7 Day Perth to Exmouth Itinerary, West Coast Australia
The west coast of Australia is a nature lover’s paradise. Stretching for thousands of kilometres, it’s home to red rocky landscapes, starry skies, beaches, coral reefs, unique animals and endless adventures. Travelling the west coast is a fantastic way to experience a completely different side of Aus and was the highlight of my 10 months living there. Starting in the bustling WA capital and ending in the little seaside town of Exmouth, this route covers 1250km of coastline, and this 7 day Perth to Exmouth itinerary shows you the main highlights along the way.
Table of Contents
Day 1: Perth
Perth is definitely worth exploring before setting off on your West Coast adventure. It’s quite compact compared to most Australian cities so you should be able to experience its main attractions in a day.
Kings Park & State War Memorial – A huge park to the south of the city with lots of gardens and walking trails to discover. Make sure to visit its State War Memorial which offers a fantastic view across the water to the CBD skyline.
Elizabeth Quay – An attractive quay right in the heart of the city centre, with lots of places where you can eat, drink and enjoy the views across the Swan River.
Fremantle – This pretty port town 14km south of Perth is well worth a visit. Fremantle is famed for its notorious prison and in more recent years it’s thriving creative scene.
Rottnest Island – Home to the happiest animals in the world, Quokkas! However, Rottnest Island is not just a haven to meet these friendly marsupials, but for cycling, walking and hiking too!
Day 2: Lancelin, The Pinnacles & Jurien Bay
Wake up early, pick up your car/camper and hit the road! On day 2 of your Perth to Exmouth itinerary, you’ll be exploring the wealth of natural attractions and that lie between WA’s capital and the sleepy beach town of Jurien Bay. This part of the route covers 230km and takes less than 3 hours of driving time in total.
Yanchep National Park – Get up close and personal with Australia’s native animals. Spot koalas in their natural habitat on the Koala boardwalk or western grey kangaroos in the bushland beyond.
Sandboarding in Lancelin – Considered the best place to go sandboarding in Australia, riding the dunes of Lancelin is a must-try experience! You can rent a board for just $12.50 and the dunes are free to enter. Just make sure to wear the right clothing or it will hurt if you fall!
The Pinnacles – Set within Nambung National Park, this otherworldly desert of limestone rock structures is WA’s most visited attraction. There are some good walking trails that take you around the area as well as a Discovery Centre where you can learn about its history.
Turquoise Way Walk Trail (Jurien Bay) – This trail starts at the town’s boat harbour and takes you along the beachfront, to the protected marine park and the coastline beyond. On your way, make sure to look out for Jurien Bay’s colony of rare Australian sea lions and dolphins in the shallows!
Day 3: Geraldton & Kalbarri
The next stop on your Perth to Exmouth itinerary is the coastal town of Kalbarri, on the fringes of Kalbarri National Park. It’s just over 350km and 4 hours north of Jurien Bay. Along the way, there are a few wildlife attractions and scenic spots to stop off at, as well as the beach town of Geraldton. You should arrive in Kalbarri late afternoon.
Greenough Wildlife Park (Near Geraldton) – Meet kangaroos, ostriches, emus, crocodiles and more at this small sanctuary. The park rescues injured or orphaned animals from the wild and is funded by donations, so every little helps. You can also buy food to feed the kangaroos with and you can even get the chance to cuddle one of the rescued baby kangaroos for an extra $10 donation.
Hutt Lagoon Pink Lake (Between Geraldton & Kalbarri) – See one of Mother Nature’s most unusual phenomenons! The Hutt Lagoon gets its pink hue from a certain type of algae that grows in it and is stunning to see. If you have a drone make sure to get some shots of it from the air as the colour is even more impressive from above.
Eagle Gorge and Pott Alley (Kalbarri) – Bright orange rugged cliffs meet the sparkling turquoise ocean at this scenic spot just outside of Kalbarri. Take in the view from the clifftop car park, or follow the trail through the gorge down to the beautiful cove and beach below.
Sunset at the Murchison River (Kalbarri) – Kalbarri is the place where the Murchison River flows out to the Indian Ocean. It makes for a lovely sunset spot, where you can also see the town’s resident pelicans wandering around the banks.
Day 4: Kalbarri National Park & Monkey Mia
Wake up early and drive into Kalbarri National Park for sunrise. As one of the top highlights of the West Coast, the park is made up of wind-eroded red rock, gorges and rivers. Spend the morning hiking some of it’s shorter trails before it gets too hot. Then continue driving north for 4 hours to Monkey Mia in the world heritage area of Shark Bay and the next stop on your Perth to Exmouth itinerary.
For accommodation, I would recommend staying at the RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort. As a guest, you’ll be able to access the beach both in the evening and early morning where you can spot the resident dolphins playing around in the water! Plus you can be first in line on the beach for the feeding times too.
Nature’s Window (Kalbarri National Park) – This iconic window shaped rock forms a framed lookout of the gorge below. It’s one of the easiest trails in the park, just a 1km round trip from the main car park.
Z Bend Trail (Kalbarri National Park) – A moderately easy and very scenic hike that takes you down to the river at the bottom of the gorge.
Stargazing (Monkey Mia) – Monkey Mia has very little light pollution, meaning on a clear night you can see the Milky Way here! The perfect opportunity for astrophotographers to get some amazing photographs of the night sky.
Day 5: Monkey Mia & Shark Bay
Spend your morning in Monkey Mia and the wider Shark Bay region. With a UNESCO World Heritage status, the area is home to a collection of truly unique natural wonders to explore including the oldest living things on the planet! Afterwards continue driving onto the next stop on your Perth to Exmouth itinerary, Coral Bay. Nearly 600km and 6 hours north of Shark Bay, this is the longest drive on the trip, so give yourself plenty of time to take breaks along the way.
Dolphin feeding (Monkey Mia) – Head down to the beach in Monkey Mia to meet its famous wild dolphins who visit the beach every morning. During the experience, you can wade into the shallows and a few people from the crowd will be chosen to feed the dolphins a fish. It’s worth noting that the dolphins are being fed just 10% of the daily intake of food so as not to disturb their natural hunting habits. I did find the encounter a little too touristy, and much preferred the other times I spotted the dolphins during my stay at the resort.
Hamelin Pool Stromatolites (Shark Bay) – Stromatolites are living fossils, representing what life was like on earth over 3500 millions of years ago! There’s a 200m boardwalk from which you can view the stromatolites from with informative signs to tell you more about their history and function.
Shell Beach (Shark Bay) – This stunning beach is one of the most unique on earth. It’s made of billions of white cockle shells from Shark Bay and is impressive to see. Remember it’s in the protected area though, so don’t take anything other than photos.
Day 6: Coral Bay
Set within the world heritage listed ‘Ningaloo Marine Park’, the tiny beach resort of Coral Bay is the perfect natural paradise. Here you can snorkel or dive in the underwater wonderland of the Ningaloo Reef. Encounter an abundance of marine life. Or simply just relax on the beaches with a book. After spending the day here, continue onto Exmouth, just over 150km and 1 hour 30 minutes drive away.
Swimming with Manta Rays – Swimming with these gentle giants was one of my favourite experiences in Aus! Most tours will include snorkelling at a couple of sites on the Ningaloo Reef and lunch/snacks as well as swimming with the manta rays. All companies use a spotter plane to locate the mantas so it’s quite rare that they won’t find any for you to swim with! It costs around $200 – $220 for a full-day tour.
Snorkelling, sailing or diving on the Ningaloo Reef – There are also plenty of other tours on offer where you can discover the beauty of the reef. These include sunset cruises, glass-bottom boat tours, snorkel and sail tours and diving excursions.
Paradise Beach – If you’re wanting a chilled day, then head to Paradise Beach. It’s pure white sand is great for sunbathing and relaxing on. Whilst it’s calm waters are ideal for snorkelling and swimming.
Day 7: Exmouth
The small seaside town of Exmouth is the final stop on your Perth to Exmouth itinerary. It’s the only place in Australia where you can swim with Whale Sharks, which is what attracts most people here. Yet the area has much more to offer than just that, home to colourful snorkel sites, sandy white beaches and beautiful national parks too.
Swimming with Whale Sharks – This was another top highlight of my whole time in Australia! Getting to encounter the biggest fish in the sea in their natural environment is a truly amazing experience. Unlike the manta rays, you can only swim with whale sharks on the Ningaloo Reef between March and August. They also use spotter planes to find these giants, so if you are visiting during these months you will likely swim with them! Tours also include stop-offs at 2 other snorkel sites on the reef as well as lunch and snacks. The average tour price is $400 per person.
Cape Ranges National Park – Discover the rocky gorges and rivers of this park that fringes the Ningaloo coastline. Its highlight is Yardie Creek which makes for a great day trip from Exmouth.
Turquoise Bay – A stunning white sand beach with turquoise waters filled with coral gardens. There are strong ocean currents here, so if you’re an inexperienced swimmer/snorkeller stick to the shore.
Vlamingh Head Lighthouse – Located a short drive from town, this lighthouse is a lovely place for sunset with an amazing view of the coastline for miles.
Returning from Exmouth to Perth?
If you need to return to Perth at the end of your trip, there are a few options if you don’t feel like driving all that way back! There are also several car hire companies where you can pick up in Perth and drop off in Exmouth if you want to take an alternative mode of transport southbound.
Flying from Exmouth to Perth – The fastest way to get from Exmouth to Perth is by flying. The closest airport to Exmouth is Learmonth Airport, 30km away. Qantas is the only airline who fly the route with the journey taking 2 hours.
Bus from Exmouth to Perth – If you don’t want to fly but don’t want to drive either then Integrity Coach Lines run a night bus which takes 16 hours. The bus leaves Exmouth 3 times a week (Tuesday, Friday and Sunday) and arrives in Perth early morning the next day.
Perth to Exmouth tours – There are a few companies which offer a 7 day Perth to Exmouth itinerary and will include your return to Perth at the end of your trip. In particular, I would highly recommend Red Earth Safari Tours who I did a tour with. This option is especially great for solo travellers who want to meet other people.