Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef has always been on my bucket list; it’s one of those stays that I always put off due to the temptations of overseas travel. And then there’s the price… Sal Salis isn’t cheap. We’re talking Au$1800+ in high season. What pulled me over the line was the pay for 2, stay for 3 re-opening package they had on offer; wow was it worth it!
Wedged between the stunning Cape Range and the world heritage listed Ningaloo Reef, Sal Salis is without a doubt one of the most unique and exclusive beachside tent camps.
If you’re like me and camping isn’t exactly your forte, a few nights glamping at Sal Salis will make you want to explore the rest of Australia’s outback beauty.
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How To Get To Sal Salis
From Perth, the fastest way to get to Sal Salis Ningaloo is via Exmouth (Learmonth). Qantas flights are operating, and even though they usually charge more than $500 for a return journey, it’s worth redeeming just 12,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points for a one-way flight.
Sal Salis is 1.5h drive from Learmonth Airport and about 1h from Exmouth. When I booked, the resort offered two modes of transportation: pick up via car, or a scenic flight. Of course, I chose the scenic flight which cuts the travel time down to just 30 minutes while you get to fly over the Cape Ranges and spot the humpback whales splashing around in the water. Cost-wise, you’re looking at $300 per person for the scenic flight or $125 for the car.
Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef Tent Camp
Set in white desert dunes and with the red-tinted limestone ranges as a backdrop, Sal Salis is a luxury tent camp which operates in seasons. The best time to come here is winter due to the temperature (15 at night and 25-30 during the day). The resort has a main building where a 24h open bar is available for guests. It’s also where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in a communal setting.
Part of the Sal Salis experience is no doubt the social aspect, where you share dinner and drinks with fellow guests each evening on the deck overlooking the ocean. Dining at Sal Salis is fantastic and everyone enjoyed the chef’s daily menus paired with local W.A wines.
The luxury safari tents are built up each season and are scattered between the dunes, just far enough to add some privacy. Wooden walkways connect you to the tent, some come with a small deck and chairs to enjoy the lack of cellphone reception and internet (it’s a feature). Each tent also has a hammock at the entrance where you can laze and enjoy the sun.
The Sal Salis Tent
Inside the tent, you will find all the modern luxuries of a hotel room, king size bed, wardrobe, drawers and a brush to wipe the sand off your feed.
At the back of the tent is a bathroom with solar-powered shower and a composting eco-toilet.
Due to the unique location and the fact that water is scarce up here (it hardly ever rains), guests are allocated 20l for showers each day. If you come here expecting a tropical rainfall shower or a bathtub the size of an Olympic swimming pool; you’re at the wrong address.
Sal Salis Dining & Activities
Sal Salis is an all-inclusive experience, which is to be expected considering the price. Everything is included, and there are no set limits on food & drinks. The vibe is as if you’re at a friend’s place, and he/she just told you: “help yourself, dinner is ready in 10”. The bar is fully stocked with local kombucha brands, beers, wine and spirits to whip up a negroni or two.
Each evening at 6 PM canapés are served on the main deck with dinner kicking off at 7 PM. The staff would set up the communal dining table, and everyone there seemed to be more than happy to share dinner with their fellow guests.
Activities include snorkelling, kayaking and hiking in and around the many gorges. The activities themselves were perfectly suited for any age/fitness level, so don’t expect a 10h hike across the desert. A typical day would be: breakfast, activity one, lunch at Sal Salis, activity two, dinner & drinks.
Alternatively, you can also opt to stay in and enjoy the beach right in front of the resort, where a shallow hard coral reef is within 5m off the shore.
The Sal Salis Staff
The resort is part of the Journey Beyond Group who also own and operate the luxury train rides in Australia. One of the highlights of Sal Salis was no doubt the team working there. The vibe is laidback so don’t expect and “sir/mam”, instead expect Australian hospitality at its best: genuine and friendly.
It’s one of the few hotels where you know everyone on a first-name basis by day 2, including your fellow guests. Even though the atmosphere is relaxed, the team is also professional, and there’s a lot of attention to detail. Rooms seemed to be magically made up throughout the day, and any requests were met with a “no worries, can do” attitude.
Sal Salis Ningaloo Conclusion
This is eco-luxury at its best, yes there’s sand on the floor, yes you will need to deal with a composting toilet but what you pay for is to be in one of the most beautiful locations within a national park, glamping right next to the world heritage listed Ningaloo reef. All this while being pampered by a team of genuine and passionate people. Would I recommend Sal Salis? 100%!
Pro Tip: Whale Sharks
One of the main reasons people come to the Ningaloo Reef/Exmouth is to swim with the whale sharks or the humpback whales. While this is an incredible experience, it does take up a whole day. If I were to stay again, I would probably book the whale shark swim on the day of arrival, this would work well since check-in time at Sal Salis is 2 PM and the boat generally returns by 3 PM. The boat ramp is a 20-minute drive from Sal Salis so timing-wise this would work out nicely.