By: Tatum Stafford
Nobody wants to leave their dog behind when they go on holiday. But what if you didn’t have to?
Fortunately for WA dog owners, there are plenty of holiday spots across the State that will welcome both you and your pooch with open arms.
And while there are a ton of dog-friendly campgrounds across WA, it’s just as important there are plenty of beaches, eateries and local attractions you and your dog can visit while you’re out and about.
So we’ve done the hard work for you – here are eight fun-filled WA holiday spots that are perfect for you (and your dog’s) next local getaway. Just remember to always follow the rules, and keep your dog on a lead unless in a signposted, off-lead area.
The coastal town of Cervantes is jam-packed with things to do – be it out on the water or land-based day trips. And don’t worry, there are plenty of local attractions activities your dog will enjoy as much as you will.
For starters, a visit to one of Cervantes’ many dog-friendly beaches is a must. Stop in at Hansen Bay, a 2.6-kilometre stretch of sand and water that is a designated off-leash dog area. Take a stroll with your dog across the sand, and cool off in the bay’s crystal blue waters. There are other off-leash beach areas in both Cervantes and the nearby Jurien Bay, so it’s a good idea to check these locations before hitting the road.
When it's time for 'walkies’, the Turquoise Way Trail is one of the best dog-friendly walking tracks in town. The 14.2-kilometre trail will take you past the Jurien Bay Jetty and Dobbyn Park Foreshore, and provides plenty of rest stops for you or pup to have a drink or bask in the sweeping ocean views. Keep an eye out for marked dog exercise areas along the way if your pup needs to burn off some extra energy.
For a bite to eat, look no further than the iconic Lobster Shack. The team at this Cervantes institution have been catching lobster (or crayfish) off Cervantes for more than 20 years – and there’s a dedicated dog-friendly picnic table area where you can tuck in a feast of this local delicacy. If you’re not a seafood fan, try the Cervantes Bar & Bistro, where you can enjoy local Aussie fare while your dog relaxes in the outdoor beer garden.
There are a couple of dog-friendly campgrounds along the Cervantes coastline to choose from. If you’re an RAC member, you’ll save up to 20%* at the RAC Cervantes Holiday Park, right on the beach.
If your dog needs to burn off some energy, try the Luke Pen Walk along the Kalgan River. The 14.4-kilometre return trail takes you through a mix of marri trees and farming pastures and offers some incredible views. And if you complete it during summer, there are some great swimming spots where the trail gently descends to river level.
If you’d prefer to swim at a beach, there are a few options that will accommodate your pup. Nanarup Beach and Rushy Point are popular leash-on options, whereas the Emu Point Marina Beach and sections of Middleton Beach are great spots to let your dog splash in the water. Emu Point is a particularly great choice for younger dogs, as it’s quite shallow and well protected from waves.
If you’re hoping to explore further afield, head to the Albany Wind Farm, one of the largest wind farms in the country. The farm’s Sand Patch Coastal Platform and dog-friendly boardwalks are free to visit, and are a great vantage point for spotting southern right and humpback whales between May and October. The farm is a 15-minute drive from the town centre, and there are plenty of parking spaces once you arrive.
There are plenty of dog-friendly accommodation options across the town, including chalets, cottages, retreats, campgrounds and guesthouses. If you're staying close to the town centre, pop into the chic Six Degrees bar and restaurant for some impressive ocean views. The popular café Dylan’s On The Terrace is another local haunt with a dedicated dog-friendly alfresco area.
3. Monkey Mia
Though this idyllic town is best known for its marine inhabitants, Monkey Mia in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area has plenty of dog-friendly facilities and activities on offer.
To start, bring your pup on a sunset cruise where they’ll be able to see the famous dolphins up close. The 18-metre sailing catamaran, Aristocrat 2, is a good option for this. Operated by Perfect Nature Cruises, this cruise will take you and your furry friend through Shark Bay’s Exclusion Zone to view a variety of dugongs, turtles, fish and of course, dolphins.
Once you’re ready to hit the water, there are a variety of dog-friendly swimming spots perfect for cooling off. Try Little Lagoon if you’ve got young kids (or a small dog), as it’s nice and shallow with plenty of barbecues for a picnic. If you’d rather a designated dog beach, head to Netta’s Beach for long stretches of white sand and a glimpse at some local kitesurfers in action.
If you’re eager to interact with some more of the region’s marine life, head to the award-winning Ocean Park Aquarium, about 30 minutes out of town. Hop on a dog-friendly tour of the aquarium’s shark-feeding facilities, grab a bite to eat on the park’s picturesque deck and meet fascinating rescued sea turtles.
When it’s time to hit the hay, head to a dog-friendly caravan or camping site at RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort; which is also the site of the town’s only dog-friendly restaurant, the Boughshed. And if you're an RAC member, you’re in luck – you can save up to 20%* on accommodation for you and your furry friend.
4. Manjimup and Pemberton
Starting in Manjimup, stop in at cosy winery Tall Timbers in the town centre. Here you can indulge in some of the region’s freshest local wines and produce, (including world-class black truffles), and your dog can unwind on the grass.
When it’s time for a walk, venture to the picturesque Pemberton forests. Though many of the town’s surrounding national parks are off-limits for dogs, there are plenty of nature reserves and parks they can run around in. The Big Brook Dam is a popular option; with a beautiful walking trail, a grassy picnic area and incredible tall timber trees to sit under. The Big Brook Dam Walk Track is four kilometres long, loops around the dam, and passes through forest that is over 60 years old.
Next up, the Windy Harbour Beach is another great spot for a doggy day out – just make sure you’re not entering any signposted national park areas, and keep your dog in the designated pet-friendly areas at all times.
Both Manjimup and Pemberton are hotspots for family-friendly farm stays – so if you’re after an accommodation option filled with cuddly animals and miles of paddocks, opt to check in at one of these farms. If you’d rather stay somewhere more traditional, there are an array of lodges, chalets or campgrounds across both towns that are dog-friendly.
10 of WA's best farm stays »
The coastal town of Busselton is a hub for families come school holiday time – and as such, it’s a popular holiday spot for families with dogs.
As they’re protected from big swells from Cape Naturaliste, Busselton’s plentiful beaches are quite flat and calm. Dogs are permitted on-leash at sections of the Busselton Foreshore, and off-leash at Western Beach, Margaret Street Beach and the beach beside Centennial Park (to name a few). There are a few dog-prohibited areas (including the famed Busselton Jetty Beach), so be sure to do your research before letting your dog hit the water.
Once you’ve dried off, pay a visit to one of the region’s beautiful art galleries. If you’re keen to make a day of it, head to the Swallow’s Welcome Art Studio and view local water-colour artist Patricia Negus’ fantastic work. After a glimpse at the various displays, pack a picnic (a wood barbeque is available) and unwind in the shade of the woodgum trees outside the gallery. Just remember to call ahead on (08) 9757 6348 to arrange a suitable time for your visit.
When dinner time arrives, there are plenty of dog-friendly eateries to try. One of the most popular options is Clancy’s Fish Pub; a casual seafood restaurant boasting an array of gum trees, a tranquil lake and plenty of space for your dog to run around. And for the adults, there’s live entertainment you can enjoy from the shade of the trees. If you’re after other dog-friendly eateries, try The Goose Beach Bar and Kitchen, Bunkers Beach House in Naturaliste or The Urban Coffee House.
You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to accommodation, as Busselton has plenty of beachfront villas, chalets or camping grounds that will welcome you and your dog. If you’re an RAC member, you’ll save up to 20%* on accommodation at RAC Busselton Holiday Park.
Whale sharks may be the most popular animals in Exmouth, but fear not, dog owners - there are plenty of dog-friendly amenities and natural attractions in this coastal haven that are begging to be explored on your next visit.
For the true Coral Coast experience, grab some fresh seafood at The Beach Shack and enjoy a sunset with your dog on the sand. You’ll find this quirky shack on Bundegi Beach just north of the Exmouth townsite – and if you’re lucky, you might catch some local musos performing on the night you visit. Check out their Facebook page for their full gig schedule.
As Exmouth is a prime town for fishing it’d be remiss not to cast a line off a jetty with your furry friend. Pay a visit to Learmonth Jetty to catch squid, whiting or bream, or if you’ve got a four-wheel drive, stop in at Wapet Creek for the chance to catch flathead or magrove jacks. Just be sure to keep a watchful eye on your dog, as stonefish and other harmful marine creatures to dogs have been spotted at both of these spots.
Another worthy stop-off is at The Social Society; a café and treasure trove of quirky trinkets and locally-made wellness products. Lucky for your dog, the food on this menu isn’t just for humans. Grab a few of the café's homemade dog treats and dine alfresco to spend some quality time with your pup in the Exmouth sunshine.
When it comes to accommodation, take your pick from a range of beachfront resorts or chalets closer to the Exmouth townsite. If you’re hunting for a bargain, RAC members save up to 20%* on bookings at RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park.
7. Margaret River
A visit to most Margaret River wineries, cafes, art galleries or restaurants is seldom without a bowl of water for two-legged visitors; making it one of WA’s premier dog-friendly holiday locations.
One of the town’s best dog-friendly walking trails is the Margaret River Heritage Trail. This 6-kilometre loop begins at Rotary Park and takes you along the river, through natural bushland and across an old railway bridge. If you’re after a longer walk, opt for a stretch of the 23-kilometre Geographe Path, which takes walkers from Dunsborough to Busselton. You’ll be able to hop on a section of the path at the coastline near Margaret River town.
If you’re itching to try some of the region’s world-class wines, ciders and beers, there are plenty of establishments that will welcome you and your furry friend. Try Cheeky Monkey Brewery and Cidery if your dog needs some room to run around, or stop in at Tassell Park Wines to meet and socialise with the owners’ dogs, Dusty and Molly. Other popular dog-friendly wineries within the Margaret River Wine Region include Xanadu, Watershed, Cape Naturaliste or Hay Shed Hill.
Once it’s time to cool off, the closest dog-friendly beach to Margaret River is at Gnarabup, a 10-minute drive away. While you’re there, stop in at the charming White Elephant Café for a coffee or a bite to eat while your dog enjoys a splash in the water below. If you’re willing to travel a little further, there’s also a dog-friendly beach at Gracetown, a 15 minutes’ drive away.
Plenty of accommodation options in or around Margaret River town permit dogs – there are even several farm stays that will welcome you and your furry friend (among other cuddly residents).
8. Dongara-Port Dension
The twin towns of Dongara-Port Denison are a great stop-off on a Coral Coast, partly because of their many dog-friendly attractions.
One of the reasons this coastal town is so appealing to dog-owners is because it is the site of the Thungara Trails; a set of six dog-friendly walking trails that loop in and around these twin towns. Trail 5 is a local favourite. At nine kilometres long, it begins at the Fisherman’s Lookout, loops down at the Port Denison marina and passes the river into Dongara. Along the way, you’ll pass the site of an 1865 Flour Mill, and will join a section of the Estuary boardwalk which is filled with a variety of local birdlife.
One of the best off-leash dog beaches within this area is South Beach in Port Denison. As its waters are flat and smooth, it provides idyllic conditions for stand-up paddleboarding – so if you’ve ever wanted to pop your dog on your SUP board, it’s time to tick this off your bucket list. If you’re feeling peckish, the Starfish Café is just steps off the sand.
There are multiple condos, units, lodges and tourist parks that welcome dogs in both Dongara and Port Denison. At most sites you’ll be staying close to the water, so make sure you avoid leaving your dog unattended.
Need wheels for your next getaway?
RAC members receive 10% off pet-friendly campervan hire from Apollo Motorhome Holidays.
Last updated: September 2020