Martin Chambers

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kayak moorings at Ningaloo

published: July 1st, 2013

Kayak moorings.

Kayaking and snorkelling go together well. A kayak can slip over shallow water to holes in the reef, land on small beaches or rocky shores to out of the way places.

In many places a small anchor is useful, but thanks DPAW at Ningaloo you now have ten mooring provided exclusively for kayak use. These moorings are all in sanctuary zones and fishing is not permitted. Note also that DPAW have changed their system and pre-booking is allowed for camping sites along the Cape Range coast.

DPAW also have a mooring for non-motorised vessels at Seal Island in Shoalwater Bay south of Perth where there is no landing on the beach.

These are great innovations for passive recreation in these places and hopefully we will see more of this in the future.

Take a short rope to tie off. Keep it tied to the bow and run it back to your feet. When you tie off the kayak will drift back and not bash against the mooring float. Also, it leaves access to the mooring for others.

Store your mask and snorkel in a mesh bag on your deck so there is easy access once you are tied off, but it does not interfere while paddling or while sorting out the mooring line.

If you have a sit on climbing back on should not be too difficult. For decked kayaks a little more skill but it is not that hard. Wearing your fins helps boost you onto the deck, land sideways with feet and fins in the water, slip them off, off you go!

In shallow water over coral reef please be careful not to damage the reef by standing on it or hitting it with your wildly swinging fins. Be careful dropping into the water also. Coral reef cuts should also be avoided. Look, don’t touch.

At Ningaloo tidal current may flow. The best plan is to snorkel up current. This makes it easier to get back to the kayak, but also you are likely to see more. A bit like walking up wind of wild animals.

And remember, after your swim, re-apply hat and sunscreen.

The GPS location of the moorings. Below I have reproduced the fact sheet with permission from DPAW. You can also download this from the DPAW website:

Link to Paddlesafe: rules for kayaks can be found here:

Links to more kayaking sites on or on the WA kayak guide book page here.

Kayaking within Ningaloo Marine Park

Kayak moorings – black buoy with white label (figure 1), have been provided at several sites along Ningaloo Marine Park to enable day-use kayak and snorkel activities to explore Ningaloo’s World Heritage-listed marine environment (figure 2). These sites include:

·  in the north of the marine park − Bundegi, Tantabiddi and Osprey sanctuary zones.

·  in the south of the marine park − Maud Sanctuary Zone in Coral Bay.

All sites provide varying kayak and snorkel experiences; some offer extended paddles to shallow snorkel sites, while others provide shorter paddle distances to deeper snorkel sites.

Safe kayak and snorkelling tips

·  All sites require kayak and snorkelling experience. It is your responsibility to ensure your experience


is suitable for the site. If in doubt don’t go out.

·  Check the local weather conditions prior to your activity.

·  Kayak with a friend to enhance the enjoyment and safety of your kayaking adventure.

·  Carry adequate water, food, sunscreen and sun protection. Some return journeys may take up to four hours so you will be exposed to the elements for a significant time.

·  Ensure your kayak has a suitable attachment to securely attach to the kayak mooring, as well as the ability to safely secure your gear (e.g. paddle) while snorkelling.

·  Please ensure your kayak is seaworthy and has the required safety equipment aboard as most of these sites are more than 400 metres from shore. The required safety equipment includes life vest, flares and a bailer (if not self draining) − see the Department of Transport Paddle Safe brochure.



Always ensure someone knows where you are, and your estimated time of return. Remember to let them know when you have returned safely.



Once at the site, assess the currents prior to entry − it is recommended to snorkel into the current at the beginning of your snorkel to enable an easy return to the mooring.

·  The moorings hold a maximum of ten kayaks at any one time.

For further information contact the Milyering Visitor Centre on (08) 9949 2808.

Bundegi Sanctuary Zone kayak sites

· Kayak 1 – Nook and Crannies: 21° 51.751’S, 114° 09.613’E;

· Kayak 2 – The Cove: 21° 51.536’S, 114° 09.739’E

Access: From the beach access track to the right of the Bundegi boat ramp.

Duration: Allow four hours return time, including snorkelling.


Route: A 3.5-kilometre (about one-hour) paddle south south-west along the inside of the Bundegi reef will take you to the two kayak moorings within the Bundegi Sanctuary Zone. Snorkel the sites and return north back along the coast to the boat ramp.



Site information: Snorkelling at high tide only is recommended.Site depth ranges from 1.5 to three metres. In spring and summer 2011−12, the Bundegi reef experienced a significant coral bleaching event. It was estimated as little as one to six per cent of corals remained alive at the end of eight months of sustained high water temperatures, which rose up to 5°C above normal. Two years later, in 2013, there has been some limited recovery of corals in patches, while other sites remain as coral rubble. Although dead, the remaining coral structure still provides habitat for a vast array of marine life including turtles, groper, large schools of drummer, reef sharks, the occasional manta ray and many juvenile species from tiny blue green Chromis to small butterfly and angel fish. The Bundegi reef provides an excellent example of the devastating effects high water temperatures can have on coral reefs, and the patchy and slow nature of recovery.

Tantabiddi Sanctuary Zone kayak sites

· Kayak 3 – Staghorns: 21° 54.471’S, 113° 57.983’E;

· Kayak 4 – The Bombies: 21° 54.527’S, 113° 57.869’E

Access: From the beach access track to the left of the Tantabiddi Boat Ramp.

Duration: Allow three hours return time, including snorkelling.




Route: A 1.3-kilometre paddle (about 30-minutes) west north-west from the boat ramp to the sanctuary zone will take you to two kayak moorings within the Tantabiddi Sanctuary Zone. Snorkel the sites and return to the boat ramp.

Site information: Snorkelling at high tide only is recommended. Kayak 3 and Kayak 4 Site depth ranges from 1.5 to 3.5 metres. Snorkelling inside Tantabiddi Sanctuary Zone is second to none. You are surrounded by beautiful coral gardens with vast staghorn, plate, and porites coral formations. The topography varies from shallow staghorn gardens to deep crevasses where porites bombies emerge from the depth, supporting a great variety of marine life.

Osprey Sanctuary Zone kayak sites

Kayak 5 - The Lagoon 22 14.533’S, 113 49.745’E:

Kayak 6 – The Bungle Bungles: 22° 14.805’S, 113° 49.744’E;

Access:  From the small boat launch area to the north of the Osprey Bay campground.  Duration: Allow three hours return time, including snorkelling.


Route: A 1.1-kilometre paddle south-west across to the inside of the reef will take you to the first of two kayak moorings within Osprey Sanctuary Zone. A further paddle south another 500 metres along the inside of the reef leads to the second kayak mooring. Return by paddling to the north-east along the shore to the Osprey boat launch area.


Site information: The depth ofKayak 5 ranges from three to seven metres, and Kayak 6 ranges from three to four metres. Kayak 5 is a lagoon inside the main reef; you can complete this in a loop pattern around the inside of the reef. This is a fantastic snorkel; some of the species observed include clams, anemone and anemone fish, reef sharks, a plethora of reef fish species and several coral species including plate coral to porites bombies to large stands of staghorn in pristine condition. Kayak 6 to the south comprises of several large porites bombies on the inside of a channel inside

the main reef. A variety of fish species may be observed including many schooling fish, and again large patches of staghorn corals can be found on the western edge of the reef. 

Coral Bay Maud Sanctuary Zone kayak sites

· Kayak 7 − Ayres Rock: 23° 08.391’S, 113° 46.017’E;

· Kayak 8 − Cowtails: 23° 09.139’S, 113° 45.479’E;

· Kayak 9 – The Maze: 23° 08.749’S, 113° 45.032’E;

· Kayak 10 − Structures: 23° 08.329’S, 113° 45.526’E

Access: All of the sites can be accessed from the main beach at Bills Bay, Coral Bay.


Duration and route: These sites may be attempted individually or in any combination, and so route and duration is dependent on the number of sites visited. Please use the distances and times below as a guide.


Site information: Kayak 7: A 300-metre (about 10-minute) paddle to the mooring north north-west of the main beach at Bills Bay. Tie up to the mooring and snorkel west about 60 metres to the Ayres Rock site. Ensure you don’t stand, kick or touch corals around this 400-year-old porites bombie. Maximum depth is six metres.

Kayak 8: A 1.5-kilometre (about 30-minute) paddle south-west from Bills Bay in the direction of the white ‘No Boating Area’ cone marker. Located in a large sand hole, the depth is between four and six metres, amongst pristine coral formations. This site may be snorkelled from the mooring or you can drift snorkel your kayak north-east back into Bills Bay (about one hour). Kayak 9: A 1.8-kilometre (about 45-minute) paddle west south-west from Bills Bay crossing the boating channel – beware of vessels using the channel. Depth of site is two to five metres. As the name suggests, wind your way around the maze. Please be aware of other vessels using the public mooring nearby. Kayak 10: A one-kilometre (about 20-minute) paddle in a west north-west direction from Bills Bay. Depth range is three to six metres. Please be aware of the boating channel located to the west.