Western Australia’s Shark Bay on Australia’s Coral Coast is a perfect getaway for those seeking a healthy dose of adventure on this particular side of the sunburnt continent.
In Part 1 of this three-part series, we covered Perth to Overlander Roadhouse, and in Part 2; Overlander Roadhouse to Denham. Read on for the final instalment, Part 3…
Part 3: Denham & Monkey Mia
Somewhere near Shell Beach, at the bottom of the peninsula, you entered the Francois Peron National Park. This park spans the larger part of the peninsula and is named after an 18th/19th-century French naturalist & explorer. Don’t expect any French influences beyond the name. The entire peninsula is Australian through-and-through. That means vast landscapes, rugged coastlines, a rich indigenous culture and lots of fishing & BBQ opportunities.
Whether you stay in the small town Denham or the Monkey Mia resort (the latter not a town as such) you have ample opportunities to explore the peninsula.
First, there’s Monkey Mia. The feeding of the bottlenose dolphins is the main attraction here. Go early because it’s a bit of a tourist trap. When it comes to feeding the dolphins, it’s fun to watch but ubertouristy and mainly something you’d do with your kids.
On the Monkey Mia beach, there’s some gear you can rent. For a low price, you can hire a kayak or stand-up paddleboard (SUP). You need to pay in cash. Luckily, for people carrying as little cash as necessary, there’s an ATM near the restaurant of the resort a few metres back.
With the kayak, you can explore the coastline on your own. Bring sunscreen, (otherwise you’ll get BBQ’ed yourself) water shoes, (razor-sharp rocks everywhere) and provisions (there’s hardly any fresh water on the peninsula). This is way more fun than doing an organised tour, saving you from exceeding your daily limit of eye-rolling. Gotta keep that in check! It’s going as far as you want in any direction without getting too far from the shore. If you’re lucky (like I was), you encounter dolphins, stingrays, turtles and lots of other smaller fish.
Heading into the park with a 4WD is also lots of fun. There are ample camping and exploring opportunities on the peninsula. Just read up on where you can and can’t go. If you want, you can kick the exclusivity up a notch and arrange a 4WD tour to secluded Dirk Hartog Island, where the Dutch were the first Europeans to set foot on Australian soil in the 17th century. I didn’t manage to go there myself but it is highly rated. Be sure to arrange a tour well in advance though.
If you only have a 2WD but want to see and learn a little bit of the history of the area, you can go to the converted homestead north on Denham. On this former pastoral station, you can get a feel of how life was back in the day. There’s even a hot tub to wash the heat away.
I’m signing off with my last recommendation, Ocean Park Aquarium, situated south of Denham. They have an aquarium which you can visit and do lots of tours in the area. You can do PADI courses, dive Shark Bay itself or with sharks in the aquarium and do a 4WD tour. The tours depend on the season. Be sure to check in advance.
This is only a fraction of what you can do around here. It’s well worth the visit.
Extra info you’ll need for this trip…
- Bottled water, energy drinks
- Sunscreen & hat
- Food (Light snacks & fruits)
- Hiking shoes
- Smartphone (To increase the odds of reception use a Telstra SIM.)
- Action cam / camera gear
How To Get There
Google Maps route for the entire trip: