“I am at the beach looking west with the continent behind me as the sun tracks down to the sea,” writes Western Australian author Tim Winton in the opening chapter of Land’s Edge, his love letter to the ocean. “I have my bearings.”
Winton’s sentiment is a familiar one to those of us that call WA and its 12,000-odd kilometres of coastline home. We’re proud of our beaches and believe that they – and the sunsets that play out in front of them – are the most beautiful in Australia. We’re also right, by the way.
Like many Western Australians, I spend a lot of time on the coast and will continue to explore Australia’s western-most edge till my heart stops beating. Every Western Australian has their favourite beaches: this hit list contains mine, organised roughly from south to north, and is the sum of countless road trips, boat journeys, flights, bike rides and walking. It’s a perpetual work in progress, but I hope it offers visitors to WA a local’s perspective on life out west.
Cottesloe Beach to Swanbourne Beach
This whole stretch of coast is special. Cottesloe is rightfully considered one of the west’s best beaches, but the neighbouring beaches to the north are equally worthy of your attention.
Come for the selfie stay for the pristine beaches. Rottnest Island is a car-free zone, so hire a bike and slowly make your way around the island’s many coves and bays. Recently opened trails offer new ways to explore the island.
Leighton Beach, Fremantle
If I’m after solitude, it’s all about nearby Port Beach. If I’m after more than a quick dip, I drive the extra distance to Leighton. Hit Bib & Tucker throughout the day for great eats, drinks and views.
Outside of Perth
Lucky Bay, Esperance
Regarded as the country’s whitest-sand beach, Lucky Bay is the jewel in the crown that is Cape Le Grand National Park. Totally in day-trip territory for those staying in Esperance, although many choose to set up camp here.
Lowlands Beach, Denmark
While Margaret River’s beaches get plenty of attention, the Great Southern has its fair share of world-class shorelines. You’ll find a favourite, no doubt – Greens Pool in Denmark is another popular one – but isolation and dramatic beauty make this pocket my pick.
Peaceful Bay, near Walpole
The beach, admittedly, can be quiet outside of school holidays, but you’re really here for the fish’n’chips from the caravan park, a serious contender for the best in the west. The secret? The Phillips family – the commercial fishers who also own the park and run the chippery – catch and fillet their own fish.
Gnarabup Beach, Prevelly
Gnarabup Beach features prominently in the lives of Margaret River locals and clued-up visitors. Come here for your morning swim, and during peak season stop by beachfront cafe White Elephant for coffee and breakfast on the walk back to your car.
Smiths Beach, Yallingup
Staying closer to the northern end of the Margaret River Region? This impossibly beautiful beach is a must-see. The grand reveal of the Indian Ocean when you turn off Canal Rocks Road is one of my favourite views in the state and it only gets better closer to the shore.
Turquoise Bay, Exmouth
You’ll never guess what colour the water is. One of the most popular beaches at Cape Range National Park, Turquoise Bay is an ideal pin-up for the beauty of Exmouth and Ningaloo Reef. A particularly great spot for snorkelling enthusiasts, with hundreds of species of tropical fish calling the reef home.
Cable Beach, Broome
Broome’s 22-kilometre white-sand beach is world-renowned. No matter how many times you see it, a Broome sunset really is something else. Hire a four-wheel drive and scout out your own private bit of beach away from the crowds.
Cape Leveque, Dampier Peninsula
Three hours from Broome by car, Cape Leveque is the Dampier Peninsula’s most northerly tip. Stay at Kooljaman, a remote wilderness camp owned by the native Bardi and Jawi communities, and make the most of the ocean’s warm, almost bath-like temperatures.
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