Coral Bay Diving
Coral Bay is the gateway to the unique marine life found at Ningaloo Reef, with over 500 species of fish and 300 coral; everything from manta rays, humpback whales, and whale shark can be seen. Learn to dive in sandy flats and shallow coral plateaus or head out deeper to adventure around pinnacles and swim-throughs.
Diving in Coral Bay
Coral Bay is one of two access points to the world’s largest fringing reef system, Ningaloo Reef. Stretching for more than 260km across Western Australia’s rugged coastline, Ningaloo was given the title of a World Heritage Site in 2011 and is recognised as the most ecologically diverse marine environments in the world. The reef consists of dense hard coral gardens, sand flats, large areas of rich seagrass as well as deep ocean pinnacles, ledges, and walls. Scuba diving in Coral Bay caters for everyone, whether you intend to experience your first dive in shallow sites or head deeper, you’ll be rewarded by dancing manta rays, migrating humpback whales, and the iconic whale shark.
Coral Bay diving has only one dive operator in the area, where you can access the reef by day trips. If you want to explore WA diving from liveaboards, they usually set out from Exmouth, the other gateway to Ningaloo.
Best time to dive
Western Australia receives sunshine and blue skies throughout the year, therefore, Coral Bay diving is possible all-year-round. Despite diving being available year-round, not all species of megafauna reside in the water throughout. Whale sharks visit Ningaloo in large numbers between April and June, feeding on the rich food sources provided by the Leeuwin current and mass coral spawning in March and April. Between June and October, one of the world’s largest humpback whale migrations occurs where divers may be lucky enough to witness the marvellous creatures on their surface intervals. In February sea turtles hatch and can be seen making their way to the ocean from beaches while manta rays, reef sharks, and dugongs can be seen all year.
Types of diving
While scuba diving Coral Bay, you’ll realise that all the dive sites are around twenty minutes from town with a great many accessed directly from the shore. There is a wide range of dive sites at Ningaloo, from inshore coral dives perfect for novice divers and those taking part in dive courses, right through to advanced open water dives on extraordinary reef complexes. Dependant on where you dive on Ningaloo, you can dive on sandy flats adorned with thick carpets of hard coral and seagrass or experience deep ocean pinnacles, overhangs, intricate swim-throughs and walls.
What to see
Ningaloo Reef showcases both temperate and tropical marine life and as the reef is located away from intense human pressure, it is in almost pristine condition. The reef has the largest migratory concentration of whale sharks in the world and is also the largest nesting ground for sea turtles. Manta rays are seen throughout the year in cleaning stations, as are the large groupers, many species of sharks, and dugongs.
The outer reef of Ningaloo protects the shores from large ocean swells and weather systems creating a haven for over 300 species of coral and 500 species of fish, including species such as the sailfin catfish. Large schools of fish are seen while wobbegong sharks rest on the sandy flats and sea snakes, crayfish, shrimp and reef shark are all a common sight.
Best places to dive
One of the most loved sites in Coral Bay is Asho’s Gap. Named after the Coral Bay skipper who discovered the unique site, divers can make their way over a plateau of cabbage coral before passing through a gap in the reef and dropping down to 12 metres on the other side. Here, you can kneel in the sand and watch as sharks swim up into the current and cleaner wrasse do some orthodontic work. Large stingrays, turtles, wobbegongs, nurse sharks, and groupers can all be seen here.
Another major highlight of the Ningaloo Reef dive sites from Coral Bay is the manta ray cleaning stations. With a resident population of around 600 coastal manta rays, you are sure to find them while diving in the large area named Bateman’s Bay. Between November and February, they can be seen in mating chains fighting for their position to mate. From April to June, divers can swim with the incredible whale shark for up to an hour! With strict guidelines to protect this beautiful species, swim alongside as other species wander in from the deeper ocean.