Esperance might just be home to some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Australia. It’s home to beaches with white sand, crystal clear turquoise water, and the iconic Lucky Bay, where kangaroos seemingly hang out on the beach, waiting to be in your perfect holiday photos.
But what surprised us the most as we started to research Esperance, is that it wasn’t just one main beautiful beach that you would find here. There were HEAPS. In fact, there are three or four, just a short drive from the centre of town it self. And that’s not even taking to account the National Parks down the road.
So to make sure you don’t miss any of the best and most beautiful beaches in Esperance, we’ve put together everything you need to know about exploring the region. There’s so much more here than first meets the eye.
Getting to Esperance
There are a few different ways to get to Esperance, none of which feel all that easy. But being so out of the way just makes the beauty even more rewarding when you finally get there.
If you’re coming across the Nullarbor, like we were, Esperance is about a 2 hour drive south from Norseman, the end of the Nullarbor. It’s an easy drive straight down to the coast. From Perth it’s about a 7 to 8 hour drive, if you drive straight there.
You can also fly into Esperance, with a small domestic airport servicing the region. REX has daily flights between Esperance and Perth, which takes about 90 minutes, with connections to all other major capital cities around Australia.
Esperance National Parks
It’s important to note that many of the best beaches in Esperance are located within Cape Le Grand National Park and Cape Arid National Park, and of course, national park rules apply at these beaches. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed within National Parks in Western Australia, including the beach or even in your car.
WA National Parks Fees
Entry fees apply to visit Cape Le Grand National Park, as well as camping fees if you’re lucky enough to book a spot at any of the campgrounds. You can purchase a daily pass at the ticket booth at the entrance to the park, or if you’re going to be exploring for a few days you can buy a 5 day pass ($25 per vehicle), 14 day pass ($40 per vehicle) 4 week pass ($60 per vehicle), or an all parks annual pass ($120 per vehicle) that will give you entry into any National Park in Western Australia.
You can purchase a long term park pass at the Esperance Visitors Centre, and many of the caravan parks also sell National Parks passes at their reception desks.
Esperance Visitors Centre || Corner Dempster & Kemp Street, Esperance || Ph: (08) 9083 1555
1. Lucky Bay
This is the iconic beach that most come to Esperance for. It’s the home to a colony of Western Grey kangaroos, that can often be found wandering along the white sand beach, playing with visitors on the shore and just hanging out in the sunshine. What could be more Aussie than kangaroos on a perfect white sand beach?
However, I do want to say that they are definitely not as present there as we are made to think. In our whole time in Lucky Bay we finally managed to find them on the beach on our very last morning, down the seaweedy end of the beach, a little away from the main white sand. We managed to snap a couple of photos by ourselves, before people came running to see them and ultimately scared them back into the scrub.
While we were in Esperance there had been a big bushfire in Lucky Bay, so the beach and campgrounds had been closed for a week before we were allowed to visit. The beach was also closed for driving, when usually there are heaps of cars and vans roaming the sand, so this might also have kept them away from the main beach.
In fact, before we spotted them on the beach we saw them in the campground, in the parking lot and even slowly making there way across the road, completely unphased by cars.
There’s a big campground at Lucky Bay, with 54 campsites available. These often book out well in advance, so it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to just turn up and book a spot. In fact, we were in Esperance for a full week and only managed to book one night here, with all the others being booked out well before we started looking.
The campsites are allocated on a first come first serve basis (obviously, only to those who already have a booking), and are accessible from 11am, so it’s a good idea to get there early and find yourself a good site for your stay. It cost us $15 per person per night, and then you will also need a parks pass to visit and stay at Lucky Bay. There are also camp hosts at the campgrounds, to give you a hand if you need anything.
2. Hellfire Bay
This might just be one of the best beaches we have ever visited. It’s so beautiful it doesn’t even feel real. With some of the bluest, clearest water we’ve ever seen, or taken a dip in. It’s small enough to feel intimate and secluded, while also being large enough for everyone to spread out and find a spot for themselves.
Take a walk on the rocks along the side, for stunning views back over the beach and the water. Be careful if you jump in, as it can be quite shallow at times depending on the tides. There’s also a great picnic area here, with a BBQ and plenty of picnic tables, so you can definitely set up for the whole day and make the most of this beautiful spot.
On the opposite side of the road from Hellfire Bay you will see the turn off for Frenchmans Peak. Now I’m going to be honest, it’s a TOUGH walk. A grade five in steepness in fact, that makes you hike straight up the side of a rock to the top, where you can see beautiful views over the whole region.
The walk is very steep and can be a little scary when it’s very windy. But the views from the top are extremely beautiful, so even though I was dying from the incline, this made it a little bit worth it. If you’re going to attempt this walk make sure you wear real shoes (you will absolutely die if you attempt this in thongs) and take lots of water with you. Take it slowly and be careful where you put your feet!
3. Thistle Cove
A small little beach in between Lucky Bay and Hellfire Bay, it’s another sheltered beach with stunning water and perfect white sand. It’s probably the quietest of the three beaches and you can often find that you have it all to yourself, even during the warmer months.
There are also some great walking trails in this area, with Thistle Cove often a middle point for a long walk, or a turn around point for a shorter stroll:
- Lucky Bay to Thistle Cove is about 2 kilometres one way, an easy walk between the two close by beaches.
- Hellfire Bay to Thistle Cove is a little longer, about 4.5 kilometres one way and a little bit difficult with much of the trail taking you over granite rocks.
Thistle Cove is also the home to the Whistling Rock, a short walk from the car park, which is a natural rock formation that captures the sounds of the wind and the waves and appears to be whistling.
4. Twilight Beach
Just 10 kilometres out of town, Twilight Beach is a favourite with families and is a rare beautiful beach where dogs are allowed on leashes. It’s known for the big rock that sits a short way out from the shore, which locals and visitors take great joy in jumping off, into the beautiful clear water. The beach is also patrolled by lifesaver on the weekends during the summer time.
Being so close to town it can be one of the busier beaches to visit at any time of the day, and unfortunately also seems to be a beach where many vans illegally squat for the night, so you’re likely to find a crowded and loud car park if you visit at dusk.
5. Cape Le Grand Beach
One of the longest beaches we’ve ever driven on before, Cape Le Grand Beach stretches for more than 22 kilometres, all the way around to Wylie Bay on the western end. The water is calm and peaceful here and with such a long beach, you can always spread out and find a spot all to yourself.
There is a very small campground at Cape Le Grand Beach, with about 16 camp sites available. You need to book in advance if you want to stay here, all the campsites are often booked out well in advance. A campsite costs $15 per person, per night, and park fees also apply to visit this beach.
6. Duke of Orleans Bay
Affectionately known as “The Duke”, Duke of Orleans Bay appears to refer to a collection of small sheltered bays rather than just one beach. It’s a big favourite with both locals and visitors and is also where you can find the only actual caravan park east of Esperance.
It’s also a beautiful spot during the wildflower season towards the end of the year, with fields all around The Duke bursting into bloom.
7. Blue Haven Beach
The closest beach to Esperance, Blue Haven is beautiful, peaceful and calm, making it a popular spot for stand up paddle-boarding and kayaking. It’s found at the bottom of a winding staircase and is surrounded by big rocks which can be great fishing spots. Pets are also allowed here as well as the neighbouring Salmon Beach!
Stop at the Rotary Lookout at the top of Wireless Hill on the way down to the beach, for amazing views of this part of the coastline.
Blue Haven Beach is also the beginning of the Great Ocean Coastal Drive, a self-drive scenic route that takes you along some of Esperance’s most beautiful coastline, with lookouts across the beaches and the Recherche Archipelago (also known as the Bay of Isles – a group of 105 islands).
8. Wylie Bay
One of our favourite places at Wylie Bay can be found if you follow the sand track over the dunes to a small secluded beach on the other side. Not only is it a great spot for fishing, but there’s a cool little spot there where a rock stops the ocean and creating a sandbar, giving the illusion of a beach on both sides.
The small beach is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, and always be careful when you’re driving up those dunes, because you never know who might be coming up the other side.
9. Eleven Mile Beach
Protected on both sides, Eleven Mile Beach is a great swimming spots, with relatively calm conditions most of the time. Out to the west side of the beach you are able to drive on the beach if you have a 4WD, just be careful of others on the beach.
Stop by Ten Mile Lagoon while you’re there, which is a great spot for fishing in the reef, surfing, boogie boarding, swimming, and any other water activity you might have in mind. The water here is also crystal clear and beautiful.
10. Wharton Beach
Maybe the most popular beach within The Duke, Wharton Beach is secluded and quiet, with 4WDing allowed on the beach and many fishing right off the shore. It’s a great spot for paddle-boarding and kayaking with calmer conditions all year round, and more of that iconic crystal clear water offering the perfect conditions for swimming.
Just around the corner stop for a bite at the Condingup Tavern (or The Condy Tav), one of the only places in the area offering meals and drinks. We can highly recommend their ceaser burger, you won’t regret it! The burgers are absolutely huge though, in fact we only ordered one and shared it between us.
Next door at the footy field there is a great free camp as well, only a short drive from Wharton Beach. It gets pretty busy in the late afternoon and evening, but there is plenty of room for everyone to find a spot to yourself.
Visiting Esperance had long been on our bucket list and getting out to some of these iconic beaches was fantastic. We may have had to wait out a terrible bushfire, a lightning storm and some very rainy days when we first arrived, but it was definitely worth the wait.