The Best Things To Do in Margaret River 2023 – Locals Guide
Margaret River, Western Australia, is a world-famous wine region and tourist destination. There are many things to do in Margaret River, from wine tasting and touring the vineyards to swimming and surfing at the beach. There are also stunning natural wonders, attractions, art galleries, and great restaurants.
This town is one of the most popular Perth getaways and is known for its surfing culture, award-winning wineries, fresh, delicious produce, and craft breweries. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder Margaret River makes a great base, as there are various cafes, restaurants, and bars in town.
Being Perth locals, we visit Margaret River a few times a year. This travel guide provides the best things to do in Margaret River and tips on the weather, location, and where to stay.
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Top 15 Best Things To Do in Margaret River
1. Margaret River Wine Tours & Wineries
The Margaret River region produces award-winning wines and has more than 120 world-class wineries. Despite only being responsible for 2% of Australia’s crush, it holds over 20% of the Australian premium wine market. In 2019, the average price per tonne in Margaret River was significantly higher than the Australian average (Margaret River $1,465 vs. Australian ave. $664).
Over thirty-six grape varieties are planted here, but Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, and Shiraz are the most crushed.
This area is a boutique wine region with 286 vineyards and 175 wine producers. One hundred wine producers crush less than 50 tonnes (less than 4,000 cases). There are over 90 cellar doors, of which 62 have received a 5 Star Halliday rating.
It’s popular, too, being the third most visited wine region in Australia by international visitors (after Yarra Valley and Hunter). It’s the most visited wine region for domestic travelers, though.
Margaret River exports to 45 countries and commands a significant premium at $12.74/L vs. the Australian average of $3.91/L. So, basically, we have outstanding wine!
One of my favourite things is going to a vineyard for wine tasting and chatting with them about their vineyard. Most have such an interesting history, with families going back generations. Some wineries charge a small fee for the tastings, which is taken off any purchase. This is to stop the vans full of people stopping at each winery for tastings and not buying anything.
A lot have restaurants, many winning awards, with spectacular views over the vineyards. It makes the perfect combination.
In winter, find a cellar door with a warm, cosy wood fire.
You can pick up a free map that includes all the wineries and attractions from the Margaret River Visitor Centre.
Some of my favourite cellar doors in this part of the Margaret River region are:
Consider taking a tour of the wineries so nobody has to drive. I like this Full-Day Winery and Brewery Tour with lunch which is very popular and well rated.
If you’d prefer a private tour, Margaret River Experience WA operate highly-rated tours that cater to your preferences. With a 5/5 star rating out of over 100 reviews, you know you’ll be in good hands.
2. Margaret River Caves
In the Leeuwin National Park, there are several hundred underground caves. Six of these are open to the public.
Mammoth Cave is a multi-chambered cave, home to many ancient fossil remains, and is the most accessible out of the ancient caves in the region. This self-guided audio tour ends with a walk through beautiful bushland.
Lake Cave is a stunning preserved chamber beneath the earth. A long staircase descends through a sinkhole to a sunken forest floor. Crystal formations reflect on the tranquil lake inside the cave, and stalactites suspend from the ceiling. The 30-minute, fully guided tour is not suitable for anyone with low mobility. Read the full Lake Cave review here.
Jewel Cave is the largest and is home to one of the longest stalactites in any Australian tourist cave. Be amazed at the towering crystal formations that adorn the cave’s ceiling. During the one-hour guided tour, you will learn about the Tasmanian Tiger fossils found in the cave. My favourite cave in Margaret River. Read this full Jewel Cave Review for more information and photos.
Ngilgi Cave is closer to Yallingup, but you can read this Ngilgi Cave review to find out more.
The other two are Calgardup Cave and Giants Cave.
The caves are one of the best things to do in Margaret River on a rainy winter day. They are kid-friendly, too; our daughters were amazed by the formations and the pretty crystals!
3. Whale Watching
We are so lucky to see these beautiful creatures along our coast in Western Australia. Margaret River is one of the best regions for whale watching due to its long season (from June to early December).
The season starts in Augusta, and the best time to see whales is from June to August. You may see Humpback, Southern Right, Minke, and Blue Whales here. Humpback Whales are known for their agility, and you may witness them breach or tail slap. Southern Rights calve in the bay.
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is the best place to whale watch from land in Augusta. Another place to try is Boranup Lookout, near Hamelin Bay. You will need binoculars from here, though.
Humpbacks head up north to the warm waters around Broome to give birth. They return to Geographe Bay, near Dunsborough, to nurse their young from September to early December.
We have seen whales from the shore a few times, but in Geographe Bay and Yallingup. Look for the water spout; that’s the giveaway!
My favourite way of whale watching is from the ocean on a tour. There are plenty in this area to choose from, like these:
Whale Watching Cruise from Busselton, Augusta or Dunsborough
2-Hour Whale Watching Cruise from Augusta
4. Hiking or Mountain Biking
The Cape to Cape is the most famous hiking track in the Margaret River region. The 140 km trail follows the coast from Cape Naturaliste lighthouse to Cape Leeuwin. The five to six-day walk takes in stunning views from near Dunsborough to Augusta. However, you can do it in stages. We pick parts of it to hike each time we visit, even when the kids were young. Some of it is paved, which allows access for all abilities.
The Ten Mile Brook Trail starts at Rotary Park in Margaret River. This 15 km trail can be cycled or walked and mainly follows the river to Ten Mile Brook Dam. It’s an easy grade walk and suitable for cyclists as well.
The Wadandi Track (previously called Rails to Trails) is a 23 km trail suitable for walkers and cyclists (Mountain Bikes recommended). The easy-to-walk trail goes through peppermint, jarrah, and young karri forests from Cowaramup to Witchcliffe. There are picnic stops along the way with an abundance of birdlife and wildflowers in Spring (September to December).
Carter’s Road Trail Head is the start of four trails through forests. Big Brook Walk is an easy grade 3.4 km loop that crosses Bramley Brook, and the 2.7 km Old Chimney Walk is a medium-grade trail that passes the original Wharncliffe mill and old chimney. The Bridge Walk (3 km) and Pine Plantation Walk (1.7 km) are small steep grades but offer stunning views. We managed to get lost here, so pay attention to where you are going (not like us!).
The best Mountain Bike trails are located on Carter’s Road too. The Pines are suitable for riders of all abilities with easy fire road climbs, fast, flowing singletrack descents, berms, and fun tabletop jumps.
Prevelly Cycle & Walk Trail covers 10 km between Margaret River and Gnarabup Beach. This concrete path follows Walcliffe Road, through the forest to the Margaret River and ocean. At Prevelly, there’s a convenience store at the caravan park or the Sea Garden Café. The café is licensed, perfect for a glass of wine, or beer, overlooking the ocean.
The last part is from Prevelly to Gnarabup, a popular swimming beach.
The White Elephant Café is on the beachfront, with toilet and shower facilities.
This Margaret River Walk Trails Map shows the trails in detail.
5. Beach and Surfing
In WA, Margaret River is well known for its surfing breaks, but the beaches are still a popular free activity, even if you don’t surf.
While my favourite regional beaches are near Dunsborough, Margaret River still has some stunning ones. You can’t pick a lousy beach here.
Gnarabup Beach is the most popular swimming beach in the area. The white sandy bay stretches from the southern headland with its massive limestone cliff to Surfers Point, making it the longest beach in Prevelly. The reef protects the beach and offers calm conditions for swimming. It is patrolled during the summer by the local surf club and has free toilet and shower facilities. The lookout on the cliff provides spectacular views of the beach and river mouth. You can have a 90-minute stand up paddle board lesson here (see photo below) with a professional instructor.
Margaret Rivermouth Beach is where Margaret River meets the ocean. Most of the time, the river is blocked by sand so you can cross. When you get to Prevelly, go far right, this is where the Prevelly river mouth beach is. During summer, it’s an excellent spot for young kids to paddle. There are toilets, showers, and changing rooms here.
As with most beaches in Western Australia, it is best in the mornings before the south-westerly breeze comes in.
Try to swim only at patrolled beaches, pay attention to the signs, and look for rips. Remember, the Australian sun is hot, so be sun smart.
Margaret River has around 75 breaks along its 130 km of coast. The international Margaret River Pro is held at Surfers Point, which breaks around Prevelly at the mouth of Margaret River. The Wannasur website has lots of information on surf spots, but if you want to learn, try a Margaret River Private Surf Lesson or a cheaper group surf lesson.
See this guide on the best beaches in the Margaret River region for more beaches to visit.
6. Breweries, Cideries and Distilleries
Don’t worry if you don’t like wine; Margaret River is a haven for craft breweries. Each brewery has a different style, and some are quite different. Most have tasting paddles where you can try their beers. We’ve had some weird ones over the years, but they are great to try out.
Breweries are relaxing places to have a drink and lunch with a lively atmosphere. Look out for live music and sit back and enjoy the free entertainment.
The breweries are child friendly. You can read our guide on the best family-friendly breweries in the Margaret River region for more information.
Some are dog friendly too, but check before you go, as it may depend on the time of year.
It’s not just limited to beer, either. Margaret River also has a cidery and distillery, which are very popular.
If you plan to have lunch, I suggest booking in advance as it can be almost impossible to get a table at peak times.
The Grove Distillery, Cowaranup Brewery, Eagle Bay, Beer Farm, and Margaret River Brewhouse are great ones to try.
For whiskey-lovers, Grove Distillery (the first distillery in the Margaret River region) offer a guided whiskey tasting. Led by their staff, you will have two tastings of their latest premium, small batch releases, which have been aged for a minimum of five years.
7. Margaret River Chocolate Factory
If you love chocolate, visit the Margaret River Chocolate Company at the original factory in the Margaret River region. Opened in 1999, it is now one of Western Australia’s most popular tourist destinations. Entry is free, and so are the tastings (choose from white, milk, and dark chocolate or try all three!). You can see the chocolate being made through large viewing windows and wander through the shop looking at the large range of products available for purchase.
The Chocolate Café serves light lunches and sweets, including burgers, chips, salad, soup, cakes, desserts, chocolate fondues, milkshakes, and hot drinks.
8. Margaret River Town
Margaret River’s main street is lined with boutiques, art galleries, cafes, and tourist shops, making it the perfect place to look for that unique gift. The Margaret River Tourist Information Centre is located in town and is a brilliant resource for free maps of the area, guidebooks, gifts, and souvenirs.
At the end of town, Rotary Park is a recreational area with a playground close to the river.
At night, the town comes alive with wine bars, restaurants, and live music. Meet up with some friends and make a night of it.
9. Sunflowers Animal Farm
This Margaret River animal farm is one for the kids, well, anyone who loves animals. Sunflowers Animal Farm is fun to do with the family, between the vineyards and beach visits.
There are a variety of animals to feed, and some can be picked up too. It was a huge hit with our girls, who adored the farm animals.
You can read more about it, including prices on Things To Do in Dunsborough.
10. Caves Road Tourist Drive
Take a scenic drive along the 111 km long iconic Caves Road, which connects the two capes, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste. Although it runs parallel to the coast, it is inland, providing views of the forests, farms, and wineries that back onto the road.
The road is a single winding lane in most parts, so sit back, take your time, and enjoy the views. Don’t speed; those huge trees are unforgiving.
11. Boranup Forest
Boranup Forest is a 25-minute drive south of Margaret River town along Caves Road. Boranup means “place of the male dingo” to the Wadandi people, one of the Nyungar language groups of Western Australia.
Boranup Drive is a beautiful tourist drive which is a firm gravel road but is suitable for two-wheel drives, although it can be a bit bumpy! It winds through the stunning forest, consisting of two-thirds Jarrah and Marri, the remainder being Karri (third tallest trees in the world). Most of the forest is regrowth from when it was milled in the late 1800s.
Karri Lookout (Boranup Lookout) is on the eastern side of Caves Road and has views of the forest, coastline, and Hamelin Bay.
Take a walk amongst the towering karri trees and see wildflowers, including orchids, in spring.
It was devastating to see the Boranup Forest after the huge bushfire in December 2021. There’s a great article by Margaret River Mail on how we must learn lessons from this fire. I agree that we need to include Aboriginal management in the recovery plan as they know the land far better than we do.
12. Margaret River Farmers Market
Margaret River Farmers’ Market has been providing fresh local produce to its customers since 2002. They are held every Saturday from 7:30 am to 11:30 am at the Margaret River Education Campus, Lot 272 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River. There’s too much produce to list, but you can find a full list on the Margaret River Farmers Market site.
Please note that dogs are not allowed due to health and safety requirements.
13. Hamelin Bay
Hamelin Bay is a beautiful beach between Margaret River and Augusta. It’s a 25-minute drive from Margaret River and just over 10 minutes from Augusta.
This beach is well known in Western Australia for its beautiful white sand and the abundance of stingrays.
It’s also an excellent beach for fishing, diving, and snorkelling.
All information can be found on the Hamelin Bay page.
Augusta is a 30-minute drive from Margaret River and a wonderful place for a day trip. This charming coastal town is the most south western town in Australia. It’s also the point where the Southern and Indian Oceans meet. You will find perfect conditions for windsurfing, kitesurfing, paddling, snorkelling, and wildlife spotting.
While here, visit the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in mainland Australia. This working lighthouse has spectacular views of the rugged coast and the Southern and Indian oceans. Cape Leeuwin lighthouse marks the start (or end) of the Cape to Cape Track.
Combine the day in Augusta with a visit to Hamelin Bay and Boranup Karri Forest. The towering trees of the karri forest are mesmerising and filled with wildflowers in spring.
The Boranup Lookout is the start of some lovely walking trails and offers stunning views of Hamelin Bay’s turquoise waters. The forest is a haven for birdlife, including Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Splendid Fairy-wren, White-breasted Robin, Crested Strike-tit, and Golden Whistler.
Find out more in this guide on things to do in Augusta.
15. A Maze’N Margaret River
We have only been to the maze in Yallingup, but A Maze’N has great reviews. The attraction incorporates a half-hectare giant hedge maze, an 18-hole mini-golf, five hectares of stunning gardens with mazes, outdoor games, puzzles, and a café.
Day Trips from Margaret River
For more ideas on the must-see places and attractions in the Margaret River region, please see the following guides:
- Things to do in Yallingup, including Sugar Loaf Rock
- Things to do in Dunsborough
- Things to do in Busselton
- Best beaches in the Margaret River region
- The best things to do in Australia’s South West
Have you booked accommodation?
We use Booking.com for most accommodation bookings as they offer free cancellation on many properties and have a price match guarantee. We book through Stayz (part of VRBO) for private accommodation as we find it is often cheaper than Airbnb.
Tip: Accommodation gets booked quickly, especially during the WA school holidays. To avoid disappointment, book early.
Margaret River Accommodation
Margaret River has plenty of accommodation options for all types of travellers, including private homes close to the beach, holiday parks, luxury stays, self-contained and budget.
For all our recommendations of the best accommodation in Margaret River, including places we have stayed, click below.
Private House for 8 Guests
We stayed at Kings Landing one Christmas. It’s a luxurious property on the outskirts of Margaret River that sleeps up to eight guests. This holiday home is in a rural setting on 3.8 acres of land, where kangaroos visit each night. Kings Landing has spacious open-plan living areas and a large modern kitchen. It contained everything we needed for our weeks’ stay, even table tennis in the garage! I highly recommend staying there.
Margaret River Location & How To Get There
Margaret River is in the Western Australia’s South West.
International and domestic visitors will fly into Perth Airport. Find details about visas, prohibited items, currency, and safety in this Australia Travel Guide and tips on arriving into WA and other essential travel information in this Western Australia Travel Guide.
There are car hire booths at Perth airport, but it’s best to pre-book your car rental.
To compare Australia car hire prices, Discover Cars is an award-winning car rental comparison website. They offer competitive pricing in over 10,000 locations worldwide and are have a high rate of customer satisfaction.
Drivenow is a good resource to compare campervan hire in Western Australia as it includes all the large companies like Britz, Maui, Jucy as well as smaller ones.
Compare Rental Cars Here.
Margaret River is a 3-hour drive along State Route 2, National Route 1, followed by State Route 10.
Follow this Perth to Margaret River road trip itinerary to see the best on the way.
TransWA runs buses to Augusta that stop in Margaret River. However, it’s hard to get around this region without a car. SouthWest Coachlines also have a service from Elizabeth Quay in Perth to Margaret River via Busselton.
The Ultimate South West Road Trip
Jump in the car, or campervan, and explore what Western Australia’s South West has to offer. This Perth to Albany road trip itinerary is flexible so you can choose the length and where you want to go with handy tips to make the most out of your travels.
Margaret River Weather & Forecast
The hottest months are January & February, where the average highs are 26/27 degrees.
March, April, November, and December have warm 22-25 degree days with minimums of around 11.
The coldest months are from June to September. During this time, the temperature will be around 16/17, with a minimum of 8.
The most rain falls between June and August, with February being the driest month.
See the detailed 7-day forecast at the Bureau of Meteorology.
The Best Time to Visit Margaret River
You should visit Margaret River between December and March if you want a beach holiday. However, it is extremely busy during the summer WA school holidays, so try to avoid Christmas and January if you can.
For Surfing, head to the region any time of the year or in March to watch the Margaret River Pro.
Whales pass along the coast from June to September in Augusta and from September to December near Dunsborough.
To experience Margaret River’s Gourmet escape, you should visit in November. Avoid “schoolies week” when hundreds of school leavers descend on the region.
A Brief History & Settlement of Margaret River
I would like to respectfully acknowledge the Wadandi Noongar People, the Traditional Owners, and First People of these lands. I would like to pay my respect to the Elders past, present, and future, for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture, and hopes of the Wadandi People.
Artifacts found in Devil’s Lair Cave, just south of Margaret River, indicate human life dating back 48,000 years.
This area is important to the local Wadandi People to continue their connection to the land and sea. Various cultural tours are available through Koomal Dreaming to experience Wadandi and Bibbulman country through their eyes.
The Margaret River area was first settled by Europeans in 1857 when Alfred and Ellen Bussell built their homestead “Ellensbrook.”
Lockville Timber Co was granted a 14-year lease to cut timber in the Augusta district in 1875. During the 1880s, the timber trade continued to grow. About 17 million railway sleepers were cut from the surrounding forests from 1900 to 1914.
Margaret River was gazetted in 1913 and reportedly named after Margaret Whicher, cousin of John Garrett Bussell. The timber trade started to decline around this time due to the forests being over-logged.
The Margaret River region is now known for its world-class wines and surfing breaks.
Western Australia’s South West Travel Guide
This detailed travel guide provides information on all the regions that make up Australia’s South West. Read about the destinations, including what to do and where to stay.
Margaret River Population
According to the 2016 Australian Census, Margaret River had a population of 7654. However, I’m sure this figure is a lot higher now.
Save Money Planning your Trip
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We usually fly Virgin Australia domestically due to their competitive prices and fantastic customer service and fly with Qatar Airways to Europe.
We mainly use Booking.com for accommodation as they consistently have the lowest rates with free cancellation on most properties. We also book through Stayz for private accommodation as they are usually cheaper than Airbnb.
Car Rental 🚘
To compare rental car company prices, we use Discover Cars, an award winning car rental comparison website. They offer competitive pricing in over 10,000 locations worldwide and are highly-rated.
Campervan/RV Rental 🚐
Drivenow is a good resource to compare campervan hire in Western Australia as it includes all the large companies like Britz, Maui, Jucy as well as smaller ones.
Tours & Attractions 🎢
We book direct and use a mixture of third-party sites Viator, Get Your Guide & Klook due to their free cancellation policies, instant confirmation, price guarantees, and mobile ticketing.
Accessing Money 💵
We recently started using Wise to access funds internationally, including trips to Bali and Malaysia. They offer a debit card in 50 currencies and transfers are fast and free from hidden fees and exchange rate markups. Funds can be accessed through ATMs too. Wise has saved us a lot of money compared to our usual credit card and debit card.
Travel Insurance 🌏
Cover-More and Travel Insurance Direct are our preferred travel insurance companies for domestic and international travel.
See this Travel Insurance for Australia guide for more information.
Western Australia Travel Guide
For other ideas on where to visit in Western Australia along with the best things to do, where to stay, how to get around, and other essential information, click on the link below.
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