Stunning, mammoth white sand dunes and clear, turquoise waters – Lancelin is one of WA’s most spectacular destinations.
It’s less than two hours from the Perth CBD, and fun times await:
What is it?
A popular haven for adventure-seekers, Lancelin’s unique landscape provides plenty of fun in the sea and on the sand. The town is most notably surrounded by vast, shifting sand dunes which rise to 40 metres at their tallest and are a favourite spot for sandboarding, 4WDing and quad biking.
Utilised since the ’20s for the bountiful fishing and cray fishing in the area, the town was officially established in 1950 with the name “Wangaree”, before it was renamed Lancelin in 1954. Currently, Lancelin has a population of just over 700 year-round residents, although the large numbers of visitors during peak season sees the population swell to over 2500 around Christmas and the New Year.
Only 600 metres off shore, Lancelin Island is an A class nature reserve and supports over 50 plant species as well as the endemic Lancelin Island skink. The island also functions as a breeding site for sea birds, and is known to host visiting sea lions – not to mention the countless protected species in the protected marine area surrounding the island. If you have a boat, you can still visit the two beaches on the island, and check out the viewing platform via the boardwalk. A mere 100 metres off shore is Edwards Island: like Lancelin Island, it’s also a protected reserve, however no public access is permitted at all.
Where is it?
On Yued Noongar boodja, Lancelin is 127km north of Perth. The most direct route from Perth is to take the Indian Ocean Drive north for approximately an hour and a half’s drive.
What to do?
Of course, many of Lancelin’s most popular activities make use of its most unique feature – the sand dunes! Fly down the dunes on a sandboard, or book in for a quad bike or buggy tour to really get the adrenaline pumping. The white sands also make it a perfect spot for 4WD enthusiasts and off-road motorcyclists to test their skills. If you’re a budding photographer, the dunes also make a stunning photographic backdrop, or destination for astrophotography.
When it comes to the water, there’s a wealth of activities to enjoy. Lancelin is a global destination for kitesurfing and windsurfing, hosting the Lancelin Ocean Classic since 1986 until 2019 (and hopefully again in the future!). Racing the 25kms between Ledge Point and Lancelin, it holds the Guinness World Record for the longest windsurfing race in the world.
Surfers can also take advantage of the swell, with Back Beach one of the area’s most popular spots. Lancelin Bay is protected by reefs, allowing for calm waters ideal for swimming, snorkelling and stand up paddleboarding. If you’re a keen (and experienced) diver, the stretch of coast between Lancelin and Yanchep is home to 14 shipwrecks, including the Vergulde Draeck, a Dutch East India Company ship which sank in 1656, and the Key Biscayne oil rig which sank in 1983. Unsurprisingly, Lancelin is also where the world’s oldest message in a bottle was found in 2018 – tossed overboard in 1886 from the German ship Paula.
Catch your dinner while you’re there! From the beach or the jetty, you can hope to catch herring, whiting, squid, tailor and samson – or head further out to sea for larger catches. You can also take advantage of the pro’s hard work by snagging a back of the boat sale – particularly for the region’s historical catch of choice, crayfish.
An hour further north of Lancelin, the Pinnacles are another spectacular WA natural site, with its iconic limestone formations that jut out of the desert and date back to 25,000-30,000 years.
What not to do:
As with all visits to our natural spaces, adhere to the Leave No Trace Principles: meaning don’t leave any rubbish out there, don’t pick wildflowers and try your best to look after the surrounding area. Make sure you also adhere to any fire restrictions or bans that might be in place.
Don’t attempt any 4WDing beyond your experience level – it’s super easy to get bogged or even roll over, which is obviously very dangerous! Similarly, only drive on the beach at low tide – and be aware of what the tide is doing. You don’t want to be the gronk with your car underwater! (Which is not even the worst possible outcome of that scenario.) Particular parts of the beach are also prohibited for vehicles.
Don’t fish anything you’re not allowed to, which goes for certain species during the demersal closure, and throughout protected marine areas.
If you’re camping, we recommend you stay in officially designated caravan parks and sites – within the Shire of Gingin, the only legal free camping spot is located on the Moore River Bridge Rest Area, on Indian Ocean Drive (just over 30 minutes’ drive to Lancelin).