If you’re planning a road trip around Western Australia, you’re probably wondering whether it’s worth adding the Esperance Great Ocean Drive to your list.

Sure, it’s a very remote location, being an additional 5 hour drive past Albany (on the coast), and a full 8+ hour regional drive from Perth.

However, in my opinion, Esperance is one of the greatest destinations to visit in Western Australia, with pristine turquoise beaches, white sand and various National Parks. 

In this article, I’ll outline why I think the Esperance Great Ocean Drive is worth doing, and why you should add it to your bucket list. 


Is the Esperance Great Ocean Drive Worth Doing? 

Depending on who you ask, the answer to this question varies.

It is also heavily dependant on:

  • The amount of time you plan to spend travelling through Western Australia
  • What car you intend on hiring
  • Your budget and 
  • Your interests

If you’re seeking city vibes, nightlife, wild entertainment or don’t like driving, then Esperance is not for you. 

However, for those of you who love hiking, taking your time and immersing yourself amongst nature’s greatest wonders, Esperance could be your remote paradise.

With soft white sand beaches, turquoise oceans, chilled out kangaroos, and an untouched archipelago of 110 islands, Esperance is truly blessed and frequently considered a nature lover’s dream. 

When driving to Esperance along the coast, one thing to keep in mind is that there’s not much to see between Albany and Esperance.

Therefore, you really want to make sure that you’re actually interested in what Esperance has to offer to make it worth your while.

It is generally recommended that you spend at least 2-3 days there so that you have time to recover from the long drive and can see all the incredible sites. 

So, is Esperance worth the drive?

I’d say yes, but you’re going to need to be prepared to add a few extra days to your itinerary just to tick it off the bucket list. 

If you like driving and driving the extra miles out of your way to get there doesn’t bother you, I can guarantee that you’ll find some stunning gems and treasures along the Great Ocean Drive from Esperance.


Do you need to 4WD to do the Esperance Great Ocean Drive?

Do You Need a 4WD to do the Esperance Great Ocean Drive?

If you simply want to drive along the Esperance Great Ocean Road, then no, you won’t need a 4WD.

But, if you want to go off-roading, camping in some of the national parks or driving along the beaches in Esperance, then you may want to hire one. 

Hiring a 4WD will give you more flexibility to:

  • Drive along the beach (where permitted)
  • Go bush bashing and venture off-road and
  • Discover less popular dirt tracks

If instead, you’d prefer to hire a standard car, you can get some great deals on Rental Cars Australia. You can then organise a day tour if you need to access some of the more remote or off-road locations. 


An Overview of the Esperance Great Ocean 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:

  • Powdery white sand beaches (Including Bluehaven Beach, Twilight Beach, Salmon Beach & more)
  • Calm turquoise bays
  • People-free coves
  • Rock pools 

The Esperance Great Ocean Drive only takes about an hour to complete if driving. This does of course depend on how many stops you make along the way though.

You can also explore the road on a bike or by walking at your leisure. Even if you only complete the section from the Esperance Esplanade to the scenic lookouts at Twilight Cove.

Throughout the drive, you can also stop at some of the popular swimming and snorkelling spots along the coast including Bluehaven Beach, Twilight Beach and Salmon Beach.

So, don’t forget to pack your bathers!

If you don’t want to swim, or the weather is too cold, you can also enjoy the nearby rock pools at Nine Mile Beach.

Here’s a great image from the Nomadic Explorers, which gives a pretty good overview of the Great Ocean drive and the sites along the way. I’ll cover these in more detail below.

Esperance Great Ocean Drive Map

Esperance Great Ocean Road Map | Source: Nomadic Explorers


Esperance Great Ocean Drive | The 10 Key Sites to See


1) 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 walk and take in the beautiful coastal views. 

Once at the lookout, sit back and relax and keep an eye out for any dolphins or whales swimming along the shore.  


2) West Beach

West beach is one of the first beaches you will see if doing the Great Ocean Drive from Esperance (travelling west). 

This beach is known for its striking rock formations, turquoise waters, fine white sand, and shimmering specs of mica and garnet minerals amongst the rocks. 

Often considered a photographer’s dream, there are many incredible landscape photo opportunities at this beach. 

When the tide is out there is a sandbar that stretches across the beach and two large reefs. 

Main things you can do at this beach:

  • Walking along the sand
  • Picnics (toilet and parking facilities on site)
  • Surfing (but not for beginners)
  • Rock pools (at low tide)

This beach is not recommended for swimming due to the presence of a large rip that has the strength to pull people out to sea.

Unsuspecting travellers have often been sucked out by the rip, with a need to be rescued by local surfers on the beach. 

Please be careful and avoid swimming here.

Also keep in mind that there are approximately 130 stairs leading down the beach. This is convenient on the way down, but not ideal on the way up.

You’ll definitely get your fair share of a workout. It’s also not ideal for people with knee/hip issues.


3) Bluehaven Beach

Only a short 10-minute drive south-west, Bluehaven Beach is one of the most picturesque, turquoise beaches in the area. 

Main things you can do at this beach:

  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Climbing Rocks
  • Exploring the rock pools

Bluehave Beach is a popular location for snorkelling because it is often sheltered from the south-west winds. There’s also a diverse range of fish and coral reefs to see. 

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, you can have fun climbing the various rocks on the beach or exploring rock pools on either side of the beach. 

Just ensure to be careful, watch your step and pack good grippy shoes.

Bluehave Beach, Esperance

4) Salmon Beach​​

One of the key characteristics of Salmon Beach is it’s rocky shoreline that prevents you from entering the beach. 

It is also known for having a stunning coastline, soft white sand, clear blue water and being a favourite spot for SHARKS!

Salmon Beach is NOT a swimming beach. 

Some have mentioned that there’s a lot of signage near the beach to warn you about the presence of sharks. So, personally, I wouldn’t even consider swimming here.

The rocks also seem to make it difficult for you to get in the water anyway – which is probably a blessing in disguise. 

Main things you can do at this beach:

  • Exploring the rock pools
  • Climbing the rocks
  • Watch the turbulence and large swells of the waves during a storm

Do be careful, as the rocks here can be very sharp. It can be easy to cut yourself if you slip or are not wearing closed-toed shoes.

5) Fourth Beach

Fourth beach is another beach on the Esperance Great Ocean Drive. Similar to some of the other beaches, Fourth Beach does have some dangerous rips and undercurrents.

Therefore, it probably isn’t the best beach for a leisurely swim. 

Things you can do at this beach:

  • Surfing 
  • Watching the sunset
  • Long beach walks


6) Twilight Beach/ Cove

Given the relatively sheltered and shallow nature of Twilight Beach, it tends to be a popular spot for kids and families.

There’s also good parking, showers and toilets onsite and it’s only a short 10 minute drive from the main town.

Main things you can do at this beach:

  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming 
  • Surfing 
  • Stand-up paddle boarding


7) Observatory Point & Lookout

Observatory Point is another great place to stop when driving along the Esperance Great Ocean Drive. The beach contains interesting rock formations and reefs.

Ensure to climb up to the lookout viewing platform, where you will get stunning views of the coastline and beaches. 

Main things you can do here:

  • Climb to the lookout 
  • Whale watching
  • Fishing (Salmon, Herring & Flathead) 
  • Watch the crashing waves from above
  • Get amazing photos – possibly even fly your drone for some cool shots

Supposedly you can access the beach via a 4WD track, however I’m not too sure how you get there. 

Similar to some of the other beaches mentioned, this is not really a swimming beach. I’d say that the lookout is the main feature.

The stairs to the lookout will give you a good workout. So prepare to power your way up them and burn off some calories. 


8) Nine Mile Beach

This beach seems to be a less common attraction. With the main things to do here including:

  • Exploring the various rock pools
  • Possibly some snorkelling

Again, the rocks can be quite sharp, so make sure that you’re wearing the right footwear. 


9) Ten Mile Lagoon

Ten mile lagoon also seems to be a less popular site to visit compared to the others. There doesn’t seem to be many reviews about it online (that I managed to find anyway). 

I assume that by the time you get to this beach, you’ve probably already seen all the others and are quite “beached” out. 

The main things you can do here:

  • Swimming
  • Fishing 

The beach is also the access point to ‘Free Beach’, a nudist beach where clothing is optional. 

If you’re feeling a bit adventurous or liberal, it could make for a memorable experience. 


10) Eleven Mile Lagoon

Only a short 20-minute drive from Esperance, Eleven Mile Lagoon makes for a fantastic day out. 

The main things you can do here:

  • Swim within the lagoon
  • Wander through the shallow rock pools 
  • Go snorkelling

The reefs and waters at Eleven Mile Lagoon are full with natural wildlife and unusual underwater formations. 

The sheltered conditions make this beach ideal for swimmers and there are some waves for surfers to enjoy too. 


11) Pink Lake Lookout

Pink Lake used to be one of the most popular sites along the Esperance Great Ocean Drive. However, despite its name, it’s really not that “pink” anymore. 

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 were really hoping to get photos of the “pink lake”, you’ll be better off going to Lake Hillier.

You can read more about Lake Hillier in the article below:

Despite the change in colouring, Pink Lake is still a nice place to visit for it’s peaceful scenery and local wildlife. 

So, there you have it!

Great Ocean Road in Esperance

In Summary:

Esperance Great Ocean Drive | The 10 Key Sites to See

The Great Ocean Road Loop in Esperance is definitely worth a visit, especially given it only takes around an hour to complete.

It will also give you the opportunity to tick off some of the most beautiful beaches and lagoons along the south coast of Western Australia. 

Sites along the drive include:

  1. Rotary Lookout
  2. West Beach
  3. Bluehaven Beach
  4. Salmon Beach
  5. Fourth Beach
  6. Twilight Beach
  7. Observatory Point
  8. Nine Mile Beach
  9. Ten Mile Lagoon
  10. Pink Lake Lookout

If you’d like to read more about Esperance and the best things to do there, ensure to check out our guide containing the 18 Best Things to Do in Esperance & Surrounds.

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