Esperance Guide plus Best Things to do in 2023
As locals, we have visited Esperance on a Perth to Esperance road trip. I’ve lived in WA for over 20 years, and Dave was born here, so we’ve spent many years exploring our state.
Esperance is in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia and lies on the Southern Coast, about 720 km from Perth, the state’s capital.
This travel guide provides the best things to do in Esperance and tips on the weather, location, and where to stay.
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My Favourite Tour in Esperance
A scenic flight over the Pink Lake in Esperance is a truly breathtaking experience. The lake gets its distinctive pink hue from the presence of a type of algae, and when viewed from above, it appears like a giant, shimmering bubblegum-colored gem in the midst of the surrounding bushland.
A bird’s-eye view of the lake offers a unique perspective of its stunning beauty, and the contrasting colors of the bright pink lake and the surrounding blue ocean and green vegetation create a picturesque landscape that’s perfect for photos.
A scenic flight over the Pink Lake in Esperance is an unforgettable experience that’s sure to leave you in awe of the natural beauty that Western Australia has to offer.
The Top 25 Things To Do in Esperance Western Australia
1. Cape Le Grand National Park
Cape Le Grand National Park is a 45-minute drive from Esperance on sealed roads. Fees apply as follows:
Private vehicle with up to 12 occupants A$15 per vehicle (standard)
Private vehicle with more than 12 occupants A$7 per occupant 6 years or older
Motorcycle A$8 per motorcycle
If you are a RAC WA member, you can buy annual passes for a 50% discount directly through the online RAC shop.
We arrived in Esperance the day Cape Le Grand National Park was re-opened after devastating bush fires. Not wanting to miss the main reason for our trip to Esperance (Lucky Bay), we decided to visit the next day. There was still a fire burning in the park, and we didn’t want it to flare up and the park to get closed again.
It was an early start, as there is the most chance of seeing the kangaroos on the beach at Lucky Bay around dusk and dawn. Once we entered the 31,801 hectares (78,580 acres) park, we could see the result of the fires ourselves. The landscape was black and looked completely desolate, as you can see from the photo below.
Check for road closures before leaving for Cape Le Grand or Cape Arid. You don’t want to drive all that way and find out the track you want is closed.
2. Lucky Bay
Once you’ve entered Cape Le Grand National Park, follow the road until you get to a left turn into Lucky Bay Road. Follow this to the end, where you will find a car park.
When we arrived, there were a few kangaroos in the car park. They are very tame, so they came up to us. Under no circumstance should you feed them and remember that they are wild animals. Please respect them and watch children closely. Let them come up to you for a sniff, and let them be if they don’t.
After spending some time with them here, we headed down to the beach. At first, there weren’t any around, but soon a couple appeared. They tend to hang out at the far end, where the seaweed is. As it was early, not many people were there, so we had the beach pretty much to ourselves. A couple of other families were trying to get photos of the kangaroos on the beach. You can’t get anything more Australian than kangaroos on a white sand beach.
Lucky Bay has the whitest sand, which is very soft and squeaks when you walk on it. We had a beautiful stroll up the bay, but the beach was packed with four-wheel drives by the time we got back (you can drive on the beach). Be aware that it is easy to get bogged here, so check the tide times and sand conditions. Drive slow as it is a family beach with lots of young children running and playing on the sand.
The girls went for a swim, but the ocean was too cold for me despite being in the middle of summer. The average sea temperature for January (our summer) is 19°C (66.2°F).
Beach fishing, boating, swimming, snorkelling, and surfing are all popular activities on this beach.
The bay was named by Matthew Flinders while exploring the south coast of Australia in 1802. While sailing a dangerous route through the Recherche Archipelago on HMS Investigator, he took shelter from a storm here.
It’s a beautiful beach with clear turquoise water and stunning coastal views of the Southern Ocean. Lucky Bay is known for being one of the best beaches in Western Australia, if not the whole of Australia.
It has been voted as Number 7 in TripAdvisor’s Travellers Choice Top 25 Beaches in the South Pacific, so a must-visit when in Esperance.
There’s a campsite here with unpowered sites, but it gets booked quickly. The fees as of December 2022 are:
A$15 adult per night, A$9 concession card holder per night, A$3 child per night (over 5 and under 16 years). Basic site facilities include toilets and barbecues. Bookings can be made through the Parks & Wildlife Service.
3. Hellfire Bay
After spending the morning at Lucky Bay, we decided to check out Hellfire Bay. We parked and walked down to the secluded bay. Again, the sand was white and soft, and the water was bright blue. The huge granite boulders made a spectacular contrast against the blue water.
This picturesque bay is thought to have been named after St Elmo’s fire – a bluish flame-like electrical discharge that sometimes occurs above ship’s masts.
Unfortunately, the wind had picked up by the time we arrived, and it was too windy to relax on the beach.
It’s a good choice for a picnic with toilets, barbecues and a large picnic shelter with several tables.
4. Wharton Beach
Wharton Beach, the most accessible and most popular surfing beach in the area, is 2 km west of Duke of Orleans Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park.
5. Thistle Cove
Explore Thistle Cove and its sculpted rock formations that capture the sounds of the wind and waves. Captain Matthew Flinders named this bay after the ship’s master John Thistle.
6. Rossiter Bay
Bird-watchers love Rossiter Bay as flowering thickets attract a diversity of birdlife. It’s also a brilliant beach for beach-combing.
7. Le Grand Beach
Le Grand Beach has a small boat ramp for launching small boats only. It’s another great beach for surfing, swimming, snorkelling, fishing, and diving. Camping facilities are available here, but they book up quickly and can be booked here. We haven’t camped at either spot, but I’ve been told this is the better one out of the two, with flushing toilets and solar-powered hot showers.
8. 4WD along an Esperance Beach
If you own a four-wheel drive and are a confident beach driver, there are a couple of options for beach driving.
We drove along the beach from Le Grand Beach to Bandy Creek Road (about 4km east of Esperance along Fisheries Road). This was an alternative drive back to Esperance rather than the sealed roads out of Cape le Grand National Park. It was around 20km of beach driving before Wylie Bay Road turned off.
Bandy Creek is a popular spot for families as the children can play and swim safely in the creek.
The beach was fairly hard but talk to the Department of Environment and Conservation staff in Esperance before heading out to inquire about beach status and any current warnings.
The other option for beach driving is to head east of Lucky Bay along Rossiter Bay. This drive is more of a challenge as the sand is softer.
One of Esperance’s best hikes is to the 262 m Frenchman Peak in Cape Le Grand National Park. The hike is a 3 km return, but you should allow two hours to complete the walk up this steep rock. The boardwalk gives you a misleading sense of security before it gives way to gravel and steep, smooth granite rock. You will be rewarded with beautiful coastal scenery from the summit, though.
The Cape Le Grand Coastal Trail is a challenging 20 km one day hike that can be broken up into smaller sections:
Rossiter Bay to Lucky Bay – 6.6km allow 2-3 hours, medium walking. Starting at Rossiter Bay then up and over the first ridge, it provides panoramic views of Lucky Bay’s bright white sand.
Lucky Bay to Thistle Cove – 2.5km allow 1 hour, easy walking. This is the easiest section with spectacular 360-degree views everywhere, including out to the Recherche Archipelago.
Thistle Cove to Hellfire Bay – 4.7km allow 2 to 3 hours, hard walking. This part is mainly granite, which becomes slippery when wet, so take caution.
Hellfire Bay to Le Grand Beach – 6.2km allow 3 hours, hard walking. This is the hardest section, with the trail ascending and descending, often at awkward angles.
If you’d prefer a guided walk, this 90-minute walk on Country is a great option. Your guide will talk about the culture, seasonal plants, and food as you walk from Hellfire bay through to little hellfire. Learn Nyungar names, taste what’s available on country and how plants are prepared and eaten by the local Noongar People.
10. Explore Esperance Town & Foreshore
We felt there wasn’t much to do in town. Maybe that’s the attraction. To slow down and take in the beautiful views across to the islands that make up the Recherche Archipelago.
The Adventure Park along the Esplanade is currently in the middle of an upgrade. Once completed, it will feature a flying fox/cableway, a giant swing, a small kid’s playground, and a large adventure playground with a big custom-built ship and climbing elements.
It’s a lovely walk through the Don McKenzie Waterfront Garden and along Taylor Street Jetty with views of Esperance Port. Don’s Lighthouse Sculpture can be found here, built by Andreas Maier to honour the local fisherman.
The Jetty Headland has BBQs, restrooms, and showers for public use and is a great place for a picnic.
The Esperance Visitor Centre is a great place to grab a map, ask for directions, or find out what is on while you are in town. It’s located within the historic Museum Village and is open 7 days a week.
For a unique way to see the highlights of Esperance, this 2-hour guided tour in a motorcycle sidecar takes in the views of beautiful beaches and Rotary Lookout on Signal Hill.
11. Take a port tour
Please note: The Port Tours were suspended due to Covid and as at February 2023 hadn’t resumed. Visit the Esperance Visitor Centre for up to date information.
Port tours are held every Saturday at 1:30 pm from the Port viewing area. It is free, but donations are appreciated.
12. Check out the street art & sculptures
The Esperance foreshore playground is further on close to the Whale tail Sculpture. This art piece was created by artists Jason Wooldridge and Cindy Poole and is the centerpiece of the foreshore. There are quite a few sculptures and murals around the town centre.
13. Cindy Poole Glass Artist
If you enjoy art, visit Cindy Poole’s gallery and workshop, located at 23 Longbottom Lane, Pink Lake. It appears there is a fee to visit, which is refunded against the purchase of an item.
14. Esperance Museum
Pay a visit to the Esperance Museum for an insight into the history of Esperance. The admission is $8.50 per adult and $3.50 per child, or a family (2 Adults/2 Children) for $20. It is open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm.
15. Great Ocean Drive
Great Ocean Drive is a 40 km loop that takes in many natural attractions, including beaches, along the Esperance coastline and then inland past the Pink Lake.
It starts at the Cannery Arts Centre & Lookout along the foreshore and follows the road to the Rotary Lookout & Walk trail. This lookout has magnificent 360-degree views of the town and its magnificent beaches. It was very windy when we visited, though! The Great Ocean Drive finishes back in town.
Alternatively, you can explore the attractions individually.
16. West Beach
West Beach is a beautiful sandy bay with rocky headlands. The rock formations are stunning, with alternating light and dark minerals bands that include glistening mica and small deep pink garnets. This beach is popular with surfers and features swimming lagoons between the reef and shore. Watch out for powerful rips and currents.
17. Chapman’s Point
Chapman’s Point is a surf break for experienced surfers due to the sharp reef.
18. See Salmon Beach Wind Farm
Salmon Beach Wind Farm is the site of Australia’s first commercial Wind Farm, but only one turbine remains. We have visited other wind farms, so we missed this one out.
19. Blue Haven Beach
The incredible Blue Haven Beach and rugged coastline can be seen from the viewing platform. Then descend the steep wooden staircase to this white sandy bay with turquoise water. This beach is ideal for swimming.
20. Fish off Salmon Beach
Salmon Beach is great to fish but can be dangerous to swim, so it is best to avoid it in rough conditions.
21. Surf at Fourth Beach
Fourth Beach is another popular surfing beach just after Salmon Beach. Whales can be spotted here during the Whale Season (July – Oct).
22. Twilight Beach
Twilight Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Esperance. The cove is slightly protected from large waves due to the big rocks just offshore. The beach is patrolled by the Esperance/Goldfields Surf Life Saving Club during summer. Twilight Cove is the safest swimming and surfing beach in the Esperance area but stay in the western patrolled area. Avoid swimming up the beach where waves and rips are more prevalent.
23. Observatory Lookout
Our favourite lookout was at Observatory Point. Even driving down the road towards it had amazing views. The wooden stairs lead up to a high vantage point to see the magnificent coastline.
24. Other Esperance Beaches
Further along the coast are Nine Mile Beach, Ten Mile Windfarm, Ten Mile Lagoon, and Eleven Mile Beach. Nine Mile Beach has rock pools perfect for exploring and a great snorkelling spot, whereas Ten Mile Beach is the access point to a “free beach” where clothing is optional.
25. Pink Lake
Stop at the “Pink Lake“, which is no longer pink but still nice to see. The lookout provides some history and knowledge about the lake and why it has lost its pink colour.
The pink colour was caused by microscopic algae producing beta carotene, which diminished as the salt levels fell due to salt harvesting being stopped. I have read that scientists have plans to try to return the lake to its pink colour.
26. See Lake Warden
Lake Warden is being touted as the new pink lake of Esperance. It is often mistaken for Pink Lake, which as you can see from above, is no longer pink. Lake Warden is just east of Pink Lake on the other side of South Coast Highway.
27. Visit Pink Lake (Lake Hillier)
The best way to see a pink lake in Esperance is to fly over the world-renowned Lake Hillier on Middle Island.
During this 80-minute scenic flight, you will see 300 km of WA’s coastline as you fly over the town, port, Esperance Bay, past Frenchman’s Peak, and over Cape Le Grand National Park. As the water in this region is so clear, you can see reefs, sandbars, and even sometimes sharks and whales. Your flight takes you through the Recherche Archipelago to Middle Island, home to the world-famous Pink Lake Hillier.
28. Scenic Helicopter Flight
Helispirit operate scenic helicopter adventures from the Esperance Foreshore over the Recherche Archipelago, Cape Le Grand and Cape Arid National Parks, including Woody Lake, Frenchman Peak, Lucky Bay, Hellfire Bay, Blue Haven, Twilight Bay and Lake Hillier, Middle Island.
Check their website for more information, including operating times.
29. Try Craft Beer at Lucky Bay Brewing
Lucky Bay Brewing has a paddock to pint concept – raw barley is sourced from local Esperance farmers and the wheat from farmers in the Esperance region and the West Australian Wheatbelt. This award-winner brewery has a large range of beers for you to try, and why not stop for something to eat with woodfire pizzas and shared dishes on the menu.
As with most WA craft breweries, Lucky bay offers tasting paddles if you want to try four different beers.
On certain days, you can book a Brewery tour and learn all about beer brewing and be guided through the brewing process while tasting some amazing Lucky Bay beers.
30. Esperance Diving
You can do shore dives in Esperance – the town jetty dive is great to see leafy sea dragons, a large variety of nudibranchs with the jetty pylons covered with soft corals, telestos, and gorgonia.
There’s also the choice of two wreck dives for advanced divers; the Sanko Harvest and the Lapwing.
Esperance is rated as one of the ten best dive locations in Australia!
31. Esperance Island Cruises
Enjoy a scenic wildlife cruise with Esperance Island Cruises to view the stunning coastline, islands, and wildlife up close.
This family-owned company has been operating since 1983, providing guests a magical experience through the islands of the Recherche Archipelago.
Read reviews on TripAdvisor.
32. Woody Island Eco Tours
Woody Island is one of the many islands that make up the Recherche Archipelago. It is located 15km off the coast of Esperance and takes 40 minutes by ferry. You can either make a day trip to the island or stay overnight in one of the accommodation choices.
This group of 105 granite isles is home to Australian Sea Lions and Rock Wallabies.
More information and ticket prices can be found here.
33. Esperance Bird & Animal Park and Café
We didn’t visit the Esperance Bird & Animal Park and Café, but it is close to town and a place to take children to pat animals and walk through the aviary. A bag of animal feed is included in the price.
34. Esperance Stonehenge
Esperance Stonehenge always comes up as one of the things to do in Esperance. Coming from the UK, I admit that I don’t understand why. However, it could be interesting to see if you haven’t been to the original or even to compare it to the one in the UK.
You can see it on the way to Cape Le Grand NP.
35. Bay of Isles Leisure Centre
Please note the leisure centre will be closed from 26th January, expecting to reopen 13 February 2023.
The Bay of Isles Leisure Centre is an excellent option for things to do in Esperance when it’s raining. There are four heated indoor pools, including a lap pool and a lagoon pool, with a whirlpool, seated spa, and spa pool.
We didn’t have time to visit these national parks during our visit to Esperance. However, if you have longer and want to explore the region, these are a good option.
Stokes National Park
Located 80 km west of Esperance, Stokes Inlet National Park is fantastic for fishing and canoeing.
Peak Charles National Park
The ancient granite Peak Charles, 174 km NW of Esperance, provides spectacular views over the sandplain and salt lakes.
Cape Arid National Park
Head to Cape Arid National Park for pristine beaches, great bushwalking trails, and camping.
Fitzgerald River National Park
Fitzgerald River National Park is between Albany and Esperance and a beautiful place to break up your road trip. We stayed in Bremer Bay and visited Fitzgerald National Park from there. This is one of Australia’s largest and most botanically significant national parks, with nearly 20% of Western Australia’s flora species found there.
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.
Caravan Park | Budget
We stayed at the Esperance Bay Holiday Park in their Two-bedroom Deluxe Chalet. The unit was spotless, with a self-contained kitchen and reverse cycle air conditioning in the lounge and dining area. The master bedroom had a queen bed and television, while the second bedroom had bunk beds. The bathroom was modern, with a large shower, toilet, and basin. There was parking for our car and a small area to sit outside. The campsite is centrally located, within a short walk of the Esplanade and town. Photos can be seen in the gallery further on.
It was a good budget option, and we would definitely stay here again.
My top pick for mid-range accommodation is the Esperance Chalet Village. These unique chalets, cabins, and shacks are all individually styled and located on the town’s edge.
Alternatively, Stayz has a lot of private accommodation in or near Esperance. See options here.
For other options, this article on the best accommodation in Esperance is an excellent resource.
Esperance Food & Drink
Some of the Esperance restaurants, cafés, and pubs to try out are:
- Lucky Bay Brewing
- Fish Face Takeaway and Restaurant
- Condingup Tavern
- Coffee Cat
- Pier Hotel (we only had a drink here)
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.
Save Money Planning your Trip
Click on the links which will take you direct to the website.
We usually fly Virgin Australia domestically due to their competitive prices and fantastic customer service and fly with Qatar Airways to Europe.
Travel Guides 📖
As well as using online resources, like other travel blogs, I like to flick through a paper travel guide too. I either rent them from our local library or buy them from Bookdepository if I want to take it with me.
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 use third-party sites Viator, Get Your Guide & Klook due to their free cancellation policies, instant confirmation, price guarantees, and mobile ticketing. We occasionally book through Red Balloon too.
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.
Is Esperance WA worth visiting?
Esperance is worth visiting if you pass close by or are on a road trip from Albany or to/from Adelaide. It’s a long drive from Perth for beaches when there are some amazing ones a lot closer. Obviously, it depends on your expectations and what you would like to get from your visit to Esperance.
What is Esperance known for?
Esperance is known for its stunning white soft sand beaches, rugged coastline, and friendly kangaroos lazing on its pristine beaches.
Can you swim in Esperance?
Yes, you can swim in Esperance. The closest swimming beaches to Esperance are Blue Haven Beach and Twilight Beach. Lifeguards patrol Twilight Beach in summer.
Is the Pink Lake in Esperance still pink?
Unfortunately, the pink lake in Esperance is no longer pink. This is due to salt levels falling when salt harvesting stopped in 2007.
What Ocean is Esperance on?
Esperance lies on the Southern Ocean in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia.
We spent three days in Esperance as part of our summer Perth to Albany and Esperance road trip. The weather was sunny but very windy. Therefore, we weren’t able to enjoy the beaches as much as we would have liked.
I’m not sure there would be much to do in the wet weather as even some of the hikes would be dangerous.
The three days was enough time for us to see what we wanted. Maybe stay a couple of days longer if you want to hike more or do other activities like surfing or fishing.
Is Esperance worth the drive? At the time, I would have said no, as I’m not good on long road trips with not much to look at. However, looking back on our time there, I’m glad we went and experienced this part of the state.
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