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A Travellers Guide to Esperance & the 18 Best Things to Do
If you’re planning a road trip around Western Australia, you’re definitely going to want to add Esperance to your list.
With dreamy landscapes of soft white sand and turquoise ocean, there are so many adventurous activities to do in Esperance and its surrounding areas.
In this article, I will give you an overview of Esperance, including the 18 BEST things to do in Esperance (for travellers and road-trippers)
Where is Esperance?
If you’re road tripping around Western Australia, Esperance is a 7-8 hour drive south east from Perth (714 kms to be exact). 🚌
Yep, it’s definitely not a simple hop, skip and jump down the road.
If you can’t be bothered driving, there are some Virgin flights that fly to Esperance from Perth in 90 minutes. This is a great option if you’re keen to shorten your trip, save time or avoid hiring a car.
You can do a quick search on the latest flights below:
Driving does have its advantages though.
For example, it’s the best way to truly take in and enjoy the scenic coastal routes at your own pace.
How Long Should You Spend in Esperance?
If driving, is it recommended that you spend at least 3-5 days in Esperance.
This will ensure that you have enough time to refresh and rejuvenate after the long drive, and also lots of free time to explore the town and surrounding areas.
If camping 🏕 , or you simply love nature and adventure activities, you may even want to stay for longer.
It’s such a remote and glorious place in Australia, so why not make the most of your time there.
When is the Best Time to Visit?
Esperance is one of those places that you can visit all year round. However, you will see it in its full glory in late Spring and Summer.
Between December to March 🌞, you can expect warmer sunny days, blue skies and ideal beach swimming temperatures in Esperance. This time of the year is great for water sports, camping, fishing and walking along the coast.
During May and August ❄️, the weather cools down A LOT and conditions are more likely to be overcast or rainy. Winter is not an ideal time to go, unless you’re there to see the whale migration along the coast. The weather in Esperance is quite comparable to that of Melbourne and can get very cold in the evenings and overnight due to the sea breeze.
During Winter, overcast weather can also make the water appear less turquoise (as seen in photos), however many of the coastal walks are still as beautiful. Hiking can be good during this time, as you don’t get too hot and bothered.
*** NOTE: I have heard from many travellers that outside of Summer, Esperance can get particularly cold. Therefore, do ensure to pack layers of warm clothing so that you’re adequately prepared.
Do You Need a 4WD to Travel to Esperance?
The quick answer – it depends.
Hiring a 4WD will enable you to get to more unique and interesting sites and have the freedom to:
- Drive along the beach (where permitted)
- Go bush bashing and venture off-road
- Discover various dirt tracks and
- Explore less touched locations
You can drive a standard car to Esperance, however you may find yourself limited with the activities you can do once you get there.
There are some guided tours that can take you to the main sites, however if you want the freedom to drive around at your own leisure, you’re going to need 4WD.
Given you’re going to be driving the 8+ hours to get there in the first place (from Perth), I personally think that you may as well spend the extra money to hire a 4WD to get the most out of your trip.
You’ll also have more flexibility to be able to do all the adventurous activities in Esperance.
The last thing you want is to leave disappointed.
If you’d like to check out some 4WD options, you can find the best car hire rates here.
6 Day Tour from Perth to Esperance
If driving or flying still isn’t for you, you can check out this great 6-day Adventure tour from Perth to Esperance.
On this tour, you’ll get the chance to explore the jaw-dropping beauty of the southwest corner of Western Australia, as you travel from:
- Perth to Margaret River
- Margaret River to Walpole
- Walpole & Albany Region
- Mt Trio to Cape Le Grand National Park
- Cape Le Grand National Park Sunrise
- Esperance to Perth
On this tour, you’ll cover off a lot of the main touristy things to do in Esperance, or at least on the way to Esperance.
You’ll also get to experience the natural wonder of Wave Rock (explained in more detail here) and hike, swim, spot wildlife and sleep under the stars.
For those who just want a taste of Western Australia, this tour could be a great alternative to hiring 4WD.
Read more about the tour on Get Your Guide.
Can You Camp in Esperance?
Yes you can. There are several spots along the coast where you can pitch a tent and park with ocean views. It’s truly one of the best ways to experience Esperance.
Some of the main campsites in Esperance include:
- Munglinup Beach
- Alexander Bay Campground
- Lucky Bay Campground
- Cape Le Grand Beach
- Quagi Beach
- Thomas River Campground
- Stokes inlet Campground
You can learn more about each of these campsites here.
Please keep in mind that it’s an offence to camp anywhere outside of the registered camping grounds, or on private property without the owner’s consent.
One of the main campsites in Esperance is at Lucky Bay (Cape Le Grand National Park) within the Goldfields-Esperance Region. Here, bookings are essential so you should try and secure your spot before you arrive.
At that specific campsite, lighting campfires or using solid fuel-based appliances (ie. stoves, bbq’s and heaters) is prohibited at all times. There are also no bins, so you MUST take all rubbish with you.
No litter bugs please.
Here are some further resources you may find useful if planning to camp:
- Shire of Esperance: Campsites and Facilities in Esperance
- Visit Esperance: Popular Campsite information
If you’d like to explore other forms of accommodation in Esperance, you can do so on Booking.com.
18 Best Activities to Do in Esperance
Esperance is one of those locations that has a TON to do, if you love nature and adventure activities.
There are plenty of trails to discover and over 500 kms of coastline to explore.
If you’re looking to go out clubbing or enjoy live entertainment (excluding kangaroos chilling on the beach) then this may not be the place for you.
In this section, I’m going to be listing the 18 best things to do in Esperance for adventurous travellers and roadtrippers.
1) Esperance Great Ocean Road Drive
The Esperance Great Ocean Road Drive is something that you simply cannot miss if making the BIG drive out to Esperance. 🚙
Although there’s no shortage of stunning drives across Australia, the 38km Esperance Great Ocean Road Loop is often listed as one of the most scenic drives in the world.
Throughout the drive you can expect to see immaculate white sand beaches, calm turquoise bays, and if you’re lucky, pods of dolphins dancing along the ocean’s horizon.
If driving by car, the route only takes an hour or so to complete (depending on how often you stop to take in the scenery). If you want, you can also travel the Esperance Great Ocean Road by bicycle or walk it at your leisure.
There’s well-maintained paths that you can follow all the way from the Esperance Esplanade to the scenic lookouts at Twilight Cove.
You can also opt to go swimming or explore rock pools at places along the way including:
- Blue Haven Beach
- Twilight Cove
- Nine Mile Beach and
- Salmon Beach
We’ll talk more about each of these locations later within the article. 👇🏼
For more information about the Esperance Great Ocean Road drive, read our detailed article below.
2) Explore the Town of Esperance
Esperance is a very small town in the south coast of Western Australia, with a population of less than 15,000 people.
It is believed to have one of the lowest population densities to be found anywhere in Australia, yet there are still many incredible things to do in Esperance.
The region is made up of the most spectacular landscapes with 500 kilometres of coastline, turquoise sparkling bays, impressive cliff faces and picturesque islands within Recherche Archipelago.
Using the town as your base, there are many things you can do in Esperance and its surrounds. Here’s just a few examples (which we will explore in greater detail throughout the article).
🧗🏻♀️ Land Activities to Do in Esperance
- Four Wheel Driving / Scenic Driving (Cape Le Grand National Park, Cape Arid National Park or along the Esperance Great Ocean Road)
- Mountain Biking (Esperance Mountain Bike Track)
- Cycling (Esperance Great Ocean Road)
- Hiking (All over!)
- Mini Golf
💧 Water Activities to Do in Esperance
Esperance is a haven for spotting marine animals and for snorkelling. Particularly in the nearby sheltered bays and beaches.
- Snorkeling (Lucky Bay, Woody Island, Twilight Cove, Bluehaven Beach)
- Surfing (West Beach, Fourth Beach or Observatory Beach)
- Fishing (Lucky Bay, Woody Island)
- Swimming (Lucky Bay, Woody Island, Bluehaven Beach, Salmon Beach & Twilight Cove)
- Scuba Diving
- Boating / Island Cruises
***ALERT*** Please do be careful when swimming or surfing in the Esperance beaches. There has been some history of shark attacks and also strong rips, so please remain cautious, keep safe and check the latest shark and safety warnings.
🐨 Other Fun Things to Do in Esperance
- Animal Watching (National Parks, Beaches & Kangaroos at Lucky bay)
- Scenic Flights (Lake Hillier – Middle Island)
- Local Aboriginal Tours
Something cool to do in Esperance than many tourists miss, is to see the region through the eyes of the local Aboriginal people (the Noongar).
The Noongar people are deeply connected to Esperance and its surrounding areas and have a ton of knowledge that they love sharing with visitors.
They can take you on a journey through the local bushland, educating you about their culture, hunting and gathering and how they survive off the land. You may even get the chance to try some bush tucker and billy tea!
If you’d like to learn more the Aboriginal culture in and around Esperance, make sure to check out the Kepa Kurl eco discovery tour.
3) Esperance Esplanade
The Esperance Esplanade runs from Harbour Road to Norseman Road – right along the entire seaside front of the township.
Along the Esplanade, you can enjoy spectacular beach views from the foreshore, grassed areas to sit, BBQ’s, restaurants, playgrounds and walking paths.
It is the perfect place for a daily walk, jog or cycle, especially at sunrise or sunset.
There’s also plenty of free parking and public toilets in the area, giving you the ability to chill out, settle in and simply relax.
4) Rotary Lockout
The Rotary lookout is located off Twilight Beach Road at the far end of the Esplanade. It’s the perfect spot to finish your shorefront walk.
Once at the lookout, sit back and relax as you take in some of the best views of Esperance – the town, the nearby sandy beaches and the endless coastline.
5) Esperance Growers Market
The Esperance Growers Market is held fortnightly from 9am to 12pm at the Esperance Scout Hall.
At the market, you’ll find a range of local products and goodies including organic produce (fruit & veg 🥭🥦🍓), fresh bread, pastries, coffee, flowers and various other items.
To find out when the market is on, and keep up with updates, you can check out their Facebook here.
6) Esperance Museum
The Esperance Museum is quite an interesting and unique place to add to your bucket list.
Although it’s only open between 1:30pm-4:30pm Thursday – Sunday, it contains a diverse range of interesting artefacts (4,000 objects and 8,000 archive items to be exact!).
Some pieces relate to early farming, settlement and local culture (which makes sense). However, there’s even some rare remnants from the world’s first space station, Skylab, which plummeted to Earth in 1979.
Entry to the museum costs a measly $8.50, so if you’re short on things to do, why not check it out.
7) Taylors St Quarters
Within the town itself, there are limited shops and restaurants. However, if you venture down to the beach, you’ll discover the highly recommended and historically significant Taylor St Quarters restaurant.
The history of this old building is superb!
Once a hospital located south of Perth, the building was dismantled and sent around the Capes of Western Australia by boat to Esperance.
It then started its new life as the Esperance Hospital, but was eventually relocated to the beach front in the 60’s (when a new hospital was built), and was used as a tearoom in the 1980’s. Since then, the building has been renovated and is now the family owned and run restaurant of Taylor St Quarters.
Definitely take a moment to treat yourself with a meal at this restaurant whilst enjoying the breathtaking ocean views.
On the menu, you can enjoy fresh local produce , strong unique flavours and various desserts 🍰, as well as a cheeky cocktail 🍹, wine, beer or coffee.
This restaurant was also a finalist in the 2021 Restaurant & Catering Hostplus Awards for Excellence in the Contemporary Australian Restaurant category.
So, it’s definitely worth a visit!
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8) Cindy Poole Glass Gallery
Cindy Poole has been creating glass art since 1995 and uses Australian nature as the inspiration behind her creations.
These days, the Cindy Poole Glass Gallery consists of a fully functional studio, gallery and café.
So, take your time to browse through her work and enjoy all the glory of her public artworks, architectural designs, decorative pieces, home décor and jewelry.
With a growing focus on sustainability and creating eco-friendly designs, Cindy has even started using recycled glass in her designs – by saving bottles from landfill.
Pop down, enjoy a coffee, and admire some of her exquisite designs. I always like to show love to businesses supporting sustainability.
It’s one of the best things to do in Esperance if you’re wanting to purchase something special for yourself, a friend or a loved one. Or even just to keep as a souvenir.
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9) Twilight Beach/Cove
If you’re into snorkelling or swimming, Twilight Beach/Cove a lovely site to explore. And, it’s just a 10 minute drive from town.
Given the relatively sheltered and shallow nature of Twilight Beach and good parking, showers and toilets onsite, it tends to be a popular spot for kids and families too.
If snorkelling doesn’t excite you, you can also try surfing 🏄🏻♀️ or stand-up paddle boarding.
10) Bluehaven Beach
One of the best things to do in Esperance, Bluehaven beach is a must-see destination.
Only a short 10-minute drive south-west, Bluehaven Beach is one of the most picturesque, turquoise beaches in the area.
It is also a popular location for snorkelling given the water has great visibility most of the year, due to being sheltered from the south-west winds. There’s also a diverse range of fish and coral reefs.
If visiting Bluehaven Beach in Winter you may want to wear a wetsuit as the waters can get quite cold (around 16 degrees celsius).
If you’re not a keen swimmer, there are also various rocks to climb and rock pools on either side of the beach. Just ensure to pack good grippy shoes so you don’t fall.
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11) Pink Lake & Pink Lake Lookout
Pink Lake used to be one of the best things to do in Esperance. However, despite its name, it’s really not that “pink” anymore.
It may have been in a past life, but these days the lake doesn’t have the same fluoro colouring it was once famous for. Many believe the change in colour to be due to the water composition changing over the years.
If you’re after an infamous “pink lake” photo, you’ll be better off going to Lake Hillier (Which i’ll talk about in more detail below #18).
Despite the change in colouring, it is still a nice place to visit for it’s peaceful setting and abundance of local wildlife.
12) Lucky Bay Brewing
If you enjoy beer tasting 🍺, check out Luck Bay Brewing – famous for being the best brewing company in town.
I must say, this sounds a lot like marketing spin given there’s not a lot of choice or competition within Esperance. I actually think it may be the only sizable brewery there…
Regardless, the brewery has been brewing craft beers using locally sourced ingredients for years, and with rave reviews.
It’s a great thing to do in Esperance in an evening, when you’re not hiking or lounging on the nearby beaches.
Some of its beers can also be found on tap at other places within Esperance too.
13) The Stonehenge Replica in Esperance
Yep, it’s a bit odd, but there’s actually a full size UK Stonehenge replica in Esperance.
AND, it’s the only full-size replica of the original Stonehenge in the UK and was formed with 137 slabs of Esperance pink granite.
Supposedly, it was built to align with the Summer and Winter Solstices in Esperance with the longest day being in December and the shortest day in June.
I must admit, I don’t know much about Solstices, so if you can educate me more about it please be my guest.
The Stonehenge in Esperance is only a short 15 minute drive from town and can be viewed from the road or up close within the paddock.
Given that I didn’t get to see Stonehenge when I was travelling in the UK, maybe I’ll just pop over to Esperance to tick it off the bucket list 😋
Just kidding… but it is an interesting concept. 🤔
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14) Ride the Esperance Mountain Bike Track
If you’re feeling a need for speed or looking for adventurous things to do in Esperance, drive on up to the Esperance Mountain Bike Track, located a short 15 minute drive north of the main town. 🚵🏼♀️
Commonly referred to as ‘The Piggery’, this scenic 13.5km bike track loop is purpose-built with various turns, berms and jumps, as it winds its way through trees and wildflowers (in Spring).
The bike track is suitable for beginners as well as advanced mountain bikers, with a 13.5km cross country track and a smaller 3.5km family track.
This allows you to take the trail at your own pace depending on your experience. Both tracks are marked so that you don’t get lost.
15) Cape Le Grand National Park (One of the Best Things to Do in Esperance)
One of the best things to do in Esperance is Cape Le Grand National Park! Especially if you’re into the outdoors or a big nature lover like I am.
Located approximately 40 minutes east of Esperance (by car), it is considered one of the most impressive attractions with endless outdoor activities and things to do.
For example, you can go:
- Wildlife spotting
- Four Wheel Driving
There is a particularly great hike called the Le Grand Coastal Trail that runs between Le Grand Beach and Rossiter Bay.
If you want to spend quality time exploring the National Park, you can camp overnight at Lucky Bay Campground or Cape Le Grand Beach.
What better way to wake up than with a cleansing sea breeze and sunrise over the white sandy beach.
Entry fees can be paid at the park’s entrance. The ranger on duty will collect any fees, including camping fees from you as you pass through.
At the campsites you should be able to access tank water, septic toilets, solar heated showers, camp kitchens and barbecues. However, there is NO power, NO shops and NO fuel.
There’s also no bookings for specific camping sites, it’s simply a first in first served. Therefore, you’ll want to prepare wisely in advance and possibly book your trip during an off peak time.
Lucky Bay is probably the most famous beach in Esperance, and one that you will have seen pop up a lot on Instagram. It receives quite a lot of attention from photographers and travellers alike.
Not only is Lucky Bay known for its stunning white beaches, squeaky sand, and turquoise waters, but also for its resident western grey kangaroos that chill out and sunbathe nearby.
This has put Lucky Bay on the global map for travellers wanting to get up close to one of Australia’s greatest icons. It is also commonly listed as one of Australia’s whitest beaches.
Do be careful though!
Although kangaroos can look super relaxed, cute and tame, they are wild animals. Their movements and behaviour can be unpredictable.
The last thing you want is to get kicked in the face or start a boxing match with a fellow kangaroo. Trust me, if they feel threatened they won’t go easy on you.
One of the best times to visit Lucky Bay is at sunrise or sunset. However, there is also a campsite there, so you do have the option to stay overnight if you’d like a solid day exploring the area.
The Lucky Bay Campground is located in the Goldfields-Esperance Region, and is accessed from within the Cape Le Grand National Park.
At the campsite you can access solar hot showers, camp kitchens and BBQ’s with bush hikes and spectacular coastal views just a few steps away.
The main activities that you can do at Lucky Bay include swimming, fishing, picnicking, camping and glorious beach walks.
Frenchman’s Peak (One of the more challenging things to do in Esperance)
Also located within Cape Le Grand National Park, Frenchman’s Peak is a commonly visited attraction.
Given most of the land around Frenchman’s Peak is flat, you’ll be able to get some incredible panoramic views from the top.
The peak is only 262 meters high – not exactly the biggest mountain out there. But, don’t be fooled, the 1 hour hike to the summit is supposedly very demanding 🧗🏻♂️.
More of a climb than a walk the trail is known for its rocky trails, loose rocks, dodgy ledges and near vertical climbs.
There are some wooden boardwalks and gravel tracks too, but this grade 5 walk is not recommended for the faint hearted or those that experience difficulty on their feet.
Up for the challenge?
Awesome! Before you go, ensure to check the walk trail guide. It will give you a good insight into what you’re up for on the day.
Hellfire Bay is also accessed from within Camp Le Grand National Park, and is one of the most beautiful bays on the park’s south coast.
It’s a great place to stop for lunch after a solid morning of hiking through the national Park. Onsite there are picnic tables and BBQ’s that are free for you to use, and that look out over the water.
16) Cape Arid National Park
If you’re looking for more things to do in Esperance, you can venture out further to the even more remote Cape Arid National Park.
A considerable drive from Esperance town centre (around 2 hours long), this National Park is much less visited by tourists. Therefore, tracks are a lot more raw and untouched.
Because of this, a 4WD is necessary.
Compared to Cape Le Grand National Park, access to Cape Arid is not as easy. But, for those daring enough to give it a go, you will be blown away by the scenery.
Similar to Cape Le Grand, the Cape Arid National Park does have fees for entry and camping.
You can read more about Cape Arid National Park here.
17) Woody Island
Just 15km off the coast of Esperance, Woody Island is the perfect destination for those wanting to get up close to nature.
The island is located within the Recherche Archipelago (also known as the “Bay of Isles”), which consists of more than 100 entirely separate islands.
Although small (1.5km long), Woody Island is best known for its calm swimming bays, bush walks, snorkelling, seal and dolphin spotting, hikings trails and fishing.
There is also some accommodation on the island allowing you to stay overnight.
Some of most popular sites on Woody Island include:
- Twiggy’s Landing lookout
- Skinny Dip Bay (best name ever!)
- Shearwater Bay
If you’re keen on snorkelling, Shearwater Bay will be your best bet.
In the 2000’s, the Woody Island Snorkel Trail was completed and has become a popular activity amongst travellers.
Particularly due to its temperate waters and excellent visibility. You may even get to see a leafy sea dragon if you’re lucky!
To get to Woody Island, you can either:
- Take the ferry from Esperance (approx 1 hour) or
- Book a day tour that includes Woody Island as a destination (From Esperance)
You can read more about Woody Island here.
18) Lake Hillier (the Present-Day PINK LAKE!)
Saving the best to last, no tour to Esperance is complete without seeing the incredible natural phenomenon of Lake Hillier; the present-day PINK lake 💞.
This is a must-see and one of the best things to do in Esperance!
Although small (only 600m long!), Lake Hillier attracts travellers from all over the globe. It is one of Western Australia’s most photographed and recognisable landmarks.
The reason for it’s pink colour is still not fully understood, however some believe it to be associated with the presence of a unique microalgae, bacteria or possibly a chemical reaction within the water.
Lake Hillier is located on Middle Island (another island within the Recherche Archipelago) and is no easy feat to get to.
Although there are some ways to visit the island on foot, the pink hues of the lake are much more extravagant from above.
Therefore, if you can, I’d recommend seeing it from the skies via a helicopter or scenic flight.
This is the best way to view the lake given you get to see it from a bird’s eye view and in its full glory.
Positioned next to the white sands of the island’s beach and the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean, the pink hues of the lake really stand out in photos.
Here are some reasonably priced options to check out:
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The 18 Best Things to Do in Esperance for Travellers & Roadtrippers
I hope that this article has helped to give you detailed guidance on the most awesome things to do in Esperance, as well as the surrounding national parks.
As I mentioned above, there’s a lot to do in Esperance. Therefore, you will want to allow 3-5 days to give yourself enough time to explore all the sites at a slow relaxed pace.
If you’re planning to hire a 4WD or standard car, you can get some of the best deals at Rental Cars Australia.
If driving doesn’t interest you, you can check out this great 6-day Adventure tour from Perth to Esperance. This tour covers off many of the main sites between Perth and Esperance, and includes Cape Le Grand National Park and Lucky Bay.
Other than that, here’s a list of the top places we covered. That way you can easily add them to your bucket list.
- Esperance Town
- Esperance Esplanade & Rotary Lookout
- Esperance Market & Museum
- Taylor St Quarters
- Bluehaven Beach
- Twilight Beach
- Pink Lake & Lookout
- Cindy Poole Glass Gallery
- Luck Bay Brewing
- Esperance Stonehenge
- Esperance Mountain Bike Park
- Cape Le Grand National Park & Beach
- Lucky Bay Campground
- Frenchmans Peak
- Hellfire Bay
- Woody Island
- Lake Hillier
- Cape Arid National Park