Join the 10 night discovery of Western Australia’s Coral coast on board the Coral Discoverer, and explore the extraordinary marine environment, historic islands, and striking coastline. Departing Broome, visit the spectacular Rowley Shoals Marine Park, the Dampier Archipelago and the Montebello Islands. Your voyage will culminate with a visit to Ningaloo Reef, home to vibrant marine life both large and small. The marine experts and guides will lead your discovery of the untouched atolls, mega marine fauna and rare bird species that are found in this pristine coastal habitat.
The start of your Kimberley Expedition Cruise. Board your ship at 4:00pm for a 5:00pm departure. Enjoy the Captain’s welcome drinks with fellow travellers and friendly Coral Expeditions’ crew. Take in stunning views from the sundeck as you cruise north towards Cape Leveque.
There is no set itinerary for the West Coast adventure – making it a true expedition. The Master and Expedition Team will adjust the itinerary to best suit the tidal and weather conditions and maximise your experience. The below are the locations that you can expect to visit along the West Coast however time at each will be determined during the cruise.
At the edge of the continental shelf, 170 nautical miles offshore, lie the Rowley Shoals, a chain of 3 coral atolls including Clerke, Mermaid and Imperieuse Reefs. The shoals, named by Captain Phillip Parker King, offer some of the best snorkelling and diving opportunities in the world. Their shallow lagoons are inhabited by myriad coral species and marine life, including giant potato cod, Maori wrasse, at least 233 species of coral and 688 species of fish – many of which are not found on other coral reefs. Diving along the outside edge of the shoals one can view colourful soft corals, hammerheads and pelagic fish. Water clarity here is absolutely unparalleled, making for superb underwater photography opportunities.
Conditions permitting, spend 1-2 days at Clerke and perhaps Mermaid or Imperieuse reefs, with ample time for snorkelling and diving opportunities. With each atoll covering approximately 90 square kilometres, there will be plenty to see! Guided by the on-board marine biologist, snorkel away the day in the coral gardens of the Aquarium at Clerke Reef, or dive along the sheer vertical walls and through coral canyons. Try a drift snorkel in the channel, or beach comb on Bedwell Island, keeping an eye out for the red-tailed tropicbird that roosts there.
The Montebello Islands or ‘Montes’ are an archipelago of more than 250 limestone islands and islets off the coast of the Pilbara. A twitcher’s delight, the islands are considered an Important Bird Area, as they support over 1% of the world populations of fairy and roseate terns, as well as sooty oystercatchers.
The islands also have a fascinating maritime history. The survivors of the Dutch vessel Trial swam here after their ship was wrecked in 1622, being the first Europeans to land on the islands. The Montes have an ‘explosive’ past – Alpha and Trimouille Islands were the site of three British atomic weapons tests in the 1950s. Relics of the military operation can still be found on the islands today.
Spend a full day exploring this island group, with wildlife spotting opportunities and many beautiful beaches to swim at. Many rufous hare-wallabies and lagoon stingrays have been spotted on recent trips here.
Located approximately 10 nautical miles off the North West Cape, the waters surrounding the uninhabited Muiron Islands are teeming with marine life. A variety of dive sites are on offer, including swim-throughs and ledges where nudibranchs, eels and angelfish hide. With fantastic bommies and protected reef, snorkellers will appreciate the variety of soft corals and gorgonians as well the incredible fish life. After in-water activities, stretch your legs on a stroll down the beach on these untouched islands.
Image Courtesy of Coral Expeditions taken by Sacha Guggenheim.
Consisting of 42 islands and islets, 25 of which are nature reserves, the iron red islands of the Dampier Archipelago stand in bright contrast to the turquoise waters which surround them. Bottlenose dolphins are regularly seen in the area and the archipelago supports the largest Hawksbill turtle rookery in the Indo-Pacific region. Birdwatchers will have the opportunity to see several species of migratory waders as well as sea eagles and ospreys. With luck you may even see the elusive Rothschild’s rock wallaby.
The archipelago not only offers exceptional natural beauty but significant sites for Aboriginal and European Heritage, many of which are in National Heritage Listed Areas. Named for English Explorer William Dampier who first visited the islands aboard the Cygnet in 1699, the islands’ earliest inhabitants were the Yaburara people, as is evidenced by thousands of rock engravings, shell middens and stone arrangements scattered across the area.
With the onboard naturalist and historian, explore the archipelago’s pastoral, pearling and cultural past that is still visible today in the form of ruins and petroglyphs. Learn about the tragic Flying Foam Massacre(s) of 1865, in which an entire tribe, language and people were all but exterminated. There will be ample opportunity to explore the area’s historical and cultural sites before taking to the azure waters for snorkelling, kayaking and diving.
Image Courtesy of Coral Expeditions taken by Sacha Guggenheim.
The World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef is the turquoise jewel in the crown of the Western Australian coastline. Spanning over 5000 square kilometres, this is one of the largest fringing reefs in the world. It’s inner and outer reefs create a diverse range of habitats for vibrant corals and more than 500 species of fish. This is also where mega marine life come to feed during their migrations, including humpback whales, giant manta rays, and the majestic whale shark. It is also a coastline with a fascinating heritage, where lonely whalers battled it out against the elements.
Spend 2-3 days here exploring this stunning coastline from Exmouth to Coral Bay and its underwater playground. Snorkel and dive the outer reefs and relax on stunning beaches such as Turquoise Bay, and learn about WA’s interesting heritage at the ruins of the Norwegian Bay whaling station. As you cruise the ‘Humpback Highway’ down the coast, have the opportunity to watch these majestic whales breach close by. Spend a day with an experienced local operator, with the chance to swim with some of the mega fauna this region is known for (these encounters are subject to nature and cannot be guaranteed).
Your incredible adventure along the Ningaloo Coast concludes in Broome this morning at 8:00am. Bid farewell to new-found friends and the Captain and crew.