Shark Bay owes its name to the English explorer William Dampier who in 1699 names this area "shark bay" in honour of this magnificent fish in the area.
The Bay is also the first town in Western Australia to receive the UNESCO status in 1991 as it responds to as many as 4 out of 10 natural criteria required, rare conditions to find in the world:
1. Exceptional natural beauty
2. History of the Earth
3. Endangered species
4. Continuous evolution
The only urban centre of the peninsula is the small town of Denham, originally famous for its rural activity, pearl market and fishing. Nowadays tourism makes it the main economy as a strategic base for exploring the peninsula.
Here are the main activities to be carried out in Shark Bay:
1. Explore the breathtaking landscapes of the Francois Peron National Park north of the peninsula.
2. Visit to the calm and crystalline Little Lagoon, which also offers free electric barbecues.
3. Visit the Stromatolites of Hamelin Pool, one of the two places in the world to host these fossils dating back more than 3 billion years ago. Stromatolites are the oldest and largest fossils on Earth and grow up to 0.3 mm per year.
4. Stop at Shell Beach . It is one of only two in the world of this kind. It extends for 60 km and the small white shells reach a depth of 10 meters!
5. Admire the view of the coast from Eagle Bluff that offers a fantastic overview of these turquoise waters and you can even spot some small sharks.
6. Attend the nourishment of a family of Dolphins in Monkey Mia where every morning it is possible to admire these beautiful animals approaching the shore in complete freedom.
We have personally decided to spend 3 days and two nights at Shark Bay (one in Denham paying 35 dollars per car and another in the Francois Peron Park)
The area that we liked the most is the Francois Peron national park because of the colours of the surrounding landscape. Entrance to the park costs $ 13 per car, as with most parks here in WA. Indeed we bought a monthly pass for $ 46 so you don't have to pay every time you enter a national park.
We decided to stay overnight at the camping located at the Big Lagoon, within the national park, paying 11 dollars per person. The campsite offers chemical toilets and electric barbecues, but there is no water. The location is perfect, just right on the lagoon and surrounded by amazing red dunes. The sunset is just breathtaking! Furthermore, each campsite is very large and next to the lagoon.
The road leading to the lagoon is not paved. It includes many dunes and is accessible only with a 4WD vehicle after reducing the tire pressure to about 18 psi. We took about half an hour to cover the 12 km that lead to the Big Lagoon, but we must consider that it was our first "off-road" and therefore we took our time. However, we decided not to go to the northern part of the park, about 40 km from the entrance, as we were told that some areas (especially around Cattle Well) are quite difficult for those who are inexperienced on the sand.
The next day, therefore, we decide to wake up early and go to Monkey Mia for 7.30 am on the occasion of the "first experience" with dolphins. Yes, it is a rather touristy area, where you have to pay $ 15 per person for entering the park (not included this time in the monthly pass) and visiting the dolphins.
Despite a large number of visitors, we were struck by how it all happened in complete silence and respect for these adorable animals that have approached shore independently. Some of them seemed to linger to greet the park's volunteers and some visitors. They are really sensitive and intelligent animals, and it was wonderful to be able to admire them at their natural habitat! A couple of volunteers then decide to offer them some fish but not all of them appreciate that because they are not used to eating dead fish and they don't always like it. In short, it was a beautiful experience in full respect for these wonderful animals and the surrounding environment.