If you’re looking for a relaxed road trip with stunning ocean views, this Indian Ocean Drive Itinerary is perfect. The route meanders along Western Australia’s coast from Yanchep to Geraldton, taking in several small towns along the way. Each stop has its own charms, from the geological formations of the Pinnacles to the fishing port of Port Denison. There’s plenty to do along the way, whether you’re into fishing, swimming, hiking, or simply taking in the views.
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How to get to Indian Ocean Drive from Perth
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.
The quickest way from Perth is to take the Mitchell Freeway (2) to the end at Hester Avenue and turn right. After 1 km, turn left onto Wanneroo Road, which becomes Indian Ocean Drive at Yanchep.
Indian Ocean Drive Itinerary
Duration: Four days
Best Time: All year but wonderful during wildflower season (mid-July to October)
Day One – Perth to Cervantes via Lancelin & Wedge Island – 2 hrs 45 mins – 232 km
Today starts in Perth, heading north on Indian Ocean Drive towards Cervantes.
Once you hop on Indian Ocean Drive at Yanchep, you travel through native bushland and agricultural areas to Lancelin. Take the Lancelin turnoff to see the largest sand dunes in Western Australia. Find out more about Lancelin’s sand dunes here.
4wd add-on: stop at Wedge Island to picnic on the beach. While there, check out the rustic beach shacks that sit on unvested land.
The next stop is the unique limestone pillars that have become one of Western Australia’s most popular tourist attractions, the Pinnacles. The road to the car park is sealed, but there’s an option to take a 4 km loop drive on a gravel road. Read about how this stunning landscape was formed and how to make the most of your time here in this guide to the Pinnacles.
After seeing the Pinnacles, head to Lake Thetis, a small inland saline lake, one of a few places in the world with living marine stromatolites. The 1.5 km loop trail provides opportunities to learn about the fossils, geology, flora, fauna, and Indigenous culture.
If you have spare time, find out other things to do in Cervantes here.
Day Two – Cervantes to Port Denison Dongara via Jurien Bay – 1 hr 45 mins – 160 km
Leaving Cervantes behind you, you’ll head north towards Jurien Bay. There are two lookouts on the way (Molah Hill and Grigson’s Lookouts) providing views over the native bushland, which is particularly beautiful in spring when the wildflowers are out.
When you arrive in Jurien Bay, take a walk along the jetty, join your pre-booked sealion tour, or see the views from above with Jurien Bay Skydive. You can read more about these activities and more in this guide on things to do in Jurien Bay.
4wd add-on: Take a slight detour (30 mins each way) to explore Stockyard Gully Caves, where a 1.3 km return trail takes you along a sandy gully and into a cool limestone cave. You will need a torch to see as the cave becomes pitch black, and you won’t be able to see anything.
Upon arrival in Port Denison, take a walk along the foreshore and up to Fishermans Lookout. If you feel like a walk, take one of the Thungarra Trails or Dongara’s historic walk. While in Dongara, don’t miss a photo opportunity with The Big Red Western Rock Lobster. This guide on Port Denison will provide more information on the towns and things to do there.
If you like seafood, pop into Seaz Denison Seafood for some freshly caught fish (one of our favourite places).
Day Three – Port Denison to Geraldton – 45 mins – 63 km
Today is a short drive from Port Denison to Geraldton, although you can stop in the historic settlement of Greenough to learn about the region’s past (however, we didn’t stop here). Look for the river gum trees on the right that lean due to the constant strong southerly winds.
For something to eat, walk along Geraldton Foreshore (Skeetas is popular but book online or call so you don’t miss out). In the afternoon, squeeze in some sights, which may include the HMAS Sydney II Memorial, Point Moore Lighthouse, and St Francis Xavier Cathedral. Read this guide on things to do in Geraldton for a complete list and more information on this city.
At this point, you can extend your stay in Geraldton and book a tour to visit the Abrolhos Islands or fly over the Pink Lake, carry on your road trip to Kalbarri, or return to Perth. If you are taking the Indian Ocean Drive between mid-July and the end of September, consider a detour to explore Wildflower Country.
Day Four – Geraldton to Perth – 4 hrs 30 mins – 420 km
You have the choice of returning along the Indian Ocean Drive or via Brand Highway (which is five minutes faster).
Indian Ocean Drive Tips
The section of Indian Ocean Drive between Yanchep and Lancelin is notorious for being dangerous. Since 2014, sadly, there have been nine fatalities and forty-one people requiring hospital. However, most accidents occur due to driver error, fatigue, or behaviour.
Here are some tips for driving safely in Western Australia:
- Don’t drive tired – distances are vast, and roads can be straight, causing driver fatigue
- Take a break every two hours
- Try to avoid driving around dusk and dawn when wildlife is most active
- Never speed and keep your distance from vehicles in front
- Try to use the overtaking lanes as much as possible
- Do not overtake when there is a single or double continuous white centre line
- Road trains, trucks, and caravans are common on this road and slow traffic down. Only overtake when safe and allow plenty of time as road trains can be up to 60 metres long!
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 holiday
Flights: We use different sites to get the best possible price for flights. Check matrix.itasoftware.com to get an idea of the cheapest dates, but you can’t book through this site. Compare the cost of flights with Skyscanners and try different routes.
Accommodation: 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.
Tours: 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.
Travel Insurance: Cover-More protects the travel dreams and experiences of more than 15 million people worldwide every year (including us!). Part of Zurich Insurance Group, they cover 22 countries across five continents with leading positions in the USA, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Ireland, India and New Zealand. Protect your trip against several COVID-19 scenarios during the current coronavirus pandemic.
FAQ Indian Ocean Drive Itinerary
How long is Indian Ocean Drive?
Indian Ocean Drive is nearly 270 km long, from Yanchep up to just south of Dongara.
Is Indian Ocean Drive sealed?
Yes, Indian Ocean Drive is sealed all the way.
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