Travel & Touring | WA Things To Do

By: Tim Hawken

The West Australian coast is littered with world-class waves, from Margaret River down south to Red Bluff and Gnaraloo up north.

While most of those are well-frequented by both locals and visitors, there are some hidden gems worth seeking out that are off the beaten track. Many of those other waves do require a four-wheel drive to access, with sand traps, beach drives, and rocky terrain all adding to the adventure, and the big reward at the end.

But before you start barreling down off-road access points, remember there’s some extra gear you’ll need to take with you, outside of surfboards, wetsuits, sunscreen, water, and food. To make sure you can get in and out safely, you should also take a shovel, tyre deflator, a 12-volt air compressor, snatch strap and, perhaps, recovery tracks. In the event you do need to get towed out of trouble by someone else, make sure you have recovery-rated attachment points on your four-wheel drive, too.

RELATED: Taking your four-wheel drive off road »

One final tip, especially handy when searching for off-road surf, is that on soft sand beaches especially, you should let your tyres down to around 18-20 PSI minimum. This will give you the extra traction you need to help avoid getting bogged. Just remember to pump everything back up again before re-entering sealed roads.

Now that you’re geared up and ready to go, these are the some of the best surf spots north and south of Perth that you’ll need a four-wheel drive to seek out.

Down south

Three Bears

Three Bears (or simply Bears to locals) is actually three separate reef breaks found toward the top of Cape Naturaliste, near Dunsborough. The most common access to this spot is off Sugarloaf Road, but there’s also a slightly longer way in at the end of Vidler Road closer to Yallingup. Both tracks can get busy in summer especially, so make sure you take it slow and beep at any blind corners. When you get there, you’ll be able to see all three breaks from the top of the cliff in the car park. There’s Baby’s, Mumma’s and, of course, Pappa’s. This trio of waves helps split up the crowds and keep things civil in the water. The best thing about Bears is its consistency. It breaks more often than just about any other wave in WA, outside of Margaret River Main Break.

Best conditions: ESE-NE winds with 1.5-2.5m swell is the Goldilocks zone of being ‘just right’.

Best time of year: All year round.

Windows

Windows is another great surf beach between Yallingup and Margaret River accessed by four-wheel drive. Named after the nearby Windows Estate vineyard, it can be found by following Quinninup Road right to the very end, as it goes from gravel to a full off-road track. Windows is a combination of sand and rock bottom, offering mostly rights but some fun lefthanders on occasion, too. A great addition to the surf here is that Quinninup Falls is a nice hike through the bush from the car park, if you want to do some extra sightseeing while there.

Best conditions: 1.25-2m swell, E winds.

Best time of year: Summer before the sea breeze kicks in.

Joey’s Nose

Joey’s Nose is a more family-friendly surf option when it comes to four-wheel drive surf beaches. Found along the off-road track at the end of Kilcarnup Road (close to Margaret River), it’s an incredibly picturesque beach that offers easy rolling waves close to shore and a slightly bigger peak over reef out the back. When you get to the end of Kilcarnup Road, take the right-hand track, follow it down and then take a left along the coast. You’ll eventually see the Joey’s Nose sign and other four-wheel drives parked along the sand. In summer it can get busy, but there’s nothing quite like being able to drive along the shoreline, park up, surf with the kids, and finish with lunch on the beach. Just remember to take all of your rubbish home with you. Finally, Joey’s Nose is generally only good in summer, as big winter swells draw much of the sand there out to sea, exposing too many rocks.

Best conditions: E or SE winds with up to 2.5m of swell.

Best time of year: December to April.

Boranup Beach

Boranup is hands down one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. White sand and turquoise waters make it an Instagrammers dream. On its day, there are incredible waves on offer along its 5km+ stretch of sand. Boranup is a favourite with expert surfers especially. There are some friendlier waves in the shore for beginners too, but be extra cautious of rips. You can access Boranup an easier or harder way. The easy way is down the southern entry to Boranup Drive, past the Boranup Campground then left onto the four-wheel drive track at Grace Road. It’s a fairly straightforward track with a car park and lookout at the end. The hard way is down Reserve Road (off Caves Road). Adventurers will, however, be rewarded with a stunning drive through a karri forest, followed by an off-road along the beach’s soft sand. Be fully prepared by letting your tyres down, taking an air compressor, and recovery tracks as well. It is absolutely worth the effort.

Best conditions: NE winds with 2.0-3.5m of swell.

Best time of year: November to April.

Black Point

This remote surf spot is one of the few long point breaks found in the South West of WA. Access in winter is sometimes closed because the track gets too difficult to navigate, so make sure you’re prepared for serious offroading. A simple Google search will give you the most direct way in, down Black Point Road, a couple of hours south of Augusta, nestled in National Park wilderness. On a good day, you’ll be treated to extra fun right-handers, then have the opportunity to camp afterwards in the Humpbank Hollow grounds nearby. The spot gets its name from the dramatic black boulders and cliff along the coast there, formed from lava which flowed from the Darling Scarp and slowly cooled at the ocean.

Best conditions: N winds with swells between 1.5-2.5m.

Best time of year: March to May and September to October.

Parry’s Beach

Parry’s is another family-friendly location, which is not too far from the town of Denmark. There’s a lovely, volunteer-run campground right there, with boat ramp access onto the beach with a four-wheel drive. You can drive right along the sands and search out a wave all to yourself, or go for a fish off the beach. In winter, there’s an inlet that can break its banks and flow out to sea, so it’s a no-go to cross after heavy rains. However, in summer, autumn and early winter, surfers will often be treated to fun waves. The north end is protected from swell getting in, but the further south you go, the bigger it gets.

Best conditions: E winds, 1.5-2.5m swell is the optimum range.

Best time of year: January to June.

Up north

Wedge Island

For surfers wanting a fun day trip north of Perth, it doesn’t get much better than Wedge Island. A couple of hours drive from the city, 30km north of Lancelin, ‘The Wedge’ is accessed through the Jurien Bay Marine Park with a break in the dunes letting you drive onto the beach at low tide only. Get the conditions right and it’s an amazing off-road along kilometers of sand where you can pick out a peak to hopefully surf to yourself. Just make sure to only go at low tide and don’t stay too long. The high tide can rush in and people have been known to get stuck. Be sensible, time your run and you should be absolutely fine. An adventure to write home about.

Best conditions: WSW swell between 2m-3.5m, E winds, low tide.

Best time of year: December to May.

Lucky Bay, Kalbarri

Don’t get confused. There’s a Lucky Bay in Esperance and a Lucky Bay Kalbarri. The northern Lucky Bay in Kalbarri not only offers beautiful camping and fishing (as does the southern Lucky Bay) but also has excellent four-wheel-drive-only surfing. Engage your offroad skills by driving along to the southern end of the bay, where the swell is bigger and the bottom a better shape for surfing. If you’re into kiteboarding, this is also a fun spot in the afternoons, with winds often coming up strong enough to switch crafts and stay in the water.

Best conditions: SE-NE wind, 2-3m swell.

Best time of year: May to August.

Warroora Station

Warroora Station is another stunning location up north that’s a favourite with campers, fishers, and surfers alike. If you love all three you have the trifecta of remote adventure to enjoy. The best way to get there is to first visit Coral Bay, then head along the tracks south along the coast. About 99 per cent of the coastal access requires a four-wheel drive, with multiple waves on offer to split any crowds during peak holiday season. Some of the better waves are even on offshore reefs, so those extra keen to explore should think about taking a boat if they have one. Nearby Ningaloo Reef is also a hotspot for some of the most glorious diving you’re likely to experience anywhere in the world.

Best conditions: Any winds with easterly in them, and 1.5m-4m+ swell.

Best time of year: May to September.

Ready to head off the beaten track?

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Last updated: February 2021