The best Western Australian beaches are the best Australian beaches. No argument. Western Australia is skirted by the country’s finest stretches of sand – pristine, squeaky soft, lapped by crystal clear water, and often empty.
As far as we’re concerned the best Western Australian beaches are by far the best of Australia’s beaches. Trust us on this: we’ve been to close to a third of Australia’s best beaches on our travels while researching and writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Dorling Kindersley, and Rough Guides.
The state of Western Australia has an epic 20,781 kms (or 12,913 miles) of coastline, including 7,892 kms (4,904 miles) of island coastline. It takes up one third of Australia so how can it not be home to many of its most gorgeous stretches of sand?
Which is why we always get a little miffed when those ‘world’s best beaches’ lists are published and the only Australian beaches included are Bondi and some sliver of white sand in Queensland.
Don’t get us wrong, we love Bondi, we spent our teens on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, and a couple of years ago fell in love with the Gold Coast beaches all over again. But as lovely as they are, they just can’t compare to the best Western Australian beaches and here’s why…
Best Western Australian Beaches
A much loved holiday town, Albany is home to some of the best Western Australian beaches (even the main town beach is lovely) and the journey to our pick of Albany’s beaches, Middleton Beach is almost as enjoyable as arriving. The drive takes you around a picturesque headland offering spectacular views of the huge natural harbour of King George Sound. Stop at one of the lookouts, such as the 19th century restored Princess Royal Fortress, to gawk at the gobsmacking vistas en route. Middleton Beach itself is holidaymaker heaven, with a white-sand beach lapped by still aquamarine waters, backed by lawns shaded by lofty pines. Take a chilled bottle of white and buy fish and chips from one of the seafood takeaways, and you’re set. Bliss.
Where to stay in Albany
Just behind the sand dunes, the BIG4 Middleton Beach Holiday Park has two-storey villas with sea views from the balcony and spacious dining/living rooms.
On the coast between Albany and Esperance at the mouth of the Bremer River, serene Bremer Bay, skirted by snow-white sands, is home to two of the best Western Australian beaches. The seaside hamlet, surrounded by heath-covered headlands, is popular holiday spot in summer, loved for its safe swimming, surfing, snorkelling, and superb fishing. But its diminutive size (population of 300 when we passed through) and limited accommodation means it never gets uncomfortably crowded. The main beach, an easy 10-minute amble from the centre, has a sheltered swimming cove and crystal clear water, while there’s a marina at Fishery Beach where anglers launch boats. You can spot dolphins all year and whales from July to November.
Where to stay in Bremer Bay
Hilltop Bremer Bay Resort has two-bedroom apartments with kitchens (as well as standard motel rooms) a 10-minute walk from the beach.
Cape Arid National Park
On the western edge of the Great Australian Bight, remote, wild Cape Arid National Park has even more breathtaking white sand beaches. While some can be reached by 2WD you’ll need a 4WD to fully explore the park. The rewards: a chance to spot southern right whales between late winter and spring, when an abundance of wildflowers blanket the heath-covered headlands. Bonus: superb walking tracks, such as Len Otte Nature Trail (1km/1hr) which offers picturesque park vistas; Tagon Coastal Walk (7km return/4hrs) with even more gobsmacking coastal views and whale-spotting ops in season; and Mt Ragged Walk (3km return/3 hrs), which is really a hike, to the summit of Tower Peak, for a sweeping coastal outlook. The long snowy beach of Yokinup Bay is stunning, although surf can be rough. One of the most sublime swimming spots is a small sheltered cove speckled with smooth granite boulders close to where Jorndee Creek runs across the beach and into the ocean.
Where to stay in Cape Arid National Park
There are half a dozen campsites in the national park, so hire a 4WD campervan or take a tent. Jorndee Creek is a popular camping and fishing spot by a protected beach. Not bookable in advance, it’s first come first served. Details on the Parks and Wildlife website.
A delightful town on the tranquil Denmark River, with cafés, craft shops, and riverside picnic spots, and farm gates and cellar doors in the hills above, Denmark and the surrounding area also boast some of the best Western Australian beaches. From the town centre, Ocean Beach Road takes you to the river mouth, where fishermen throw in their lines in the still lagoon of Wilson Inlet. With magnificent views across Ratcliffe Bay, Ocean Beach is beautiful and a popular spot for learning how to surf. Try South Coast Surfing School, which offers one-on-one and group lessons and rents surfboards and wetsuits. The best swimming beaches are serene coves protected by granite boulders with crystal-clear rock pools. Make a beeline for Greens Pool, Elephant Rocks and Elephant Cove, 15kms out of Denmark.
Where to stay in Denmark
By the sea, Denmark Waterfront has attractively furnished timber units, cottages, spa units, and studio apartments, some with water views, while there’s more welcoming accommodation nearby in the mountains, too.
Some of the best Western Australian Beaches are set around gorgeous Geographe Bay, and Dunsborough, overlooking the bay, is the best departure point for divers exploring wrecks off the coast, walkers taking to the nearby nature trails, and beachcombers content with strolling, swimming and sunbathing on some of the country’s most breathtakingly beautiful beaches and sheltered bays. We especially love the calm coves where turquoise waters lap the squeaky white sand at Meelup Bay, Eagle Bay and Bunker’s Bay, where there is a breezy café overlooking the sea. Even better, Dunsborough and Geographe Bay are easy stops on the drive from Perth to Margaret River. En route, Busselton, a popular family holiday town, also has a pleasant town beach with calm water and a picturesque 2km-long jetty that’s worth a stroll.
Where to stay in Dunsborough
The stylish Pullman Bunker Bay Resort has a stunning swimming pool and is right on Bunker Bay beach, while in Dunsborough, Bay Village Resort & Spa with attractive apartments is a 2-minute walk from Geographe Bay.
Another popular summer holiday spot with a laidback charm, Esperance and surrounds boast a fair whack of the best Western Australian Beaches including the very pleasant town beach. But the best of all is Twilight Cove, a ten-minute drive west of town. There are seven beaches after Blue Haven headland but unfortunately the waves are big, the sea often wild, and rips common so best leave those to the surfers and fishermen. As the bay curves to the southwest, however, the beach is increasingly protected by geography and rocky granite islets that make Twilight Cove safe for swimming, and, with its fine snow-white sand, pretty as a picture. Sheltered and serene, with aquamarine waters, it’s widely considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the southwest. Stop at Observatory Point lookout for sweeping vistas of the windswept coast and naturist beach below. You can drive – or rent a bike to ride – the scenic Great Ocean Drive (40km) loop west of Esperance, which takes you to Rotary Lookout for more views of the coast, wind farm and a pink lake.
Where to stay in Esperance
Esperance Island View Apartments has stylish self-contained apartments with kitchens, barbecues, balconies, bikes for hire, and sea views. Esperance B&B By the Sea has a more homely feel and panoramic sea vistas from each room.
Exmouth is an excellent launching pad for exploring Ningaloo Marine Park and Cape Range National Park, but with a thriving prawn industry and fantastic fresh local seafood available it’s a delicious spot to spend a few days planning your tours and activities. Bonus: a few of the best Western Australian beaches are on the town’s doorstep. For a quick swim, you can’t go wrong with the white-sand Town Beach, although you’ll find the finest beaches at the end of the North West Cape, just north of Exmouth. Start with Bundegi Beach, near the sky-scraping communication towers that dominate the North West Cape. At the end of Murat Road, an attractive cream-sand beach, backed by dunes, boasts crystal-clear waters. With friendly pelicans and seashells and coral that can be found washed up on the shore, it’s a delightful spot for beachcombing. Bundegi Beach Shack sells snacks and is licensed, making it a lovely spot for sundowners.
Where to stay in Exmouth
Right on the beach, Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort has a range of rooms but the spacious apartments with kitchen and ocean views are the ones to book.
The Perth beachside suburb of Fremantle or ‘Freo’ as locals call it, isn’t home to the very best Western Australian beaches, sorry, but as one of the oldest and best-preserved towns in Western Australia, it’s a delight to spend some time in and as a bonus it has some very pleasant stretches of sand. Bathers Bay, the main city beach, is within minutes of the main sights – the Fishing Boat Harbour, Maritime Museum, Shipwreck Galleries, Esplanade Park, Round House, and charming West End quarter. This is the perfect beach for fish and chips and a bottle of wine while watching the sunset. Port Beach, at the Swan River mouth beside Fremantle Harbour’s North Quay wharf, is a soft white-sand beach that’s popular for surfing, wind surfing and kite surfing when there’s wind – but the port views aren’t so picturesque. The local favourite, South Beach, is our favourite, with creamy sand beach backed by dunes and a park with barbecues and picnic tables. Families love it and it’s the location of a Saturday sunset market during summer.
Where to stay in Fremantle
In unbeatable harbourside location Be. Fremantle has self-contained apartments with balconies and sea views. The stylish Hougoumont Hotel is handy for Bather’s Bay, The Esplanade Hotel in a remodelled historic pub is opposite Esplanade Park, while Daly View Bed & Breakfast in a 19th century building is five minutes’ walk from South Beach.
Geraldton is a small city on the west coast that feels like a big country town, and while it has all you’d expect of a city, including an outstanding museum and art gallery, decent shopping, and good restaurants and pubs, it’s also a popular holiday spot with over a dozen superb stretches of sand, including some of the best Western Australian beaches. North and south of town are stunning windswept beaches loved by windsurfers and kite-boarders (Coronation Beach, Back Beach, St Georges Beach), surfers (Drummonds Point, Greenough, Glenfield) and snorkelers (Separation Point). Pristine, wind protected beaches with still seas that are more suited for swimming, including Champion Beach, Greys Beach, Pages Beach, and Front Beach, while sand-boarders and 4WD enthusiasts love the immense sand dunes of Southgates Beach, and everyone loves Tarcoola Beach. The best spot for watching the sun go down over the Indian Ocean is Sunset Beach of course.
Where to stay in Geraldton
The Ocean Centre Hotel, opposite the beach, has sea vistas, as does the Mantra Geraldton, which has self-contained apartments with kitchens and balconies with marina views. Families like the Sunset Beach Holiday Park chalets.
Popular with Perth holidaymakers for its white sand beaches, superb fishing and scrumptious seafood, Jurien Bay lies on the Coral Coast, two and a half hours north of the capital. Boasting some of the best Western Australian beaches, you can snorkel or dive Jurien Bay Marine Park, rich in underwater life; sunbathe on unspoiled stretches of snowy sand, swim in crystal clear waters where endangered Australian sea lions play, or throw in a line to catch your supper from slender cream-sand beaches backed by dunes. North of Jurien Bay are more fishing villages with fine beaches, including Green Head (which has gorgeous turquoise-green waters) and Leeman, and the sleepy hamlets of Dongara and Port Denison. The best beaches for swimming, fishing and surfing include Seaspray Beach, South Beach and Surf Beach.
Where to stay at Jurien Bay
Most foreign visitors see Kalbarri, at the mouth of the Murchison River, as little more than the departure point for Kalbarri National Park. While the park is outstanding for its spectacular rock formations, geography and nature, locals know best. During school holidays, this laidback seaside town is a favourite spot for families for its windswept beaches, fishing, surfing (Jakes Beach), snorkelling (Blue Holes) and swimming, mainly at the slender, white-sand Chinaman’s Beach. Off-sand activities include pelican feeding, birdwatching in the largest parrot free-flight aviary in the country at Rainbow Jungle, the Australian Parrot Breeding Centre, and wildflower spotting as you stroll the 30-minute nature trail at the Kalbarri Wildflower Centre.
Where to stay in Kalbarri
Murchison View Apartments have sea view units with balconies opposite the beach. Kalbarri Seafront Villas also have oceanfront units across the road from the beach (book the upstairs units with big decks), while Kalbarri Blue Ocean Villas are a short walk from the river and beach.
You’ll find lovely Lucky Bay, the very best of the best Western Australian beaches, at Cape Le Grand National Park, which has a wild coastline distinguished by dazzling white-sandy beaches and crystal-clear azure waters. First stop after you arrive at the Park is scenic Le Grand Beach, worth the scramble for a look, while next, a turn-off takes you to postcard-perfect tranquil cove of Hellfire Bay. After that, it’s just a short drive and you’re at Thistle Cove and Western Australia’s finest beach, Lucky Bay, famous for its beachcombing kangaroos, swimming, snorkelling, and canoeing. Another 6kms and Rossiter Bay is also attractive, as is Orleans Bay, a further 42kms, although neither can compare with Lucky Bay. You’ll need to take water and supplies needed for the duration of your stay.
Where to stay at Lucky Bay
You’ll need to rent a 4WD campervan and/or take a tent to pitch at the beachside camping ground, which is steps from the sand, has good facilities and gorgeous sea views.
Sun-worshippers love Monkey Mia, a sublime spot consisting of a stunning white-sand beach on an alluring bay. Monkey Mia was little more than a camping and caravan park-cum-beach resort when it became world-renowned for its friendly wild dolphins who turn up like clockwork every day to be fed in the shallow waters. For a few decades foreign and local tourists alike have been flocking here to see the dolphins and do a couple of activities before moving on. Just as essential as the dolphin experience is a catamaran tour to take in the marine park’s other wildlife, and a bush walk or kayaking trip with Darren ‘Capes’ Capewell, an indigenous guide and owner-operator of Wula Guda Nyinda which offers all sorts of land- and water-based activities in and around Monkey Mia and Shark Bay (see below). We think the beach itself is also worth some time. If anything, settle on the savour just to savour the sunset.
Where to stay at Monkey Mia
Leafy Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort has everything from budget tent and caravan sites (some with sea views) to well-equipped top-end waterfront villas, all a short stroll from the sand.
Ningaloo Marine Park
Ningaloo Marine Park is Western Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, only it’s more accessible and has a mind-boggling amount of sea life, including turtles, dugongs, humpback whales, manta rays, giant whale sharks, sharks, over 500 species of fish, and some 220 hard coral species. Popular activities include whale watching and marine-life spotting tours in season, swimming with the harmless whale sharks, scuba diving, snorkelling, fishing, and swimming. Coral Bay is the best base for exploring Ningaloo and its main beach is the star attraction, a dazzling white stretch of sand that curves around the spectacular bay. You can hire snorkelling gear, boogie boards, and glass-bottomed canoes by the beach and on the main street.
Where to stay at Ningaloo
The Ningaloo Reef Resort at Coral Bay offers an array of accommodation options, from motel rooms to apartments with kitchens, and has a restaurant, pub and take-away.
The low-rise suburbs of Western Australia’s laidback capital, Perth, sprawl around the splendid Swan River, almost like a lake in parts, and are skirted by some of the best Western Australian beaches, which are easily some of Australia’s finest, with creamy squeaky-soft sand and crystal-clear clean water. It’s not hard to see why Perth’s locals are so outdoorsy and swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, surfing, windsurfing, fishing, and sailing are popular hobbies. Cottesloe Beach is easily Perth’s most beautiful and best for swimming with the lawns beneath the pine trees popular for picnics and sundowners. Scarborough and Trigg are Perth’s best surfing beaches with reliable waves and a local surf scene. The quieter City and Floreat Beaches are in-between, while further north, Sorrento is lovely and laidback. Just as Sydney has beautiful beaches on its harbour, Perth has some pretty spots on the Swan River, too. We like the petite stretches of sand at Peppermint Grove, Como and Crawley.
Where to stay in Perth
Dating to 1905, Cottlesloe Beach Hotel, opposite the beach, has stylish, spacious rooms with big balconies with sun beds and sea vistas, and buzzy bars and good eating in the hotel restaurant.
Quobba Station and Point Quobba
You do not want to swim near Quobba Blowholes. The ‘KING WAVES KILL’ sign is there for a reason. Sadly, unsuspecting people, generally fishermen, have been swept into sea to their deaths, so take care. After you snap some pics of the spectacular jets of water shooting through the blowholes to lofty heights, thanks to powerful surges caused by strong ocean swells, drive on. A kilometre north along the rugged coast and wild windswept beaches is sleepy Point Quobba, where you should find a cluster of ramshackle fishermen’s shacks, some self-sufficient campers – there are no facilities of any kind: no toilets, no water, no power, no barbecues – and a delightfully desolate, sheltered beach cove of still, pristine water, that is a sublime spot for a swim. Backtrack past the blowholes and continue driving north on the unsealed road for another 10km and you’ll arrive at Quobba Station. There are even more never-ending stretches of creamy sand backed by high dunes here and some of the best fishing and surfing in Australia. Red Bluff is a favourite with surfers. Quobba is at the southern tip of the Ningaloo Reef Marine Park (see above), 60 kilometres north of Carnarvon and 144 kilometres south of Coral Bay.
Where to stay at Quobba
A former sheep farm, Quobba Station and nearby Red Bluff offer a wide variety of accommodation mainly geared to surfers and fishing enthusiasts: campsites, palm frond humpies, fishing shacks, shearing quarters, cottages, and, on top of the Red Bluff cliffs, “seascape bungalows” (safari tents). The pick of the lot are the fully self-contained chalets with electricity, water, showers, toilets, kitchens, and spectacular panoramic sea vistas.
Enchanting Rottnest Island, a 25-minute ferry ride from Fremantle, is one of our favourite places in Australia with a wild natural beauty that is incomparable: a dramatic coastline, marked by striking rock formations, is punctuated by tranquil bays and quiet coves with crescents of creamy sand and aquamarine water so clear you can see the reefs and fish. There are craggy cliffs, windswept grasslands, shimmering salt lakes, rocky headlands, walking and cycle tracks shaded by Morton Bay figs and Aleppo pines, and some 20 bays and some 63 beaches, like the one pictured above, that offer superb swimming, snorkelling, surfing, fishing, and diving. The most loved beaches are at Little Parakeet Bay, Little Salmon Bay, Geordie Bay, and The Basin, which has shallow clear waters making it perfect for a wade. The sheltered, still waters of Thomson Bay in the main settlement has a roped-off swimming area making it popular with families. If that’s not enough, there’s a good waterfront pub for seafood lunches and sundowners and countless waterfront picnic spots.
Where to stay on Rottnest Island
Book a room with patio and sea views at Hotel Rottnest, which has direct beach access and is a short stroll from the ferry terminal. While not on the beach, Karma Rottnest has a range of accommodation, from rooms to apartments set around a swimming pool. The Rottnest Island Authority offers everything from unpretentious weatherboard bungalows, sandstone cottages, new villas, wooden cabins, dorms, and camping grounds.
The 2.2 million hectare Shark Bay Marine Park received UNESCO World Heritage listing in 1991 for its natural values, examples of ongoing geological processes, including hyper-saline marine waters, vast sea-grass beds, endangered species, including a dugong or ‘sea cow’ population that feeds on the seagrass, and its stromatolites or ‘living fossils’ – some of the oldest forms of life on earth formed from algae deposits that serve as an outstanding example of a major stage in the planet’s evolutionary history. Another fact was Shark Bay’s untouched beauty, which includes some truly spectacular beaches. While most travellers settle into Monkey Mia, 26kms away, Denham, Australia’s most westerly town, is a good base for exploring more of Shark Bay, nearby François Peron National Park, and the remote rugged beaches. Once again, Darren ‘Capes’ Capewell of Wula Guda Nyinda (see Monkey Mia, above) is your best guide. Denham, a former pearling town – pearl shells once paved the streets – is also home to the outstanding Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre. Don’t miss it!
Where to stay at Shark Bay
In Denham, Tradewinds Seafront Apartments is opposite the beach and has kitchens; book the Beachfront apartment. Also located on the beachfront, Oceanside Village has self-contained units and villas with sea views.
Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve
Located some 35km east of Albany (above), Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve is a pristine coastal wilderness of uninhabited islands, granite headlands, rocky shorelines, and exquisite beaches of snow-white sands and luminous aquamarine waters, strewn with boulders and sleeping kangaroos, or more accurately, their cousin, the Gilbert’s potoroo. For more of the best Western Australian beaches, follow Two Peoples Bay Road to Nanarup Road, which will take you to lovely Nanarup Beach, beloved by anglers for the beach fishing. Return to Two Peoples Bay Road, from where you can continue to the end for Two Peoples Bay itself, easily one of the best of the best Western Australian beaches. From the visitor’s centre, we suggest you walk the 4.6km-long heritage trail (allow 2 hours return) around the headland to Little Beach, for even snowier sands and creamy jade waters. A little less protected, it can get surf so take care swimming. At the northern end of the beach, squeeze through the rocks to tiny Waterfall Beach, which is even more tranquil. Allow 4 hours return to walk to the lot. You can also drive to Little Beach. Aside from the Gilbert’s potoroo, look out for quokkas, quendas (like bandicoots) and the rare noisy scrub bird.
Where to stay at Two Peoples Bay
There’s a picnic area and barbecues but no drinking water nor campground. You’re best staying on the beachfront at Albany; see our suggestions, above, under ‘Albany’.
There is little else at Vlaming Head on the North West Cape, a 25-minute drive from Exmouth, other than charming 1912 Vlamingh Head Lighthouse (and an emu or two) and the incredibly popular Ningaloo Lighthouse Holiday Park, the best base for beachcombers, sun-worshippers, snorkelers, and surfers here for some of the best Western Australian beaches. The closest stretches of creamy sand are accessible from Mildura Wreck Road, including Surfers Beach, with a sheltered wooden deck for you to watch some outstanding surfing and take in the beauty of the stunning dune-backed beach. Follow Yardie Creek Road to the excellent Jurabi Turtle Centre, then further south, to the Milyering Visitors Centre. Here you can hire snorkelling gear to view colourful coral just offshore in calm aquamarine waters. Make a beeline for beautiful Turquoise Bay, where you can stroll 300m along the sand, swim out 40m, then, floating face down, let the current take you back to your starting point as you gawk at the vivid coral and marine life. Nearby, Oyster Stacks is another popular spot, where you can see an abundance of fish species just offshore.
Where to stay at Vlaming Head
Ningaloo Lighthouse Holiday Park at the base of Vlaming Head Lighthouse, has a swimming pool and everything from budget camping and caravanning sites to striking red-painted hilltop ‘Lookout Chalets’ with sweeping coastal views and barbecues. The Park is so popular regulars book a year ahead for school holidays.
Dazzlingly white sandy coves pounded by the clear cobalt-coloured sea, backed by sandy dunes, and punctuated by rocky granite headlands and dramatic cliffs, the Margaret River region is blessed with the best Western Australian beaches. The finest of all is Yallingup Beach, with adjoining Smiths Beach and Injidup Beach not far behind. The home of surfing in Western Australia, the dramatic Yallingup coastline boasts some of the best surf breaks in the world. While the beach shacks in the hamlet of Yallingup above the beach were long ago replaced by sleek holiday apartments and state-of-the-art architecturally designed villas (some owned by the world’s best surfers) the area still has a laidback vibe and is heavenly spot for a beach holiday. Although surfing is the main activity, and locals like a fish, you can still find comparatively calmer spots for swimming, such as the southern end of Smiths Beach.
Where to stay in Yallingup
In Yallingup, historic Caves House Hotel has heritage rooms, old-world atmosphere and fireplaces, while adjoining Seashells Resort Yallingup offers comfortable studio rooms and apartments with kitchens and big verandas. From here it’s a ten-minute stroll along a walking track down to Yallingup Beach. Right opposite Smiths Beach, Smiths Beach Resort has stylish beach houses, villas and apartments with kitchens, a pool, restaurant, and café-deli.
What do you think of our best Western Australian beaches? And do you think WA’s beaches are some of Australia’s best beaches?