South Lefroy Bay Campground

South Lefroy Bay Campground | Ningaloo Reef

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South Lefroy Bay Campground on the Ningaloo Coast of Western Australia, between Exmouth and Coral Bay, is remote dog-friendly beach camping at its best. Fall in love with the crystal clear turquoise water, soft sand beaches and world-famous Ningaloo Reef all right on your doorstep. 

The purpose of this guide is to give you all the information you will need in preparation for an enjoyable experience camping at South Lefroy Bay. 

South Lefroy Bay is dog-friendly. It is, we believe, the best option for camping with your dog for owners that wish to snorkel Ningaloo Reef. 

All information at the time of writing this post was correct and is a guide only. Please note that conditions, rules and so on may change at the discretion of the campground management. 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you use these to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Any commission is greatly appreciated as it helps to keep Our Wayfaring Life online.

Where is South Lefroy Bay Campground

South Lefroy Bay is a remote campground on Ningaloo Station, on the coast midway between the southern end of the Cape Range National Park in Exmouth and Coral Bay. 

Best time to visit South Lefroy Bay Campground

The best time to visit South Lefroy Bay and the Ningaloo Coast is March to October when temperatures are low 20s to low 30s. The peak time is June, July and August as well as the April and September school holidays. 

Our visit to South Lefroy Bay was for a week in October 2021. We had mid 20s to low 30s each day. The wind was blustery most days, worst at night and calmest in the morning before 9am. 

How to get to South Lefroy Campground

All roads are dirt with sections of soft sand to the campground and are suitable for 4WD vehicles only. For the best ride, reduce tyre pressures to 18 psi before driving on dirt roads.  

Route 1 | Ningaloo Road (East to West Road)

From Exmouth | 147 kilometres

From Coral Bay | 97 kilometres

Ningaloo Road is 46 kilometres of dirt road to the campground off the Minilya-Exmouth Road, 100 kilometres south of Exmouth or 52 kilometres north from Coral Bay. Follow the signs, not Google maps, to the campground. 

Ningaloo Road was our chosen route in and out with our 1994 Viscount Vogue Pop Top caravan. The road had some corrugations, the worst in the 15 kilometres closest to the campground which, also has sections of divided and single lane track. 

Route 2 | From Exmouth via Yardie Creek Road 

From Exmouth | 121 kilometres 

Yardie Creek Road journeys through the Cape Range National Park. It is a sealed road until Yardie Creek, after which 40 kilometres is a dirt road.  

This route means crossing Yardie Creek, a river crossing. Yardie Creek is open to the ocean, so it is affected by the tides and sometimes impassable. It also has corrugations, sharp limestone rocks and sections of single-lane track. It is generally advised not to take this route unless well experienced and equipped for 4WDing. 

Route 3 | From Coral Bay via Cardabia-Ningaloo Road

From Coral Bay | 122 kilometres

Cardabia-Ningaloo Road is a 4WD only track that starts Mauds Landing in Coral Bay and connects to Ningaloo Road. For the 4WD adventurist, the corrugated and soft sand track journeys pass the historic Old Point Coates Lighthouse and the Norwegian Whaling Station. Both are worth a look. 

It is generally advised not to tow a caravan or camper trailer along this route. 

Things to do at South Lefroy Bay Campground

The campground is zoned Recreational so, you can enjoy any of the following:

Snorkel Ningaloo Reef 

(see below for information and tips) 

If you are a dog owner and a keen snorkeller like us, this is the place to come to snorkel Ningaloo Reef. 

Go Swimming 

The turquoise and aqua waters are very inviting for swimming, especially on calm days.   

Walk the beach 

There is miles and miles of stunning beach to walk in both directions from the campground. On our walks, we saw sea turtles, sharks and dolphins. 

Shell and coral collecting is not permitted. We still recommend beachcombing for shells to look at and put back. 

Do some beach fishing or spearfishing

Fishing is a popular pastime at South Lefroy Bay. Daryl had some luck fishing from the beach. I guess either the fish are biting or they are not. 

Go out on your kayak or small boat

We tried kayaking one time, but the current and winds made it a quick and not too pleasant experience. A calm day is needed to enjoy kayaking here.

Small boats, however, can be launched from just about anywhere on the beach. The exception is between sites 13 to 18, where vehicles are not permitted. Of course, be careful of the delicate reef when out on the water. 

From the campground, go exploring and visit:

Hidden Beach

Hidden Beach is a 5 minute drive from the southern end of the campground via a track and over dunes. We loved Hidden Beach.

To get to Hidden Beach, drive the track to sites 1 – 17 and continue past the no camping sign. Drive until the track enters the dunes. From here, the easiest way to find Hidden Beach is by using the WikiCamps App map. Have you, the blue dot (make sure your location is on) meet up with the Hidden Beach icon by driving across the dunes.

Here you can swim, snorkel (see our tips below), walk the beach and enjoy some time away from other campers. We visited Hidden Beach three times, only once was anyone else around. 

Norwegian Whaling Station

The Norwegian Whaling Station is a historical site also south of the campground. An eerie place to visit, thinking about all the whales killed here. It is also interesting to see the massive, old equipment used. 

We also walked the beach and saw lots of turtles metres off the shore. It was extremely choppy on the day we visited and was no good for snorkelling.  

To get to the whaling station, we drove the same track as to Hidden Beach. When the track reaches the dunes, continue straight-ish until it goes back to a defined track. There are a couple of tracks to the site; keep to the most defined ones and when you see the Point Coates Sanctuary sign, you are close. It is about a 10 minute drive.

Visit Point Billie, North Lefroy and Windabandi Bay

These are all campgrounds north along the coast from South Lefroy Bay you can visit as day-trippers. In our opinion, the best is Windabandi Bay, a 20 minute drive each way. The bay is stunning and fantastic for swimming and fishing. 

The others are on the way to Windabandi Bay. 

To get to all three, drive out to the Telstra Tower you passed on the way in (4 kilometres from the campground) and take the track on the left (tower to your right).

Snorkelling Ningaloo Reef | Tips

Snorkelling at the campground

Snorkelling Ningaloo Reef is amazing. Best of all, snorkelling is done right off the beach at South Lefroy Campground.

See sea turtles, sharks (mostly reef sharks), rays, giant clams, dolphins and so many fish different types and colours. Unfortunately, like many reefs around Australia, it has suffered from coral bleaching. Regardless there is still plenty of beautiful coral to see. 

Tips:

  • From 800 metres south along the beach past site 1 (past the no vehicle sign) to Site 18, the reef is close to the shore. There is more reef past Site 18, further away from the beach. 
  • The stretch of reef close to shore covers nearly 2 kilometres and is about 300 – 400 metres wide. We snorkelled it in two sections for 1 – 1.5 hours each; the 800 metres past Site 1 and the section from Site 1 to Site 18. It depends on your stamina and confidence how much you want to do and see in one swim. 
  • There is a current that runs south to north. Use the current to your advantage by starting your snorkel as far south as you want and getting out when you have drifted as north as you want to. 
  • The 800 metres of reef south of site 1 is mostly rock and seagrasses. It is turtle heaven and where we saw nearly 20 turtles during a one-hour snorkel. There was one moment we had five turtles in view! 
  • The reef from sites 1 to 18 is coral and is like swimming in an aquarium for all the fish you will see. We saw two reef sharks and a few turtles. 
  • Although the reef is quite vast, if you are not comfortable or confident in the water too far from shore, there is still so much to see snorkelling close to the beach. You may be surprised to see how many fish one lump of coral attracts and how close to shore turtles, rays and sharks will venture.
  • The ideal time to snorkel is when there is no wind and at high tide. The ideal conditions never happened for us, but it did not matter the snorkeling was excellent.  

Snorkelling at Hidden Beach

(see Visiting Hidden Beach above for driving directions)

Hidden Beach (north end) fast became our favourite spot to snorkel during our week stay at South Lefroy. Even though it had similar things to see as the campground, the calmer conditions and no strong current made it the winner for us. 

Tips:

  • Hidden Beach (at the northern end) is the spot to snorkel if you want calmer conditions than at the campground. The beach here is more protected from the southerlies and does not have the current (or nowhere near as strong). 
  • The reef is easily reached from the beach and is expansive, making it an excellent spot for newbies and experienced snorkellers. 
  • We used our car parked on the beach our visual to ensure that we remained at a distance from the beach we could confidently swim back to the beach.  
  • Here we saw coral gardens, countless fish, turtles and one shark. 

South Lefroy Bay Campground | General Information

Bookings and Fees

Bookings are made online here and is essential before arrival. There is NO arriving without booking expecting you will get a site. Even if available, you will be refused a site without a prior booking.  

Fees are currently $8 per night per adult and $3 per night per child aged 6 – 15. Five years and under are free. Concession holders camp for $6 per night per person.  

The campground is open all year. June, July, August and September are the peak months, with the school holidays being the busiest and requiring bookings well in advance.  

Our stay was for a week in October. We were able to book our site only a couple of weeks ahead and this is likely to be the case when booking for the hotter months from October to March. 

Campground Management and Hosts

South Lefroy Bay Campground is remote, beach camping on Ningaloo Station. It is, however, along with all Ningaloo Coast campgrounds jointly managed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and the Gnulli Native Title holders. 

There are usually Volunteer Camp Hosts onsite to oversee and assist campers. It is necessary to check in with the camp hosts on arrival. 

Campground Facilities and Rules

These are as follows:

  • Camping is permitted in caravans, camper trailers, tents and swags. 2WD vehicles such as motorhomes and campervans are not suitable due to road conditions.
  • No power – generators are allowed with consideration for fellow campers. Camped on the beach, in full sun all day meant our solar power worked very well. 
  • No toilets – to camp here you must have a chemical toilet and the camp hosts will check that you do. Chemical toilets can be rented from Exmouth Camping and Tackle store or easily purchased from a camping store. 
  • Dump Point – there is a dump point 2 kilometres out on the road into the campground (you will pass it coming in). Note there is no water at the dump point for washing out the canister, so take water. 
  • No bins – there are no rubbish bins so come prepared to take all your rubbish with you when you leave. A spare wheel bin bag comes in handy. 
  • Drones – can be flown over the water only and not over the beach or campground. It was the gusty winds that kept ours grounded.
  • No water available – there is non-drinking water at Billie Point.  
  • No phone reception – there is a Telstra (only) tower 4 kilometres out of the campground. I only tried it briefly and was unable to get a reliable connection. Other campers had more success. Come, knowing you will get to savour being offline for your stay. 
  • No children are to ride on the outside of vehicles. 
  • BYO firewood – when fires are allowed, you will need to bring your firewood.  

What to Bring with You

Here is a list of what to bring.

Must-haves:

  • Chemical toilet
  • Drinking water
  • Rubbish storage to take back out with you
  • Air compressor (there is no means for reinflating your tyres once off the dirt roads)
  • Recovery tracks (all tracks and beaches in the campground have soft sand, getting bogged is a risk)

Come prepared for the winds – it gets very windy at South Lefroy Bay. It is necessary to tie down awnings, tents and so on and to be able to do so in the sand. We witnessed some campers leave because they were too able to put up with the wind. 

Suggested: 

  • Snorkel, wetsuit and flippers
  • Swimmers etc
  • Kayak, SUP or small boat
  • Fishing gear 
  • Sunblock and shade (there are no trees around for shade on or off the beach)
  • Reef shoes
  • A camera (including an underwater camera)
  • A broom (you will be forever sweeping sand out of your setup)
  • Tub for water to wash feet before going into your set up (use seawater)

South Lefroy Bay Campsites

Sites 1 & 2

Set back off the beach behind low dunes covered in grasses. There is vehicle (and walking) access onto the beach, views of the water and privacy. 

Sites 3 – 12 

These sites are on the beach camping and require driving on the beach for 200 – 500 metres. Back from the shoreline, there is little risk of the water reaching your setup. King tides get high up the beach, so it is best to camp close to the dunes where the campsite numbers are. 

Exposed and open, these sites offer no shelter from the winds. The southerlies are brutal and are regular. Be mindful of this, particularly if camping in a tent (rooftop or ground). We camped in Site 10 for our one week stay in October; the wind was intense all but one night. 

Sites 13 – 16

Behind the dunes, there are no direct views of the ocean or beach. Also, adjacent to a section of beach off-limits to vehicles, there is foot access only. The dunes provide some protection from the winds. The sites are large, with plenty of room to spread out and have the most privacy. 

Sites 17 – 19

These sites are also along the section of the beach where vehicles are not permitted. Sites 18 and 19 are next to each other, divided only by three wooden bollards. All three have water views and 18 has a tree. 

Sites 20 – 47 

Designated areas cut out in the grasses on top of the dunes, these sites are are off a track that runs parallel to the beach with most having uninterrupted views of the beach. The exceptions are sites 20 and 36 which are not the non-beach side of the track and sites 37 – 40 where the track veers away from the beach. 

There is no direct vehicle access onto the beach from these sites therefore access is via the soft sandy track only. 

Site 26 is smaller than the others and Site 42 has a tree. 

Sites 48 – 53 

Each site carved out of the dunes and beach-level means you get to have uninterrupted water views, beach access and some protection from the winds. 

The beach is narrow, the narrowest of the entire campground and the risk here is a high or king tides will reach your setup. Be sure to check the tide mark and set up towards the back of your site.  

Sites 54 – 72

At the northern end of the campground, off the beach or a soft sandy track, these sites have the highest risk of getting bogged. It is a longer drive to these sites than all the others, with 72 being the farthest. That said, we noticed several large caravans camped up in this section, but whether or not they got bogged on the way, I cannot say. 

Elevated sites on top of or slightly behind the dunes, it appears the sites have spectacular views. Honestly, I did not see all these sites so cannot say how many have direct beach access; not all do. 

Sites 73 – 87

Situated well away from the beachfront these sites are flat, have no scenic view or access (vehicle or walking) directly to the beach. They are drab compared to all other sites. 

Camping here would be for groups wanting to camp close together, those not wanting to tow on the soft sandy tracks or beach and if every othre site is booked. Note there is sand tracks into the campground, it is not possible to completely driving on sand. 

Additional information on sites:

  • Sites 1 to 26 overlook the reef.
  • All sites except 73 – 87 require driving on soft sandy tracks with sites 54 – 72 reportedly being the highest risk for getting bogged. Still, there were large vans in some of these sites but where they did it easily or struggled I cannot say. 
  • Launching a kayak or small boat off the beach is possible from the beach except from sites 13 to 17 where vehicle access on the beach is prohibited. There is vehicle access onto the beach next to sites 18 & 19. 

Information for Dog Owners

As dog owners, although we would recommend coming here to all, South Lefroy Campground was where we stayed to snorkel Ningaloo Reef. Compared to the not dog-friendly Exmouth and Coral Bay, this place meant we got to snorkel the reef and Chika was able to have a great time too. 

Admittedly, we have heard the snorkeling in Cape Range National Park is something truly special. For dog owners like us, South Lefroy is an awesome alternative. Chika was tethered to our caravan while we snorkelled out the front of our site and sat in our car at Hidden Beach.

The general rule is that dogs are to be on a lead at all times. We did find however that doggy off-leash time is allowed if your dog is under your direct effective control. In other words, if you are with your dog directly supervising their off-leash time and they respond to your commands then it is not a problem. 

Finally, the winds meant we had to keep Chika’s water bowl inside our caravan or it would quickly fill with sand. And at night she slept inside. It was unbelievable the amount of sand she brought into the caravan. Whatever we all brought in sand and it was a small price to pay to stay somewhere so beautiful and dog friendly. 

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