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Shark Bay

Shark Bay Western Australia

This World Heritage Area is of extraordinary global significance. Spectacular coastal landforms, the many bays and inlets and the remarkable amount of wildlife make this area a must see, from dolphins to dugongs, fishing and wildflowers, the area is a huge National Park.

At a Glance

The town of Denham is a base for tourist charters with Monkey Mia the resort home of famous wild dolphins that interact with humans, famously fed by hand from the beach every day.

Shark Bay Western Australia

Where is Shark Bay?


Shark Bay is 850 kilometres north of Perth.

Shark Bay is situated on the west coast of Australia's Coral Coast tourist region. Shark Bay is a major feature on the Western Australian coastline extending from the mainland into the Indian Ocean as a large peninsula with several large islands and mud flats. In terms of getting to Shark Bay flying to Monkey Mia airport is the easiest as an alternative to self driving. Skippers Aviation fly to Monkey Mia 4 days a week, transfers into Denham and Monkey Mia can be booked through Shark Bay Coaches and Tours.

Shark Bay Western Australia

Things to see in Shark Bay


World Heritage Precinct

One of fourteen places in the world which provide outstanding examples of major stages in the Earth's evolution, outstanding examples of ongoing ecological processes, unique natural phenomena and significant natural habitats where endangered species of animals or plants reside. Shark Bay was declared a World Heritage area of importance in 1991. Visitors can follow a World Heritage Drive to view some of the significant attractions that illustrates why Shark Bay was granted World Heritage status.

World Heritage Precinct Shark Bay

Image © Australia's Coral Coast


Friendly Dolphins

The Bottlenose Dolphins of Monkey Mia are world famous for their ritual of swimming to shore to interact with humans. There are only 4 adult female dolphins that come in to the beach to be fed each day, although the Department of Parks and Wildlife are currently introducing a fifth dolphin. A unique and amazing experience which is found nowhere else in the world.

Friendly Dolphins Shark Bay

Image © Australia's Coral Coast


Shell Beach

A unique beach of tiny white shells up to 10 metres deep and stretching for over 120 kilometres which will amaze anyone who visits the beach. The shells were once used to build the walls of buildings in the area, including At Andrew’s Church, the Old Pearler Restaurant and several station homesteads.

Shell Beach Shark Bay

Image © Tourism Western Australia


Hamelin Pool

An extremely important world heritage is stored in this very pool. The tranquil bay is home to the largest deposits of living fossils on the planet, the Stromatolites. A 200 metre boardwalk leads visitors over the calm waters to view these amazing examples of Earth's evolution.

Hamelin Pool Shark Bay

Image © Tourism Western Australia


Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre

Shark Bay is on display in a dedicated building which is a great way to discover and gain a greater understanding of the area. Showcasing the natural wonders of the diverse and the unique habitats, view historic treasures of the region from the Dutch shipwrecks of the 1600's. Many historical items are on display as well as an audio visual guide to the area's wildlife. A must see.

Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre

Image © Tourism Western Australia

What's the weather like?


The area experiences a moderate-tropical climate which gets warmer the further north that you travel. Temperatures in the Summer are hot, and due to lack of rainfall in the area, the area is very dry, although this may not seem apparent because of the abundance of sea-water. In Summer (December to February), the average maximum temperature is 35°C with an average minimum temperature of 20°C. In Winter (June to August), the average maximum temperature is 25°C with an average minimum temperature of 10°C.

Get to know Shark Bay's history


Shark Bay was named by William Dampier on his second voyage to Australia in 1699 apparently because he felt that the area was infested by them, although he may have mistaken the local dolphins for sharks. Various settlements such as Denham and Monkey Mia were established during the 19th century but the area has not seen any real development due to the lack of fresh water. In the early 1960s a woman named Mrs Watts started feeding the wild dolphins which followed her husband¹s fishing boat to a campsite on the shoreline of Monkey Mia.

Shark Bay has a long history of visits by European explorers. Dirk Hartog’s landing at Cape Inscription in October 1616 was the first recorded landing of Europeans in Western Australia. This visit marked the beginning of several expeditions by the Dutch, French and English.

Studies and collections made by explorers of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries represent some of the earliest scientific records of Australia’s people, landscape, flora and fauna. Englishman, William Dampier arrived in 1699 and named the area “Shark’s Bay” in recognition of the large number of sharks in the area, although he may have mistaken the local dolphins for sharks. Nicolas Baudin and Louis de Freycinet both led expeditions to the area and many of Shark Bay’s islands, bays and landmarks are named after the explorers on these expeditions.

Looking for visitor and tourist information, maps and brochures, booking assistance and local expert tips in Shark Bay? Check out the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery & Visitor Centre!