Denham and Francois Peron National Park. This National Park offers diverse experiences, including four-wheel-driving.
Fifty minutes away from Monkey Mia, you will arrive at Shell Beach, where shells replace the beach sand and stretches over 100 kilometres!
Leg 4 Monkey Mia to Coral Bay
∼ 580 kms | 7 hours
In contrast to other locations, the coral reef starts right at the water’s edge. Coral Bay is a very popular holiday destination for Western Australians.
It is recommended to book well in advance when travelling during school holidays. This place is a marine paradise where visitors have plenty of activities to choose from: snorkeling, fishing, swimming with whale sharks.
You can even visit the reef shark nursery between October and March, which is only a 20 minutes walk from Main Beach.
▲ Stay at the Coral Bay Caravan Park with the option of powered and unpowered sites.
Leg 5 Coral Bay to Exmouth and Cape Range National Park
∼ 220 kms | 2 hours 30 minutes
The Ningaloo reef is a long coral reef swarms with turtles, tropical fish, manta rays, humpback whales and even whale sharks. No wonder that Ningaloo Reef is listed as a World Heritage Site!
Whether you like snorkeling, diving or swimming, you will not be disappointed! Cape Range National Park supports a range of unique wildlife habitats from existing ocean reef to ancient reef, rugged limestone, gorges and cave systems.
Throughout the park, there are ample opportunities to view wildlife.
Leg 6 Exmouth and Cape Range National Park to Karijini
∼ 674 kms | 8 hours 30 minutes
One of the big attraction of Karijini National Park is its accessibility. Simply walk 50 metres and peer straight into a deep gorge to see waterfalls and rock pools below.
There are many walk trails available to further explore the gorges. Karijini’s main highlights are Fortescue Falls, Circular Pool and Fern Pool.
Leg 7 Karijini to Mount Magnet or Paynes Find
∼ 376 kms | 4 hours 30 minutes
A long drive.
Get an early start and see how far you get! At the very least you should get to Mount Magnet, but if you can get to Paynes Find or further it will make the last day a lot easier.
Leg 8 Drive back to Perth
∼ 5-6 hours