Most Australians have not visited the West Coast of their own country, so why should you? With only 11% percent of the Australian population living on this side of the country, it is remote and sometimes difficult to get to. But remote also means well-preserved, hardly polluted and abundant with wildlife. And the best part about it? The beaches! Next to having a couple of the most amazing beaches I have so far seen in the world, you will find that these beaches are less crowded than most east coast beaches and if you’re lucky, you might even find an empty one. The West Coast has another unique feature and that is its sunsets. With the way that the world rotates the North and West Coast get to see the sun drop behind the ocean every single night, usually accompanied by a beautiful array of colors. Quite a sight to see. So arm yourself with a vehicle and some great travel mates and start visiting a few of the world’s most beautiful beaches! Below you will find my personal list on the best beaches of the Australian Westcoast in ascending order of jaw-droppingness.
6. Cable Beach, Broome
Broome, a town that speaks to the imagination. Whether it is the end or the beginning of your west coast adventure, it is a must. If you time it well, you can even check out the staircase to heaven. A momentum when the moon rises from behind the ocean and reflects this magical staircase on the ocean. The view of the moon-rise is not found on cable beach, but on the other side of town on Town Beach (go figure). This beach might not be the prettiest, but it does have a lot going on with great markets on the evenings of the staircase. For sunset however, you will have to drive across town to famous Cable Beach. Most known for the shots of camels riding past the sunset with tourists on their back, it definitely the place to be at sundown.
Let’s not forget that, with a 22 km length, there is plenty to do during daytime as well, whether it is a relaxing day on the beach or to partake in some water activities. What makes this beach even more worth going to is that Broome has a couple of the coolest hostels around, just up the street from this beach. The ‘crime-stoppers‘ may even let you get away with making an all-Australian beach-side campfire in the middle of the night (just make sure that you put the fire out correctly and that you don’t leave any trash lying around). Do check the news though, because this is the lowest point on the West Coast where you can occasionally find saltwater crocodiles. When we were there the beach was closed for a couple of days after a sighting of a three meter giant.
5. Cape Le Grand National Park, Esperance
Ah Cape Le Grand National Park! Home to three of my favorite beaches in Esperance of which it is difficult to decide what the nicest one. Lucky Bay is known for its crisp white beaches and beautiful turquoise water and it certainly delivers. One of my favorite people in the world even calls it the best beach in Australia and she is definitely not the only one to make this claim. When I was there the weather wasn’t ideal and we didn’t even get into our bikinis. That’s why this beach is not that high on my list. Nor any of the other Esperance beaches for that matter which is probably not very fair, but hey, that’s travel.
-The kangaroos (or roos as they call them here) are also big fans of Lucky Bay-
A smaller beach in Cape Le Grand National Park is Hellfire Bay. A gem amidst these grand beaches of the park, we enjoyed our time here thoroughly. Sun baking a little bit and getting out feet wet. It is quite a small bay so you can definitely walk from one end to the other. You will probably even be the first person who has set foot on the virgin sand at the end of the beach. Don’t forget to listen to the sand as well, it is so fine it squeaks while you walk.
My personal favorite of the park was Cape Le Grand Beach itself. Long stretched with a cliff edging on the side of the beach, it is a sight to behold. Like Lucky Bay it is also accessible by 4WD so you can even drive past a big portion of the beach.
-Exploring with my good friend Yannick–
-Games of OXO on the beach-
You would think that would be enough for a small town like Esperance to impress and it is. But Esperance is even more than that. It is truly THE beach mecca of Western Australia. As close as the national park is (only half an hour away from the center), the city beaches are even closer. A five-minute drive will get you to the tourist loop on which you can visit beach after beach. A particular popular one on this trip is Twilight beach, a personal favorite of many locals. These locals are what still makes me want to go back to this town. We ended up staying at a great couchsurfer who introduced us to his friends and had a great night in the local pub. There was a meat-raffle (only in Australia!) and karaoke in which I even ended up singing. That never happens. It was definitely difficult to leave this town.
4. Little Beach, Albany
Two Peoples National park is the home to Little and Waterfall Beach which are connected via a small trail between the two beaches. Again, we didn’t have the best weather when visiting these beaches and could still see their utter beauty. Even with the grey skies the water had the most amazing color and the bay is beyond compare. I absolutely love the photo of the water going into the sand, the colors are in pure harmony.
– A cold Alisa-
3. Turquoise Bay, Cape Range, Exmouth
Cape Range might not sound so familiar to you, but the town of Exmouth probably will. Known as the home of Australia’s migrating whale sharks (if you are there in the right season) and the amazing Ningaloo reef, Exmouth should be on every travelers lists. Cape Range can be found on the other side of the small peninsular and is the holy grail when it comes to beaches, snorkeling and wildlife spotting (there are also a couple of hikes, but who cares -kidding-, we didn’t do any of them-). Turquoise bay is the most popular and well-known beach of the national park and with good reason. Sun, sand and perfect blue water but also strong currents. Look at the people on the beach and go where they are or have fun with the currents as it can be quite a challenge to stay in one spot. With strong currents come lots of creatures that like to have fun swimming around. Because the edge of the Ningaloo reef is hidden right underneath the water next to the beaches of Cape Range, several of the beaches in the national park are prime snorkeling destinations. And because this is one of the few reefs in the world that you can access from the beach, this beach is so high on my list. To this date, I have not had a more successful snorkel with an area of colorful fish and five turtles!
Although this post only highlights two beaches of Cape Range, there are many more to discover. Two that I would like to recommend is Pebbles Beach with its soft pastel tinted pebbles across the beach and Oyster Stacks, a prime snorkeling spot. While the latter doesn’t offer a pretty beach, go here to see baby puffer fish battling the current, masters in disguise such as the octopus in action and many more fish.
2. 80 Mile Beach, between Broome and Port Hedland
A dream for four wheel driving fans with a beach of 130 kilometers, 80 Mile Beach is only one of the beaches in Australia that offers a great distance that can be crossed via 4WD. We didn’t have a four wheel drive and still this beach ends up on the second spot in this list and that is simply because it is gorgeous. It takes a little detour and definitely took a bit of convincing to go over 40 km of gravel road, but it is oh so worth it. This hot tip came from my sister who visited Australia years and years ago and still refers to it as one of her favorite spots. It is desolate, a fisherman’s dream and the whitest sand that goes on for miles and miles. Unfortunately not a single photo that I have taken does justice to this amazing spot. Take your time to walk along this beach if only to see whether you can make it to the end (you can’t) or to collect a couple of the thousands of the most amazing shells that you’ll find on this beach.
Several people that visited the beach, including us, have had the pleasure to spot dolphins playing in the waves right off the beach. They come here for the same reason all those off-shore fisherman come here, an abundance of sea life. For this exact reason I am sad to say that swimming is not advisable in these waters. With plenty of fish come sharks and they like to come close to shore on this beach. But yes, it is still pretty enough to come on second place, even if you can’t go swimming (and that means a lot in my book). Another reason to put 80 Mile beach on your list is to spot marine turtles lay their eggs or see the hatchlings come out.
1. Sandy Bay, Cape Range, Exmouth
My number one favorite beach, Sandy Bay can also be found in the Cape Range National park next to Exmouth. There is no snorkeling here but as this is a list on the beauty of beaches this one still comes out on top. It is one of those beaches where you are amazed every time you look up, where filters go to die and where you realize that your life is pretty awesome. Yes, that’s how good it is! Pearly white beaches, water that doesn’t get any bluer and protected from wind, the perfect combination when it comes to beaches.
I’m currently working towards my second year visa in Australia, partly to be able to go back to spend some more time in Exmouth. I have to see the gentle giants of the ocean, the whale sharks, and it is of crucial importance that I can revisit Sandy Bay beach. The word lucky does not come close to describing how good life feels when you set foot on this beach. It is perfect and there is nothing more that I would want from it (ok, maybe a good snorkeling sesh, but that would just make it too good to be true).
If you have any other beaches that you think should go on this list or if you don’t agree with my order, please let me know. There is nothing better than a good “which is the best beach” discussion amongst travelers.