Driving from Perth to Exmouth – The Glovebox Guide

The 1200km Perth to Exmouth road trip along the Coral Coast is one of our favourite drives.

Walk through moonscape-like sand dunes and deserts.

Explore river gorges, spectacular sea cliffs and wildflower-dotted national parks.

Stand on a beach made entirely of shells and swim with everything from sea lions and manta rays to turtles and whale sharks.

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Kalbarri Natures Window
Kalbarri Nature’s Window

How to use our Guide for the Adelaide to Perth Drive

There is no perfect itinerary for this drive. You could get to Exmouth in two days, but if you have time, it could take you a month or more. We have done the drive from Perth to Exmouth three times, taking between 10 and 15 days.

For each leg we’ll let you know the distance between stops, things to do along the way, and some highlights at each destination.

We’ll also give you some idea how long some of the activities take, so you can factor that into your planning.

At the end of the itinerary we answer some FAQs about national park passes, road conditions and tour information.

Jurien Bay Sea Lion
Jurien Bay Sea Lion

2 Important Tips for the Perth to Exmouth Road Trip

Travel between April and October

The best time to do this trip is from April to October. The days are warm, and the evenings are mild – it is perfect weather for snorkelling, walking and cruising.

It is also whale shark season from April to August and Humpback whales are in the area from June to the end of October.

From the November to March, the big wildlife moves on and it gets too hot to enjoy many of the activities (and the flies are insane!).

Book your accommodation

We strongly encourage you to book accommodation if you are going to be travelling between April and the end of October. This is especially the case for school holiday periods.

From apartments to campgrounds, accommodation can get hard to find in peak season. Jurien Bay, Coral Bay and Exmouth can be especially busy.

The Pinnacles
The Pinnacles

Perth to Jurien Bay

🚙 218km, 2 hours 16 minutes

Things to do on the way

90 minutes north of Perth, check out the Lancelin sand dunes. You can drive or sand board down them. They are an amazing sight, the sand is so white it looks like snow!

190km from Perth you get to Nambung National Park, home of the Pinnacles. This is a must do, we are always amazed by the beauty of the desert landscape which is dotted with mounds of limestone rock.

You can walk or drive through the Pinnacles. The scene of the yellow, termite mound shaped rocks against the blue sky looks like something from another planet. There is an entry fee and you need a national park pass to enter. There is also an excellent visitor centre. Allow 1 – 3 hours.

Things to do in Jurien Bay

Jurien Bay is a great base for exploring the area. You can read our full guide to Jurien Bay, but here are the highlights:

  • Go on a cruise and snorkel with the local sea lions – half day morning activity. This is one of our favourite activities on the whole drive, the sea lions are adorable!
  • Look for wildflowers in Lesueur National Park
  • Explore the coast at nearby Three Bay Walkway – the scenery around Dynamite Bay is stunning. Allow 30 – 90 minutes

Side trips if you have time

Spend a few days camping at Sandy Cape (you will need a 4wd) or Green Head to enjoy the beautiful beaches.

Horizon Sphere
Horizon Sphere

Jurien Bay to Geraldton

🚙 196km, 2 hours 5 minutes

Things to do on the way

Any time of year is a good time to see the wildflowers at Leseur National Park (although August – November is best). We recommend the 2.5km loop Gairdner Walk Trail. Allow 2 hours.

Or stretch your legs at Dongara – Port Denison on one of the 6 Thungara Walking Trails. Trail 3 – the 4.6km Irwin Heritage River Trail loop – with its river views is excellent.

Things to do in Geraldton

Read our full guide of things to do in Geraldton. Highlights include:

  • Take in the history at the HMAS Sydney 11 Memorial.
  • Relax on the Esplanade and enjoy the beaches, cafes and street art.
  • We loved the Horizon Sphere at sunset.
  • Explore nearby Greenough including the Leaning Tree, wildlife park and museum.

Side trips if you have time

Still on our bucket list is a day trip to the Houtman Abrolhos Islands. Snorkellers and nature lovers will love it!

Kalbarri Skywalk
Kalbarri Skywalk

Geraldton to Kalbarri

🚙 155km, 1 hours 46 minutes

Things to do on the way

See the remains of the Lynton Convict Depot (15-30 minutes)

Nearby is Hutt Lagoon. This amazing (potentially) pink lake is at its best in summer. It wasn’t very pink for our visit, but it was still a great sight (15 – 60 minutes depending on pinkness)

Things to do in Kalbarri

Kalbarri is a detour off the main road between Perth and Exmouth, but it is worth the 100km drive if you have a day to spare. You could spend a full day in Kalbarri looking around the gorge and coast.

We love it here; the coastline and Murchison Gorge are spectacular. Highlights include:

  • See more of the gorge at Z Bend Lookout and do the challenging 2.6km return walk to the Murchison River. There is plenty of birdlife and wildflowers to watch out for.
  • Get a photo at Nature’s Window.
  • Walk or drive along the 100m tall Kalbarri Coastal Cliffs. The Birgurda Walkway has great views of Natural Bridge, Shellhouse Grandstand and Island Rock. Look out for whales from May to September.
Shell Beach
Shell Beach
Bottle Bay
Francios Peron National Park
Monkey Mia Dolphin
Monkey Mia Dolphins

Kalbarri to Denham

🚙 374km, 3 hours 51 minutes

Things to do on the way

  • Stop at Hamelin Pool and take the boardwalk through the pre-historic Hamelin Pool Stromatolites.
  • Walk on the amazing Shell Beach where the sand is replaced by billions of tiny white cockle shells.
  • Allow 1 – 3 hours to look around both sites.

Things to do in Denham and Shark Bay

Denham is part of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. We love it here. From the super salty bays to rust red cliffs and turquoise water it is a stunning place.  Read our full guide to Shark Bay. Highlights include:

  • Take a tour or your own 4wd to Francois Peron National Park and explore the beautiful Skip Jack Point and Bottle Bay – the guided full day tour is fantastic – a highlight of one of our Perth to Exmouth drives.
  • See local marine life and get great views at the Ocean Park Aquarium and Eagle Bluff Lookout

Side trips if you have time

If you have time and sense of adventure do a tour or take your own 4wd to the pristine waters of Dirk Hartog Island or see Australia’s most westerly Point at Useless Loop. Allow a full day.

Quobba Blowholes
Quobba Blowholes

Denham to Quobba or Gnaraloo Station

🚙 400km, 4 hours 08 minutes to Quobba or 468km, 5 hour 9 minutes to Gnaraloo

Things to do on the way

Stop at Carnarvon for supplies and to look through the excellent Space and Technology Museum

Things to do at Quobba or Gnaraloo Station

These two station stays are a unique way to experience Ningaloo Reef. The coastline is a bit more rugged at Quobba, there are some great blowholes. Gnaraloo has a beautiful beach and is a breeding ground for rare loggerhead turtles.

You could skip this spot if you are time limited and looking to get to Exmouth more directly, but if you have time, these two locations are beautiful spots to camp and experience the Ningaloo Coast. They both offer camping and homestead accommodation.

Manta Ray
Manta Ray

Quobba or Gnaraloo Station to Coral Bay

🚙 271km, 2 hours 49 minutes from Quobba or 339km or 3 hours 50 minutes from Gnaraloo

Things to do in Coral Bay

This super relaxed beachside holiday town is one of our favourite spots on the Coral Coast for exploring Ningaloo Reef. The area is recovering from an unfortunate natural event that damaged much of the near shore coral but there is still plenty of marine life and beautiful beaches. Read our guide of things to do in Coral Bay, highlights include:

  • Our favourite thing to do in Coral Bay is the Manta Ray Tour – a must do if you get to Coral Bay. Watching giant manta rays swim beneath you is awesome, our 8 and 10 year old kids did this with us so it is a family friendly activity if your kids are water babies.
  • Walk up the beach to the shark nursery

We have done both a day trip to Coral Bay from Exmouth and spent several days here. It can get windy here, so if you have a few days there is a better chance you will get a nice, still day to snorkel.

Side trips if you have time

If you have a 4wd go for a snorkel at Five Finger Reef or Natural Bridge. You can also get to Five Finger Reef on a Quad Bike Tour. We did the 3 hour bike tour and it was a lot of fun.

Whale Shark
Whale Shark
Yardie Creek Cruise
Yardie Creek Cruise
Vlamingh Lighthouse
Vlamingh Lighthouse

Coral Bay to Exmouth

🚙 152km, 1 hours 36 minutes

Things to do in Exmouth

You have made it to Exmouth! . As keen snorkellers, this is one of our favourite towns in Australia. You can get to the reef from the beach and be swimming with turtles, rays, sharks, dugongs and colourful fish.

On the outer reef you can swim with whales, whale sharks and possibly see dolphins, turtles, orcas and manta rays.

But there is more to Exmouth than the reef. Cape Range National Park is spectacular. Go for a walk or cruise along Yardie Creek or take in the views at Charles Knife Canyon.

You can read our full guide for things to do in Exmouth, some of our favourite activities include:

  • Watch the sunset from Vlamingh Head Lighthouse lookout

Read more about the best places to snorkel around Exmouth and what it is like to swim with whale sharks. 

Side trips if you have time

If you want to take your snorkelling or diving to the next level, take a day tip to the Muiron Islands Marine Park 15km northwest of Exmouth. It is on our list for our next trip to Exmouth in mid 2024 – we can’t wait!

Karijini National Park
Karijini National Park

Do you have more time? Explore Karijini National Park

If you finish your Perth to Exmouth road trip and still want more, head to Karijini National Park. 600km inland from Exmouth, the park features a series of stunning gorges. Our stop here was a highlight of our trip around Australia a number of years ago.

Swim in fern-lined pools, walk over layers of colourful rock and wade through rocky passes. Knox, Weano, Dales and Hancock Gorge are some of the highlights.

 If you want a stunning end to your road trip, find three or four days and your hiking boots and experience the magic of Karijini National Park.

Coral Coast Road Trip FAQs


How long is the Perth to Exmouth?

If you put Perth to Exmouth into Google, you’ll get a distance of about 1250km. To cover all the highlights on the way, including turn offs to Kalbarri and Denham and driving from Exmouth to the snorkelling sites, you can easily add 600 – 800km to that.


Do I need to book tours in Advance?

Yes. Some places like Coral Bay, Exmouth and Jurien Bay can be very busy, particularly in school holiday periods. So, as well as booking accommodation, you should also book your tours in advance. Whale shark and manta ray tours are especially popular and should be booked well ahead.


Do I need a 4wd for the Perth to Exmouth Road trip?

No! The main roads are all sealed as are many of the roads in the National Parks along the route. The main exceptions are Francois Peron National Park, Steep Point and Dirk Hartog Island in Shark Bay. If you have a 4WD, there are plenty of tracks to explore along the way but a 2WD car or campervan will get you to most places.

Safe Swimming

Is it safe to swim at Exmouth?

Yes, it is safe to swim at Exmouth. There are no stingers and shark attacks are extremely rare. You will see reef sharks and rays on Ningaloo Reef, but they aren’t interested in getting near you.

Between April and October, the water can be cool on the inner reef so a shortie wetsuit is a good idea. Because of the Leeuwin current, the outer reef is several degrees warmer than the inner reef.

How many days?

How many days to I need for the Perth to Exmouth Road Trip?

In 2 weeks, you can get a great overview of the area and see a lot of amazing things. In the end it depends how busy you want to be and what you like doing.

Our last trip was for 14 days in a campervan. We like being busy so did and saw lots. In two weeks, you have time to do most of the activities described above and have several days to look around Exmouth.

Allow no less than 3 days in Exmouth, 4 to 6 days is perfect for getting a good feel for the place.

National Park Pass

Do I need a National Parks Pass for Western Australia?

You will need a park pass for the Pinnacles, Monkey Mia, Cape Range National Park and Kalbarri National Park. Get it online so it is there when you need it as you explore the region. Holiday Passes are available for 4 weeks, and 5 or 14 days.

If you enjoyed this story you might also like:

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Perth to Exmouth Road trip
Perth to Exmouth Road trip
Perth to Exmouth Road trip
Perth to Exmouth Road trip
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  1. “The Glovebox Guide for driving from Perth to Exmouth is a must-have companion for your road trip adventure! Packed with essential tips, local insights, and practical advice, it turns your journey into an unforgettable experience. From hidden gems to road trip hacks, this guide is your go-to navigator, ensuring every mile is a discovery and every stop a delight. Happy travels


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