Perth to Exmouth - Road Trip Itinerary

Perth to Exmouth - Road Trip Itinerary

The first thing to note about Western Australia is that it is HUGE and if you are coming here for a holiday, you’ll have to decide if you want to either head north or south of Perth. Both are completely different but the good thing is, your decision on which to visit can be made on what time of year it is. 

If you’ve clicked onto this post, then you're probably wanting to head north along the coral coast. The best time of year for this is between April - October as it will be warm and dry and the weather will be pretty consistent with minimal wind, calm waters and hot temperatures.

I would say 8-10 days is a great amount of time to complete your Perth to Exmouth road trip as there are so many beautiful places to stop along the way (plus the drive is LONG). Perth to Exmouth is about a 12.5 hour drive with no stopping, so I would definitely make a trip out of all the amazing spots along the way.

Is driving the only option?

Whether you live in Perth or you flew here, there are 2 ways to get to Exmouth - car or plane. I have done both and the plane was definitely a much quicker and easier option if you just want to hire a car when you get there and hang around the Coral Bay/Exmouth area. In saying that, you won’t have the freedom to drive around as most car hire places had a set amount of km’s you could do with an extra charge per km if you go over it. Given that WA is so big, we went over the limit pretty quickly!

The other option is a car, 4WD (recommended) or camper van. If you choose to drive, I strongly recommend not driving at dusk or dawn as this is when the Kangaroos come out and will quite literally wait for you to drive past before they jump in front of your car. Be SO careful. 

Either way, you will probably be spending the same amount whether you fly or drive, so the option is up to you. On our road trip, we booked a camper van with Apollo and set off super early to make our way to our first spot - Kalbarri. 

First stop: Kalbarri 

Recommended: 1 -2 nights

Kalbarri is about a 5.5 hour drive from Perth and has so many beautiful places to visit. 1-2 nights here will be ideal. We free camped so I can’t really recommend anywhere to stay, but I have seen some amazing airbnbs listed! 

What to see/do:

The most famous place to visit here will be Hutt Lagoon - the pink salt lake. You can swim here but it is SO salty, so swim at your own risk. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty disappointed purely because it smelt really bad and it was really windy. In saying that, people often get beautiful pictures here so if you’re into photography, it’s a great spot to fly the drone. 

Another must visit is the Kalbarri National Park. It's $15 to enter per car and there is so much to see once there. Firstly, the Kalbarri skywalk; if you can do this at sunrise definitely do it! Another of the famous sites in Kalbarri is ‘natures window’. A short walk from the carpark and you will get to this amazing rock formation that has incredible views of the gorge below. 

If you are wanting a more beachy holiday in Kalbarri, definitely try your luck visiting the Blue Holes. When we visited the weather was awful, but I have seen photos here and it looks unreal! Just driving along the coast we saw so many whales out in the distance, so definitely make sure to keep your eye out for them.

Next stop: Monkey Mia

Recommended: 1 night

The next stop will be Monkey Mia and Shark Bay (no, there are no monkeys) which is about a 4 hour drive from Kalbarri. This is where you can see the dolphins coming in right to the shore. I would say one night is definitely enough here and I highly recommend staying at the RAC camp; I have never seen nicer facilities and bathrooms while camping in my life!

Unfortunately, when we went the weather wasn’t the best so the water was a bit murky and grey. However, seeing the dolphins and their babies swimming right up to the shore was an amazing experience. You can pay to be there for the feeding and potentially get picked to feed the dolphins, however I would honestly say it isn’t worth it. The dolphins hang around all day and you will be able to get up close to them on your own without paying the money and avoiding the crowds too.

On the way out, I would suggest going to Shell Beach which is basically an entire beach made up of tiny white shells. Again, the weather wasn’t the best for us so it didn’t look the greatest but I think it’s just a cool spot to tick off your list in WA.


Next stop: Carnarvon 

Recommended - refuel and carry on.

The next spot is Carnarvon Which is about a 3.5 hour drive from Monkey Mia. I have seen people go here and get those cool photos with the infamous cacti garden, however in my honest opinion I would say use Carnarvon as a place to refuel, have a driving break and then keep going.

Next stop: Coral Bay

Recommended - 3 nights

You’re almost there! The next stop is Coral Bay (my favourite place in all of WA) which is about a 2.5 hour drive from Carnarvon. 

What to see/do:

Coral bay is seriously heaven on earth and this will be your first look at the Ningaloo reef. All of the beaches are close together, there are stings rays in ankle deep water, all the main shops and restaurants are within walking distance and the beaches here are absolutely incredible with the BLUEST water. 

1. Swim with the whale sharks and manta rays.

I never got around to doing this because of the weather, but a great tour I have heard is Coral Bay Eco Tours, but there are loads to choose from!

2. See the reef shark nursery.

If you go around October - March, there is a reef shark nursery where you can see loads of baby reef sharks in the shallows. This is about a 10 minute walk from Bills Bay (the main beach in Coral Bay). It makes for a really cool drone photo! 

3. Beach hopping and snorkelling.

Some of the beaches here are only accessible with a 4WD, however there are still so many amazing ones that don’t need one. The snorkelling here is absolutely incredible so make sure to bring some flippers and goggles.

My favourites:

  • Paradise Beach (no 4WD)
  • Bills Bay (no 4WD)
  • Five fingers reef (4WD)
  • The beach near the boat ramp! (no 4WD)
  • Oyster bridge (4WD)


Where to stay:

Finding accommodation can be pretty tough here in peak season, so you will want to book as far in advance as you can. 

We stayed at Ningaloo Coral Bay - Bayview when we flew to Exmouth and it was amazing. Reasonably priced and the room was just what we needed, amazing location too!

We have also stayed at People's Park when we had our camper van and it was a great spot right near the beach. The bathrooms were decent as well.


Next stop: Exmouth

Recommended - 3 nights

Exmouth is about a 1.5 hour drive from Coral Bay. I recommend 3 nights here to get the most out of it. Exmouth is absolutely beautiful however keep in mind that even though it’s a small town, you will be doing a lot of driving here as the beaches are about a 45 minute drive away from the town.

P.S. there are Dingos here. As cute as they are, keep your distance. Do not feed them and do not try to pat them. If you are bringing a dog with you, be very careful and keep your eye on them as I have heard some horror stories of Dingo's attacking pets :(

What to see/do:

1. Whale shark/Manta ray tours

Again, we didn't get to do this due to the weather but there are shops in town that you will be able to purchase a tour through! They can be pretty pricey but I have never heard of a person who had a bad experience. 

2. Beach hop

The beaches in Exmouth are just as good as Coral Bay. If you have a boat or jet ski, this is the place for it! 

My favourite beaches:

  • Turquoise Bay (go early if you want a car park!). The current here will take you across the whole bay while you snorkel and you’ll see some of the best marine life in the area. There are also so many fish here who will bite your fingers thinking its food! 
  • Jurabi turtle centre - this will be your best bet a seeing some turtles whether it is mating season or not. We went every morning and saw so many turtle tracks on the sand. 

3. Charles Knife Canyon

Go here for sunset! This place really reminds me of something you’d see in America, the colours and the views of the canyon look like a different planet.

Both times we have gone, we have had it all to ourselves and it is the most peaceful, quiet place. Keep your eyes out for rock wallabies! 

Where to stay:

Finding accommodation here is a little easier than Coral Bay and there seems to be more options, however to be safe I would definitely book this in advance (especially if you want a camp site).

There are camp sites scattered around Exmouth - some near town and some on the other side near the beaches. If you are camping, I would say go on the side with the beaches. If you are staying in accommodation, I would stay near town.

Back to Perth

Recommended - 1 night stopover

On your way back down to Perth, I would recommend stopping somewhere to sleep as it’s a very long drive to do all in one day. We chose to stop in Kalbarri for the night when we came home. There are free camp spots along the road which is what we did!

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