Exmouth is one of the world’s best-kept secrets. This town of 2,200 is located on the Ningaloo Coast at the westernmost tip of Australia, and setting foot here is like stepping 60 years back in time. In Exmouth, neighbors talk to each other, kids play together (like we did before cellphones) and locals are friendly to newbies in town. I’ve never received a warmer welcome than I did in Exmouth, and I was lucky to call it my home for five months. My time was split between working to earn the second year of my working holiday visa and discovering the best things to do in Exmouth.
As I explored with locals and tourists, I compiled a list of the 50 best things to do in Exmouth. Read this before you go, so you can prioritize and get the most out of your time in the town where the reef meets the range.
50+ most awesome things to do in Exmouth, Western Australia
1. Swim with the largest shark in the ocean
Don’t worry, though, whale sharks won’t bite! Plan this excursion on one of your first days in town just in case the weather is bad or there are no whale shark sightings. Most tours will let you come out again for free the next day, or give you a voucher for the following two seasons. Don’t be that tourist who misses out because you planned to move on the next day.
2. Check out the Megalodon tooth
Whale sharks haven’t always been the biggest shark in the ocean. Get a local to take you to see the megalodon tooth— fossil proof that I would NOT have gotten in the water 23 million years ago.
3. Kayak in Mangrove Bay
Watch for little sharks swimming underneath you or spend some time in the bird hide looking for osprey, sea eagles or the collared mangrove kingfisher.
4. Catch a glimpse of a turtle hatchling on its way to the ocean
From January- April, visit the beach at night and you may catch a glimpse of turtle hatchlings as they make their way to the ocean. Send them some positive vibes, because it’s a tough life for a hatchling and only 1 in 1,000 will live to be 20 years old. Missed the turtle hatchlings? Visit Jurabi Turtle Centre year-round to learn more about the green, loggerhead and hawksbill turtles of Ningaloo Reef.
5. Cheer the Exmouth Eagles on to victory as they play footy in the Oval.
Bring a picnic and a few friends for the Aussie version of Friday Night Lights.
6. Jump off the jetty at Bundegi Beach
Or launch a boat, canoe, kayak, fish or sunbathe. It’s only a 15 minute drive outside of town, so it’s the perfect choice when you’re short on time.
7. Hop on a microlight and experience a Birds Eye View of Ningaloo
On my 90-minute ride around the west side and into the gulf, we spotted humpbacks, mantas, turtles and rays the whole way around. It was a trip that took my breath away and since every flight is a mini-lesson, I even got to try my hand as a microlight pilot!
8. Watch the sun rise at Vlaming Head Lighthouse
This was the setting for the most beautiful Easter sunrise service I’ve ever experienced.
9. Watch the sun set at Vlaming Head Lighthouse.
Is there anywhere else in the world where you can watch the sun rise and set over the ocean from the same location?
10. Moon over the staircase to the moon
From March to October, you can experience the phenomenon of the staircase to the moon as the moon rises just after sunset, creating a staircase of moonbeams in the ocean.
11. Dine at Exmouth’s Nashville-themed restaurant, Cadillac’s
Boot scootin’ boogie your way down to Exmouth’s Nashville-themed bar, Cadillac’s, for a photo with Dolly, Keith, Garth, Brad or Willie and a rodeo ribeye.
12. Dance away your Friday night at Potshot
Semisonic’s Closing Time shuts the party down at 12, so make the most of your night before then. Goon Sunrises are a popular drink for the backpackers… but unless your goal is a night you don’t remember with a headache that’s hard to forget, I wouldn’t recommend it.
13. Cuddle a joey.
If you drive through the ranges around sunset, you’ll know that kangaroos like to hang out near the road, jumping into the path of oncoming vehicles. Oftentimes, kangaroos have joeys in their pouch when they’re hit, and while the moms do not survive, the joeys do.
The amazing volunteers at Exmouth Wildlife Care Group foster joeys until they’re strong enough to be released back to the wild. Click here if you’d like to meet one of the foster joeys while you’re in town.
14. Go whale watching
Take a humpback whale watching cruise, or watch from the Lighthouse or Town Beach as the humpbacks put on a show August-November.
15. SUP the gulf
Rent a stand up paddle board from Town Beach and paddle to the marina. Dugongs and manta rays are known to call this area home, so watch the water beneath your board.
16. B-O-G-A-N B-I-N-G-O
Bogan Bingo at the Truscott isn’t a regular event, but if you see it advertised, book your table and binge watch Housos to prepare for a rowdy evening of bingo, trivia and prizes.
17. Gamble away at the weekly meat raffle! (yes, meat raffle)
Try your luck with the meat raffle at the Truscott. Befriend a member and head to the pub Friday night to buy a ticket (or 17— they’re $2 each!). If you’re lucky, you can win a meat pack for your next barbecue.
If you win, they let you spin the wheel to choose the next winner. Go on… live out your Vanna White aspirations.
18. Explore Charles Knife Gorge
Take a 4WD tour through the Charles Knife Gorge and find out why we say Exmouth is where the reef meets the range.
19. Take a drive through Shot Hole Canyon
See if you can spot the evidence of explosions from the oil missions in Shot Hole Canyon. Rental vehicles aren’t allowed through here, so join a tour or go with a local.
20. Snorkel the Drift at Turquoise Bay
Grab your snorkel gear and walk down the beach to the left, away from the bay. Then, make like Crush from Finding Nemo and hop into the current, dude. Watch for turtles and rays on the easiest snorkel you’ll ever enjoy. Make sure you have your exit buddy, though, and swim back to shore before the current takes you into the bay. Now… give me some fin!
21. Experience a unique ANZAC Day
Pay your respects to fallen soldiers at a sunrise service on ANZAC Day. Afterwards, try your hand at Two Up at the Truscott, a gambling game that’s only legal on ANZAC Day.
22. Go to the whale shark festival
It only happens once a year, so put on your fanciest dress and join the party at the Whale Shark Festival gala. The weekend is full of events that range from family-friendly face painting and a treasure hunt to a rocking concert at Cadillac’s.
23. Take a boat ride on Yardie Creek
Take a tour on Yardie Creek and watch for the rare black footed wallabies and osprey that call the area home.
24. Shop the Exmouth Community Markets
The Sunday market in Federation Park sells fresh produce, sweet treats and souvenirs from local artists. My personal favorite is Ari’s Cakes and Cookies… don’t pass by her stand!
25. Learn to fly (board)
Head to Town Beach and let Ultimate Watersports hook you up to the Flyboard X for the most fun you can have 20 feet above the ocean. If heights aren’t for you, try one of their other awesome rentals.
26. Discover a bit of Americana in Australia
Drive through the Harold Holt base, where remnants of a basketball court, movie theater, baseball field and bowling alley stand even though the US troops left over 20 years ago. Talk to locals who have been in town for a while to hear stories of Exmouth’s American days (or read about them here).
27. Check out the SS Mildura.
Wrecked in 1907, this ship’s tragic end directly resulted in the placement of Vlaming Head Lighthouse, built in 1912.
28. Visit Turquoise Bay
You need to go in person to see if the water really is that picture-perfect. (Spoiler alert: it is)
28. Go for a Sunday Session
Every Sunday, Froth comes alive with music and Australian beer, cider and ginger beer.
29. Scuba dive the Navy Pier
Voted the world’s 7th best dive spot. It’s only accessible with Dive Ningaloo, since the pier is still military property.
30. Say hello to Exmouth’s emus
31. Grab a board and catch a wave at Dunes
For some of the best waves and a great social scene, go surfing at Dunes.
32. Prefer a board with wheels? Check out Exmouth’s skate park.
The internet tells me it has flatbanks, a hipped mini ramp and a hubba ledge, but I have no idea what that means, so I’ll let you find out if the internet is telling the truth on your own. All I know is that it’s quite popular with Exmouth’s youth.
33. Go caving!
34. Visit the Short Order Local
Stop by the Short Order Local on Town Beach for a delicious treat and coffee during the day or join them Wednesday evening for curry night. Don’t miss their famous lemon coconut slice. When I first tried it, I took a bite, died, went to heaven and was like ‘brb, I’ve gotta go get one more bite.’
35. Go take a hike!
Check out Mandu Mandu Gorge, Charles Knife Canyon, or one of these walks recommended by Visit Ningaloo.
36. Make a wish on a shooting star.
Get away from the lights in town to watch the sun set and do some stargazing.
37. Go fish!
Ningaloo Reef boasts some of the best fishing in the world. Get out on the water and cast a line. Just recently, a record-breaking 1,000+ kg blue marlin was caught in Exmouth. Will you be the next to reel in a monster fish?
38. Take a day trip to Coral Bay
Take a little trip down south to swim with Coral Bay’s year-round population of manta rays.
39. Go for a run with the Hash House Harriers
If you’re a beer drinker with a running problem, check out the Exmouth Hash House Harriers for monthly runs. Show up ready to run, have fun and not take yourself too seriously. (If you prefer water to beer, you’re welcome too… drinking is by no means required!)
40. Visit the Krait & Potshot Memorials
Learn about the submarine refueling station established in 1942 and a daring attack on a Japanese warship in WWII.
41. Pose for a photo with Exmouth’s giant prawn
No roadtrip is complete without a photo by the town’s uniquely odd tourist attraction. Exmouth is home to the giant prawn, located next to the visitor’s center.
42. Swim with humpback whales
Australia is in the trial phase of humpback whale swims, so you don’t have to go all the way to Tonga to swim with these giant underwater ballerinas.
43. Go kite surfing
Exmouth Surf Centre offers beginner and advanced kitesurfing lessons and clinics so you can feel the wind in your hair and the waves at your feet.
44. Snorkel Oyster Stacks
Check out Oyster Stacks at high tide for a shallow snorkel with lots of fish near the shore. The entrance is a bit rocky, though, so exercise caution on entry and exit from the water!
45. Satisfy a sweet tooth
46. Get in touch with the wildlife of the National Park
Take a drive inside the National Park and look for local wildlife. Check out the osprey nest at the Milyering Discovery Centre. Watch for kangaroos who always want to cross the road at the same time as you. And even tougher to find than Waldo… the echidna. I have it on very good authority that their nose feels like a sausage.
47. Get Social at Social Society
Be good to your body and to the world. Social Society is a wellness and lifestyle cafe with amazing vegetarian food. The acai bowls are beautiful and the turkish fried eggs with haloumi are so good, I didn’t even wish for bacon. And that’s saying something!
48. Beach BBQ
If you haven’t had a beach barbecue, are you even in Australia? Build a bonfire, bring the meat pack from the Truscott’s meat raffle, and invite all your friends. As an American, I highly recommend getting graham crackers (you can find them in the Indonesian section of the IGA), marshmallows, and Cadbury chocolate to make s’mores!
49. Have a beer at Whalebone
Who would’ve thought this tiny town would birth not one, but TWO breweries? Check out Whalebone Brewing Company for locally brewed beer and homemade pizza.
50. Food truck frenzy
Check out the Visitor Centre’s parking lot for traveling food trucks. Play your cards right and you might be able to snag a spud or some refreshing coco whip!
51. Make like Tom Petty and do a little free… freediving!
Some of my awesome Exmouth friends gave me the gift of a freediving lesson for my birthday. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, and I’m kind of the worst at it, but I plan to continue with more lessons! It was magical diving beneath the water to hear the songs of the humpbacks without the bubbles of scuba diving. And my longest breath hold happened when we followed a giant manta ray cruising beneath us. The waters of Exmouth hold some incredible things! What will you find there?
I moved to Exmouth on the word of two Australians I met in Queenstown who promised Australia’s best diving happens on the Ningaloo Reef. What I discovered was so much more than scuba diving. I found community in friends who became family, adventure under and above the sea, and I even got that second year visa!
I fell in love with this town and I know you will, too. What magic awaits you in Exmouth, Western Australia?
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