Where to stay in Shark Bay

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Cutting through the dreamlike Shark Bay like a long red knife, the Peron Peninsula presents limitless natural beauty. But the places to stay in Shark Bay are few and regularly sell out during the high season (book as early as possible).

A tiny settlement on the peninsula’s east side, Monkey Mia hosts the region’s famed dolphin experiences. Those friendly dolphins have excellent taste; Monkey Mia also shows off Shark Bay’s best beach, enjoyed by visitors (and species) of all ages.

On the peninsula’s west coast, Denham may be less eye catching but compensates for that by providing the benefits you can expect from a small rural town, including more lodging and dining options.

Monkey Mia

It’s the frequently arriving dolphins that have made Monkey Mia a Western Australian bucket list destination. Since the 1960s, splashing pods have visited daily to get a healthy dose of fish (up to 10% of their daily intake) and interact with humans lining up along the beach.

On the Peron Peninsula’s east coast, the settlement primarily consists of RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort, offering accommodation ranging from refined villas and rooms (some facing the ocean) to budget-friendly dorms, caravan sites and campsites.

For food and drinks, there are two options in Monkey Mia, both within the resort.

The Boughshed Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner against the backdrop of Shark Bay’s calming waters. If you just want a beverage to cool you off, try the nearby and as nicely positioned Monkey Bar featuring a beer garden and occasional live music.

Within steps, a protected crescent-shaped beach appeals to families with young kids and backpackers alike. For the best views around, stroll the landmark Monkey Mia Jetty, shooting out into the enchantingly blue sea and convincing visitors that they have found a slice of paradise.

But don’t forget Monkey Mia’s other side. Monkey Mia is bordered by the reddish wonderland of Francois Peron National Park, putting you within a 15-minute drive of the park gate.

Takeaway: Monkey Mia is the most sought-after option for where to stay in Shark Bay for good reason. The comfort level is high, the beach magical and, oh yes, the dolphin encounters unforgettable.

Dolphin pod swimming along Monkey Mia's shore, Shark Bay
Dolphins visit Monkey Mia’s shore daily.

Sleeping in Monkey Mia

RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort

Although this is the only place to stay in Monkey Mia, it has something for every visitor. Celebrate the occasion with a glorious villa facing the beach, or stretch your budget by booking a budget room with shared bathroom.

The bright front of RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort against the backdrop of the blue Shark Bay, WA
Dolphinfront RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort.

Denham

Denham, Australia’s most westerly town and the only on the Peron Peninsula, established itself in the second half of the 1800s as a major player within the pearling and pastoralism businesses. Having shifted focus since then, Denham nowadays thrives off its position as the gateway to the Shark Bay adventure.

While Denham, on the Peron Peninsula’s west side, still is the sleepy place it always has been — think a thousand or so residents in a town where you may find occasional emus roaming the streets — it provides the crucial town facilities needed by visitors passing through.

The water-tracing Knight Terrace, Denham’s main road, is home of two supermarkets, a handful cafes and restaurants (including the unique Pearler) as well as places to stay. One of the best, Shark Bay Seafront Apartments provides a gobsmackingly beautiful sunset location.

At Denham’s heart, be sure to stop by the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery & Visitor Centre, telling you all you need to know before continuing towards Francois Peron National Park and Monkey Mia.

Because sooner or later, you will want to leave Denham’s appreciated but humble offering behind. What you really come for is what’s right outside of town: Drive from Denham to the entrance of Francois Peron National Park in 5 minutes and Monkey Mia in 20 minutes.

Takeaway: Denham is not (like Monkey Mia) one of Shark Bay’s crowd-pleasing attractions. However, it’s the only town in the area, and it puts you with the adventure on your fingertips.

Sleeping in Denham

Shark Bay Seafront Apartments

Across the road from Denham’s waterfront promenade, these bright self-contained apartments radiate vacation vibes. The atmosphere peaks when guests gather in the common outdoor area to enjoy the sunset together, and maybe a drink or two.

Tasman Holiday Park

Perched on maybe Denham’s best oceanfront property, this combo of chalets and campsites knows all about attractive views. While it’s easy to get distracted, don’t miss to look across the road, where Shark Bay Supermarket has all you need to prepare a hearty meal.

On the Deck @ Shark Bay

On the outskirts of Denham, this adult-only bed and breakfast brings the magic of Francois Peron National Park to you. There are three modern rooms up for grabs (one downstairs and two upstairs), but that shared signature alfresco terrace — perfect for watching roaming emus, hopping kangaroos and unobstructed sunsets — is where you want to be.

Wildsights Villas

When you enter the courtyard of Wildsights Villas, it feels like you’re visiting an old friend from school. Sure, the rooms could use some updates, but the charisma and tucked-away yet central location are reasons to keep this companionship going for life.

Four chairs around a table in a gazebo at Shark Bay Seafront Apartments
Welcoming Shark Bay Seafront Apartments.

Alternative outposts in Shark Bay

Apart from Monkey Mia and Denham, most of Shark Bay is uninhabited. These off-the-beaten-path outposts, for those who want to try the road less traveled, are rare exceptions.

Hamelin Station

This former sheep station provides classic outback-style lodging in its historic shearers quarters. Expect rustic but clean rooms, with shared bathroom facilities, surrounded by wildlife-filled nature.

Dirk Hartog Island

Dirk Hartog Island — inspected by the namesake Dutch seafarer in 1616 during the first recorded European landing in Western Australia — floats to the west of the Peron Peninsula. Stay here (an eco-lodge, private villa and campsites are available) to immerse yourself in its balsam-for-your-soul environment abounding fascinating history, secluded beaches and red-cliff vistas, all protected by the coextensive Dirk Hartog Island National Park.

Where to stay in Shark Bay FAQ

What town is located in Shark Bay?

Denham is the only town on the Peron Peninsula, home to Monkey Mia and Francois Peron National Park. While Carnarvon technically marks the northern end of Shark Bay, it puts you over 300 km from the heart of the Shark Bay experience.

How far is it from Denham to Monkey Mia?

You can easily go between Denham and Monkey Mia. It’s just 25 km (16 mi) from Denham to Monkey Mia, taking 20 minutes to drive without emu jams.

Should you stay in Monkey Mia or Denham?

Choose Monkey Mia if you want to wake up to the sound of splashing dolphins and within steps of a stunning beach. Or stay in Denham if you prefer a real town, rather than one big resort complex, with the Shark Bay adventure at your fingertips.

Which are the most unique places to stay in Shark Bay?

Aptly named, RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort has exclusive rights to Shark Bay’s most popular show, its one-of-a-kind dolphin encounters. If you rather dodge the crowds, consider bedding down on the (even more) remote Dirk Hartog Island, where Europeans first set foot in Western Australia.

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