Perth and Shark Bay road trip.  Pristine waters,  4W drives on dirt tracks, white sand beaches,  pink lakes, get ready for an explosion of colors in this road trip in Western Australia. There are 4 key areas to visit: Geraldton; Denham / Monkey Bay;  Kalbarri and Cervantes. Be prepared to spend quite a bit of time on Australian roads admiring a diverse and breathtaking scenery. Direct flights from Singapore to Perth and the absence of time difference are good selling points too for this 10 day itinerary.

How accessible is it from Singapore?

Getting to Perth is easy, there are daily direct flights (day time or night time). Flights are operated by Scoot, Jetstar, Singapore Airlines & Quantas.

The total door-to-door journey from (your home/office in) Singapore to your hotel near Perth airport will take you about 7 hours and 15 minutes. This estimate includes the flight, taxi  and car transfers.

How much is this going to cost us?

Australia in general is expensive (especially in comparison to South East Asian Countries). The route to Shark Bay is no exception.

Transport wise, the total return trip will cost about SGD 950 for 2 persons. This estimate includes low cost flights and taxi transfers to/from airports. If you fly Singapore Airlines or Quantas the tickets will be more expensive. Add about SGD 400. for a 10 day car rental.

Accommodation is also very expensive. Most basic hotels or B&B typically  range north of SGD 150 / night. Even camping is expensive as you have to book and rent your camping spot and rent a camping car which is more expensive compared to a car. If you are into the camping car thing you will probably end up spending less by renting a camping car and staying in campings.

How remote and risky is it?

This is Australia. So it’s safe and well equipped compared to other destinations in Asia. From roads to hospitals, everything is great. Driving is easy (stay within the speed limits). However, there are some dangers you need to keep in mind: wild animals (kangaroos crossing the road at night are a serious risk, sharks, jellyfish and other snakes will remind you that natural beauty also calls for some common sense. The closest medical center or doctor may be a couple of hundred kilometers away in some sections of the trip. Pro tip: if you see a petrol station open: fill up your tank! You don’t want to end up with an empty tank in the middle of nowhere.

What about the kids?

This road trip is very kids friendly. The region is super safe and there are many activities for kids in the region. You will find great playgrounds in every small town. The only challenges may be the long hours on the roads as distances are quite long between some sites and the heat if you go during the summer. Luckily we had a very strong wind during our stay keeping the temperature comfortable. #Pro-tip if you travel with young kids: Plan your long drive after lunch so that you get most of the way covered during nap time.

When should we go?

The best period to visit Perth to Shark Bay and avoid the rain season are the months of January, February, March, April, September, October, November and December. Refer to the chart in the sidebar for details about the monthly average rain volumes and rainy days.

Connections from Perth – Shark Bay

Driving from Perth to Shark Bay can be a nice 10 day-trip. If you have more time you can stay longer in Perth and go explore South of Perth – Margaret River (another very nice road trip option). Another option would be to plan a trip all the way to Broome and fly back from Broome to Perth. This will be more expensive as it includes additional flights. Finally, if you are after gold or don’t want to talk to anyone for days, you can try and go explore the inland… For real adventurers only.

Now, without further a due here is our  tested and approved itinerary from Perth to Shark Bay and back. About 2100 km in 10 days, not too bad! The little table below (worth hours of research is yours). If you are a rebel, you can do it in the other direction or adjust it!

Day # Driving time Distance (in km) From To Stay
1 10mn 10 Perth airport Perth Airport Hotel Sanno Marracoonda Airport
2 4h20 mn 420 Perth Airport Hotel Geraldton Bentwood Olive Grove
3 4h15 mn 410 Geraldton Denham Heritage Resort Shark Bay
4 1h <100 Denham / Monkey bay Heritage Resort Shark Bay
5 1h <100 Denham / Monkey bay Heritage Resort Shark Bay
6 4h 380 Denham Kalbarri The Two Tin Cow B&B
7 3h flexible Kalbarri National Park, coast The Two Tin Cow B&B
8 4h15mn 380 Kalbarri Cervantes + Pinnacles Pinnacles Edge Resort
9 2h15mn 200 Cervantes Perth Sullivans Hotel
10 10mn 10 Perth city hotel Perth airport Fly out

 

Tip:  if you are a frequent Tripinasia reader: Because this is a road trip, the structure of this post is slightly different from our usual format. Not to worry. Click the tabs to access the different segments. All general info are under the “getting there” tab.

Getting from Singapore to Shark Bay  

To reach Shark Bay from Singapore, you will need to take a 5 hour 25 minutes flight to Perth. Going straight to Denham, heart of the Shark Bay region and the furthest point from Perth in this itinerary would take you about 10 hours. The idea is to stop along the way in nice places worth visiting on the way to and from Shark Bay.

Scoot, Jetstar, TigerAir, Emirates and Qantas have daily straight flights offering wide range of schedules and fares.

Getting there: SIN to PER : TigerAir : 12:30 PM – 05:15PM (5h flight)
Coming back: PER to SIN: TigerAir 06:35 PM – 11:40 PM
Return tickets from SGD 400.

Get your ticket NOW to enjoy the best fares. Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flight or check directly on the airlines websites (as some flights such as TigerAir may not be visible on Skyscanner).

Getting from Perth airport to Shark Bay

Food, money change, SIM card providers & car rental are available at the airport.

You can rent your car from the airport. Book in advance to be sure to have a car on arrival. There are a few car rental companies available (Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Sixt, Thirfty). You can see the details from the Perth airport website. Rates are from SGD 400 up for a regular car for 10 days. 4WD will be necessary if you want to go offroad or explore the Francois Peron National Park. We had a normal sedan and hired a 4WD and a guide to go to Francois Peron.

To find your way at no cost, you can use these free apps (you don’t need data roaming to use it): navmii for Australia and NZ or maps.me. In any case make sure you download the maps prior to your trip when you are connected to a WIFI network.

If you arrive late at night and plan to visit Perth at the end of your trip (like we did), pick up your rental car (24/7) and drive 10 minutes to reach the nearby Sanno Marracoonda Airport. Convenient and clean. This will allow you to get some rest before hitting the road the next day. The next day, we recommend you stop at Belmont Forum or any other near Perth to buy groceries, water, and other supplies for snacks and meals, as in small towns shops might offer very limit choice (if any and when open).

Alternatively you can drive to the city and stay in any of the Perth hotels (be careful, carpark rates are crazily expensive in town). The Sullivans Hotel is conveniently located near the King’s Park. Decent hotel but can be noisy.

 

Click the tabs to access the different segments. 

Useful info

Your main bag

That’s the one you leave at the hotel. Ideally you want to avoid checking in your luggage when flying. So check the weight and dimensions for hand carry luggage with your airlines (some airlines will allow only 7kg, some will allow up to 10kg). From head to toes.

  • Short sleeves tops: your main outfit. Everybody will see them on all your pictures. You really want to take that old Mickey Mouse T-shirt? Be mindful that you will be in a different environment so it might be a good idea to adjust your wardrobe.
  • Long sleeves tops: to protect yourself from the sun (if you’ve stayed for 5 hours on a motorbike with short sleeves you know what I mean) or to enter religious buildings or to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evening.
  • Pullover. Yes I know, you’re going to a country where the temperature never goes down below 25 degrees and you need to pack a pullover? You will thank us when you’re back. Remember that flight during which  you were freezing? Or this museum where the aircon is set to the “polar bear” temperature?
  • Short/skirt (you should be able to chose the appropriate one by yourself).
  • Trousers for the same reasons you need to take long sleeves tops. Jeans are usually not a good option. They are heavy and keep you too warm.
  • Underwear: well, you know. If you plan to walk or ride motorbikes for long hours, take something comfortable as the combination heat + friction can make you regret this sophisticated silk underwear. Cotton is good.
  • Shoes: one pair of flip flap and one pair of confortable shoes. Remember that you are going to spend most of the time on your feet. Forget about high heels and leave your Westons at home.
  • Swimsuit: even if you don’t plan to go to the beach, you never know. A nice river, a swimming pool, a heavy rain? Always have one with you.
  • Raincoat and protection for your bag. Even if you are visiting the country during the “best season”, you never know what the sky will be like.
  • Torch: take a pocket torch with you if you visit countries where the power is not reliable… Can come very handy when stuck in the dark in your room.
  • Toilet bag: Shampoo, soap, toothbrush & toothpath, deodorant, sun screen, tiger balm. Ideally, all these in miniature formats.
  • Sleeping bag liner (if you plan to stay in very cheap or dirty places, not required if you are staying in a 5-star hotel…)
  • Your IT stuff: iPad, eBook, laptop, chargers, memory card, batteries, etc.
  • Dryer sheets: they will help keep a fresh smell in your bag.

Your small bag

That’s the one you keep with you, all the time. Hence, a backpack is the best option.

  • Your passportcashcredit cards and other life saving items like your insurance card with emergency contact details. Not a bad idea to put them in a zip-lock bag  in case it rains. It will keep your documents dry.
  • Your driver’s licence if you plan to rent a car or a motorbike (some countries are quite particular about this so take it with you in case you are not sure, even for a motorbike rental).
  • Your emergency medical kit: painkillers, mosquitoes repellent, dressing/plaster, disinfectant, anti diarrhea, eyewash
  • Tissues and toilet paper (you will thank me later). Remember that in a lot of countries, you will not be provided napkins when having a meal.
  • Water – plastic bottles are a good option as they are lighter than a gourd/flask.
  • Biscuits (always buy some before you go when you are not sure what you will find. Always have “emergency” biscuit  and water in case you cannot find food around and need to recharge batteries)
  • Sunglasses: you’ll need them. Take them even if it’s raining. Weather can change very fast in the region.
  • Scarf (krama, or any kind of fabric that you can use to put around your neck, put on your head to protect it from the sun, cover your shoulders in temples, dry your sweat, etc). Can come very handy in some situation. It will not stay clean for long so it’s wise to pick a dark color…
  • Camera and its protection.

Beach pack

Remember that this one comes on top of the Regular pack (above)

  • Beach towel or equivalent (pareos / sarongs are lighter)
  • Snorkeling equipment: mask, scuba, (fins?)
  • Shoes you can wear on the beach or in the water (to protect your feet from being cut by corals)
  • Dry bag if you plan to go on a boat and want to keep your stuff dry.

Well, you will probably adjust your bag after a few trips. Remove the stuff that you have not used and add the one that you missed. Post a comment to share your tips!

Happy packing (it’s the worse part of the trip but it’s worth it…) and travelling!

Gerladton

Geraldton was our first stop, the ride is 420 km and approximately 4 hours 30 minutes from Perth Airport. This coastal city itself has little to offer (beside a nice beach). The idea was to get a break and enjoy the nice and vast countryside scenery.

On the way to Geraldton there after 1h30 drive we stopped for a picnic in Gingin, where there is a nice park with a mill, ducks and a playground.

Where to stay in Geraldton

We stayed in a nice B&B nearby Geraldton, Bentwood Olive Grove Accommodation. It is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by landscaped gardens, where there are horses, sheep and 2 little funny jumpy dogs. You can walk within the olive trees or have a jump in the outdoor swimming pool. We stayed in the big house but they have smaller rooms and nicely decorated mobile homes. You can also camp there. The owners are very nice and friendly. Highly recommended.

Shark Bay

Getting from Geraldton to Denham / Monkey Mia

Driving North from Geraldton for 410km / 4h15 you will reach Denham which is the “coastal city” of Monkey Mia / Shark Bay. From Denham you can go to Monkey Mia easily and explore the Francois Peron National Park. Not many options to make a pause on the way, except for the Billabong café – a truck stop restaurant.

Shark Bay is the highlight of this trip and is definitely worth staying for 3 days. There are 2 main towns there.

  • Denham is a one street coastal city (with a nice pirate boat themed playground). The place can be very windy. We recommend you stay in Denham if you want to have access to restaurants, small but decent supermarket, bottle drive, bakery, pharmacy, gas station, etc.
  • Monkey Mia is smaller and has less shops but it more protected from the wind. There is a large camping very close to the dolphin watching site.

Where to stay in Shark Bay

We stayed in Denham at Heritage Resort Shark Bay, a good value for money hotel, nice and clean facing the sea. The cost per night is approx. SGD 150, rooms are big. However don’t except any kind of charm.

If you prefer a beach side feel, we recommend you stay at Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort. This resort offers private rooms, family rooms and camping car lots. There is a restaurant and a tiny mini mart. The resort is just on the beach where you can see Dolphins.

What to do in and around Shark Bay

We recommend you book your activities at least 2 days in advance, especially for the Francois Peron National Park as tours are not arranged every day and organizers need a day or 2 to prepare for food and vehicle or gather enough passengers. 

Little Lagoon (5 min drive from Denham, on the way to Monkey Mia Reserve). Free entrance. There is a carpark and a BBQ pit to enjoy a sunset diner.

Monkey Mia Reserve (20 min drive from Denham). Fees apply either daily (AUD 12 per adult, AUD 4.5 for kids from 6 to 15 years) or per month (AUD 18 per adult, AUD 7.5 for kids). There is one resort and one lounge bar restaurant. Pretty nice for a lunch by the sea. Several activities in Monkey Mia Nature reserve such as:

  • Dolphins watching & feeding: Dolphin comes near the beach for breakfast from 8 to noon; you may have to wait a while for them to decide to come. Rangers feed them, it looks like a theme park show but still it is nice to see dolphin so close. There are also some pelicans walking on the beach.
  • Kayak: You can rent kayak and enjoy a tour on the blue pristine waters of Monkey Mia. 1h rental: AUD 36
  • Catamaran Cruise
  • Camel rides on the beach
  • Walks

Francois Peron National Park (10 min drive from Denham on the way to Little Lagoon and Monkey Mia Reserve)

If you want to visit the park on  your own, you will need a high clerance 4WD car to explore this National Park (and sand driving skills to deflate/inflate tyres and manage a few tricky sections). Red earth trails, white arid and moonscape scenery, turquoise lagoons, nice coastal board walks, amazing animals, etc. this park is a beautiful place. This national park will offer you a great and diverse experience.

We organized a tour with Capes (Walu Guda Nyinda / 0429708847). You can organize a full day excursion either covering the whole park in 4WD or you can ask to do a sport activity such as kayak in big lagoon. You can ask him to customize the plan to your liking. Usually the tour starts at 8am and you are back around 4pm. We left late and brought our lunch so the price was a bit lower: AUD 150 per person instead of AUD 199. Kids under 4 do not pay. Min 4 adults for a private tour. Capes is of Aboriginal decent and shared a lot of interesting info about the land and the culture. He knows the place like the back of his palm.

Shell Beach (35 min drive South from Denham on the way to Hamelin Pool). This is an amazing 60km stretch beach entirely made of small white shells. Definitely worth a stop. You can stop there on the way out of Denham.

Hamelin Pool (On the way to Kalbarri, about 1h30 drive from Denham). The Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve boasts the most diverse and abundant examples of living marine stromatolites. There is a boardwalk and a few options depending on how much time you have. It’s an interesting place from a biology point of view but it’s not particularly beautiful.

Kalbarri

After Shark Bay, you are now going back towards Perth and will need to drive 380km / 4-5h South to Kalbarri.

The Kalbarri region is a nice mix of inland river gorges, coastal cliff trails, and outdoor activities along the river Murchison. It is definitely worth a stop on the way to or from Shark Bay. Kalbarri itself cannot be considered like a real town, it’s basically a main road with one supermarket and a couple of restaurants.

Where to stay in Kalbarri

We stayed The Two Tin Cow, nice but a little remote B&B – however take note that kids are not welcomed so look for other options if you travel with children.

What to do in and around Kalbarri

  • Murchison River (in Kalbarri town)

Kalbarri is located right at the river mouth, you can enjoy many outdoor activities such as fishing, canoeing, swimming, boating, etc.

  • Pelican feeding at 8:45am, we missed it as we went on a public holiday.
  • Paddle boat (30min: 25$ for 4 pax Or 15$ for 2 pax) It is possible also to rent a motor boat (60$ per hour or Kayak). Beware of the strong wind and curren. We struggled getting back to the nautical base. Just in front of the visitor centre.

 

  • Inland River gorges:  Nature’s Window & West Loop

Nature’s window (40 min North East of Kalbarri, roads to get there are good except the 8 last km which is dusty and bumpy as it is under construction.

From the car park there is nice 20min walk to the Nature’s window view point, breathtaking view on the rocky valley.

You can also go see the West Loop look out (2 min drive from the Nature’s window), from the carpark it will be a 30min return easy walk. You’ll enjoy again amazing views.

  • Coastal cliff trails (5-10 min drive south from Kalbarri)

There are a lot of coastal trails (from 200m to 16km) offering stunning views over the rugged coastline and sandstone plunging cliffs. Here are some trails:

Natural Bridge (200m return) can be a nice spot to watch whales and dolphins from July to November.

The Bigurda Boardwalk (1.2km return) connects Island Rock to Natural bridge, accessible from both carpark

The Bigurda trail (16km return) connects Eagle Gorge to Natural bridge, this is a sandy trail with stunning coastal views. Beware of snakes (we had to turn back because of a huge snake blocking the path)

Cervantes

Driving from Kalbarry to Cervantes will take you 4 hours 15 min drive (380 km). It can be long as the road is not so straight (for once!)… you should definitely stop on the way at Port Gregory and at the amazing pink lake. In addition to the lake, make sure you stop at the Port Gregory beach. Port Gregoy has a nice lagoon. It’s a good spot to swim. A reef protects the beach from big waves and (sharks?). A lot of quads and 4WD drivers enjoy the sandy beach.

Cervantes is the place to view the famous moonscape of the Pinnacles, enjoy fresh lobsters and surf on giant sand dunes. If you are travelling between July and October you’ll also get the chance to see the spring wildflowers blooming colors. Spending 1 day in Cervantes seems enough to enjoy the main tourist attractions.

Where to stay in Cervantes

Cervantes is a small city, with about 10 accommodation options. We stayed in a large motel-like accommodation, not charming but convenient, quiet and clean: Pinnacles Edge resort

What to do in and around Cervantes

  • The Pinnacles desert in Nambung National Park (fees: 12$ per car)

The Pinnacles Desert gathers thousands of limestone pillars. These famous pillars are the weathered and eroded fragments of limestone beds composed of deposited marine organisms. The tallest pinnacles can reach up to 3.5m height. This is the #1 attraction around and a popular attraction for day trips from Perth.

  • Lobster Shack factory

Between November and August, you can collect the lobster pots from a boat, the factory offers daily tours. You can also visit the factory all year round (tours start every 10min: movie + audio guided factory visit), takes about 30min in total / 10$ per adult approx. 1h tour) and enjoy fresh lobsters at their restaurant from 11am. Lobster Shack – 11 Madrid St, Cervantes WA 6511, Australia.

  • Lake Thetis

Unless you are passionate about geology, lake Thetis will leave you indifferent – like us… This is a site featuring stromatolites, natural formations created by the oldest known organisms on Earth, some fossil aged 3.6 billion years old. We were quite disappointed as it is “only” a small lake. You can walk around the lake on decking. Don’t waste your time there.

  • Kangaroo point in Nambung National Park

Very nice white sandy beach & turquoise water to have a swim before heading back to Perth.

From Cervantes to Perth, there are 2 places worth stopping by:

  • Lancelin: Try  sandboarding on the huge sandy dunes overlooking turquoise water beaches.
  • Yanchep National Park: It is a nice park, 40km /45min away from Perth, where you can have a BBQ or a picnic surrounded by friendly kangaroos. You’ll also be able to spot some Koalas in a specific part of the park. There are also 9 walk trails in Yanchep National Park (from 45min up to 3h). There is a “chocolaterie” selling drinks and snacks(open only until 4:30PM, like the visitor center).