Best Beaches In WA
BEST BEACHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
WESTERN Australia is big. We’re talking Australia’s-largest-state big with more than 2,600,000 sq/km of land sitting inside an area that accounts for roughly one-third of this Southern Hemisphere continent.
It’s big enough to accommodate most of Western Europe, could take Texas 11 times over, and should it secede from the rest of Australia the territory would instantly become the world’s 10th largest country.
The state out west is home to Australia’s sunniest capital city, the country’s largest expanse of Outback, and more than 12,000km of coastline stretching from the chilly waters of the Great Australian Bite in the south to the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf crowning the Kimberley in the north.
It’s this last fact we’re most interested in because, where there comes coastline, there come beaches. And Western Australia has a few worth writing home about. AAT Kings have compiled a comprehensive list of the best beaches you should include in your Western Australian holiday.
With so much territory, it’s always summer somewhere in this vast parcel of the planet, making this destination the country’s best place to be at the beach.
BEST BEACHES IN PERTH
Perth boasts a dozen or so beaches, from Quinns Rocks crowning the northern suburbs to Port Beach on the high side of the Swan River, with 197km of Indian Ocean providing a place for all water sports from fishing and swimming to kitesurfing and snorkelling.
Cottesloe – or simply Cott, as the locals know it – is probably the most famous of the Perth beaches, with this kilometre-long stretch of sand a firm favourite with the locals for more than 100 years. The destination is home to fine-dining addresses serving dinner beneath a sunset sky, beachside pubs renowned for alfresco Sunday drinks, and the Sculptures by the Sea exhibition which visits every March.
This beach, only a 20-minute drive from the city centre was just another local’s haunt until Australia II won the America’s Cup in 1983, with local businessman Alan Bond pumping millions into the address making it ready for Perth to host the world-famous regatta four years later. Today it’s considered one of the best places to surf, swim and take in the sun with a children’s playground, basketball court and foreshore pedestrian promenade.
When it comes to family-friendly beaches in Perth’s northern suburbs, it’s hard to go past Sorrento. The destination a stone’s throw from Hillarys Boat Harbour boasts 600m of sand, a netted enclosure for safe swimming, a reef 3km from the shore and an expanse of lawn with barbecues, undercover picnic tables and snacks for sale at the local Sorrento SLSC café.
It might be a stretch to include Yanchep as an extension of Perth, but this settlement 60km north of the old Perth GPO features a beautiful beach that deserves to be logged on this list. Yanchep Lagoon is a popular swimming and snorkelling beach, and while the reef at the southern end creates a shallow turquoise pond there is a permanent rip in the northern channel that demands staying between the flags.
BEST BEACHES IN FREMANTLE
Don’t sell Fremantle short when it comes to swimming. The satellite city – an easy train ride from the heart of Perth and its western suburbs – isn’t just home to a heaped helping of history but a few picturesque places to take in the sun, sea, surf and sand.
Bathers Beach, which sits snugly between the southern bank of the Swan River where it meets the Indian Ocean and Fremantle’s famous Fishing Boat Harbour, is the perfect place to descend on a hot day with the sea breezes drifting across this compact corner of the coast. The beach isn’t patrolled, but the generally-calm conditions mean it’s a favourite with families.
This tranquil address on Marine Terrace attracts bathers of all experience levels, as well as stand-up paddle boarders and accomplished swimmers who clock up the open-ocean kilometres in the calm water a stone’s throw from the sand. The outer reef is alive with marine life, which makes South Beach a great place to master snorkelling before taking to deeper water somewhere else in the state.
This corner of coastline doesn’t instantly appear on every list of Western Australia’s most beautiful beaches with the stevedore cranes and shipping containers of the nearby Port of Fremantle providing an industrial backdrop to Leighton and neighbouring Port Beach. But forget what’s behind the dunes and wander west to wade in shallows that the Fremantle Surf Life Saving Club has patrolled since 1935.
BEST BEACHES IN MARGARET RIVER
Australia’s picture-perfect south-west corner is a destination for all seasons. Nothing beats cooling down in the tranquil sapphire seas on a balmy summer’s day or strolling the sand dressed in the warmest winter woollies as you observe Southern Ocean storm on the horizon out to sea.
Everyone is welcome at Gnarabup Beach with this local haunt hosting school holidays swimming lessons while mums and dads watch from the nearby White Elephant Café with a coffee in hand. This spot, a 10-minute drive from Margaret River village, is tops with kids who jump from the old jetty and the fact the outer reef calms the swell makes it a family-friendly place for water play.
HAMELIN BAY BEACH
It’s the stingrays swimming close to the shore that draw wildlife lovers to this breathtaking bay that’s just north of Augusta, but there’s more to observe here than these elegant creatures in their natural habitat. The sheltered bay is suited to swimming, divers can explore underwater wrecks, the cliff-top tracks are ideal for chilly-season trekking, and the coastal flora and fauna delights ornithologists and botanists.
This is the closest beach to Margaret River and famous in the world surfing community because it hosts a pro competition every April when long lines of Southern Ocean swell routinely roll in from beyond the horizon. Right next door is River Mouth, with this beach home to shallow and calm water that’s suited to kids learning to negotiate the waves on boogie boards as well as stand-up paddle boarders, kayakers and swimmers.
BEST BEACHES IN BROOME
The Kimberley isn’t the most obvious place for water play, with the coastline that crowns Western Australia best suited to exploration by expedition cruise or travel by road due to its remoteness and rugged landscapes. But down south in Broome, there are beaches that warrant packing the togs when getting ready for a holiday adventure.
Spectacular sunsets, camel safaris, 22km of white sand, and a carpet of sparkles that fall on the black evening water to create a staircase that climbs to the moon combine to make Cable Beach world famous. For a magical experience hire an umbrella and deck chair, find a quiet place on the sand, and watch the western sky turn fiery shades as the sun sinks towards the horizon to end another magical day in the Kimberley.
Reddell Beach is a favourite with Broome locals, who escape to this scenic spot on the southern end of the Broome peninsula to float in the calm water that provides a refreshing respite when the mercury climbs. Cable Beach gets all the glory, but this spot is worth seeing with the stark contrasts of red pindan of the Kimberley coast bordering the white sandy beach.
Venture to the southern end of Cable Beach to discover a quiet corner of the coast where the Kimberley’s burnt orange rocks drop dramatically into the deep Indian Ocean blue. The destination is the departure point for kayak tours, fishing charters and whale watching tours with dinosaur prints that are more than 130 million years old preserved in the reef and visible when low tide reveals the rocks at the bottom of the cliffs.
BEST BEACHES IN ESPERANCE
Esperance is a place that’s made for exploring. The parcel of property at the bottom of mainland Australia is defined by the vibrant colours Mother Nature creates when she paints wild seascapes shaped by wind and water, with the region’s beautiful beaches connected by the 40km Great Ocean Drive.
Lucky Bay, located deep inside Cape Le Grand National Park 50km from Esperance, is arguably the most famous of the south coast’s beaches and home to an amiable mob of kangaroos that spend the daylight hours on this sweeping 5km section of sand. Matthew Flinders named the spot, when he was surveying the West Australian coast in 1802, and the secluded cove offered a safe place to hide from a Southern Ocean storm.
The family-friendly beach a 10-minute drive from Esperance along the Great Ocean Drive is a picturesque place capped by rocky headlands that almost meet to make a shelter that’s safe for swimming. The water is shallow, with the white sand turning the crystal-clear water an icy blue, and during low tide it’s often possible to walk out to the boulders to spy the marine creatures at home in the rockpools.
This beach is one of the smallest in the state and, on hot days, the sand that spreads out below the steep steps winding down the side of the grassy dunes quickly fills with locals seeking solace from the heat. But there’s always somewhere to sit with the flat rocks flanking the sand a perfect perch to spread out the towels beside water that turns neon shades of blue under the bright summertime sun.
The sand is so fine at this cove it actually squeaks under foot and it’s not unusual to spot a frisky pod of dolphins dipping and driving through the waves beside the surfers. Wharton Beach, which makes up a sizeable portion of the Duke of Orleans Bay at the heart of Cape Le Grand National Park, rewards those that make the trip from town with a famously tranquil vibe.
BEST BEACHES ON ROTTNEST ISLAND
There’s more to do on Rottnest Island than pose for selfies with a quokka. This holiday island, 25 minutes by ferry from Fremantle or 90 minutes from the city’s Barrack Street Jetty, boasts 63 secluded beaches and 20 bays. And, with a hard cap on the number of visitors allowed to set foot on the Indian Ocean island, there’s a guarantee of always finding an empty spot to savour the solitude.
The Basin is where most Rotto holidays begin with this bay, only a dawdle or easy pedal from accommodation around the Thompson Bay settlements, at the end of a new promenade leading straight to the sand. Blocks of reefs and rocky ledges create a network of shallow pools perfect for floating on a hot day, and there’s typically a game of beach cricket happening on the sand.
FISH HOOK BAY
The island’s West End is home to Fish Hook Bay and neighbouring Eagle Bay, with these rocky coves regularly visited by the wild Indian Ocean breakers that rumble towards the coast on stormy days. And while these beaches are not suited to swimming, they provide a scenic perch to spy the whales that pass Rotto during the annual migration and the New Zealand fur seals catching the rays on Cathedral Rocks.
Pinky Beach is famous for pastel skies during sunrise and sunset, with this spot sitting in the shadows of the Bathurst Lighthouse often described as having something for everyone. The place is typically busy during warm-season days, so the little tackers will always find a friend to play with, and the protected water makes for easy swimming and snorkelling.
LITTLE SALMON BAY
Picture a flawless deep blue dome above, perfect white sand, and translucent water that barely builds to more than a ripple and you’re imagining Little Salmon Beach on Rotto’s scenic south coast. It’s easy to reach, as it is a designated stop on the Rottnest Island bus route, and snorkelers can follow the snorkel trail to learn more about life beneath the surface.
BEST BEACHES IN ALBANY
The stretch of wild Western Australia’s south coast between Albany and Denmark is weathered and wind-blown with Southern Ocean squalls shaping the coastline over centuries to create a landscape that’s defined by rocky granite headlands dividing sweeping strips of sand.
An empty stretch of coastline on the eastern side of Vancouver Peninsula, a 20-minute drive from Albany, is the place to find Whalers Cover. A rocky granite outcrop combines with an underwater seaweed bank to provide the perfect conditions for marine life to thrive, and the cove is sheltered from the swell and strong winds creating calm conditions to snorkel in shallow water.
Travellers looking for spectacular scenery can’t go past Salmon Holes, with this spot inside Torndirrup National Park named after the schools of salmon found in the bay. The white sand is flanked by steep dunes, while the headland is a weathered rock wall that drops gently into the sea, and while the beach is protected from the wind the waves can thunder across the shallows on a rough day to pound the sand.
Hit the road to head west, putting Albany in the rear-view mirror, and make for Elephant Rocks which is 15km from Denmark in William Bay National Park. Once you arrive, follow the coastal track that frames remarkable views of the Southern Ocean, and see the collection of partially submerged boulders that look like a herd of elephants paddling in the shallow water.
Water the colour of emerald and fine white sand have combined to put Greens Pool on every list of the best beaches in WA with the site on the Denmark side of the southern coast famous for swimming, snorkelling and diving. The destination is a little further on from Elephant Rocks with rock pools to investigate and protected swimming ponds for peaceful floating when the weather warms up.
BEST BEACHES OF THE CORAL COAST
Western Australia’s Coral Coast is famous for the wildflowers that carpet the landscape in vivid botanical shades after the winter rains have passed. But, with 1,250km of coastline, it doesn’t come up short on beautiful beaches and the distance between settlements mean travellers will often have a spot to themselves.
The Blue Holes, sitting just south of Kalbarri, is famous for snorkelling with the protected water and rock pools combining to create a natural aquarium abundant with marine life and an environment that’s safe for kids to splash about. This stretch of coast is an inshore limestone reef system, with some sections permanently submerged and others often exposed, and is a fish habitat protection area boasting more than 70 finfish species.
Those in the know list Turquoise Bay, which is located inside spectacular Cape Range National Park, as one of the continent’s best beaches and an extraordinary area for families to soak up the wintertime sun in a quiet corner of the country. This bay is brimming with coral gardens that are home to schools of reef fish to make this a destination perfect for every member of the family to snorkel and swim.
Turtles, rays and multitudes of colourful reef fish call this corner of the Coral Coast home so those donning snorkel, mask and fins won’t be disappointed when they wade into the still water to spy life under the surface. Gnaraloo Bay rests near the southern tip of Ningaloo Reef, between Coral Bay and Carnarvon, with an impressive 57km of sand making this a space for spectacular scenery.
Wild dolphins have been visiting the beach at Monkey Mia for more than five decades to let humans observe their antics in a face-to-bottlenose encounter with some of the Indian Ocean’s most peaceful and playful residents. But there’s more to this place inside the Shark Bay Marine Park with the UNESCO World Heritage Site also boasting red dunes, long ribbons of snow-white sand, cloudless skies, and glorious pastel-coloured sunsets.
Holiday makers seeking a lazy break that’s brimming with sunshine and saltwater activities should head for Sandy Bay which sits beside Ningaloo Reef on the coastal side of Cape Range National Park. The shallows, coupled with the wide expanse of perfect white sand, make this a great choice for families when the weather is still while kite surfers flock to the destination when the wind kicks up.