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Step off the shore near Exmouth, swim a few metres through the clearest turquoise water on Earth, and you'll find yourself drifting over the world's largest fringing reef - the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef. This underwater paradise is a popular spot for all kinds of visitors, from dolphins, manta rays, turtles and humpback whales, to the largest fish in the ocean - the gentle whale shark. A two and a half hour flight from Perth or two day drive will get you to Exmouth, where you can join eco safari trips and game fishing charters or take it in at your own pace on a self-drive holiday. Snorkelling or guided glass-bottom boat tours over the inner reef of Ningaloo reveals some of the 500 species of fish and over 200 varieties of coral that call it home. Keen divers should also take the opportunity to experience one of Australia's top ten dive sites, the Navy Pier. Join an outer reef snorkel or dive tour and you'll encounter some the reef's larger inhabitants, including graceful manta rays and turtles. Venture into the deep blue between mid-March and late July and you can come face-to-fin with the gentle whale shark - it's one of the best places in the world for swimming with the largest fish in the sea. The humpback whales aren't far behind, bringing whale watching season to Exmouth from June to November. Then comes turtle nesting time (November to March) - head for Exmouth's Jurabi Turtle Centre to find out about the vital role Ningaloo plays in protecting these endangered creatures. Year-round delights include scenic flights over Ningaloo Reef and world-class fishing from beach or boat. In contrast to the bright blues of Ningaloo, the rugged red gorges and canyons of Cape Range National Park offer spectacular outback adventures and wildlife encounters just half an hour's drive south of town. Accommodation-wise, Exmouth has everyone catered for, from lodges, resorts and hotels, to chalets, backpackers and campsites, with dining options to suit every taste and budget.
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