The Buccaneer Archipelago consists of close to one thousand islands and lies off the coast of Western Australia, north of the town of Derby, in the Kimberley region. These remote and mostly uninhabited islands have pristine sandy beaches contrasted by rugged terrain. The tides in this region are the largest in the tropics. Along with whirlpools, they can create treacherous conditions for those navigating these waters.
These powerful tides also create the Buccaneer Archipelago’s most fascinating phenomenon and one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, the Horizontal Falls in Talbot Bay. Known as Garaanngaddim by traditional owners the Dambimangari, the Horizontal Falls are created by fast-moving tidal currents squeezing through two narrow gorges at an incredible rate to form what appear like waterfalls turned on their side.
The unspoiled Buccaneer Archipelago has so much to offer visitors to the northwest region of Western Australia.
Largely untouched due to their isolation and difficulty to access, the simply stunning islands of Buccaneer Archipelago feature rugged red rock faces, secluded beaches and patches of mangroves and rainforest on a backdrop of the most vivid turquoise ocean.
The islands' rocks and high cliffs of Precambrian sandstone are estimated to be over 2 billion years old. The closest inhabited spot to the Buccaneer Archipelago is Bardi, also known as Ardyaloon or One Arm Point, an Aboriginal community town on the Dampier Peninsula about 54 kilometres away.
Now a first-rate cruising and fishing destination, Buccaneer Archipelago’s massive tidal range of over 12 metres once wreaked havoc on the pearling fleet that worked the waters in the last century. Many sailors lost their lives due to the unpredictable conditions, as is evident in the tombstones scattered throughout the islands.
Buccaneer Archipelago’s most popular tours are to Horizontal Waterfall, described by David Attenborough as one of the world’s great natural wonders. Horizontal Falls is a phenomenon that’s mysterious, mesmerising, and magnificent and a must-see on your visit to the Buccaneer Archipelago.
Join us on a Kimberley tour to explore the wonders of the Buccaneer Archipelago.
Covering over 50 square kilometres, the islands of the archipelago stretch out between King Sound and Collier Bay.
The interesting name of the archipelago came from Naval Officer Philip Parker King in 1821 to honour William Dampier, an English buccaneer, privateer, and some would say pirate, who charted the area in 1688.
The traditional owners of the area are the Mayala group made up of the Yawijibaya and Unggarranggu people. The Bardi people have the traditional rights of fishing and trochus - sea snails valued for the mother-of-pearl layer to their shells.
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