By: Tatum Stafford
It’s no secret that when it comes to WA’s most beautiful beaches, Esperance’s turquoise blue waters and snow-white sands are among those at the very top of the list.
Whether you’re travelling with your surfboard, with kids, with your dog or with your fishing rod, there’s bound to be an Esperance beach which ticks all the right boxes.
The sheer number of stunning beaches to choose from can be overwhelming, so we’ve narrowed down some of those that are most popular for snorkelling, surfing, fishing, four-wheel driving and beachfront camping, as well as great spots to take the kids or your dog.
Now all that’s left to do is pick a beach, grab your sunscreen and hit the road.
Best Esperance beaches for snorkelling
Shearwater Bay off Woody Island
Sitting in the Recherche Archipelago off Esperance, Shearwater Bay is the location of the popular Woody Island Snorkel Trail. The temperate, clear water here provides great conditions to see fish, coral and perhaps a leafy sea dragon through your mask. The trail can be accessed via the bay’s swimming platform.
You’ll need to take a 30min boat ride to reach Woody Island, making it a great location for an offshore day trip.
Like Twilight Beach, Munglinup is another beach with a shallow reef to explore. Located a 90min drive from the Esperance town centre, the reef sits in a secluded pool at the western side of the beach, which is protected from oncoming waves and often filled with salmon, trout, gummy sharks and even bright-red starfish. The eastern side of the beach also has a few prime pockets for snorkelling, but it can only be reached by four-wheel drive.
The shallow, sheltered bay at Twilight Beach is an ideal spot for beginner snorkellers. There are a few species of small fish here, and the water is clear enough to provide good visibility. Keep an eye out for surfers and paddleboarders – though if you stay in the shallow section, you’ll usually be surrounded by fellow snorkellers. The beach is located just a 10min drive from the town centre.
Other popular Esperance snorkelling beaches
- Eleven Mile Lagoon, 20min drive from the town centre. Expansive reefs with plenty of marine life to explore.
- Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park, 50min drive from the town centre. Good snorkelling on the right-hand side of the bay.
Best Esperance beaches for surfing
Arguably one of the region’s most popular (and most accessible) surfing beaches, Wharton Beach near Duke of Orleans Bay is a great spot for beginners to try their hand at surfing. It has direct sand access for four-wheel drives (or a carpark a short walk away for other cars) and boasts contrasting coastal scenery thanks to its surrounding rocky headlands. The beach is located just over an hour’s drive from the town centre.
Just a 4min drive from the town centre, the picturesque West Beach provides consistent beach and reef breaks that are at their best during low tide. The beach sits near a residential area, and prior surfing experience is advised as conditions are known to change quickly. Be wary of strong rips and currents.
Other popular Esperance surfing beaches
- Chapmans Point (for experienced surfers only), 6min drive from the town centre.
- Fourth Beach, 8min drive from the town centre.
- Twilight Beach, 10min drive from the town centre. One of Esperance’s safest beaches for surfing because of life saver patrol shifts in summer months.
- Observatory Beach, 15min drive from the town centre. Also has great conditions for kite surfing and wind surfing.
Best Esperance beaches for fishing
There are plenty of spots along the shoreline of Munglinup Beach to cast a line in. Located a 90min drive from the Esperance town centre, anglers are likely to catch herring, whiting, squid and skippy here.
Just a 10min drive from the Esperance town centre lies Salmon Beach, and as its name suggests, there’s plenty of salmon to catch here. Avoid visiting the beach during rough weather, as the fishing area can become quite treacherous if the water isn’t calm.
Though it’s a fair drive from town, Alexander Bay, or ‘A Bay’ as locals call it, is an incredibly picturesque spot to cast a line in. Located a 1hr 20min drive from the Esperance town centre, the bay is accessible by four-wheel drive only, and welcomes large numbers of salmon around September and October. You’ll also have a good chance of catching herring, mulloway and skippy here.
Other popular Esperance fishing beaches
- Beach at Thomas River in Cape Arid National Park, 90min drive from Esperance town centre. Salmon, skippy and herring are common here.
- Tagon Beach in Cape Arid National Park, 90min drive from town. Four-wheel drive access only, good for herring, flathead, tailor, salmon and skippy.
- Twilight Beach, 10min drive from the town centre. Good for herring, trevally and whiting.
WA's best beach fishing spots »
Best Esperance beaches for 4WDing
Duke of Orleans Bay
Nicknamed ‘the Duke’, this beautiful bay sits between Cape Le Grand National Park and Cape Arid National Park and has several four-wheel drive tracks to explore. Behind the Duke of Orleans Caravan Park, you’ll find two steep hill climbs with incredible ocean views at the top, whereas other tracks lead to tiny beaches that you’ll have to yourself. The bay is just over an hour’s drive from the Esperance town centre.
Rossiter Bay to Dunns Rocks
The beach at Rossiter Bay in the Cape Le Grand National Park stretches for more than 8km until it meets Dunns Rocks, a rocky headland with incredible views of the beaches on either side. The drive to the rocks is very soft, so some prior four-wheel drive experience is advised before attempting it. You’ll find the entry to the Rossiter Bay beach via Lucky Bay Road, a 55min drive from the Esperance town centre.
Other popular Esperance 4WD beaches
- Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park. Beach is 2.5km long, though driving over the rocky section is not permitted.
- Tagon Beach in Cape Arid National Park, 90min drive from town. The sand here is soft and sloping, so previous experience is recommended.
Best Esperance beaches for beachfront camping
The Alexander Bay Campsite is another good spot for self-sufficient campers. Located a 1hr 20min drive from the Esperance town centre, the campsite is accessible by four-wheel drive only and has poor mobile reception but beautiful views of the ocean. Dogs are allowed, if kept on a lead. Sites are $15 per night and can’t be pre-booked.
Campers who can be fully self-sufficient will enjoy unspoilt ocean views at the Quagi Beach Campsite. Located in the eastern end of Stokes National Park, a 50min drive from the Esperance town centre, the campsite has basic toilets and non-potable water. Sites are $15 per night and cannot be booked in advance, so it’s first in first served.
Le Grand Beach
Overlooking the picturesque Le Grand Beach, the Cape Le Grand Campground has 15 campsites and sits a 45min drive from the Esperance town centre. Though it’s a small camping area, there are plenty of facilities, including flush toilets, showers, picnic tables and gas barbeques. You’ll need to bring drinking water with you, and bookings are essential.
Perhaps one of WA’s most popular beachfront camping areas, campers at Lucky Bay can enjoy ocean views from their tent, plenty of facilities and a potential visit from one of the bay’s friendly kangaroos. There are 56 sites up for grabs at the campground, and there are communal gas barbeques, toilets, showers and picnic tables to use. Bookings are essential.
Other popular beach camping in Esperance
- Munglinup Beach Camping Ground, 90min drive from Esperance town centre. No bookings, on-site toilets and dogs allowed on a lead.
- Belinup Campground at Thomas River, 90min drive from town, within the Cape Arid National Park. Facilities include a shaded shelter area and toilet blocks. No pre-bookings available.
WA's best beach camping spots »
Best dog-friendly Esperance beaches
Most of Esperance’s beaches are dog-friendly, but dogs are not permitted in national parks, and therefore, on beaches within national parks. Dogs are also prohibited at Twilight Beach.
It’s best to do your research if you’re unsure a beach is dog-friendly. There are a few beaches that have specific on and off-lead times for dogs, but otherwise, use your discretion and use a lead if bringing your dog to a busy beach.
Castletown Foreshore Beach
Sitting pretty on the Esperance foreshore, the Castletown Foreshore Beach is a picturesque spot for your dog to have a splash. To reach it, head east of Tanker Jetty and along the beach to Straker Street. Dogs can be off-leash here between 5am to 8am and 4pm to 8pm daily, but must be kept on a lead at other times of day. The area west of Tanker Jetty is not a recognised dog exercise area, so make sure your dog doesn’t wander off to the other side of the jetty.
Like the foreshore beach, West Beach only allows dogs off-leash between 5am to 8am and 4pm to 8pm. The rips and currents here can be strong, so keep an eye on your dog if they head into the water.
Best Esperance beaches for families and kids
Located a 10min drive from town, Twilight Beach is one of the safest swimming beaches in the Esperance area, so it’s a fantastic spot to bring the kids for a paddle. In summer months, the beach is patrolled by surf lifesavers, and you might even catch the local ice cream van doing the rounds.
Located in Cape Le Grand National Park, the secluded Hellfire Bay sits between a set of rocky headlands, and despite its name, is an incredibly beautiful beach with clear water and snow-white sand. After a paddle in the shallow waters, head for the large, shady picnic area complete with tables and barbeques. The bay is a 45min drive from the Esperance town centre.
Located next to the Bandy Creek Fishing Boat Harbour, less than a 10min drive from town, the beach at Bandy Creek has a long, shallow bank that gradually drops to provide access to the harbour for boats. The bank area is perfect for young kids to paddle in.
Other popular Esperance beaches for families and kids
- Blue Haven Beach, 10min drive from the town centre.
- Ten Mile Lagoon, 15min drive from town. A rocky shoreline breaks the waves and forms a long pool that is usually warmer than the ocean. Small waves also make this a good spot for body boarding.
- Eleven Mile Lagoon, a 20min drive from the town centre. Plenty of rock pools for kids to explore.
Whale-watching at Observatory Point and Lookout
If you’re visiting in colder months, plan a visit to Observatory Point and Lookout for the chance to view humpback or southern right whales during their migration from June to October. The lookout offers incredible views out to the ocean, and there’s a scenic picnic area if you’re eager to stay awhile. The point is a 15min drive from the town centre.
Whistling Rock at Thistle Cove
Nestled within the Cape Le Grand National Park, your first impression of Thistle Cove will likely be its beautiful beach. However, if you take a short walk down a path to the left of the carpark, you’ll reach an unusually shaped rock. The naturally formed Whistling Rock is curved and amplifies the sounds of the waves and wind into a faint whistling noise. The rock is also a great place to soak up panoramic views of the beach and surrounding headlands. Thistle Cove is a 50min drive from the Esperance town centre.
Need a place to stay while you’re exploring Esperance’s beaches?
RAC members save up to 15%* on accommodation at RAC Esperance Holiday Park.
Last updated: October 2021
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