Food and Drink in Exmouth
Seafood stars in this seaside town with fresh fish caught daily and on your plate just hours later. Exmouth Gulf is recognised as one of the best-managed sustainable fisheries in the world, producing 900 tonnes of prawns annually -- the season typically runs between April and November. The vast seagrass paddocks of Exmouth Gulf are extremely fertile breeding ground for prawns and seafood processing is one the region's principle manufacturing activity. A great place to start the day is at The Social Society Exmouth, which serves a great breakfast and meals throughout the day plus excellent coffee and healthy treats. (2/5 Thew St; 08 9949 2261; open daily, 7 am to 2 pm)
Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort serves breakfast, lunch and dinner at its Mantaray's Bar & Brasserie, which overlooks the pool and the Exmouth Gulf. The modern brasserie has an emphasis on fresh local seafood and produce. (Madaffari Dr; 08 9949 0000; open daily, 6.30 am till late.)
Whalers Restaurant serves delicious seafood, steaks and fresh produce in a tropical setting overlooking swimming pools and lush gardens. The licensed restaurant is known for its great cocktails, live entertainment and relaxed atmosphere. It is located in the heart of the Exmouth Escape Resort. (Corner Murat Rd & Welch St; 08 9949 2416; open daily, 8.30 am till late.)
There are two local micro-breweries in Exmouth: Froth Craft Brewery, which is open for lunch and dinner (5 Kennedy St; 08 9949 1451; open 11 am till midnight) and Whalebone Brewing Co (27 Patterson Way: 0457 447 117; open daily from 4 pm to 10 pm), which is known for serving beer in a shed in a no-frills setting under the stars. Locally brewed beers and delicious pizza have quite the following.
Beaches in Exmouth
Best for a half day: Turquoise Bay in Cape Range National Park is known for its stunning crystal-clear turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. A visit to nearby Oyster Stacks for snorkelling is a must -- the reef is only a metre away from the water's edge. Many tours include stops at both spots.
Nearby islands for a day trip: Day trips can be booked to the Muiron Islands, located about 33 km north
of Exmouth. The water surrounding these two uninhabited islands is filled with marine life. Top spots include the Cod Spot on North Muiron where you will not only see large potato cod, but it is also a cleaning station for manta rays.
Best secluded beach: If you want to get away from it all, head to Sandy Bay: it's a popular beach with locals. You won't find rental facilities here, but the views make up for it. Popular Beaches include Town Beach, Sunrise Beach, Bundegi Beach, Lighthouse Bay and Dunes Surf Beach.
Don't Miss in Exmouth
Ningaloo Reef: Exmouth is at the northern end of the 260-kilometre-long Ningaloo Reef, one of only two in the world to form on the western side of a land mass. This is the area's main attraction and it is truly spectacular. The reef protects a lagoon that's ideal for snorkelling and, in many places, is just metres from the shore, so just jump in and a few strokes later you will be on the reef. If you don't want to get wet, you can also see the reef and its extensive marine life from a glass-bottom boat. There are many day tours on offer.
Ningaloo Centre: This state-of-the-art research, education, tourism and community hub is a great one-stop shop for all information about the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Coast. It features three interactive galleries as well as an information centre and conference and community spaces. Images, artefacts and interpretive display areas provide an engaging introduction to the area. The En Route to Exmouth gallery tells the story of the town's history from military base in the 1960s to a tourism and fishing centre. The Reef to Range gallery shows the wildly diverse flora and fauna with an impressive aquarium showing local marine life. The Terrestrial Gallery explores the ancient landscape. (2 Truscott Crescent; 08 9949 3000; open daily, 8.30 am to 5 pm from April to November, and Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday 9 am to 1 pm, from November to March.)
The Ningaloo Visitor Centre: Get local knowledge and information about the range of tours on offer. The office is located within the Ningaloo Centre and provides free Wi-Fi as well as tour brochures and bookings. (2 Truscott Crescent; 08 9949 3070; open Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to 5 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 9 am to 1 pm.)
Marine Life: Exmouth is the perfect base to explore the underwater wonders of the Ningaloo Marine Park. It's a little like being in a real-life David Attenborough documentary. Visitors come from around the world to swim with the awe-inspiring whale sharks from March to July. The whale sharks make the long journey from the chilly Southern Ocean to the balmy waters, where they feast on krill and plankton attracted by spawning coral. Humpback whales appear from July to October on their northwards journey from Antarctica and stay until about November when they set off for the tropical waters around Broome. Manta rays can be seen all-year round. There's also a huge variety of other whales -- minkes, blue whales and orcas -- as well as dolphins, turtles, dugongs, reef sharks and thousands of tiny blue neon fish.
Vlamingh Head Lighthouse: Built in 1912, the historic VLamingh Head Lighthouse stands on the northernmost tip of the Cape Range, about 17 kilometres north of Exmouth, overlooking Lighthouse Bay. It's a great vantage point with views of the reef, rugged limestone ranges, canyons and pristine beaches. It is also one of the few places in Australia where you can see the sunrise and sunset over the water. There's a platform for whale watching with interpretive panels. (Lot 2 Yardie Creek Rd, North West Cape; 08 9949 1478; open Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 4 pm, closed weekends.)
Cape Range National Park: The park sprawls over 47,655 ha on the western side of North West Cape peninsula and is home to Yardie Creek, a spectacular gorge where the water is trapped by a sandbar. More than 700 caves are located here along with 630 species of wildflowers that bloom towards the end of winter, including the bird flower and the desert sturt pea. There are many hiking trails throughout the park. It is 50 km west of Exmouth. The Milyering Discovery Centre in the north of the park provides information about the park and its attractions. (08 9949 2808; open daily, except Christmas Day.)
Birds Eye View: To best appreciate the magnitude and beauty of the area, take to the skies in a microlight and see the vivid colours of the craggy Cape Range National Park collide with the turquoise waters of Ningaloo Reef. Marine creature spotting is also common. Flights are provided by Birds Eye View Ningaloo (Exmouth Light Aircraft Strip, Exmouth Aerodrome; 0427 996 833.)
Exmouth Cultural Arts Centre: Creative work of Exmouth artists is exhibited and for sale. Lots of work reflect the wonders of the area from the sea to the landscape. It's a great place to pick up a keepsake that reflects this spectacular coastal region. (12 Learmonth St; 0457 228 979; open daily, 10 am to 3 pm)