Both the Ningaloo Marine Park and Cape Range National Park which are to be found on the western side of North West Cape near Exmouth, Western Australia are places of extreme beauty that are rich with both terrestrial and marine wildlife.
Ningaloo Reef is the second most important coral reef system in Australia, with the Great Barrier Reef being far larger. However, Ningaloo is more pristine as it has not been affected by pollution or overuse as has the Great Barrier Reef. Because Ningaloo is remote and population density near it low, Ningaloo still feels very natural. Also, as much of the area surrounding Ningaloo has been declared as marine sanctuaries the prospect of too much development in the future is almost nil.
Although there are many beaches along the western edge of Cape Range National Park, which fronts onto the Ningaloo Marine Park, the most popular by far is Turquoise Bay.
One of the reasons for this is that the beach at the bay is quite idyllic. Easily accessed, the ivory-coloured, silky sand separates the rugged, arid bushland from the calm waters of the inner reef. The bay is perfectly named, as the water is indeed a deep turquoise colour which changes hue quite spectacularly as the depth undulates on its journey out to the reef just a hundred metres off shore.
Although Turquoise Bay gets busy by Exmouth standards, the beach is so long you can always find a generous space all to yourself.
Most people who visit the beach take with them their snorkelling gear, because the Turquoise Bay drift is one of the best reasons for visiting.
Because the area is enclosed inside a marine sanctuary, both coral and marine life are plentiful, and with a good pair of goggles the clarity is quite remarkable.
Those who are competent swimmers should try the Turquoise Bay Drift for a fantastic, non-energetic view of the reef.
Swimmers enter the water about 300 metres south of the car park and swim out about 40 metres where there is a natural current which flows north. As soon as you feel the current stop swimming and just go with the drift. You gently float above the sand and the bombies, which are like tall pylons of coral which harbour many varieties of fish. Keep floating until you near the nearest sandy point, then get back on shore and head back along the beach to do it all again.