Have you heard of the pink lake that lies just off the shore of Esperance?
Staying pink all year round, Lake Hillier has become famous, as it lies right alongside the azure blue ocean, giving a beautiful contrast of pink and blue in the middle of the Recherche Archipelago, a group of 105 mini rock islands that lie off the coast of Esperance. Located quite a way off the mainland of Australia on Middle Island, the best way to catch a glimpse of this iconic lake is by jumping on a scenic flight.
Booking our experience with Viator
We booked our scenic flight with Viator. Viator make it so easy to book all your activities and attraction tickets in one place, with thousands of activities around the world. You can check out the scenic flight we booked on Viator with this link – it’s called the Lake Hillier – Middle Island Flight.
One of the great things about booking with Viator is that they have a price match guarantee on all the experiences they sell. So if you book your tickets and then when you arrive at your destination, notice that prices are cheaper within three days of your booking, they will match the price and refund the difference. Such a great peace of mind when you’re booking experiences ahead of time.
Booking through Viator it was super easy to choose the date and time that we would like to fly, as well as to send any necessary information required to the tour operator – which in the case of this scenic flight, was our name and weight, to assist with weight distribution on the flight.
The flight to Lake Hillier is run by Fly Esperance Scenic Flights and most days there are three flights a day, offering heaps of flexibility with your travel plans. We were booked for a 9am departure and arrived at Esperance Airport the required 15 minutes before we were due to leave. There were six of us, plus our pilot Elise, on the flight that morning, so it was quite a full plane.
We jumped on board a GA-8 Airvan, which has room for seven passengers and gives everyone a window seat. Incredibly important on a scenic flight. We were seated in assigned seating based on weight for the plane – which is why they asked for our weights at the time of booking, but in such a small plane everyone is pretty close to their travel companion. We were seated in separate rows, but on opposite sides of the plane, so it kind of felt like we were alongside each other anyway.
Due to Lake Hillier and Middle Island’s location, the scenic flight actually takes an hour and a half to two hours, depending on the weather and how windy it is at the time of your flight. Because it’s so far away, you actually get a scenic flight over most of Esperance and the beautiful coastlines that line the national parks in the area.
Taking off from Esperance Airport, the scenic flight begins by flying over the town of Esperance and the marina, as well as giving you a great view over the Great Ocean Drive and the beaches close to the town of Esperance, including Twilight Beach, Blue Haven and Salmon Beach.
Then it’s off across the ocean, making a beeline directly for Middle Island.
On the flight out to the pink lake, the left side of the plane gets the most action. The left side got the best views of the town of Esperance and the marina, as well as amazing views over some of Cape Le Grand’s best beaches, including Hellfire Bay and Lucky Bay. The rocky coastline is just as stunning as the blue water that lies in the bays, with rock formations jutting out far into the ocean. The right side of the plane got the best views of the coastline close by to Esperance (including beaches such as Twilight Beach and Blue Haven), but then it’s mostly ocean and sea, with the exception of the rocky islands that make up the Recherche Archipelago.
As we got closer to Lake Hillier you could see the pink lake coming up in the distance. It’s so bright, as pink as all the images you’ve seen online, with no filters or colour editing required. It’s like looking down at a perfect photograph straight from the window of the plane.
Lake Hillier is one of the only pink lakes in Australia that actually stays pink all year round. The colour of the lake is permanent, and will even stay the same colour if you took some out in a container. It is thought that the pink colour comes from the organism dunaliella salina that can be found in the water.
The pink lake is located on Middle Island, the largest island in the Recherche Archipelago. It’s approximately 600 metres long and 250 metres wide. There are also several pretty beaches and little bays that lie along the coastline of Middle Island, which you can see as the flight does several loops of the island, making sure everyone gets that perfect photo opportunity.
Elise took us in closer for a better view, looping around the lake on both sides so that everyone on-board is treated to an unobstructed view over the lake. It’s really incredible just how pink that water is. I wonder if it’s any good to swim in?!
The return flight back to Esperance offers an even more of a great view over the coastlines, with some of the most beautiful views over the Cape Le Grand and Cape Arid beaches. This part of the scenic flight was definitely an unexpected bonus, and was actually my favourite part of the flight. The beaches are just so beautiful from above and a scenic flight gives an even more unique perspective than our usual drone views.
Flying back over the coastline, some of our favourite sights were:
The Recherche Archipelago
Known locally as the Bay of Isles, the Recherche Archipelago is a group of 105 islands, as well as more than 1,200 “obstacles to shipping”, stretching over 230 kilometres across the coast line from east to west, as well as more than 50 kilometres off shore.
Indigenous Australians are thought to have inhabited some of the islands at least 13,000 years ago, with many artefacts found on some of the islands, including Salisbury Island, which is more than 60 kilometres off shore.
These islands can be seen off the coast of Esperance at pretty much every beach along the coastline, from the sky and the shore. Some of them are close enough to walk through shallow water or swim to, however most are inaccessible as they don’t have anywhere to tie up a boat.
Sitting a few hours drive away from Esperance, and quite a remote little area, Cape Arid National Park is home to stunning beaches that are pretty much deserted, with tumbling white sand dunes and bright blue clear water. Not many people make the trek all the way out to Cape Arid, so seeing it from the sky might just be the best way to experience this part of the coastline.
This was actually one of our favourite parts of the flight, the views along the Cape Arid coastline were unbelievable. Beaches that were completely deserted, sand dunes that can be seen from the sky. There are often dolphins, seals and big schools of fish spotted from the flights in these waters as well.
A fantastic sight from the sky, you get to see Lucky Bay in all it’s glory when you view it from a scenic flight. Lucky Bay is a unique shape, curved around to create a perfect bay, and from the sky you can see the whole bay, as well as the nearby campgrounds.
Even from the sky it’s easy to see why Lucky Bay is such a favourite with visitors. Even from the sky the water is an impressive colour near the shore. A bright blue that can be seen from hundreds of metres in the air.
It’s good to know that due to the flight plan, the left side of the plane will get to see Lucky Bay (and the neighbouring bays) both ways. So if this is something that’s important to you, maybe ask if it’s okay if you have a seat on the left.
A tall rock that appears out of pretty flat ground in Cape Le Grand National Park, Frenchman Peak is a hiking trail that offers those game enough to get to the top 360 degree views over the national park and coastline. The Aboriginal name for the rock is Mandooboornup and it is an important landmark for the local Aboriginal tribes. The hike is incredibly steep (it’s actually a level 5, is that the hardest?!) and can be quite dangerous on days of high winds, so this is a great way to see a similar view.
From the plane you can often see people standing at the top of the rock, taking a break after completing the gruelling hike up there. It’s a great view of the peak that you’re unlikely to see any other way, standing tall in the middle of the flat land. The best view of Frenchman Peak is on the right side of the plane.
While the Lake Hillier and Middle Island scenic flight is definitely not a cheap one, we were glad that we decided to jump onto it during our visit to Esperance. This iconic lake is definitely best seen from the sky, with views you will not get anywhere else from Esperance. We were definitely really pleased with how much of the Cape Le Grand and Cape Arid coastline you get to see during the flight as well, as this was pretty unexpected and very beautiful to see from above.
Thank you to Viator for inviting us to try out on of their tours. All opinions are, as always, our own.