Nestled along Western Australia’s southern coast, Esperance has become a sought-after holiday destination in recent years thanks to its stunning coastline and access to some of Australia’s most beautiful natural landscapes. Featuring long, white sandy beaches and pristine inland national parks such as the famed Cape Le Grand National Park, where rugged terrain and coastal heathlands provide a sanctuary for diverse wildlife, it’s also home to the Instagram-famous bubblegum-pink lake.
For thrill-seekers, there are opportunities to conquer peaks and enjoy panoramic views. It’s also become a foodie haven and you can explore local markets brimming with fresh produce, indulge at a local brewery, or feast on local seafood. Additionally, visitors can delve into the island’s history by visiting unique attractions like Esperance Stonehenge.
Boasting a Mediterranean climate that ensures it’s a true year-round destination, this comprehensive guide will help you discover the finest experiences in this remarkable region.
Where is Esperance?
Nestled in the southernmost part of Western Australia, Esperance’s off-the-beaten-track allure adds to its distinctiveness, providing visitors with a truly transformative experience. Despite its remote location, the journey to Esperance is well worth the effort.
For those who value the flexibility of driving with their own vehicle, a road trip from Perth will take around five hours, but it’s a scenic route. On the other hand, Regional Express Airlines offers a quicker and more direct option, with daily flights between Perth and Esperance taking approximately 90 minutes.
The Best Things to Do in Esperance, Western Australia
Scaling Frenchman Peak
Embark on an adventure to Frenchman Peak, or Mandooboornup, the Aboriginal name. Standing tall within Cape Le Grand National Park, this impressive summit reaches 262 metres above sea level, presenting hikers with a rewarding challenge amidst an ancient landscape.
The ascent takes roughly one hour and you need to be reasonably fit as it will test your resolve with a blend of wooden boardwalks, gravel paths, and steep granite surfaces.
At the peak, you are greeted with breathtaking panoramic vistas. Far-reaching views encompass the park’s rugged terrain, the coastline’s crystal-clear waters, and the archipelago dotting the horizon.
Given the variable path conditions, preparation is vital. Suitable footwear and a review of a trail guide will ensure you are well-equipped to enjoy the majestic heights of Frenchman Peak safely.
Exploring Cape Le Grand National Park
A 45-minute drive east of Esperance, Cape Le Grand National Park is one of the region’s most alluring attractions. Renowned for its breathtaking scenery, the park boasts a diverse range of landscapes, including sandy beaches with turquoise waters, opportunities for camping, 4WD adventures, fishing, surfing, nature interactions, invigorating hikes, mesmerising photography spots, and rocky headlands.
For an immersive experience, consider camping at one of the park’s two campgrounds, namely Lucky Bay Campground or Cape Le Grand Beach Campground. With a reasonable park entrance fee of just $17 per vehicle per day, you gain access to some of the most stunning beaches and picturesque locations in the vicinity.
Woody Island Adventures
Discover the allure of Woody Island, one of the 105 islands in the Recherche Archipelago located just 15km off the coast of Esperance, ensuring the island is ideally situated to provide the ultimate day trip adventure.
Visitors can spend their day basking in the sun at secluded swimming bays or diving into the clear waters to explore marine life through snorkelling. For those preferring land-based activities, the island offers an array of bushwalking trails winding through its dense vegetation, inviting explorers of all ages.
As the sole island in the Recherche Archipelago equipped with visitor facilities and a dedicated visitor centre, Woody Island also offers accommodation choices ranging from self-contained cabins to camping facilities.
The Mystery of Pink Lake Hillier
Witness the spellbinding Lake Hillier, distinguished by its vibrant pink hue, which remains a natural marvel in Western Australia. Coloured by the presence of halophilic bacteria and high salt content, this extraordinary lake dazzles against the deep blue of the ocean and the lush green of the forest. For those seeking an unforgettable view, a scenic flight offers the chance to soak in the lake’s full grandeur from above. Scenic helicopter flights operate daily between October to April on the Esperance foreshore.
You’ll capture stunning photographs and experience the striking contrast of colours, making this phenomenon a must-see. For the more adventurous, boat tours are available to Middle Island, where Lake Hillier sits, providing an up-close encounter with this enigmatic treasure.
See Kangaroos at Lucky Bay
Nestled in Cape Le Grand National Park, Lucky Bay epitomises the quintessential Australian experience as it is a haven for Grey Kangaroos, offering a rare sight as they descend to the beach for sunbathing.
But Lucky Bay is about more than cute Kangaroos – as unique as that experience is! It proudly holds the title of Australia’s Whitest Beach. The dazzling white sand, a result of fine quartz that squeaks underfoot, has been scientifically proven to be the country’s whitest. This visual spectacle enhances the park’s overall appeal.
Adding to its allure, Lucky Bay has a rich historical connection. Cartographer Matthew Flinders named it during a storm, realising the luck that spared him from the Recherche Archipelago’s islands and rocks. This historical significance adds a unique layer to the bay’s charm.
While marvelling at Lucky Bay’s wonders, it’s crucial to remember that kangaroos are wild animals. Tempting as it may be to interact, maintaining a hands-off approach is essential to respect the wildlife and preserve the unique character of this Australian gem.
Lucky Bay Brewing
As one of Western Australia’s premier barley-producing regions, visiting Lucky Bay Brewing for a beer or two is a must when visiting Esperance.
Renowned for using the finest seasonal produce, they offer impressive culinary options to complement their diverse beer selection, which includes easy-to-drink lagers, refreshing ales, and everything in between.
For an extra special touch to your visit, beer aficionados can opt for a tour of this fantastic microbrewery, gaining insights into the magic behind the scenes and enjoying tastings of some special brew treats.
See the Mesmerising Blue Waters of Twilight Bay
While Twilight Bay may occasionally take a backseat to its more renowned neighbours, Lucky Bay and Hellfire Bay, both fixtures on Australia’s best beaches list, it possesses its distinctive charm. Situated closer to town, Twilight Bay showcases equally mesmerising blue waters.
The right-hand cove of the beach is protected by gentle granite rocks, creating an ideal space for kite enthusiasts. At high tide, a swim to the granite island provides a refreshing plunge into the beautiful aqua waters, while during low tide, fortunate visitors can sometimes stroll across the sandbar to the island. One real advantage of this beach over many others is its toilets and showers, adding to its convenience and comfort.
Esperance’s Own Stonehenge
Discover an extraordinary historical monument right in the heart of Western Australia. Esperance boasts a full-size replica of the iconic Stonehenge, complete with towering trilithons and a circular layout that mirrors the original prehistoric structure in Wiltshire, England.
This remarkable landmark presents a unique opportunity to engage with a piece of world history in an entirely new light. Visitors are invited to wander among the megaliths, capture stunning photographs, and feel the presence of ancient times against the backdrop of Esperance’s scenic landscapes.
Located just a 15-minute drive from the town centre, Esperance’s Stonehenge stands proudly on private farmland, accessible and visible from the road for easy viewing.
However, nothing beats the experience of an up-close exploration of the sarsen and blue stones, where one can truly appreciate the scale and craftsmanship of this awe-inspiring structure. The site also features a quaint gift shop, offering souvenirs and memorabilia to remember your visit, celebrating the essence of the British Isles and the spirit of Esperance.
Find Serenity at Hellfire Bay
A hidden gem within Cape Le Grand National Park, Hellfire Bay is a picturesque beach nestled between imposing granite rocks and offering some of Western Australia’s most breathtaking turquoise ocean views. The lesser-known status of this beach might grant you the rare privilege of having the entire expanse to yourself, creating a sense of being on your exclusive private island. In the distance, the Recherche Archipelago adds to the scenic beauty, with island silhouettes emerging from the ocean.
Hellfire Bay provides an ideal setting for a tranquil swim in calm conditions and a relaxing picnic on the sandy shores. The beach has barbecue facilities, so bring a hamper and make a day of it. The stunning natural surroundings and the potential for a peaceful retreat make Hellfire Bay a standout destination within the expansive Cape Le Grand National Park.
Delve into Local Markets
You step into the beating heart of Esperance when you visit its local markets.
Every second Saturday, from 9 am to 11 am, The Esperance Growers’ Market takes over the Scout Hall on The Esplanade, showcasing the freshest seasonal produce. The stalls are managed by growers and makers who harvest their crops just before the market. Embracing sustainability, bring your bags or baskets to fill with offerings like honey, eggs, olive oil, preserves, baked goods, and handcrafted wares.
For another lovely experience, visit The Museum Village Markets every second Sunday from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. Located just a street from the Esperance foreshore, these markets offer a central location and a fantastic community atmosphere. Explore historic buildings, enjoy the village green ambience with buskers, and engage with stallholders offering a variety of goods, from food and coffee to antiques, crafts, and even poultry.
Drive The Great Ocean Drive
Embark on an unforgettable journey by car around the stunning Esperance coastline, exploring the renowned Great Ocean Drive. While Australia boasts numerous famous drives, few can rival this relatively short road trip’s breathtaking beauty and raw panoramas.
Esperance’s Great Ocean Drive forms a stunning 40-kilometre circular loop that unveils a diverse range of coastal wonders, including striking beaches, rugged headlands, secluded bays, imposing cliffs, and concealed ocean pools.
Beyond the vehicular exploration, an alternative perspective can be gained by following the cycle/walk path, which meanders through the landscape, tracing the coast from the Esplanade to Twilight Cove.
Winding Down with a Sunset
As the day’s adventures in Esperance draw to a close, you can discover relaxation in the simplest pleasure of all—watching the sunset. Choose from various vantage points along Esperance’s coastline, where the sky’s canvas becomes streaked with pink, orange, and purple hues.
Twilight Cove offers an impeccable sunset experience, where the setting sun transforms the sky into a masterpiece while gentle waves harmonise seamlessly with the moment.
Or head to Observatory Point and Lookout, one of the best spots to witness a breathtaking sunset. The location features a viewing platform and staircase, providing an ideal vantage point to observe the sun descending into the ocean, creating a mesmerising display of colours and sunrays illuminating the sky. The site offers many photo opportunities, so make sure your camera is charged and ready to capture the scenic beauty.