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We traveled 7 hours south east from Perth to discover the best things to do in Esperance, WA. A pretty coastal town on Australia’s most beautiful coastline.
I know, I know. That’s a big call.
We don’t take it lightly.
But after spending two years circumnavigating the continent, I can say that Esperance is home to the most beautiful collection of beaches I have ever seen.
From the Whitsunday’s White Haven beach to Tasmania’s Wine Glass Bay, from Angourie in the East to Turquoise Bay in the West, and the beaches of the Great Ocean Road, we have seen a lot of coastlines. But Esperance takes the cake.
The superlative Esperance is a rare place where photoshopped tourism brochures are a shadow of the real deal. Beautiful turquoise water swirls over pure white sand, creating mesmerizing patterns in a spellbinding display. Beach after beach along the dramatic seaboard offering up sweeping views of rugged coast.
So, aside from the jaw-dropping beauty of this pristine coastline, what else can you expect in Esperance Western Australia? Well, a surprising amount for such a remote town.
From fresh local produce to fine dining. Beachfront camping to trendy accommodation. Big wave surfing to mini-golf the town of Esperance has something for everyone. Discover what floats your boat with this list of the best things to do in Esperance.
Thinking about a Western Australian road trip? Find the perfect campervan or car!
What Is Esperance Known For
If the title doesn’t give it away, Esperance is known for its amazing beaches, rocky coves, pristine waters, and wild coastline. Here in Esperance, it is all about exploring the nature that abounds nearby.
It is also regularly included in the top 50 windiest places in Australia, so make sure you come prepared with a windbreaker!
Best Things to Do in Esperance Outdoors
The Great Ocean Drive
Ok, so the name might be a little derivative, recalling Australia’s most famous coastal drive, The Great Ocean Road in Victoria. But this 40 km drive can be done in a morning and will leave you stunned by the natural beauty that surrounds Esperance.
Headland after headland, pristine beach after pristine beach, the Great Ocean Drive is easily one of the best things to do in Esperance.
Some of the best beaches in Esperance can be found along this iconic drive. Notable stops along the Great Ocean Drive include Eleven Mile Beach, Observatory Point, Fourth Beach, and Blue Haven.
Camp at Lucky Bay
For $15 per night, you can camp above one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches.
Aside from large shady campsites with views above the stunning beach, you’ll find first-rate facilities including hot solar showers.
Lucky Bay is also one of the few places in Australia where you can see kangaroos on the beach. Could anything be more emblematic of Australia than kangaroos enjoying the world’s most gorgeous beaches?
Hike along the Coastal Trail in Cape Le Grande National Park
Cape Le Grande National Park is one of Western Australia’s most incredible national parks. If you’re not content just to relax in the incredible surrounds of the Lucky Bay campground you can get out and discover the surrounding wilderness. One of the best ways to explore some of the best beaches in Esperance is to hit the trails along the Coastal Trail.
This 20-kilometer end-to-end trail starts at Rossiter Beach and ends at Le Grande Beach. It is recommended to complete the trail over a multi-day hike but can easily be completed with a full-day (8-hour) hike leaving you plenty of time to take in the natural beautify of Cape Le Grande.
You can also complete sections of the hike if you don’t have the time (or desire) to complete a 20-kilometer hike.
The trail includes beach walking, undulating hills over headlands, and breathtaking views.
Like many of the best national parks in Western Australia, entrance to Cape Le Grande costs $15 per vehicle payable in cash at the entrance. Alternatively, national park holiday passes and annual passes can be obtained only from the WA Parks and Wildlife website.
Bay Watch in Cape Le Grande National Park
If you left your hiking boots at home, don’t be deterred, Cape le Grande’s best sights can also be seen by car. Cape Le Grande National Park is most recognized for its amazing white silica sand beaches, rocky headlands, and mesmerizing blue waters. In fact, a fair number of the best beaches in Esperance can all be found just minutes away from each other here in Cape Le Grande.
The first of the beautiful bays to be explored in Cape Le Grande is Hellfire Bay, a beautiful wild beach nestled between two rocky headlands. From here continue onward to Little Hellfire Bay, a small protected cove nearby perfect for a refreshing dip.
The beauty of this park, however, doesn’t stop here as you continue even further to Thistle Cove and Whistling Rock. Thistle Cove is particularly special as the beauty of the beach is remained unspoiled with 4WD access prohibited.
Next, continue to Lucky Bay for your chance to spot a Western Grey Kangaroo basking in the sun on the beach before you hop off to Rossiter Bay the final bay accessible by car in the national park.
Hike to Frenchmans Peak
Frenchmans Peak is a Class 5 summit in Cape Le Grande National Park.
This challenging 3-kilometer hike to reach the summit of Frenchmans Peak 262 meters above sea level is not for the faint of heart and should not be completed in incremental weather due to the slipper granite rock climbing.
Those who are up for the challenge, however, will be rewarded with endless views over Australia’s southern coastline.
Get Back to Basics at Stokes National Park and Quagi Beach
Another national park nearby Esperance is Stokes National Park. This national park is located to the west of Esperance and offers self-sufficient campers the opportunity to camp right behind the beautiful and uncrowded Quagi Beach.
Spend your days exploring the many rock pools, walking along the sandy beach, or even grabbing your fishing rod for some beach fishing.
You will want to make sure you have plenty of provisions when visiting Quagi Beach as you will likely want to stay a few days.
Explore Cape Arid National Park
Another national park in Western Australia well worth a side trip is Cape Arid National Park. Another 120 kilometers further east from Esperance, this national park is known for its four-wheel-drive tracks and breathtaking beaches.
The best way to experience Cape Arid National Park is by tackling one of the many hiking trails. The Tagon Coastal Trail is a 15-kilometer return hike along rock headlands for a chance to see migrating whales.
The Len Otte 2.7km loop is a celebration of the woodlands in Cape Arid National Park named after the first resident ranger.
For more challenging hikes consider the Mt Ragged Walking Trail is a 3-kilometer summit providing expansive views over the northern woodlands of the national park or the 2-kilometer return Mount Arid summit with views over the Recherché Archipelago.
Explore Woody Island
One of 105 islands in the Recherche Archipelago, Woody Island, is a great addition to any Esperance itinerary. An island abounding in nature, there is plenty to do here from exploring the walking trails that traverse the island to snorkeling in the pristine blue waters.
Day trips can be arranged with Woody Island Eco Tours and the island does allow for private moorings at the jetty if you are traveling by your own boat.
Those who are interested in extending your stay on Woody Island can book overnight stays in one of the safari huts available through Woody Island Eco Tours or you can bring your own camping gear.
Ride The Piggery
Mountain bike enthusiasts will absolutely love the 16-kilometer trail outside of Esperance known as “The Piggery”.
Designed by mountain bikers for mountain bikers, this epic trail is not to be missed.
For those traveling light, mountain bikes can be rented from Watt Lab across from the Esperance Museum.
Best Things to Do in Esperance in the Water
Scuba Dive to Australia’s Largest Wreck
Scuba diving may not be the first thing you think of when you picture Esperance but it is easily one of the best things to do here.
The waters off of Esperance are home to the world’s second-largest and Australia’s largest wreck dive, the Sanko Harvest. The Sanko Harvest was a 174-meter cargo ship that met its demise in February of 1991 after hitting a chartered reef. For experienced divers, the wreck is teeming with an abundance of marine life and should be on any serious diver’s bucket list while traveling Australia.
Other dives near Esperance include shore diving along the Tanker Jetty for your chance to see the rare leafy sea dragon, one of the most interesting creatures under the sea.
Wet a Line
Fishing is one of the best ways to spend your time as the sun goes down in Esperance. Beach fishing is allowed at many of the beaches in and around Esperance.
The most popular fish amongst anglers here are herring, skippy, salmon, flathead, and whiting. Depending on where you drop a line you might also catch a few tailor, malloway, or gummy sharks.
Checkout One of the World’s Heaviest Waves
With a name like Cyclops, it may not come as a surprise that this wave is one of the heaviest and most dangerous waves in the world. Located off the coast of Esperance, reaching Cyclops requires determination, and surfing Cyclops should only be undertaken by pros.
Cyclops is named for the oval-like barrels that form when massive amounts of water hit the shallow reef below.
Best Things to Do in Esperance Dining and Culture
Grab a Coffee from Cloud Eleven
If the rustic vibe of this chic cafe doesn’t do it for you then their coffee certainly will. Some of the best coffee that we have had during our lap around Australia, Cloud Eleven in Esperance knows just how to make that perfect brew.
Don’t be surprised if you can’t find a seat here. On the weekends this place fills up early and stays busy until the doors close at 1:00 pm.
Experience the Vibing Local Arts Scene
Don’t let the remoteness of this small Western Australian town fool you. Along with some of the best beaches in Australia, Esperance is also home to a budding art scene. From Australian renowned artists such as Cindy Poole to a one-of-a-kind fish tannery, the art on display in Esperance will not cease to amaze.
A few of the best locations to visit to be inspired are:
- Cindy Poole Gallery & Studio for highly-lauded glass designs
- Mermaid Leather for Australia’s only specialist fish and shark leather tannery
- Cannery Arts Centre shocases local and regional artists and regularly host community events and exhibitions to support the local arts scene.
Many of the galleries and exhibits in town are provided at no cost making it one of the best free things to do in Esperance.
Take in a Market or Two (or Three)
Soaking up the community at a local market is one of the best things to do in any town and this is no exception in Esperance. There are three markets held regularly in Esperance depending on what time of the year or day of the week you are visiting.
The “Village Green”, located at the Museum Village, is the home of the Museum Village Markets which are hosted every second Sunday throughout the year from 8:30 am – 12:30 pm. The Museum Village Markets primarily focus on local artisanal goods from the area with a few food vendors to choose from.
The Esperance Sunset Markets are also hosted on the Village Green between February and May each year. The Sunset Markets usually are on a Friday evening and are packed full of local market stalls and food vendors. It is a great way to watch the sunset over the ocean.
Lastly, the Esperance Growers Markets is the best chance and grabbing some of the freshest produce in the area. One Saturday a month from 9:00 am – 11:00 am, the farmers in the area come together at Scouts Hall to showcase their finest and best produce. From baked goods to preserves from fresh spinach to leafy greens, make sure to get in early so you don’t miss out on the best veggies and produce in town!
I grew up playing miniature golf with my family back in the United States. Playing mini-golf on beach holidays is something I have fond memories of every beach holiday. Stumbling upon a mini-golf in Esperance seemed like fate.
The indoor course in Esperance might be due for a bit of an update and the opening hours are a little restrictive. Nevertheless, if you find yourself in the right place at the right time it’s a great way to spend an hour or two and is especially fun for the kiddos.
Grab a Feed at Fish Face
Not your typical fish and chips joint, Fish Face is one-upping most other joints in Australia.
Using fresh seafood straight from the coastal waters off Esperance, the duo behind Fish Face offers an exciting menu for those passing through Esperance. Think smokey paprika octopus, scallops topped with crispy prosciutto and cauliflower puree, and bass cod rillettes.
Best of all, Fish Face is BYO friendly so more $$ for their seriously delicious seafood!
Fish Face is only open for dinners between 4:30 pm and 8:00 pm from Tuesday to Saturday. Bookings are advised to avoid disappointment.
Drop-in for a Cold One at Lucky Bay Brewery
One of the most lauded breweries in Western Australia, if you’re partial to the occasional cold one, a visit to Lucky Bay Brewery is one of the best things to do in Esperance. Using locally sourced barley and taking inspiration from nearby attractions you will find beers such as Thistle Cove, Sandy Hook, and Cyclops to name a few.
Lucky Bay Brewery also regularly hosts live music and has some pretty good wood-fired pizzas to make for a highly enjoyable afternoon.
Yirri Grove Olive Farm
Food lovers should not miss the opportunity to visit Yirri Grove on any trip to Esperance.
Open seasonally, this paddock to plate eatery located just outside of Esperance is the perfect place to experience some of the local produce on offer in the area.
Pop in for an olive oil tasting or stay longer and enjoy a beautifully prepared meal with friends and family. Another BYO destination, Yirri Grove is simply one of the best things to do in Esperance.
History buffs will enjoy the Esperance Museum. A collection of artifacts and mementos, this small museum provides a glimpse into the story of Esperance.
The museum is open from 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm from Thursday to Sunday and costs $8.50 per adult ($3.50 per child) to enter.
Catch a Flick Outdoors with Moving Movies Esperance
Moving Movies is a family-friendly outdoor cinema in Esperance during the summer season. Catch a movie suitable for the whole family at the Soundshell.
Check out the Moving Movies Facebook page for up-to-date information on showtimes and movie picks!
Attend a Festival in Esperance
Esperance is home to a wide variety of festivals and events in the area. Some of the notable festivals or events in the area include,
A French Weekend
If you love all things French, then make sure to plan your holiday to Esperance for a superbly french weekend. Events such as French film night, a tour de Esperance, as well as French-inspired Museum Village Markets, are a few of the highlights of this iconic weekend in Esperance.
An annual community event occurring in December each year, the Edge of the Bay Festival is action-packed with music line-ups, food and market stalls, and arts and crafts at the local skate park. As well as skate, BMX, and scooter competitions throughout the day.
Esperance Deep Sea Angling Classic
Fishermen from around Western Australia flock to Esperance in March each year for their crack at the prize money for the best catch.
Hundreds of boats head out to sea in search of the biggest baddest fish. Returning for the weigh-in the afternoon to crown the champion.
So, Is Esperance Worth Visiting?
Despite its remote location, Esperance is one of the most exciting places to visit along Western Australia’s southern coastline. With stunning scenery, outdoor adventures, food, and culture to boot, Esperance makes for a wonderful weekend or holiday destination.
Where Is Esperance
Esperance is a coastal town located in the southwest corner of Australia approximately 7 hours southeast of Perth, 5 hours from Albany, and almost 8 hours from Margaret River.
It may be a bit of the way to get here, but luckily, there is a surprising amount of things to do in Esperance that will make the trip worthwhile.
Where to Stay in Esperance
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Treat yourself to a unique stay in Esperance at the Esperance Chalets. The accommodation options at Esperance Chalets are diverse and suited to your whims and desires. From beautifully appointed bungalows to rustic log cabins, your stay at Esperance Chalets will be quite literally picture perfect.
You won’t find better accommodation in Esperance especially for those on a romantic weekend getaway.
For basic accommodation for a fair price, we recommend staying at Jetty Resort. This no-frills hotel will provide all of the basics that you need for an enjoyable stay in Esperance. The Jetty Resort includes comfy beds, clean rooms, and friendly staff at the best prices in town.
The Jetty Resort is also an easy walk to town, a short walk to the Cannery Center, and across the street from Tanker Jetty.
Hopefully, you found some amazing things to do and see in Esperance, and you enjoy it as much as we did. If you have a question or a comment please let us know below!
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