Category Archives: Blog

Turtle Egg Laying Time

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Sal Salis is currently closed for the season  so our Camp Managers Paul and Candice are finding time to enjoy themselves.  They had been out for an early morning paddle on the kayaks yesterday when they noticed turtle  tracks across the damp sand.  Following them they found this gorgeous girl who had just finished laying her eggs and was busy covering her nest.   She was exhausted and went at a VERY slow pace, eventually she trundled back down to the water and swam off.   Candice says the beach is covered in nests at the moment.

Three of the world’s seven marine turtle species nest on the mainland beaches and islands of Ningaloo Reef during the summer months.

  1. Green turtles (Chelonia mydas)
  2. Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta)
  3. Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata)

Incubation is then around 60 days so through March and into April turtle hatchings on the beach are a very special experience for some of our lucky guests.   It is hard to describe how emotional you feel watching the tiny turtles – perfect and beautiful, strive for life.

Photos by Camp Manager – Paul Bester

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Meet Paul Bester

Our guides at Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef not only have a passion for the environment and creating lasting memories for our guests, some of them have some pretty impressive talents. Guide Paul Bester has been making all of us here in the office jealous with his weekly Sal Salis photo updates!Let’s get to know a little more about our field guide Paul (aka photographer extraordinaire) …

Paul is a South African native who grew up on a tobacco farm and spent his afternoons looking for bird eggs and trying to outsmart the local antelope. At boarding school he met our very own lodge manager Tristan, where they both joined the falconary club and spent huge amounts of time out of the classroom and in the sticks. After studying in Cape Town, Paul joined a lodging group in South Africa and learned all the tricks of the trade – from fine dining to identifying animal tracks. From there he became a game ranger in Kruger for three years and grew his love of photography – a great way to relate to guests on a personal level by teaching them how to operate their cameras to get the best shots of leopards, cheetahs, elephants, lion, antelope… the list goes on and on!

After a busy season showing guests around the Ningaloo Coast, Paul says.. “And here I am. Still got the camera, Still living the dream!”With so many to choose from it has been a struggle to pick just 10 of Paul’s shots, but we’ve managed and here are some of our favourites,

cape range
Top of the Cape Range
“I loved the way the clouds formed the natural leading lines. Including a little foreground gives a feel of just how beautiful this place is…”
sal sail night sky
Night Sky
“Using the guest tent as my focal point puts the vastness of the night sky into perspective”
thunder storm sept
“This image was captured from the Sal Salis whale watching deck. The wind had picked up to a steady gail with a huge storm brewing over the ocean. I love the way the clouds draw the viewer into the picture with a bit of lighting up the footpath drawing you into the tents. That day we were all bracing for something big, fortunately it all blew over”
breath taking beaches
Breath Taking Beaches
“I took this picture just north of the lodge, then cropped it to give the viewer a feel for the open spaces along the Ningaloo Coast”
sal salis night sky
Stars Above the Lodge
“I love this photo of the main lodge with a full star trail behind. Having almost zero light pollution makes for amazing star gazing. I left the shutter open for half an hour which created the circle effect”
senic flight
Scenic Flight
“Hop onto a light aircraft and see the reef from above, a place where desert meets ocean. I captured this image at the airstrip, the red dust creates a whirlwind effect”
wild skies yardie creek
Wild Skies Over Yardie Creek
“This image was taken on one of our Yardie Creek Gorge Walks. The wind brings in the moisture over the ocean, making for a dramatic contrast between sky and land”
dingo exmouth 2014
“Getting up before the crack of dawn does have it’s perks! Spotted this canine a little way up the road from the lodge. Having seen tracks on most gorge walks, actually seeing one in the wild is a bucket list tick for me! “
mandu cave 2014
Mandu Cave
“I’ve had my eye on this cave for a while and have tried many different ways to photograph it. Having my brother up, I made him lie on his back in a classic ‘outback Aussie’ position, waiting out the heat of the day”
main lodge 2014
Main Lodge
“Now this is wow!!”

Sal Salis Takes Out ‘The Eco Award’ at Smith Hotel Awards 2014

The results are in… Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef has won ‘The Eco Award’ in the Smith Hotel Awards 2014!Over 20,000 members of the public voted for their favourite properties all over the world, listed on boutique hotel specialist website Mr & Mrs Smith. We are thrilled to have then been chosen by a panel of specialist judges, including Holy Tuppen, editor of Green Hotelier, Livia Firth, founder of Eco Age and Chris Goreel Barnes, co-founder of the Blue Marine Foundation, as the winner in the Eco Category. “This is an incredible achievement for Wild Bush Luxury and for Sal Salis, and is a testament to the focus and importance we put on operating our wilderness camps in an environmental and sustainable way.” said Wild Bush Luxury CEO Charles Carlow.

Eco2 SpecialOffers41

The Eco Award looks to champion those hotels that are able to combine luxury and eco-tourism – not the easiest feat! – with Sal Salis being recognised for its commitment to conserving and protecting not only Ningaloo Reef and the Cape Range National Park, but the environment in general, and promoting these ideals to guests all while keeping to a luxury standard.

Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef operates under a license agreement with the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) in Western Australia, in what is a role model partnership between National Parks and private sector tourism with the ultimate aim of conserving the region’s natural environment through educational and environmentally sound tourism operations. In addition to the park entrance fees, 5% of the business’s turnover goes to DPaW and their conservation work across Western Australia. The rooms, main lodge and boardwalks are raised off the ground to protect flora and fauna and prevent unnecessary erosion, 100% of the camp’s power is solar generated, all water is carried in and all waste is transported out and recycled where possible. The colour of the tents and lodge ensures that the camp blends in naturally with the surrounding landscape. Beachside safari for real… check it out!


We are very proud to be recognised among the list of other Australian hotels, resorts and lodges that have dominated the Smith Awards this year with Sydney’s 1888 winning ‘Best Budget Boutique’, Emirates Wolgan Valley winning the ‘Best for Families’ category and Southern Ocean Lodge winning the ‘Above and Beyond’ award. Click here to see the entire list of winners for the Smith Awards 2014 and thank you to all who voted.

Turtles, Turtles, Turtles!

November is one of our favourite times at Sal Salis, when the green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles we have snorkelled alongside all year begin to mate offshore and then haul themselves up onto the beach to lay their eggs. About six weeks later, the smallest turtles you ever did see dig their way out of the sand and race for the protection of the water – quite a spectacle for some of our lucky guests staking out the nests under moonlight after dinner.

Digging Snorkel1
Hawksbill Nesting

In honour of this exciting time at Ningaloo, we thought we’d share 10 incredible facts about some of our favourite snorkelling buddies!


There are seven species of marine turtles in the world – all of them are threatened – three of which are known to nest on the beaches and islands adjacent the Ningaloo Reef – green, hawskbill and loggerhead.


Green turtles get their name from the green colour of their body fat! This colouring comes from the seaweed, algae and other ‘sea-greens’ they feed on.


In Western Australia, there is only one genetic stock of green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles resulting in a larger risk to the species as low genetic diversity contributes to reduced resilience to threats such as disease and population decline.


Marine turtles can be identified by the tracks they leave behind in the sand.


Only 1 in 1000 marine turtles survive to sexual maturity as hatchlings and juveniles are a favourite food for many marine predators such as sharks, sea birds and larger fish. Unfortunately humans pose the biggest threat to survival through accidental catches in fishing lines, boat strikes and pollution being ingested.


Marine turtles have a ‘magnetic foot’ which means they return to the very same beach they were hatched to lay their eggs, it’s still a mystery how they manage to navigate thousands of kilometres from their feeding groups back to their nesting beaches.


The time it takes for all turtles to hatch depends on the temperature of the sand in which they were laid. Eggs will hatch faster if the temperature of the sand is warmer. Temperature also affects the gender of hatchlings, with cooler sand generating more males, and warmer sand more females.


Marine turtles can live into their 80s!


Hatchlings emerging from their nests are drawn to light, usually moonlight, which guides them to the sea. Due to increased coastal development, some hatchlings are drawn by the lights of the towns, away from the sea.


After dinner in November, guests at Sal Salis might be lucky enough to head down to the beach with our lodge manager Tristan – trained in turtle tracking – and watch for green, hawksbill or loggerhead hatchlings make their dash for the ocean!

Did Someone Say Whales?

The ‘Ningaloo Super Highway’ is back in action, turning the waters off Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef into whale soup !The humpback whales have arrived early this year, sharing the waters with Ningaloo’s most famous resident – the whale shark. Normally the humpbacks reach Ningaloo at the end of July, on the way to their over-wintering (and birthing) grounds in the Kimberley. Following the humpbacks are pods of killer whales, looking for a humpback calf sized meal.

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The wildlife calander along the Ningaloo Coast is on non-stop rotation, moving from sea turtles, to whale sharks, humpback whales, killer whales, and back to turtles – of course not forgetting the fish, reef sharks and manta rays that call Ningaloo home year round. From July, our guests will often see humpback whales breaching from right out the front of their Wilderness Tents, making it one of the most popular times to visit, as the infamous whale sharks are also still in the area welcoming snorkellers to get a closer look. Did you know the spots covering the sharks are individual to each one? Just like a human’s fingerprint they are used by scientists to identify individual animals and some sharks have been photographed 17 years after first being sighted!

Some recent guests at Sal Salis were lucky enough to swim with 5 different whale sharks, spot a pod of killer whales AND two humpback whales in one day last week – we weren’t lying when we said whale soup!

Ningaloo Reef Pips the ‘Other’ Reef

The Ningaloo Reef has pipped the big guy over East (otherwise known as the Great Barrier Reef) – being named 12th amongst Australia’s top 20 greatest holiday experiences in one of the most comprehensive, unbiased and well considered gazettes published by the Australian Traveller magazine. The list was compiled by a panel of Australian travel and tourism industry experts and had over 12,000 nominations submitted nation-wide.

So what makes the Ningaloo Coast all that much better than the Great Barrier Reef? There’s the opportunity to swim with Ningaloo’s most famous resident, the whale shark (from April to July), the incredible ‘outback to coral reef’ landscape contrasting the red sand and canyon environment with the bright white and blue of the sand and sea, as well as a range of accommodation options, including of course Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef (our favourite)! And the clentcher is you need only wander 50 metres from your wilderness tent and within 10 metres you are snorkelling over the clearest turquoise water on Earth. You’re now snorkelling over 500 species of resident fish and 250 varieties of coral. Right there. No road or boat transfers required!

WS Australian Traveller 2014 Snorkel4

Australian Traveller also named swimming with the whale sharks as Number 1 in their list of Australia’s 5 Greatest ‘Swim With’ Experiences.

Click here to view the full list and read a bit more about what makes the Ningaloo Coast special.

Racehorse of The Ocean

What do our Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef guides get up to when no one else is around ….?
The waters off the Ningaloo Reef are renowned as some of the best fishing grounds in the world !
Our camp manager Tristan isn’t letting it go to waste during the off season. He spent an hour out on his kayak wrangling this spanich mackerel on a day off recently. Definitely not an idea for the faint of heart … Tristan tipped over as he pulled in the fish and somehow managed to right the kayak, climb back in AND keep the fish on the hook !

Tristan and Mackeral3

The spanish mackerel (aka Mackie) are the racehorses of the ocean. These exciting game fish are caught all year round in the tropical Ningaloo waters and once you know how to catch them, you are never short of a bit of action. Can’t say wrestling one from a kayak is recommended though ! This beauty was cooked up with chilli and lime and served fresh off the BBQ – mmMMmm yummo !

It’s not all just sweeping, painting and building during the off season…

Check out for more on when to go and what you’ll catch.

Nature Hour on The Reef

The whale sharks and humpback whales may be the stars of the Ningaloo Coast, but there are other equally incredible (though less well known) creatures playing out their lives right on our doorstep at Sal Salis.

Sue and Gary had their own private nature hour when they visited us in November. Swimming with massive bull rays, turtles and sharks giving birth all in the space of 3 days – Attenborough eat your heart out !

Sharks giving birth I hear you ask ?? Indeed. Tawny nurse sharks are residents of the Ningaloo Reef and are ovoviviparous, meaning they give birth to live young that have hatched while in their uterus. Gary was up for an early snorkel one morning and was lucky enough to see a shark giving birth in the shallows – pretty incredible ! The baby magic didn’t stop there either, that night Sue and Gary watched a green turtle haul herself out of the water and lay eggs in a nest on the beach under a full moon.

After leaving us, Sue and Gary travelled south to Coral Bay and swam with even more sharks, and a resident population of manta rays… Did someone say nature junkies !?

Baby Boom at Ningaloo

The Ningaloo Coast is one of the ocean’s ‘super highways’, providing a route up the west coast of Australia for some of the world’s most spectacular marine life.

Sea turtles and humpback whales frequently use the highway to migrate up and down the Ningaloo Coast between their feeding and breeding grounds and these beautiful animals are certainly not shy about sharing their cute babies with us. The whale sharks aren’t the only celebrities around here !!

This mother came ashore right in front of our beach shelter at Sal Salis to make her nest. She is an endangered green sea turtle and comes to land only to lay her eggs beneath the sand. Their names comes from the green colour of their body fat, coloured by the plants and algae they eat. Looks like these turtles have been eating more than their three serves of greens a day ;


All seven species of sea turtle are endangered and the loggerhead and hawksbill along with the green turtle all mate and nest along the Ningaloo Coast. Green sea turles return to the beach where they were hatched every two to five years to lay anywhere from 75-100 eggs per nest, with between 1 and 12 nests per season. That’s a whole lotta baby turtkes !! Unfortunately only 1 in 1000 of these little ones will make it to adulthood, the ones that do though can live as old as 80 years ! Our guides at Sal Salis have taken steps to ensure we give this mums little guys the best chance of survival – hopefully n a few months we will see something like this right on our doorstep… Click here to watch some other newborns making a dash to the sea

Turtle Underwater

Thousands of humpback whales also use the super highway to migrate between Antarctica and the Kimberley’s where they give birth to a 1 tonne baby every two to three years ! During their time over winter in the tropical waters off the Kimberley coast the whales will fast and live off their fat reserves.

humpbacks from the air

Once the calves are strong enough, feeding from their mothers milk, they begin the long journey back to Antarctica, staying close to the coast line in the relatively safe shallow water. Over summer in the cold Southern Ocean, one of the largest animals on earth feeds almost entirely on one of the smallest – krill. They will gorge themselves on up to 8 tonnes of these tiny crustaceans a day !

HumpbackWhale Breach

It’s common to see whales breaching right off the reef break from your wilderness tent or from our dedicated whale deck during their annual migration from July to October.

Lucky Lizard

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The Brown Falcon is found in the drier regions of Australia. The Cape Range National Park is an arid limestone area and we are starting to see some lovely wildflowers at this time of year including Sturt Desert Peas and the beautiful Bird Flower.

Sal Salis is wedged into the dunes between these dramatic limestone ranges and then the World Heritage Ningaloo Reef on the other side.


Our location makes for some amazing outback sunrises and magical coastal sunsets and our habitual routine is to kick back with an aperitif and a canape or two as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean. Ching ching D