With many of Australia’s east coast beaches often stealing much of the limelight (we’re looking at you, Bondi, Burleigh Heads and Byron Bay), it’s easy to forget that Western Australia lays claim to more than 12,000 kilometres of spectacular coastline.
So from the best beaches near Perth, to some so remote you’ll wonder whether the journey is worth it (trust us, it is), here are 9 of the top sandy stretches in WA. Expect tonnes of dazzling white sand, a healthy smattering of coral, plenty colourful marine creatures, unforgettable sunsets and the bluest water you’ll ever see.
Not to be mistaken for the famous Sydney beach of the same name, Western Australia’s Coogee Beach is a gorgeous stretch of sand often overshadowed by its more popular neighbours. Located south of Fremantle, there’s a jetty and two floating pontoons that are made for jumping, diving and fishing off, or you might want to snorkel or dive around the historic Omeo shipwreck, which is situated just 25 metres from the shoreline. Coogee Beach also boasts an enormous grassy area perfect for picnics and hosts an array of family-friendly events (including the annual Coogee Jetty to Jetty Swim). Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the dolphins and sea lions that also frequent the area, too.
As far as bucket list beaches go, the sandy stretches that flank Ningaloo Reef would have to be up there as one of the best. Spanning 300 kilometres in length from Exmouth in the north to Red Bluff in the south, it’s the largest fringing coral reef in the world, and widely regarded as one of the last great ocean paradises. Pristine coral gardens, bursting with marine life and vibrant in colour, are just a few steps from the beach, while the crystal-clear waters are impossible to resist . A snorkel along Ningaloo Reef will see you encounter hundreds of tropical fish species, manta rays and sea turtles, but the real drawcard is the whale sharks, who congregate off the reef in huge numbers from March to August – don’t miss the chance to swim with these gentle giants.
If you’ve done any research into the beaches of Western Australia, you may be familiar with the adorable shots of kangaroos lounging on a white-sand beach – but do you know exactly where this stunning oasis is? Well, it’s the sparkling jewel in Cape Le Grand National Park’s crown (45 minutes drive from Esperance) and goes by the name of Lucky Bay. But the sunbaking locals aren’t the only reason you need to visit; Lucky Bay is also considered one of Australia’s whitest beaches, with sand so blinding you’re definitely going to need your sunglasses. And to top it off, Lucky Bay also offers some of the best camping in Western Australia, with plenty of well-equipped sites perfect for spending a night under the stars.
Perth beaches don’t get much more iconic than Cottesloe Beach. This idyllic spot is only 15 minutes from the CBD, and with calm, clean waters and more than one kilometre of shoreline it’s no surprise it’s a favourite among locals and tourists alike. Swimming, snorkelling and body-surfing are all popular activities here, and it’s a rite of passage for beach-goers to jump off the bell-shaped buoy that floats just offshore. Come late afternoon though, you’ll want to head to Cottesloe’s stylish and buzzing waterside esplanade, which is filled with cafes, eateries and bars, to get a front row seat for the sunset show. With a cocktail in hand, there’s no better way to watch the sun disappear over the Indian Ocean.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the beaches near Perth and head to Greens Pool in William Bay National Park, which is a short drive from Denmark on Western Australia’s rugged south coast. This sheltered, secluded beach, where wildlife outnumber people, is best known for the enormous boulders that are dotted along the coastline, and which protect the beach from the wild swell of the Great Southern Ocean. These ideal conditions make Greens Pool a wonderful spot for swimming, snorkelling and diving, and it’s a place you can let little ones (or those who aren’t confident in the water) splash around in safety. Visit in spring and you’ll also get to witness the region covered in wildflowers.
Margaret River may be best known for producing an abundance of incredible food, wine and gourmet goodies, but it’s also home to some pretty amazing beaches. Hamelin Bay is the pick of the region, with its fine white sand and Tiffany-blue waters it resembles a postcard. Snorkelling, diving and beach fishing are popular activities, and there’s also a boat launching ramp if you want to explore further out into the open ocean. What makes Hamelin Bay super special though, are the friendly stingrays that reside in the area. Hoping to feed off the scraps left by fishermen, it’s not unusual for these curious creatures to swim right up to people in the shallows, and their presence draws quite a delighted crowd.
Sand dunes, camels, epic sunsets and red-ochre cliffs – this could only be one place: the world-famous Cable Beach. Named for the telegraph cable that was laid between Broome and Java in 1889, it has long been regarded as one of the best beaches in Western Australia. The sublime beauty of Cable Beach extends for 22 kilometres, the bath-warm, turquoise waters are a delight to swim in, and the powder-soft sand is seemingly designed for long coastal walks, games of beach cricket and 4WDing adventures. But of course, no trip to Cable Beach is complete without a camel ride along the water’s edge. Make it a sunset tour so that you can really soak up the magic of this gorgeous location.
Giving Cottesloe a run for its money as one of the best beaches in Perth is Scarborough. An impressive and consistent swell makes it a watery playground for surfers and body-boarders, while the afternoon sea-breeze that rolls in suits both kite-surfers and windsurfers. A recent multi-million dollar facelift has seen landscaped walkways, a skate park, plus a stack of trendy cafes pop up, while the brand new, geo-thermally heated open-air public pool rivals that of the Bondi Icebergs Club. As if that’s not enough, Scarborough also has some of Perth’s best relaxed dining options along with an outdoor amphitheatre that plays host to an array of beachside events.
Turquoise by name, turquoise by nature. If you want glittering, so-blue-it-can’t-be-real water, this is the beach to be at. Located in Cape Grand National Park, the closest town is Exmouth, which is still 60 kilometres away. This isolation is all part of Turquoise Bay’s charm though, and you’re unlikely to encounter crowds when visiting this slice of heaven. Healthy, multi-coloured corals and marine critters wait just footsteps from the sand, and the coolest way to see them is by drift snorkelling – which involves entering the water from the southern end of the beach and letting the current slowly carry you north. Just make sure you get out at the sandbar.
Prepare to get your feet sandy by booking cheap flights to Perth with Webjet. Once you’ve landed in the WA capital city, you can pick up your hire car and hit the road to your first sandy stretch. Make your visits to WA’s best beaches a true adventure by booking accommodation nearby, and give yourself ample time to soak up the beauty of these stunning coastlines.