Whether you’re a beach bather, water baby or just really appreciate a bloody good view of the ocean, Western Australia is some kinda beach haven. Think long open stretches of white sand, rocky coves to explore, rolling waves and coral wonderlands accessible right from the shoreline.
And with over 12,000 miles of coastline, you can rest assured you won’t have to share your sandy spot with anybody (unless you actually want to, of course). But that much magnificent beach can seem a little overwhelming, so you’d be forgiven for not knowing where to start.
That’s where we come in. Here are our nine most unmissable stretches of white (and pink, and red…) sand and Indian Ocean.
*Warning* Prepare to become one of those utter beach snobs after visiting these beauties…
1. Cottesloe Beach, Perth
Let’s start close to where you’ll probably be flying into, or starting your Western Australia road trip from. Perth’s premier beach is much more chilled out than St Kilda, Bondi or the Gold Coast. Snorkelling? Check. Space? Check. And plenty of bars to watch the sunset in? Check.
Get there: Cottesloe Beach is half an hour from the city centre of Perth. You can take the train, or bus from the city centre before walking 15 minutes to the shore. Easy!
2. Rottnest Island, Perth
Famous for its population of loveable quokkas, Rottnest Island has more to offer than this cuddly mini marsupial/Instagram sensation. Like over 60 blindingly beautiful stretches of sand and coral-clad heaven like Little Salmon Bay. Who’d have thought?
Get there: You can easily see Rottnest in a day. Head to Perth City harbour, Victoria Quay or Rous Head Harbour in Fremantle, or Hillary’s Boat Harbour north of the city for ferries, which depart regularly, and take between 25 and 90 minutes.
3. Penguin Island, Perth
Melbourne isn’t the only place in sunny Australia you can spot pingus. They’re all partying here, on the tiny island off the coast of Perth. In the Indian Ocean. In 30 degree sunshine. This world. Is crazy. (psst, there’s seals too).
Get there: you can get hourly ferries to Penguin Island from Rockingham, in south Perth. It’s closed between June and September due to penguin nesting season – so make sure you plan your trip around these dates, or double check on their website.
4. Injidup Beach and Cape Naturaliste, Margaret River region
Sunrise surfers, secluded sunsets, ample spas, dancing dolphins… and wine. Lots of wine. Set near to the vineyards of the Margaret River, this curvaceous, rocky and frothy cape is perfect for some chill-time away from everything else, including the other backpackers. The two best beaches, Injidup and Cape Naturalise are a half-hour drive from one another, so make sure you’ve got the time to take both in.
Get there: This coastline is a three-hour drive down the coast from Perth. Hellooo, weekend road trip!
5. Elephant Rocks, Denmark
There’s a reason why they call it the Rainbow Coast. This long, empty stretch in southwest Australia is so blue-tiful!
They love their metaphors in W.A. Whoever named this specific beach did so because the many rotund grey rocks dotted in the shallows of the crystal clear waters look like a herd of elephants paddling in. So very ‘Indian Ocean’, no?
Getting there: The cove and rocks are set inside William Bay National Park, around a four and a half hour drive south of Perth.
The best way to get there by road is on the South Coast Highway from Perth to Adelaide or vice versa. This route is a road trip and a half – a wild, wistful and windswept one that will take a few days to complete, and will encompass the next two Esperance beaches in our list… so read on!
6. Twilight Cove, Esperance
Another day’s drive east beyond the elephants lies Esperance. Empty, sun-bleached, blindingly white and shockingly blue, this feels like the edge of it all. In this coastal haven, whales breach the waves close to the beaches which seem empty for miles in both directions. We promise you this is the reason why you should come to Australia, and you shouldn’t miss it.
Esperance is home to dozens of beaches but Twilight Cove is one of the most Instagrammable. Huge cliffs and crunchy sand (go listen for yourself) are just a few gifts nature has dropped right here.
Getting there: It’s around a six-hour drive east from Perth to the town of Esperance right along the coast (right past Elephant Rocks above!), which makes a good base for exploring all of the beaches in the area.
7. Lucky Bay, Esperance
So blue hey, beach ‘roo…
Thought you’d seen it all in Australia? Well, check this. Mother Nature dropped kangaroos right in the surf on this stretch of sand.. you’d think they’d want this all to themselves, but they’re happy to share with anyone who passes through… and it’s absolute paradise.
Lucky Bay lies inside Cape Le Grand National Park, and it’s best to factor a few days here, to take it all in. From snorkelling and diving, to camping and stargazing, you’ll never want to leave.
Getting there: Lucky Bay is a one hour drive east of Esperance town centre, and each beach within the area is a few kilometres apart.
8. Coral Bay, Exmouth
Whale sharks, turtles, dolphins and 162 miles of untouched coral reef are just a few of the things on the Ningaloo Reef that give it’s more famous cousin, the Great Barrier Reef, a run for its money. Part of the larger area of Exmouth, Coral Bay is the spot you should stay if you want to be in the centre of Western Australia’s dreamiest bounty.
Getting there: Embark on one of the most incredible road trips on Earth – north from Perth up the Indian Ocean. Make sure you factor in enough time to stop off at some of Western Australia’s National Parks such as Kalbarri along the way by reading our Ultimate Western Australia road trip guide.
We recommend you spend a good five days in the Exmouth area. From feeding wild dolphins in Monkey Mia to wildlife cruises to spot beasts you thought you’d only encounter on Blue Planet, there’s so many unique experiences you can’t miss.
9. Cable Beach, Broome
Did you know, there are so many camels in Australia that they’re often sold to Arabia!? If you ever wondered what it would be like to ride on the back of one down 22km of pristine beach, into the Indian Ocean sunset… you should probably stop by Cable Beach.
Getting there: Broome is up in northwest W.A., meaning it’s usually the end of the road for those road tripping up the coast. Since the best way to see it is via 4WD over the sand (and between two humps), it’s best to take a tour.
Want more WA? We don’t blame you. It takes up about half of Australia and is so vast it makes us dizzy. Wrap your head around it with our travel guide (and find cheap flights and tours), right here.