Cottesloe Beach | A Complete Guide

Cottesloe Beach is Perth’s most iconic and photographed beach. Why? It could be the soft white sand, the mesmerising blue ocean, the stunning architecture of Indiana Tea House, or the grassy banks flanked by tall Norfolk Pine trees.

This town beach is not just popular with tourists but with locals too, who come for the beach vibe and café/bar scene.

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Cottesloe Beach Location

Cottlesloe is halfway between Perth and Fremantle, about 14 km from the city. Cottesloe Beach extends from the southern rocks of Swanbourne to the groin at Mudurup Rocks, with Marine Parade running parallel to the beach.

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. Choose from Avis, Budget, Europcar, Sixt, Hertz, Enterprise, and Thrifty.
To compare rental car company prices, I use Discover Cars, 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.

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aerial view of clear turquoise ocean on a calm dat with a white sand beach and a building with a green roof surrounded by norfolk pine trees and grass
Aerial view of Cottesloe Beach by Tourism Western Australia

How to get to Cottesloe Beach

From Perth city, Cottesloe is about a half-hour drive. If you are visiting during the summer months, try to arrive early morning as parking fills up fast and is limited.

Parking options currently are:

  • Marine Parade car park: 150 free bays (3-hour limit)
  • Marine Parade and Napier Street car park: 350 free bays (3-hour limit)
  • The western end of Napier Street car park: 130 free bays and areas for verge parking
  • The western end of Forrest Street car park: 130 free bays
  • Marine Parade: 600 free verge bays

To travel by public transport, visit the Transperth website to plan your route. Both trains and buses depart from Perth. Cottesloe beach is 1 km from the train station and a lovely walk through the suburb.

Some tours visit Cottesloe like this Perth and Fremantle tour.

Cottesloe Beach Things To Do and Attractions

No matter what time of year you visit Cottesloe, you will find people enjoying the outdoors – swimming in the ocean, walking or riding along the paths, participating in Surf Life Saving patrols, drills, or training, playing beach volleyball, or snorkelling.

Swim

The best place to swim at Cottesloe is at the main beach between the red and yellow flags, where Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club patrol the southern part of the beach. This protected part usually has smaller waves and weaker currents, making it ideal for families. However, rips can occur 100 m up the coast, so be aware of where you are swimming.

There are permanent rips against the reefs, and swimmers should avoid the area.

North Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club patrols the northern part near Barchetta Cafe.

view from the ocean of the long white sandy cottesloe beach with a  sandstone buildings with people on the beach and swimming in the ocean
Cottesloe Beach from the groin

Surf

South Cottesloe is where the surfers head to catch the best waves. It’s also good for kitesurfing when the sea breeze comes in.

Surfing is prohibited from the Cottesloe groin to 100 m north from the 1st October to 31st March.

Snorkel

Cottesloe can provide good snorkelling, especially during summer with a low swell.

Peters Pool at North Cottesloe (in front of the surf club and Barchetta Café) is a great snorkel spot. Look out for the endangered leafy sea dragon here.

When the ocean is calm, South Cottesloe is also good for snorkeling.

view of the ocean with clear water lapping against rocks with a sandy beach in the background
South Cottesloe Beach

Fish

Cottesloe Rock Groin is the best place for fishing, either early morning or late afternoon. Recreational fishing for fish such as tailor, herring, whiting, skipjack, and garfish is allowed.

Speer and net fishing are prohibited in the Cottesloe Fish Habitat Protection Area (FHPA). You can read this FHPA booklet for more information.

Cycle

Cycle from Hillarys to Cottesloe on the 25 km dual-use path, taking in the stunning Perth coastline. If this is too far, you can cycle part of it.

Beach Walk

Take a walk on the beach north to Swanbourne or walk along the coastal path in either direction.

a wide white sand beach curved round with huge cranes in the distance and people walking on the beach
Walk to Port Beach from Cottesloe

Bush to Beach Trail

The 16 km Bush to Beach trail takes you from Perth to near Cottesloe Beach. It would be best to allow about five hours, but it will depend on the number of stops. The best time to hike this trail is from August to November to enjoy the wildflowers.

This brochure provides a trail map and information about the walk.

view over native bushland to Perth city with tall buildings
View from Reabold Hill Lookout, Bold Park, part of Bush to Beach Trail

Picnic

Pack a picnic and relax under the shade of the Norfolk Pines while taking in the beautiful views of the beach and Indian Ocean.

Golf

The public can play at the private Seaview Golf Club in Cottesloe at certain times. So give them a call to have a game on the third oldest golf course in WA, which opened in 1909.

Sunday Session

If you’ve never heard of a Sunday Session, it refers to catching up with friends on a Sunday afternoon. The “sesh” usually starts after lunch, goes until late afternoon/evening, and sometimes includes live music.

The OBH (Ocean Beach Hotel) has one of the best Sunday Sessions in Perth, right opposite the beach. The relaxed dress code means you don’t have to dress up as you relax with a cold beer.

Another well-known Sunday Session is at The Beach Club @ The Cott (Cottesloe Beach Hotel). It’s got a stylish Hamptons feel to it, but can be a bit pricey.

the white facade of the cottesloe beach hotel at sunset with an art deco sign saying hotel
The Cott by Tourism Western Australia

Dine Out

The area around Cottesloe Beach has a wide range of dine-in and takeaway food options. However, the venues are busy during summer, so you may need to book ahead and reserve a table.

Some venues to try are:

  • Barchetta
  • Il Lido
  • Cott & Co Fish Bar
  • John Street Café
  • Longview
  • Cottesloe General Store
people sitting on chairs outside cottesloe general store near a road eating food

Sunset

Watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean on the beach or as you enjoy a glass of wine or beer from one of the many bars and restaurants along the esplanade.

Cottesloe Beach Events

Sculpture by the Sea

Every March, Cottesloe Beach is transformed into an outdoor art exhibition featuring local and international artists displaying their work. This event attracts thousands of art lovers enjoying the sculptures, beach, and warm weather.

Spend an hour or two wandering around the art, then head to one of the local eateries for lunch/dinner.

a beautiful black wire sculpture in the shape of a flower on sandy Cottesloe beach with the ocean in the background on a sunny day with blue sky
Sculptures by the Sea Cottesloe Beach

Rottnest Channel Swim

Rottnest Channel Swim is one of the world’s largest open water swimming events. Held every February, participants swim from Cottesloe to Rottnest Island, about 20 km. You can either swim solo or as part of a team.

swimmers in the ocean at cottesloe swimming towards rottnest island
Rottnest swim at Cottesloe by Tourism Western Australia

Does Cottesloe Beach have Shark Nets?

Cottesloe Beach has an eco shark barrier protective swimming enclosure during the warmer months (November to March). It is disassembled during winter to stop it from being damaged by winter elements and to have it cleaned and inspected for any damage.

a shark net out in the ocean near a buoy
Cottesloe Beach Shark Net

Are Dogs allowed on Cottesloe Beach?

Dogs are not allowed on the main beach in Cottesloe. However, they are permitted on South Cottesloe Beach, which stretches from the small groin at Beach Street south to Mosman Beach.

Best Time to Visit Cottesloe Beach

The best time to visit Cottesloe Beach for water activities is from November to March, when the weather is warm. Head to the beach in the morning before the sea breeze hits the shore as it can be extremely windy and the sand whips you! The ocean is at its warmest at the beginning of March and coldest in September.

The shoulder seasons of autumn and spring are nice for beach walks, cycling, and enjoying the local food and drink scene.

cottesloe beach packed with people looking at sculptures on the beach walking and swimming on a sunny day
Visit Cottesloe Beach in March for Sculptures by the Sea

Cottesloe Beach Facilities (free)

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Changing Rooms
  • Kiosk
  • Picnic Tables
sandstone building with sandstone tables and chairs and sun umbrellas on a sunny day
Indiana Tea House Cottesloe Beach

Cottesloe Beach Accommodation

We use Booking.com for most accommodation bookings as they offer free cancellation on most rooms, have a loyalty program (Genius), a price match guarantee, the site is user-friendly and they have great customer support. We also book through Stayz for private accommodation as they are often cheaper than Airbnb.

There aren’t many accommodation options in Cottesloe. If you can’t find something in your budget, consider staying in Fremantle. You can find some recommendations in this guide on things to do in Fremantle.

Some of my favourite accommodation in Cottesloe:

Ocean Beach Hotel offers 4-star accommodation opposite Cottesloe Beach. With its own bars and restaurant, you can enjoy this trendy establishment without walking far. However, rooms only sleep up to two people and are, therefore, not suited to families.

North Cottesloe Cottage is perfect for families looking for a bit more space. This holiday home has two bedrooms and two bathrooms with a fully equipped kitchen and a beautiful garden with a patio.

Cottesloe Beach View Apartments and Golden Sands Beach Apartment offer modern two-bedroom apartments overlooking Cottesloe Beach. Both are highly rated by guests and are close to restaurants and cafes.

To view current prices, see photos, and read reviews, click on the accommodation name. For Stayz properties, click on the map below.

Beach Dangers

Let’s be clear, there are many dangers that face visitors to most beaches worldwide, not just in Perth. No tourist has been attacked by a shark in WA. Although they do happen, it is extremely rare. Sharks have attacked a few people each year, but over one hundred die from drowning over the same period.

Non-tropical marine stingers, such as the Bluebottle (physalia) or Hair Jelly (cyanea), are usually found south of Geraldton. Their stingers are not generally life-threatening, but can cause discomfort if you get stung.

The number one danger on Perth beaches are rips and on average are responsible for nineteen deaths annually. Read this guide from Surf Lifesaving on how to spot a rip and how to get out of one. It could save your life.

Stick to patrolled beaches, never swim/snorkel/surf alone, pay attention to the signs, and swim between the red and yellow flags.

For full information on beach dangers in WA, visit Surf Lifesaving.

Cottesloe Beach Name

The town was named by Sir Frederick Napier Broome, Western Australia’s governor from 1883 to 1890, in honour of the brother of Captain C.H. Fremantle, who became Baron Cottesloe in 1874.

Western Australia Travel Guide

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