Feeling like truly getting away from the big smoke and putting some real distance between yourself and the city? There’s many good reasons people are making the trek down to Esperance, and here’s 30-and-a-bit to get you started:
SEE & DO
Woody Island might just be the new Rottnest. The island is just a 20-minute boat ride out of Esperance Bay (if you don’t slow down to spot seals and dolphins along the way) and apart from a jetty, a spattering of safari huts and a licensed bar, you’re one with nature on this beautiful island. There’s plenty of snorkelling, fishing and hiking too. Read our full guide here.
Cape Le Grande National Park
A quick 45 minute drive from Esperance will land you at one of the country’s most spectacular national parks. White sandy beaches, rugged coastlines and mighty granite peaks abound, just awaiting discovery. There’s beautiful beaches to stop in at all over, with opportunities for swimming, snorkelling, surfing and fishing galore. Boats can be launched and sails can be set, and there’s some serious trails to be tackled for the hikers out there. The Le Grand Coastal Trail is an excellent way to take much of it in, before you embark on the most rewarding trail of all…
A granite dome with a pointy peak that resembled the hats worn by French troops in the 1800s, Frenchman Peak or Mandooboornup as it was known before colonisers arrived stands out as a survivor of wind, water and the forces of nature that have eroded most of the surrounding landscape over the aeons. A highlight of Cape Le Grande Nation Park, read our full guide here.
Photo by Life Of Py
From Lake Eyre, Lake Macdonnell and Lake Bambunga in South Australia, the Pink Lakes in Victoria to our own Hutt Lagoon on the Coral Coast, we’re pretty covered for these bright pink oddities. One of the most brilliant is Lake Hillier, on an island off Esperance, one that has to be seen to be believed… Read our full guide here.
Photo by maginemag.ch
With squeaky white sand and impossibly blue water, Wharton Beach is possibly the best in Australia. It’s located about 100km out of Esperance, so while it’s popular for day trips, you may want to stay the night at the adjoining Duke of Orleans Bay Caravan Park. This beauty has a nice wave for budding surfers and great snorkelling along the headland.
Eleven Mile Beach
Ultimate beach babes will love the lagoon in, and pastel hues of Eleven Mile Beach. Sheltered from the prevailing winds, it’s a reliable fall-back plan on breezy days and a good one to go to late in the afternoon. As the name suggests, this slice of paradise is located 11 miles out of the town centre, so pack a picnic and plenty of water.
One of Australia, if not the world’s, most iconic beaches, Lucky Bay is the centrepiece among many of Esperance’s stunning white sandy beaches. In recent years the town of Esperance has put some serious effort into upgrading the beach’s facilities to accommodate new arrivals, and we’re all the better for it. Read our full guide here.
Photo by @elisecook
Esperance’s most popular surf break is located only a few seconds drive from the town centre, or walking distance if you’re staying in the West Beach area. Live like the locals do and choose from three different breaks along the perfect stretch of reef and sand, or frolic in the lagoons in front.
For some of the great southern’s whitest sand and clearest blue waters, it’s hard to go past Twilight Bay. A popular picnic spot, the rugged granite outcrops just off the beach make for a captivating day at the beach.
If you’re fortunate enough to be in a 4WD, head forth towards the softer sands of Wylie Bay and it’s spectacular rock formations. The sand dunes are popular amongst sandboarders, 4WDs and motorbikes, plus if the conditions are right surfers will find a wave or two.
Photo by Esperance Tide
The last beach we’ll list (the rest you’ll just have to go and discover yourself!), Hellfire Bay is another perfect park-up spot, with calmer conditions than some spots. It’s got great picnicking facilities, including toilets, barbecues and large shelters with tables.
Novelty or not, a trip Esperance’s Stonehenge replica is a lot of fun. The only full-size replica of the UK’s original Stonehenge in the world, formed with almost 140 slabs of prime Esperance pink granite. It’s only 15 minutes out of town, and a stop in at the gift shop will keep the relatives all the way back home (in Perth) grateful.
Great Ocean Drive
Just a couple of k’s out of town will get you started on the spectacular Great Ocean Drive, an almost-4okm trip through the area’s incredibly unique coast. Lined with many of the beautiful beaches we’ve listed above, it might take you the full day with all the stop-offs.
The Esperance Museum is a cool little stop off to get a glimpse into Esperance’s long history, open a few hours a day from Thursday-Sunday. It offers a fascinating collection of artefacts tracking Esperance’s journey from its days a small European settlement way back in the 1860s.
Ride ‘The Piggery’
Adrenaline junkies packing their mountain bike would do well to head to Esperance’s main mountain bike track, ‘The Piggery’. A flowing 14km track with plenty of bumps and berms to challenge more experienced riders, along with a 2.5km family section.
For unparalleled, 360degrees views of Esperance and its surrounds, the Recherché Archipelago and more, make sure to stop in at the Rotary Lookout, which is also part of the Great Ocean Drive.
For another dose of real Esperance history, pop into the Historic Museum Village. Located on Dempster St, it’s a collection of preserved buildings that serve as a wonderful time capsule of the area. Every second Sunday it’s also home to the Museum Village Markets, a local community market Featuring homemade and homegrown produce, food stalls and more.
Esperance Mini Golf
For something a little different, pop in for a few putts at Esperance Mini Golf, with indoor and outdoor sections and a bit of fun for the family. Big kids can also go for a hit along the lush rolling greens of the Esperance Golf Club.
EAT & DRINK
With a thriving seafood industry, sampling Esperance’s local produce is a must. If you want it cooked by the best, pop into low-key seafood restaurant Fish Face. Owners Dalia and Craig Adams are the best in the business and serve up an ever-changing menu of local catch. Best of all, the restaurant is BYO so you can afford that extra serve of the best scallops on earth.
A trip to Esperance is not complete without a coffee from Downtown Espresso Bar. You’ll forget you’re 750km from the city when you step into this funky little coffee shop that’s famous for the best cold brew and turmeric lattes in town. It’s a hot spot for locals and tourists alike, making it a great place to people watch and peruse a copy of the wonderful Esperance Tide magazine.
Lucky Bay Brewing
That’s right, craft beer fans, Esperance has its own beer. After a dip in the Eleven Mile lagoon, continue out to the Lucky Bay Brewing microbrewery. Made with premium local barley, you can work your way through all eight brews. Lucky Bay Brewing run tours or you can just pop in for a paddle and take some chunky 1L cans to go.
If you’re staying at Duke Of Orleans Bay Caravan Park or visiting Wharton’s Beach (more on that below), make sure you pop into the family owned and operated Condigup Tavern – a wonderful little cafe, bar and restaurant with the kind of relaxed, rustic and honest vibe you can only find in Australia’s great southern.
Yirri Grove Olive Farm
Turns out this area of the world is pretty perfect for growing olives, and Yirri Grove Olive Farm grows four different varieties. Nestled at the edge of the groves, the restaurant offers a real paddock to plate experience featuring their delicious, hand-picked olives and oils.
Esperance French Hot Bread
You can’t say you’ve been to Esperance unless you’ve popped into Esperance French Hot Bread for some of the best baked goods in the Great Southern. Their pie selection is unmatched, and make for the perfect fuel before a day adventuring.
Bob & Jim’s
If you’re chasing the best fresh local produce to line your picnic hamper before a beach picnic, Bob & Jim’s is the place to go. Offering fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, eggs and dairy, small batch artisan wares, international specialist foods and more, why not save yourself the trouble and grab one of their incredible seasonal hampers.
The Pier Hotel
Every country city has that pub to go for a bit more fun on the weekends, and The Pier Hotel is that one-stop shop for a great pub feed, a few rounds of pool, or a late night boogie in the nightclub. The self-proclaimed “social networking hub” of Esperance, if you wanna make a few new local friends, The Pier is the place to be.
Taylor St Quarters
Offering one of the best outdoor dining spots in the state, Taylor Street Quarters‘ epic Esperance Bay views are only matched their epic food, coffee, beer, wine and cocktails selections. With Lucky Bay Brewing on tap, live music in spring and summer and a huge grassy outdoor area, it makes for a dangerous Sunday session proposition – or any day of the week for that matter.
Esperance Grower’s Market
If you’re lucky enough to be in town on one of the every-second-Saturdays it’s held, make sure you pop into the Esperance Growers Market at the Esperance Scout Hall – offering a delicious array of local produce from growers within the area.
Looking to dine a little more on the finer side? Loose Goose offer an excellent food and wine selection, along with catering well for the gluten-free and vegan crowd. They’ve got some of the freshest seafood in town, and with a variety of different course options make sure you leave a few notches on the belt to move up to.
The Coffee Cat
If a quick caffeine hit is what you’re chasing, head straight for the Tanker Jetty and hit up the Coffee Cat. They take their beans very seriously, and the proof is in the pudding, with a nary a bad word to say from locals and visitors alike.
With all the hiking, swimming and adventuring you plan on doing, sometimes a big old carbo hit is in order, and Ricardo’s Pizza is the place to get it. According to the locals Riccardo has the best pizza in town, and you won’t be arguing after a huge Devine Lamb or Carbonara Pizza.
West Beach Holiday House
This deluxe two story holiday house is right next to and offers amazing views of the popular and extremely beautiful West Beach. It’s is well furnished, equipped and has a homely feel all the way through
From $210 per night
Large Private and Peaceful Chalet
A unique stay in a generously proportioned chalet, crisp white interiors. Set privately in a quaint bush setting and part of the Esperance Chalet Village. Fully self contained unit including coffee machine, private BBQ on porch, shared outdoor fire pit and luxe guest amenities.
From $200 per night
Log cabin set amongst the trees
Two bedroom log cabin, rustic timber clad interior, set amongst mature trees, peaceful Esperance Chalet Village location on edge of town.
From: $240 per night
Blue Haven Retreat
Uninterrupted panoramic ocean views of Esperance’s most amazing and protected beach – Blue Haven.
From: $289 per night
Blue Haven Beach Studio
An affordable pet-friendly studio apartment with beautiful views.
From: $156 per night
Newly renovated 1 bedroom self-contained cottage. Situated at the rear of the property at 20 The Esplanade, right on the foreshore.
From: $158 per night
Cover photo by Reili Liiver