Sailing and canoeing in Western Australia

With 12,000 km of coastline not to mention various inland rivers and lakes, WA is a great place to sail or paddle. Two of our favourite experiences including sailing around Shark Bay on a catamaran tour from Monkey Mia or a trip inland to experience the Ord Valley in the east Kimberley, either by boat or on a relaxing paddle in a canoe.
Catamaran cruise at Monkey Mia, Western Australia. Photo by Richard Madden
Monkey Mia wildlife sailing cruises

There is no better way of getting close to Shark Bay's huge variety of marine wildlife than cruising the bay aboard an 18-metre catamaran - the 'Shotover' - operated entirely using the best ecological principles and run almost entirely by the wind and the sun so that noise, air and water pollution are virtually eliminated. This includes in-board facilities like a solar-powered fridge and the processing of bacteria-free toilet waste.

All year round you can see dolphins, dugongs (the endangered 'sea cows' that early sailors mistook for mermaids) and huge loggerhead and green turtles. In the summer (northern hemisphere winter) these are joined by sea snakes, sharks, sting rays, flying fish and the long-tom, a fish that skips across the sea on its tail. Whales can also be spotted during their annual migration between June and November

Shark Bay is one of the top research centres for marine life in the world and the crew will pass on the latest findings of the scientists who work closely with them. You also get your money back if you don't enjoy the cruise or get sea-sick and in the unlikely event of not seeing any wildlife, you can come back again for free. Read more about marine life and 4WD tours at Monkey Mia.

Harvey Raven
Harvey Raven - Monkey Mia Wildsights
"The boat's run totally on an environmental basis... Shark Bay is the most significant research site for dolphins in the world"

Boat trip down the Ord river, the east Kimberley

An exhilarating trip down the Ord Valley river from the Lake Argyle, this 55 kilometre journey takes you through some beautiful back country only accessible by river.

Lake Argyle in Western Australia. Photo by Tourism Western Australia Those with time on their hands can drift down the river in on a canoe which can be hired in Kununurra (which means 'The meeting of Big Waters' in the local Aboriginal language). Paddlers have to bring their own provisions for the trip - which can take three days - and are supplied with swags, dry storage containers and mosquito nets.

Dropped off just below the dam you will drift down river with the current through spectacular gorges, stopping to walk or fish from the shore as you please and sleeping out under the stars on special sleeping platforms on the river banks.

This has to be one of the most relaxing ways to explore this rugged country and get close up to the varied fauna - from large fresh water crocodiles which, unlike their salt water cousins, are harmless - to tiny rock wallaby skittering over the steep rock faces above.

Sunset on Ord River in Western Australia. Photo by Nick Haslam Those with a schedule to keep can take the boat tour with Triple J by bus from Kununurra to the Argyle dam visiting the Durack Homestead - the original house of the first pastoralists to bring cattle to this area - en route. Just below the dam a purpose built launch awaits which will take you back to Kununurra on the Ord in about three hours travelling at up to 60 kph with an informative witty commentary and numerous stops at points of interest. The boat arrives in Kununurra in time for the vivid sunset over the river as fruit bats noisily head out for their night's foraging from eucalypts on the banks.

Read more about activities in Western Australia
Responsible Travel would like to thank the Western Australia tourist board for their sponsorship of this guide
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