Coral Coast, Western Australia
A mix of desert country and World Heritage-listed marine parks (Ningaloo and Shark Bay) offer adventure for every outdoors fanatic, whether you’re an avid 4WD tourer or a water baby. Three hours north of Perth, the Pinnacles Desert is a must-visit, just to walk among the thousands of unique limestone formations that jut from the red sand towards the sky.
For marine encounters of the giant kind, you’ll need to fly to Learmonth from Perth, then get ready for the ultimate marine experience: snorkeling on Ningaloo Reef and encounters with the reef’s many (500) species of fish. If you time your visit perfectly (between June and November) you will have the opportunity to dive with the gentle giant of the sea, the whale shark.
For a different perspective, head to Cape Range National Park for some cool camping, and the chance to explore Mandu Mandu Gorge.
Shark Bay Marine Park’s Dirk Hartog Island National Park also offers plenty for the weekend adventurer with diving, fishing and 4WD-based touring all available. And don’t forget the dolphins of nearby Monkey Mia. Whatever your views on how the human/mammal relationship has possibly been skewed here, it’s still a life-enriching experience seeing these gentle creatures up close.