The tourist hordes may head for Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef, but those in the know are talking up Ningaloo – a remote yet ravishing reef off the coast of WA where you can swim among rainbow fish and psychedelic coral just metres from shore.
No boat trips or long schleps are necessary here: just swim, snorkel or kayak out, and the madly beautiful underwater world is yours for the taking. The Ningaloo Marine Park stretches for 280 kilometres south along the North-West Cape, flanked by national park and edged by white-sand beaches and a dramatic desert hinterland of classically Aussie red crags and gorges. It couldn’t be more of a contrast with the vibrant aquatic life offshore. To top it all off, this is the best place on earth to see, and swim with, whale sharks, gentle giants which are the world’s largest fish.
It’s warm and sunny year-round, with slightly cooler temperatures from July to September (22–32ºC) and things hotting up from January to March (32–38ºC). The Indian Ocean here stays a peachy 24–26ºC. Visit in March and April to catch the coral spawning or between April and July to see the whale sharks.