Western Australia is about as diverse as it gets: from the tropical coral and pumping waves to remote desert dunes and even an isolated island paradise. It’s not surprising when you consider that the coastline of WA is over 20,000 km in length (including the islands). Where else in the world could you travel that far and still be in the same state? It’s a dream destination for adventurous souls like us, so here are our recommendations for places to visit in Western Australia.
Although it’s quite a drive to reach this dreamy location, there isn’t a second of doubt in our minds that it’s worth every second of the journey. Hyper white powder-like sand contours the coast at the edge of the ocean, which also happens to boast every shade of blue you could ever imagine. It’s quite remarkable that a place as heavenly as this is still so low key! The locals are friendly and there are few tourists unless you’re heading to one of Australia’s most famous beaches – Lucky Bay. As the name would suggest, this place has something quite unique to offer, with kangaroos entertaining tourists at the edge of the ocean. The vibe around town is rad too; everyone is super friendly and there are a couple of super cool spots to grab some good food and coffee. Our favourite was Downtown Espresso Bar. One of the most iconic sites in Esperance is the Ten Mile Lagoon wind farm. Being so isolated, this town is truly ‘off grid’ and over 30 years ago became the first place in Australia to be powered by commercial wind turbines. Esperance Community Arts puts on an annual music festival each year around August, which supports both local and travelling talent. Anybody can enter so it proves for an entertaining couple of days.
Only a short drive from Dunsborough, “Yalls” is the surfy side of town with pumping waves and beachy locals. The winding road into town is perhaps the most scenic trip in the south-west, overlooking Smiths Beach and Yallingup main break. The view from the top of town gives a picture perfect 180-degree view of the coast as far as the eye can see. We spend most of our time in Yalls over at Smiths Beach; regardless of how busy it may seem from the carpark, it always seems like there’s nobody on the beach – perhaps that’s because they’re all on the peak out the back (a pumping wave on its way!) Nonetheless, it’s provided the backdrop to plenty of our favourite moments and memories.
Over an hour north of Perth, Lancelin is a playground for extreme sports junkies, with countless people flocking to the rolling dunes with their dirt bikes, quad bikes, 4WDs and sand boards to tear around for a couple of days. Outside of town, the landscape is unlike any other in WA, with the sand dunes beginning steeply waterside and flowing deep into the heart of the Australian wilderness. It’s not hard to get off the beaten track out there, leaving you feeling pretty remote after on a short drive from the city. Lancelin is about 60km away from The Pinnacles in Nambung National Park, which are worth a peep as well. About 25-30,000 years ago, the south-west wind eroded away sand over 20,000 hectares of land leaving these huge limestone pillars standing tall. It’s an incredibly unique sight and is also a great place to visit in the spring to catch the display of wildflowers.
The moment you hit the town of Dunsborough the clock seems to know. It feels like the pace of life there is moving in slow motion – nobody’s in a hurry to get anywhere and the only sound is the abundance of nature surrounding you. Easily our most common spot to hang out in the south-west, Duns is about a 2.5-hour drive from Perth and has a colour palette of salty turquoise jelly, earthy orange rocky coast and dustings of white sand – painting the picture-perfect contrasts. Duns is also home the best Japanese restaurant: Pekko Pekko is a health freaks delight. They whip up a variety of creative sushi combinations and noodle or rice-based recipes. Dunsborough is also home to a weekly Saturday market in the main mall with a whole host of stalls ranging from arts and crafts to local produce. It’s definitely worth a stroll around to support the locals and get some bits and bobs if you’re in the vicinity.
There’s forever a spot in our hearts for this island playground. Floating just 20 km off the coast of Perth, this low-key oasis was our home for multiple summers after we left school and there isn’t an inch on the island that we haven’t explored. Only a 25-minute ferry trip lies between Fremantle and the shores of Thompson Bay, meaning a day trip is possible. However, we’d recommend spending a few days there to get off the grid. It’s easy to get trapped at the beaches near town but the further out you go the more beautiful and less crowded it gets. Our favourite places to set up camp are to the south of Salmon Bay and the west corner of Parakeet Bay. There’s some ripper surf there too; Strickland Bay pumps on an east-northeast wind and anything above a metre will push a few lines through. There’s a cafe scene on the rise there too with multiple places to refuel or make an occasion of. Our favourite spot is the Lane Cafe at the northern end of the mall, with some great healthy options, beautiful coffee, plenty of juices as well as a couple of naughty treats and ice cream to cool down on a steamy summer’s day. The local council has recently turned the heritage-listed Salt Store into a gallery and exhibition centre so there are frequently new creative projects on show in there. We’d need a whole separate blog post to provide all our Rottnest tips, so if you’re lining a trip up there send us a DM on Instagram.
This place has well and truly become our second home. About a twenty-minute drive or train ride from the centre of Perth city, we often make the trip up for a little gander and hang out in this vibey town. The buildings are relatively unchanged since the 1800s which gives the town a rustic kind of feel. This could be the reason why it’s gained a reputation as one of WA’s more alternative areas, making it home to many of Perth’s most creative minds. The city has developed some distinct independent clothing stores as well as a super artsy cafe scene. Hours can fly by sipping coffee, strolling through the markets, munching on good food then hanging out at one of the pristine beaches that fringe the outskirts of town. Our typical ‘Freo’ routine involves multiple brews from our favourite coffee stop Milk Belly and a bit of fresh fruit from the markets before a swim at South Beach winds our day up. Fremantle also has some incredible creative spaces with a few of WA’s most unique concept stores such as Three Stories (a surf, art and clothing store) and Kidogo Arthouse (a heritage-listed building used for exhibition galleries surrounded by a courtyard that plays host to touring musicians, poets and authors).
Just like Esperance, Exmouth is also a bit of a trek to get to: a 14-hour drive or a 90-minute flight is what it takes to reach this remote oasis (it’s hard to believe they’re all in the same state!). The heavily protected Ningaloo Reef winds its way along the Indian Ocean and is well and truly thriving (apparently more so than the Great Barrier Reef). A mere 20 metres off the coast at Turquoise Bay you can find yourself floating along the current atop some of the world’s most vibrant underwater life; colourful coral, turtles, huge schools of fish, sharks, dolphins, you name it. The best time to head up to Exmouth is between March and August as the whales migrate from north to south on the west coast and swimming with the whale sharks and humpback whales is a huge tourist attraction. The simple town centre has a couple of really vibey places to grab a bite. A personal favourite would have to be the Social Society – a trendy boutique cafe with vintage interiors and an array of healthy juices, snacks and a great brew of coffee! Exmouth, like most rural West Australian towns, has a thriving local sports scene. Once a week, the locals meet up to play sports such as squash and tennis. They’re very welcoming to people that pass through so it’s a good way to get to know locals as well as get a bit of a fun work out in.
The world famous ‘Margies” (as it’s more locally referred to) is without a doubt the hub of surfing in WA with countless world-class waves pumping year-round along its coast. The town reflects the area’s surf vibes with rustic shops and cafes. The local pub plays host to touring bands most nights of the week and dishes up a variety of cuisines and diet preferences. A typical day in Margies always starts at our favourite cafe White Elephant for a morning brew (they pour their coffees from a spot literally overhanging the beach) then liaising between breaks trying to find an uncrowded peak, which is usually Boodjidup. Once we’re surfed out, we’ll top up the fuel in town at the Margaret River Bakery and then head to Gracetown for sunset. The World Surf League competition on the shores of Margies takes place annually in late autumn, which is a spectacle not to be missed. If you’re a little more sophisticated than us, Margaret River is also the home to some of the most famous wines in the world. They can be found along both sides of Caves Road and beyond, so you’ll find plenty to choose from.
Probably the most low-key place we’ve been in WA, this vibrant country town is away from the hustle and bustle but still holds onto architectural heritage. We didn’t really score with the weather when we visited, so make sure you pick a great couple of days to make the four-hour drive from of Perth worth it – but glimpses we got, it’d be worth a journey of a thousand miles! Elephant Rocks is one of those places that must be seen to be believed. The shallow turquoise bay is full of monstrous boulders, which you can wade through in awe of the surrounds. A unique blend of Australia’s nature at its finest. For a spectacular view of the southern cape from above, you could hike to one of WA’s highest peaks, Bluff Knoll in the Stirling Range National Park. For something a little more cultural visit Kodja Place, a gallery space that educates visitors with stories of the original the indigenous inhabitants plus the early settlers and migrants.
Where’s your favourite place to visit in Western Australia? Comment below and let us know!
About the authors
The Neverland Boys are a group of three best friends proudly born and bred on the west coast of Australia; a place which for reasons unbeknown to ourselves is relatively unexplored. When we left to explore the rest of the world we didn’t realise how lucky we were to come from such an incredible part of the world, although there are some pretty next level places out there, there is really no place like our home state and we can’t wait to give you a little taste into what makes it so special.