Coral Coast

Ultimate guide to things to do in Coral Coast with kids

Just a two-hour drive north of Perth, Australia’s Coral Coast stretches north all the way to Exmouth and is an ideal playground for families all year round.

From World Heritage-listed Shark Bay and Ningaloo Reef – the largest fringing reef in the world, to the otherworldly landscapes of the Pinnacles Desert and Kalbarri’s 400-million-year-old river gorges, there’s so much to see and explore, especially for wildlife fans.

Animal loving families will be in their element in this stunning stretch of Western Australia. Older kids can swim with whale sharks and scuba and snorkel over pristine reefs packed with marine life, and even spot sea turtle hatchlings during turtle nesting season. Kids of all ages will love visiting the world-famous dolphins of Monkey Mia, and the chance to get up close and personal with the friendly flippered locals. Bird lovers don’t need to miss out either, with opportunities to feed the pelicans or visit the Rainbow Jungle – The Australian Parrot Breeding Centre at Kalbarri.

The Pinnacles. Credit: TOURISM WA

If you prefer land animals, Bullara Station Stay is just one of the kid-friendly working cattle stations worth a visit. Located between Coral Bay and Exmouth, they offer a range of accommodation and an abundance of activities including native and farm animals for the kids to interact with.

And if its action and excitement you seek, you can test your skills sandboarding on some of Autsralia’s biggest dunes at Lancelin, or head to one of the dozens of gorgeous surf beaches.

Top things to do in Coral Coast

On the picturesque Coral Coast, there is plenty to see and do, in and out of the water.

  1. Wander around the Pinnacles
  2. Feed the dolphins at Monkey Mia
  3. Swim and snorkel in beautiful Coral Bay
  4. Swim with Whale Sharks
  5. Explore stunning Kalbarri National Park
  6. Take a tour to the Abrolhos Islands
  7. Go sandboarding and four-wheel driving on Western Australia’s largest sand dunes near Lancelin
  8. Discover the Shark Bay World Heritage Area
  9. Enjoy the region’s beautiful wildflowers
  10. Learn about the local Indigenous culture

Things to do in Coral Coast with…

Little ones will delight at the antics of the famous dolphins who visit the Monkey Mia foreshore three times daily. If they’re lucky enough they might even get the opportunity to feed them.

Coral Bay is also ideal for younger kids, its gentle waters perfect for paddling. Adventurous little ones who are too young to snorkel but are eager to see some of the area’s marvellous marine life and coral without getting wet, can do so on a glass bottom kayak along the reef with their parents. 

Geraldton is another fantastic spot for little travelers. With its great sandy beaches and the gorgeous Ellendale Pool, a calm natural water hole located along the picturesque Greenough River, there are plenty of spots to paddle or play in the sand.  There is also a fantastic shaded playground and water park on the Geraldton Foreshore with fountains, swings, slides, and climbing frames suitable for preschoolers.

Wildlife lovers are in for a treat at Monkey Mia. The local bottlenose dolphins attract thousands of visitors to Western Australia’s Shark Bay World Heritage Area every year. Famous for their daily ritual of swimming to shore to interact with humans and be fed their daily ration of fish, around four or five of the wild dolphins generally visit the shore three times a day. We suggest attending the later sessions as it’s generally less crowded and the kids are more likely to get the opportunity to interact with the dolphins. The Bay is also home to turtles, migrating whales and dugongs which you might be lucky enough to spot on a cruise or glass glass-bottom boat ride.

Younger kids will also love exploring nearby Shell Beach, which is made up of millions of little coquina shells, which have also been used to make the houses in nearby Denham.

Coral Bay is a large protected bay with loads of facilities and activities for the kids that range from mild to wild.  The biggest drawcard of the area is Ningaloo Reef and its incredible marine life. Adventurous kids can even jump in to swim with the graceful Manta Rays that live in and around the reef as well as majestic whale sharks, the biggest fish in the world, from March to mid-September. Kids aged eight and over can also try the PADI Bubble Makers Program to learn how to use scuba diving equipment made especially for children and see some of the incredible sights under the sea.

Another great spot for kids is Hamelin Bay – located between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. The main attraction at Hamelin Pool is its remarkable stromatolites, rock-like structures built by microbes that are the oldest and largest living fossils on earth, which can be viewed from a safe boardwalk.

Adventurous teens will be unable to resist the thrill of four-wheel-driving or sandboarding at Lancelin where you will find Western Australia’s largest sand dunes. The area is also renowned for its waves and wind, so is the perfect spot to hone your windsurfing skills or take a lesson.  

Gerladton is equally popular for windsurfing with idyllic conditions. The region’s pristine waters are also home to an excellent variety of surfbreaks that will suit everyone from the experienced surfer to beginners in search of lessons from the pros.

Kalbarri National Park is another hot spot for active teens, with loads of different ways to explore, whether that be trekking through the expansive natural wonderland by camel or horseback. Those who prefer to explore minus the four-legged transport can even give quad biking, kayaking, canyoning or abseiling with experienced guides a whirl.

Kayak Kalbarri Gorges

Best time to visit Coral Coast as a family

The Coral Coast enjoys a warm climate making it an ideal location to visit all year round, but its size means differing conditions from north to south. The southern section of the coast offers more Mediterranean style weather and as you move further north and cross the Tropic of Capricorn, the climate becomes more sub-tropical. 

Clear blue skies are almost guaranteed with rain rarely falling outside the months of February, March, May and June. December to February are the hottest months when temperatures can reach into the high thirties and June to August are the coolest, though temperatures rarely drop below 20 degrees. Water temperatures average 26 degrees in summer and around 22 degrees in winter, so enjoying the sites below the water is an activity that can be experienced any time of the year.

If you are visiting to see the area’s famous whale sharks, time your visit between March to July.

There is so much fun to be had at Ningaloo with quad biking, snorkelling, camping, swimming, fishing and lots more. Credit: Josie Simmonds

Family-friendly places to eat in Coral Coast

Name your food preference and this region provides. Along the Coral Coast, cooks and chefs work with local and state producers to create mouth-watering treats for even the fussiest palate.

You’ll find outdoor cafes, fine diners and charming picnic spots with million-dollar views. Pop into one of the regional markets for fresh produce (or a gift to take home), Visit the Lobster Shack, just 17km from the Pinnacles National Park and managed by a third generation local fisherman, it is a must for foodie families. Take the short drive from Geraldton to discover the Chapman Valley, which is home to some fantastic wineries and olive groves. And make the pilgrimage to Carnarvon, often referred to as the food bowl of Western Australia. It is the spot to get the best produce from the land and the sea. A top tip for those of you that like chocolate: nab yourself a chocolate-coated banana from one of Carnarvon’s banana plantations.

Take in the beautiful scenery of the Shark Bay Heritage Area. Credit: Bound Round

Things to do for free in Coral Coast

  • With an array of things to do, the Coral Coast is a true gem in Australia’s crown and there’s plenty on offer that won’t break the bank.
  • Venture into the water to see and explore the amazing coloured corals and meet the marine life that call this special area home. Stop to catch a sunset over the ocean, an experience not be missed. You’ll find plenty of stunning locations from beautiful secluded bays to outlooks along the entire Coral Coast.
  • Take one of the scenic drives – the coast drive is our favourite, however look for alternative drives that deviate from this and allow some time to meander off your path to see natural attractions such as the wildflowers that bloom all year round.  Some national parks require a day pass visitor fee such as Nambung National Park, home of the Pinnacles. We advise researching before your visit as prices and conditions may change.

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