a white weatehrboard house with verandah and grassed area and wooden seats at the front

Is it Better to Stay at Monkey Mia or Denham: Locals Perspective

Hi! It’s Wendy here, a Perth local, with some insider tips on whether to stay in Monkey Mia or Denham.

Location & Accessibility

Situated on the stunning Coral Coast, Monkey Mia and Denham are within the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. If you’re setting off from Perth, prepare for a road trip—Monkey Mia is about a 9-hour drive.

A Glimpse into History & Culture

Monkey Mia is known worldwide for its dolphin encounters, a tradition since the 1960s. Denham has a fascinating pearl and fishing history. European influences are evident in its architecture.

Accommodation

Staying in Monkey Mia
In Monkey Mia, you’ll find that the resort caters mostly to travellers seeking comfort and family amenities. The beachfront properties have stunning views. They are steps away from the dolphin experience—a major drawcard for the area.

Lodging Options in Denham
Denham provides a broader spectrum from bed and breakfasts to self-contained units, perfect for longer stays. Accommodations here give you a homely feel and more integration into the laid-back coastal life.

close up of a wild dolphin
Monkey Mia Dolphin

Attractions & Activities

What Monkey Mia Offers
Beyond the famed dolphins, Monkey Mia is your gateway to snorkelling in crystal waters and sailing into the sunset. The area is a natural playground for water sports enthusiasts and those keen on meeting marine life face-to-face.

Exploring Denham
While Denham might not have dolphins at your doorstep, it offers easy access to the Shark Bay area’s natural wonders, including the stromatolites at Hamelin Pool and the dramatic colours of Francois Peron National Park.

Dining & Cuisine

Monkey Mia’s Culinary Scene
The dining options in Monkey Mia are limited. The resort restaurants serve up a variety of dishes with a focus on fresh, local seafood.

Denham’s Delights
In Denham, there are more dining venues to choose from. The local eateries pride themselves on using regional produce. You’ll find everything from takeaway to restaurants.

Family-Friendly Considerations

Monkey Mia for Families
If you’ve got little ones, Monkey Mia is a dream. The resort is geared towards family fun, with plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained. The safe and shallow waters here make for perfect family beach days.

Denham’s Family Appeal
Denham’s calm and collected vibe is great for families as well. It’s a community where kids can enjoy the outdoors freely.

red cliffs backing a narrow white sand beach with crystal clear ocean
Francois Peron National Park

Cost Considerations

Budgeting for Monkey Mia
Staying in Monkey Mia can be a bit of a splurge, especially if you opt for the resort experience. The activities, while incredible, also come with price tags that reflect their once-in-a-lifetime appeal.

Denham’s Cost Efficiency
Denham can be kinder to your wallet with a variety of accommodation and dining options that cater to budget-conscious travellers. It’s possible to enjoy the wonders of Shark Bay without the premium cost.

My Thoughts

Both Monkey Mia and Denham have their own sparkle. If your heart is set on marine magic and resort comforts, Monkey Mia should be your go-to. However, if you prefer a broader exploration with a laid-back vibe and a touch of history, Denham could be the perfect fit.

Shark Bay Accommodation & Camping

We camped at Denham Seaside Caravan Park, Australia’s most westerly caravan park. It’s situated right in front of the Indian Ocean, providing easy beach access, but it can be extremely windy at certain times of the year. The camp kitchen and facilities were close by and kept clean by staff and visitors. The Convenience Store is just across the road, and the IGA supermarket is down the other end of town.

If you want to avoid camping in Denham, Denham Seaside Caravan Park also has one and two-bedroomed chalets with a kitchenette and a private bathroom. These are extremely popular, so make sure to book well in advance.

three people sitting round a campsite with tent in the background
Denham Seaside Caravan Park

The popular Shark Bay Seafront Apartments are located directly opposite Denham beach and have stunning ocean views from their patios. All accommodation has air-conditioning and a kitchen with a microwave, refrigerator and stove.

On the Deck @ Shark Bay is a highly-rated B&B 1.2 km from Denham town centre. Guests can relax in the hot tub or dine outside on the terrace, complete with a BBQ. All the air-conditioned rooms have a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with complimentary toiletries. Free Wi-Fi and an airport shuttle are included in the price.

The family-owned and operated Oceanside Village is located just across from the beach in Denham. All the air-conditioned villas have a kitchen featuring a stove, microwave, and refrigerator. 

The Shark Bay Caravan Park is another excellent place to camp in Denham, with a range of accommodation options, including family cabins, powered caravan and camping sites, and unpowered camping sites.

If you want to stay in Monkey Mia, the only option is the RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort. Even though we haven’t stayed there, the resort looked amazing and is a great choice for families looking for the dolphin experience. There’s plenty to do here, with swimming pools, a hot tub, a bar, a restaurant and tennis and volleyball courts. The resort has a range of accommodation options, from beach view rooms to dormitories, which all include air-conditioning and are located only steps from the beach. The downside is the lack of choice of restaurants/food and the need to travel into Denham for supplies.

a sand beach with a resort behind
Monkey Mia Resort

How long to stay in Monkey Mia Shark Bay

We stayed in Shark Bay for three nights, giving us two and a half days to explore (we left from Kalbarri). If you want to fish, hike, or relax, stay for at least four nights.

Helpful Resources

Have you visited Monkey Mia or Denham? Where did you stay? Would you stay there again? Let me know in the comments. Join our Facebook Group to ask locals questions about your trip.