The Rowley Shoals are like something right out of the Maldives or Seychelles, yet off the shore of the Kimberley. Lying within a marine park off the west coast of the region, these pristine atolls and reefs are among the country’s best kept secrets and can be visited from Broome.
Rowley is 300kms due west of Broome and consists of a trio of coral atolls like something out of an oversized aquarium. Visitors are often spellbound by the dazzling coral and fish here and just the clearness of the water, such that the snorkelling and diving is hard to beat anywhere else. Along with the swimming and snorkelling at the shoals is some pretty excellent fishing, with all sorts of cod on hand, along with coral trout, groper and myriad other varieties.
There are three shoals at Rowley, including Clerke, Imperieuse and Mermaid. Each is home to a vast array of coral, fish, invertebrates and impressive marine animals including dolphins, whales and oversized turtles.
Mermaid Reef is the closest and houses a lagoon within a thin coral rim with some of the most impressive diving. Nearby Clerke Reef has more dry areas, while Imperieuse Reef—off to the southwest again—is somewhat a mixture of the two and known for its huge coral boulders. All three can be done on a tour as they are relatively close together.
The usual way to get in is via charter boat on a five-day trip from Broome, with the reefs themselves a good 12-hour ride away. In addition, you can hire your own boat and take the trip out there, with public moorings at all reefs, as well as inside Mermaid and Clerke lagoons.
Most visitors to Rowley Shoals spend time in Broome before and after their trip and this tourist town has a good choice of hotels and entertainment. You can get in by flying to Broome International or drive or bus in.