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Foodie Heaven on the Ningaloo Reef

Not only do we offer a remote location nestled in the dunes of Cape Range National Park, with private beaches along the magical Ningaloo Reef, but we also treat our guests to amazing cuisine and locally sourced produce.

The Lodge is the heart of Sal Salis. It’s where you’ll first meet the team upon arrival and it’s the place you’ll enjoy your breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as toasting the sunset and dining by candle light.

At breakfast and lunch you’ll be able to choose from a selection of delicious meals, all prepared from scratch here at camp. They will include locally sourced products and only the freshest, in-season ingredients.

 

When you wake up and make your way to the Lodge in the mornings, you’ll find an epic continental selection complete with great coffee, and you can then order someone hot from the menu. Lunch is kept light, and we often recommend 3 sharing plates between two so you can give everything a try!

At sunset, canapes are served with a drink or two. Grab a seat at the bar and watch the sun go down (and in season, watch the humpback whales frolic and breach). This is the perfect way to wind down after your activity-packed day and share your favourite moments with the other guests.

We are all about supporting local, so you’ll notice plenty of Western Australian wines and beers in our self-serve bar.

Dinner is a three-course meal, served by candlelight to truly immerse you in the natural surroundings and to minimise light pollution. Prepare for the stars to mesmerise you as you finish your drinks and walk back to your tents.

 

All images were taken by Scott Slawinski of Base Imagery.

Get to Sal Salis via the Coral Coast Highway

Our location here in the Cape Range National Park may be remote, but that doesn’t mean it’s hard to get here.

Becah and ocean

You can fly from Perth to Exmouth, where we will be waiting to transfer you to our camp. If you fancy a self-drive adventure, you can also take the 1200km Coral Coast Highway from Perth to Exmouth!

This is one of Australia’s great scenic drives and along the way you will discover a combination of some of Australia’s most amazing attractions and experiences, many found nowhere else on earth, as the road hugs the Indian Ocean coastline.

Road trip highlights include:
• the famous Pinnacles Desert,
• fields of amazing wildflowers in Spring,
• meeting the dolphins at Monkey Mia
• the Yamaji Drive trail in Greater Geraldton and surrounds where you can see the sites of the Wadjari community
• a night tour under the stars Malgana tribe of Gathaagudu in Shark Bay, where you can cook up red mullet and play the didgeridoo

This adventurous self-drive route is the perfect way to start your holiday to Sal Salis so you can enjoy everything this gorgeous part of the world has to offer.

Avis are now offering great deals on fly and drive holidays, so you can drive up to Sal Salis and then fly back to Perth. Find out more on the Coral Coast website.

Pygmy Blue whales spotted on the Ningaloo Reef

You’ll often hear us talking about the whale sharks and humpback whales that frequent the waters of the Ningaloo Reef Marine Park; but there’s one other gentle giant that’s been making a few appearances lately; the pygmy blue whale.

Whilst you can’t hop in the water with these giants, you can see them from the air. As whale shark and humpback experiences are so popular here in Exmouth, the boat operators use aerial spotters to help find the marine life quickly and easily. This makes for a seamless guest experience, but also makes for some amazing aerial photography!

Here are some fascinating shots of the pygmy blue whales, taken by Ningaloo Aviation in the last few months.

Pygmy blue whales on the Ningaloo Reef
Pygmy blue whales on the Ningaloo Reef

The pygmy blue whale is a subspecies of the blue whale, first identified in 1966. These whales can reach lengths of up to 80 feet and have several distinct features that separate it from the blue whale which include a larger head, shorter tail and shorter baleen plates.

The pygmy blue whale can be found primarily in tropical waters throughout the Indian and South Pacific Ocean and whilst they do migrate to breed, little is known about their migration behaviour.

The Ningaloo Reef is just teaming with life and seeing these giants in that water is something really special.

There are a number of operators in Exmouth who offer scenic flights over the Reef, if you’re interested speak to our team when you book, and we can help plan your aerial adventure.

Pygmy blue whales on the Ningaloo Reef
Pygmy blue whales on the Ningaloo Reef

When is the best time to visit Sal Salis?

We officially open our camp for the 2019 season in less than 6 weeks. If you want to make this the year you finally come to Sal Salis, you might be wondering when’s the best time to stay. Every month is different and has its own special charm. Finding the right time of year for you is really down to the things you most want to see and experience, as so many of our attractions are nature based. We’ve compiled an overview to help you decide when might be the right time for you!

March 

Our opening month offers hot days and occasional rainfall (usually associated with cyclonic conditions off-shore). The average maximum temperature is 36.3 degrees. The weather is warmer, so March is a great time to visit if you love hot days and want to spend heaps of time in the ocean. This is generally when the last turtle hatchings of the season are making their way to the ocean. So, if you’re lucky, you may see these gorgeous babies making their way into the morning waves.

Turtle hatchlings at Sal Salis

April to June

Mornings and evenings are cooler and we expect offshore breezes and warm days. If swimming with whale sharks is the main reason for coming to Sal Salis, this is the time to come. The season officially starts in April and runs until July. We can help organise your trip with our preferred supplier, Live Ningaloo, so you can adventure out onto the reef for the day and swim with these gentle giants. This is a once in a lifetime adventure and an experience you’ll never forget.

July to September

Nights will be cool – so bring warm clothing as you’ll be eating alfresco at our group camp and no doubt relaxing in your hammock under a sky full of stars. Days will be warm, just lovely for swimming and relaxing in the warm sun. Humpback whales are often seen behind the reef and from around July, and from August until the end of October, you can now swim with the humpback whales. Live Ningaloo offer amazing day tours out to the reef where you can see these majestic creatures up close, from the water. We can organise your tour when you book your stay with us.

October

Temperatures are high throughout the day, but a cool sea breeze may bring respite in the afternoon. The humpback whales continue to swim south, so you will still be able to take a tour if you want to, or simply spot from the beach here at camp. This is also when turtles begin their nesting, so you may see more of them when snorkelling in the waters off our beach or coming up onto the shore to rest in the early evening.

 

Stargazing at Sal Salis

We may be biased, but we think our location is pretty unbeatable. We’re nestled in the dunes of the Cape Range National Park, on the shores of the Ningaloo Reef Marine Park and in a designated Dark Sky area. What does that trifecta mean for you? Well, you can access unspoilt, rugged ranges and gorges, swim in crystal clear water teeming with marine life, and see a sky full of stars.

Whilst many of our guests are aware of the national parks, the Dark Sky Area is something a little more unexpected. According to some scientists, we will struggle to see the stars in some parts of the world by 2025. The effects of light pollution are getting so bad that UNESCO now wants to include the sky at night as part of our human heritage because it is such a wonderful sight to behold.

If you have been fortunate enough to see the stars on a bright summer’s night, you will find it hard to believe that this amazing spectacle will no longer be there for future generations to see. And yet that’s exactly what will happen if too much artificial light prevents us from seeing the stars at night.

Sal Salis is located in a designated Dark Sky area, where uninterrupted views of the milky way will astound you. Seriously, the stars here are something that our guests say will stay with them forever.

Stargazing ignites a child-like curiosity and wonder in adults. It encourages us to think bigger and look at the world around us. It’s something that can be almost meditative and can be enjoyed alone, or as part of a group.

Our biggest hope for our guests is that they can reconnect with nature and switch off from the modern world when they stay with us. From the lack of wifi, to our compostable toilets and dinners by candle-light, this is a place to disconnect and reconnect. The starry night sky is the cherry on top when it comes to reflecting and relaxing.

If you’re planning ahead, in April 2023, Sal Salis is in the path of a total solar eclipse.  A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun, totally or partly obscuring the sun from our vision.  A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon’s apparent diameter is larger than the sun’s and all direct sunlight is blocked, turning day into darkness. This is sure to be an amazing sight for any keen astronomers.

Switch off at Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef for a rejuvenating digital detox

Hidden away in the dunes of the pristine Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area, Sal Salis is a secluded, luxury beachside safari camp tucked away on the North West Cape of Western Australia’s Coral Coast.

We don’t have Wi-Fi or mobile phone coverage here at our camp, which we believe gives us the edge in offering our guests a restorative digital detox experience like no other. No one complains about not having access to the Internet or not being able to get a cell phone signal. We tell them it’s not available in advance and the majority of our guests actually embrace it as a welcome escape from the everyday demands of modern life.

Set between the ruggedly beautiful Cape Range National Park and the sparkling blue waters of the Ningaloo Coast, the stunning landscape surrounding our camp deserves your undivided attention, as does your travel companion. No Wi-Fi means you are able to unwind and fully enjoy each sunrise, sunset, wildlife encounter, delicious meals, interactions with others and even a spot of star gazing without feeling compelled to check your emails or social media accounts.

Sometimes we just need a break to recharge our minds, reset our boundaries and re-establish healthier habits.

Runner up image from @bonbonbonbonbonbon

Mental health studies have shown that there are many good reasons to switch off for a while. The following points were mentioned in a Beyond Blue article about the health benefits of a digital detox:

  1. Reduced stress levels: People who take a break from technology often report feeling more calm and present in the moment to enjoy things happening around them. SWAP SOCIAL MEDIA FOR SUNSETS. A visit to Sal Salis offers a complete break from technology. Spend your days exploring the Cape Range National Park, or discover Ningaloo Reef’s myriad of marine life. After immersing yourself in your beautiful surroundings during the day, spend your evening watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean as you sip a freshly prepared drink, followed by a chef-prepared meal in our cosy lodge.
  2. Increased productivity: Less time spent scrolling through your social media feeds allows more time to do other things such as getting out and about, exercising and connecting with loved ones. SWAP WHAT’S APP FOR WHALESHARKS. Why not tick a few things off your bucket list during your stay at Sal Salis? Swim with whale sharks or humpback whales, or take a sunrise hike in the Cape Range National Park.
  3. Better relationships: According to Beyond Blue, more than 40 per cent of Australians believe their partner uses their phone too much and 70 per cent admit to using their phones during meal times. Less time on your phone allows more time for meaningful interactions and conversations. SWAP FACEBOOK FOR FREINDSHIPS. Sal Salis not only offers the opportunity to reconnect with your partner during your stay, you will also meet a range of other likeminded people here. Many lifelong friendships have been made in our lodge at meal times, as guests regale each other with their stories of exploring the region and the amazing things they’ve experienced here.
  4. Improved health: Sitting down looking at a screen for long periods of time can result in bad posture and reduced physical activity, which can cause us health problems. SWAP SITTING FOR SNORKELLING. We offer our guests a range of activities from hiking in nearby gorges to spot black-footed rock wallabies, to kayaking in Yardie Creek, and snorkelling in the coral gardens of our private beach. However, we can’t blame you for taking an afternoon siesta in your hammock, or relaxing on the beach – we encourage it! Relaxation is important, too!
  5. More sleep: Screen time before bed inhibits the release of a chemical called melatonin, which helps our bodies relax and prepare for sleep. SWAP MEMOS FOR THE MILKY WAY. No fear of that here! After dinner, why not enjoy a spot of star gazing? We keep artificial lights to an absolute minimum here so the stars shine brightly. What better way to end a perfect day than by admiring the magnificent Milky Way?

We believe our slice of paradise is the perfect spot for a digital detox, but you don’t have to take our word for it. Earlier this year, we were delighted to be included on Fathom Travel’s list of the top ten places in the world for an off-the-grid escape!

Are you always ‘on’? Perhaps switching off at Sal Salis is just what the doctor ordered. We are set to re-open in mid-March 2019. Contact us now to book a digital detox and give yourself something to look forward to after the busy festive season!

Turtle tracks herald the start of Ningaloo’s turtle nesting season

As we say goodbye to our staff and guests at the end of our 2018 season, mature female turtles are starting their gruelling journey from the sea to the beaches along the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area to lay clutches of eggs.

Located just metres from our front doorstep, spanning 300 kilometres in length, Western Australia’s Ningaloo Coast is considered one of the world’s most important breeding grounds for endangered green and loggerhead turtles. Hawksbill turtles also nest on this spectacular coastline.

Ningaloo’s turtle nesting season occurs between late October and March each year. Approximately six weeks after nesting, tiny turtle hatchlings emerge from their nests and scurry to the deep blue sea of the Ningaloo Marine Park at the northern tip of Australia’s Coral Coast.

Although most of the hatching takes place during the Sal Salis closure between January and March, some of our guests were lucky enough to witness the hatching of turtles at our private beach in April this year.

 

Turtle hatchlings at Sal Salis

 

It’s no secret that many of our guests visit Sal Salis to swim alongside Ningaloo Reef’s famed big three: whale sharks, humpback whales and manta rays. And with good reason; swimming with these majestic gentle giants is nothing short of AWE-INSPIRING, however, guests are often just as excited about encountering our resident turtles on a snorkelling tour with us in the coral gardens of our private beach.

We love our turtles and we know where to find them. There’s a special location in the ocean near our luxury camp ground where we take our guests to spot turtles. Swimming with them is a truly amazing and it’s always a buzz, even for our guides who are lucky enough to do it often.

 

Guests snorkel with turtles at Sal Salis

 

Accommodation at Sal Salis is fully inclusive, and a number of activities and tours are offered to guests daily. Our knowledgeable guides tailor tours each day to best suit the weather conditions at the time. We have plenty of equipment for guests to use, so just remember to pack your bathers and we’ll supply the rest of the gear for a snorkelling tour that you are sure to remember for the rest of your days.

Bird watchers delight at Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef

The UNESCO World Heritage Listed Ningaloo Coast is renowned for being one of the best places in the world to swim with gentle giants like whale sharks, humpback whales and manta rays.

However, did you know the region also offers some excellent opportunities to spot magnificent birds, such as mighty wedge-tailed eagles, spotted harriers and ospreys?

Wedge Tail Eale by Andre Rerekur

Emus are also rather common in this part of the world. Frequently our guests will see them on their journey to our beachside camp in Western Australia’s Cape Range National Park.

More than 180 species of birds have been recorded in the Cape Range Peninsula, and Sal Salis is located close to some of the most scenic bird watching locations in the National Park.

Beautiful native birds regularly appear around our luxury beachside camp, and we take our guests on wildlife walks to nearby gorges to see more species.

Wake up in your eco-luxe safari tent to the delightful tune of butcherbird song, then join us for a sunrise stroll in Mandu Mandu Gorge. Early morning is the best time to spot birds, and Mandu Mandu Gorge a great place to see a variety of species including pied butcherbirds, little corellas, rainbow bee-eaters, western bowerbirds, raptors, spinifexbirds, spinifex pigeons, grey-headed and brown honeyeaters.

Paul Bester, Osprey Nest

We also take guests to Yardie Creek, where birds can be seen nesting in the cavities of the steep gorge rocks. Birds spotted here include eastern reef egrets, little woodswallows, osprey and zebra finches. Painted finch and sea eagles are also occasionally sighted here. Catch a glimpse of birds and many other species of wildlife (including black-footed rock wallabies) as you join us for a walk along the top of the gorge or kayak with us in Yardie Creek.

Wedge-tailed eagles, Australian bustards and emus are also found in this area and spotted harrier can sometimes be seen hunting low among the spinifex. Rufous-crowned emu-wren, white-winged triller and spinifex birds can also be found in spinifex areas. Look for western bowerbirds in the rock fig trees along limestone ridges and rufous fieldwrens near the coast. Crested pigeon, variegated and white-winged fairy wren and hooded robins can be seen in the thickets.

An interesting fact about this area is that ospreys actually nest on the ground here in the Cape Range National Park. They pair for life and return to the same nest annually, adding new material to it each year.

So, don’t forget your binoculars or walking shoes when you visit Sal Salis. There are plenty of birds to and many different species wildlife to be seen here in the Cape Range National Park. Our friendly guides know just where to look!

 

Substitute your screen for sensory soul food at Sal Salis

With the progress of modern technology, many of us are finding it increasingly difficult to switch off. We are given work phones and laptops and are expected to be available around the clock. The result is that we are always ‘on’, which has a high cost to our wellbeing.

Our social media manager is always harping on about Sal Salis being the ideal location for a digital detox on our social channels (due to our camp being out of range), so we recently invited her back to our slice of paradise so she could take some of her own advice and so we’d get a break from her emails!

Here’s what Jodie had to say about her stay at Sal Salis:

As a person who works from a home office with competing demands of family obligations, work and fitness goals, I found it so liberating to have a break from it all and forget about my phone for a few days. The positive effect it had on our holiday was profound. I wasn’t compelled to check social channels or email accounts constantly, and without digital distractions, I was able to fully appreciate the remarkable environment around me and spend quality time with the number one man in my life.

Sal Salis tent

Here’s why Sal Salis is a treat for the senses:

Sight: Located in Western Australia’s Cape Range National Park, the landscape at Sal Salis is truly breathtaking. Its beauty is a sight to behold in images, but you really have to experience it firsthand to fully appreciate it. The imposing red limestone ridge in the background beautifully contrasts with green coastal vegetation and the many shades of blue along the Ningaloo coastline, which is just a short stroll from the camp. It was wonderful to see how the colours of the sky changed throughout the day – the glorious golden glow of sunrise, followed by brilliant blue skies during the day, followed by the most magnificent panorama of colours at sunset, culminating in an inky night sky positively popping with stars. Knowledgeable Sal Salis guides look at the weather forecast each day and plan activities best suited to conditions. There’s some amazing marine life to be discovered close to camp on snorkelling and kayaking tours, and some equally scenic spots in the gorges of the Cape Range National Park. We spotted some super cute black-footed rock wallabies in nearby Pilgonoman Gorge and swam with an array of colourful marine life during a snorkel drift tour along Sal Salis’ private beach.

wallaby

Sound: Sitting on the beach without another soul in sight and tuning into the Indian Ocean lapping the shore was truly mesmerising… Then I’d switch frequencies to tune into the sounds of the waves crashing out to sea, which had a soothing effect on me. Take a walk along the beach and you’ll hear the squeaky clean, coarse white sand crunching underfoot. Around camp you can hear the happy melody of native birds singing or the laughter of guests entertaining each other with stories of their day of exploring the area.

Sal Salis beach

Smell: Fresh air! A gentle breeze floats through the camp carrying the aroma of the surrounding native bushland and the briny scent of the sea, mingled with some appetising smells from the kitchen.

Sal Salis sunset

Taste: Believe me when I say the food at Sal Salis is every bit as good as some of the finest restaurants in capital cities around Australia. Showcasing as much local produce as possible, the food is fresh and simply irresistible. The chef and his team are very talented indeed. From delectable breakfasts and fresh lunches, to yummy sundowner canapés and delicious dinners – they’re all designed with your taste buds in mind!

food

Touch: I can’t describe the happiness I felt feeling the warm rays of the sun on my skin and immersing myself in the Indian Ocean for a swim during Australian winter! Ningaloo Reef really is home to an endless Summer.

The verdict: I’ve practiced what I preach, and it turns out the digital detox was definitely what I needed. My Sal Salis winter escape restored balance in my life. I am no longer a slave to my phone and have returned full of energy and creative ideas. The break has also been great for family life. I was able to spend quality time with my husband without any competing demands, and missed my children so much that I have been giving them a lot more quality time.  

So, what are you waiting for? Take a hiatus from the digital devices and swap your screen for some soul food at Sal Salis. Please just remember to take your camera and share your photos with us!