The town of Exmouth is best known as the gateway to the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Coast and Cape Range. Flanked by water on both sides, Exmouth has grown from an American army base town to a tourist and adventure hot spot. Here’s a guide to finding the best bits.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Jinigudera people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Quick Overview

Exmouth is at the northern end of the Coral Coast, 1,200km north of Perth in Western Australia. It’s where the desert meets the fringing reef.

About Exmouth

Exmouth is the main town on the North West Cape Peninsula of Western Australia, jutting out into the Indian Ocean.

It’s become famous for the world’s longest fringing reef and the subsequent World Heritage listing.


Snorkelling on Ningaloo Reef | Tourism WA


To the east is the Exmouth Gulf and to the west are the calm waters protected by Ningaloo Reef. The adjoining land that makes up Cape Range is sculpted into gorges and rugged ranges by the wind and cyclonic rains.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace

Exmouth History

The Indigenous history of the Exmouth region is thought to date back somewhere between 32,000-60,000 years.

The Traditional Owners are the Jinigudera peoples and the North West Cape is a very special place for them. Indigenous artifacts have been found in the caves of Cape Range.

During World War II, North West Cape was a refuelling station for submarines and in 1967 became Harold E Holt United States Naval Communication Station. This made Exmouth a little America in the middle of nowhere, so much so that on the base, people drove on the other side of the road.

There are 13 low frequency towers on the northern tip of the cape. For many years, Tower 0 was the highest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere. The base is now run by the Australian Department of Defence.

How to Get to Exmouth?

There are three ways to get to Exmouth.

By Car

Exmouth is 1,200km north of Perth via the North West Coastal Highway.

By Bus

Integrity Coach Lines runs a regular bus service from Perth to Exmouth.

By Air

Due to the American base, Exmouth has an airport capable of landing international planes. The airport is 33km south of Exmouth and is called Learmonth. Qantas and Virgin flights depart from Perth and Melbourne and there are shuttle buses to take passengers into town.

Where to Stay in Exmouth


There’s no wild camping around Exmouth itself, but you can pitch up in the two caravan parks in town. For the full run down on where to pitch a tent in and around Exmouth, check out our guide to camping in Exmouth and surrounds.


Bullara Station | Tourism WA

Indoor Accommodation

Other places to stay in Exmouth range from hotel / motel rooms, self-contained villas, and resorts. The Potshot Hotel Resort has budget rooms, while Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort is the only accommodation on the water on the Exmouth Gulf side.


Exmouth – Things to do in Exmouth, Jane Pelusey

Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort

Where to Eat in Exmouth

There are many different options to eat and drink in Exmouth. The shopping area on Ross Street has supermarkets, a bakery, cafes, fish and chips, and a brewery called Froth. Many of the resorts have restaurants and of course there’s the famous Potshot Hotel for a pub meal.

For a beachside vibe, the Beach Shack at Bundegi Beach is worth a stop for lunch. If you’re after something special, the restaurant at Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort is the place to go.

As you drive into Exmouth, you’ll notice the Giant Prawn, as Exmouth Gulf is the home of prawn fishing. So if you want some seafood straight off the boat, head to Fresh Fish Shack.

Things to Do in Exmouth

  • Ningaloo Aquarium and Discovery Centre
  • Ningaloo Visitor Centre
  • Visit Town or Bundegi Beach
  • Snorkel with Whale sharks, Humpback whales, and Manta rays
  • Visit Harold E Holt Naval Communication Station
  • Dive at the Navy Pier
  • Learn to dive
  • Fishing
  • Cycling

Essential Gear for Exmouth

  • Swimmers (or bathers as we call them in Western Australia)
  • Mask, snorkel, and fins – you can also hire them if you need
  • Towels
  • Beach umbrella
  • Sunscreen

What it’s Like to Visit Exmouth

Exmouth is an unusual town as it was firstly built to service the American naval base. Then when the tourist world discovered Ningaloo Reef, it became the gateway to the nearby national and marine parks.

Exmouth is on the east side of North West Cape. It’s a 60km drive to Turquoise Bay on the west side of the cape, the most popular snorkelling spot in the region.


Photo Credit: WA Media Library

Turquoise Bay | Tourism WA


I recommend dropping into Ningaloo Visitor Centre in Exmouth to gain a fascinating insight into the Exmouth region before heading out to explore.

You can book your tour there for the many things to do around Exmouth, including glass-bottom boats, diving, snorkelling, and wildlife encounters.

Swim With Whale Sharks

Swimming with the biggest fish in the sea is one of life’s epic bucket list experiences, and Exmouth is the place to do it.

The huge Whale sharks glide effortlessly through the deep blue ocean. Complete with spotter planes, some tours guarantee seeing this amazing gentle giant.


Whale shark


When we dived with the Whale sharks it was one of the most humbling and awe inspiring nature experiences of my life. Whale shark season is March to July, but when the Whale sharks leave, the Humpback whales arrive from August to September.

You can also swim with the majestic Manta rays, which seem to fly gracefully through the crystal-clear water. They’re about all year round.


Photo Credit: WA Media Library

The elusive Whale shark | Tourism WA


Hike in Cape Range National Park

While the Ningaloo Coast is the main focus for visitors, Cape Range National Park offers a completely different and spectacular hiking experience.

There are a number of marked hiking trails that guide hikers through deep gorges and over high ridges with panoramic views. Trails vary from short and easy to hard and long.


Yardie Creek in Cape Range National Park | Tourism WA


The moderately difficult Badjirrajirra Loop Trail at Charles Knife Canyon is on the Exmouth Gulf side and features fine views over gorges and rugged ridges. Another favourite of ours is the Yardie Creek Gorge Rim and the walk through Mandu Mandu Gorge, both rich in views and wildlife, including rock wallabies.


Visit Stunning Beaches

Although Turquoise Bay, the most popular snorkelling spot in the area, is 60km from Exmouth, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anywhere to get wet in town.

Town Beach on the eastern side of the gulf is good for swimming, particularly at high tide. Strolling along Town Beach as the full moon rises over the calm seas after the sun has set in the west is nothing short of magical. 4WDs have access to Town Beach from Warne Street and Willersdorf Road.



Bundegi Beach is a popular beach for swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, and fishing. Exmouth is one of the few places in Western Australia where you can watch the sunrise over the ocean and 12 hours later pop over to the other side, to watch the sunset over the ocean.


Photo Credit: WA Media Library

Stunning beaches adorn the coastline | Tourism WA


Visit the Navy Base

Harold E Holt Naval Communication Station, the once American naval base, is now run by the Australian Department of Defence, and you can drive in and have a look around at the non-restricted areas. The 13 radio towers are just north of Exmouth town.


Navy base at sunset


Learn to Dive

Exmouth is an amazing place to get your dive ticket. Some of the dive tour companies run learn-to-dive courses and you can qualify as a PADI diver in three days. The course includes pool dives and four boat dives.

The Navy Pier Dive is one of the top ten dives in Australia for its amazing marine life. The 300m-long jetty is 14km from Exmouth. You must go with a certified dive company and it’s dependent on the tides.


Go Fishing

The Bundegi Beach area offers great fishing on a rising tide for Queenfish and Trevally. You can catch a wide variety of species from the rock walls of the boat marina.


Go fishing near Exmouth | Tourism WA


If you want to hook Red Emperor, Coral trout, and Spanish mackerel, charter fishing trips can be booked at the Ningaloo Visitor Centre. There’s nothing like cooking freshly caught fish on the BBQ at the end of a long day of reeling them in!



When staying in Exmouth, we like getting on our bikes and pedalling on dual-use pathways around town. Starting from Skipjack Road in Exmouth, the Dingo Track, as locals call it, runs for 3km north towards the Naval Base.

There’s the odd eroded section which may need walking your bike through. We’re always on the lookout for wildlife, especially birds and lizards. There could be dingoes around, although we haven’t seen any ourselves.

You can also hire a bike in town at Somebodys Bike.

Tips For Visiting Exmouth

  • The best time to visit Exmouth, Ningaloo Reef, and surrounds is during May, June, July, and August – essentially winter. Summer is stiflingly hot and spring can be very windy. Rain is usually related to occasional cyclones which mostly occur in the summer months
  • School holidays are very busy times in Exmouth, so you need to book a long time in advance. The Cape Range National Park campsites can be booked 180 days in advance on the National Parks website

FAQs Exmouth

Where is Exmouth located?

Exmouth is 1,200km north of Perth in Western Australia on North West Cape.

How do you get to Exmouth?

Travelling to Exmouth can be done by car, bus or plane from Perth or Melbourne.

Do I need to book my visit to Exmouth?

Visitors need to book accommodation in Exmouth in the busy season of June-August, especially during school holidays.

When is the best time of year to visit Exmouth?

May, June, July, and August are the best times to visit Exmouth. The weather is warm but not too hot and rain is rare.

How many days should I spend at Exmouth?

Exmouth and its surrounds have lots of day tours and outdoor activities so plan on staying a week or more.

Can you swim at Exmouth?

Visitors can swim at Town Beach, Bundegi Beach, and public and accommodation pools in town.

Do you need a 4WD to get to Exmouth?

A 4WD is not needed to get to Exmouth or the northern end of Ningaloo Reef.