If you’re keen to put down your phone and laptop, turn off the Netflix and spend your days soaking up breathtaking surroundings including one of the whitest beaches in the world, then Esperance is the place to go. Admittedly it’s a bit of a trek (720km south east of Perth) but the ‘pretty scenery gods’ served the coastal town an absolutely awe-inspiring setting, with five national parks close by and stunning beaches on its doorstep. We worship any holiday that doesn’t involve shelling out dollar bills left, right and centre so it’s an ideal place for families and lovers of the outdoors. We were lucky enough to visit recently – here are our picks of where to go, eat and stay.
Written and photographed by Jade Just – Contributing Travel Editor
WHERE TO GO
Cape Le Grand National Park
Just a 56km drive (40 mins) from the town centre is Cape Le Grand National Park with some of the most stunning coastal scenery you’ll find in Western Australia. The beaches here are postcard perfect including the famous Lucky Bay, which is renowned for its squeaky white sand that’s among the whitest in the world (no bluffing – it has actually been scientifically tested!). International visitors and kids will especially enjoy the friendly kangaroos who take their siesta on the beach itself. While Lucky Bay is a mecca for tourists (there’s even a pop-up coffee van and deck chairs) we prefer the less popular Thistle Cove, with staggeringly beautiful views from the huge boulders overlooking the shoreline. Not to be missed during your day trip is a trek up the 262m high Frenchman’s Peak to capture sweeping views of park – be sure to keep an eye out for native Christmas Trees while you’re huffing and puffing. Those with a 4WD can head back to Esperance along the sand from Le Grand Bay but if you don’t mind driving the extra distance to the beaches further along the coast (Wharton Beach and Duke of Orleans Bay) you’ll find less tourists and equally exceptional scenery.
From top: Lucky Bay; Thistle Cove; Frenchman’s Peak; Hellfire Bay.
Twilight Beach Road
Beach lovers are spoiled for choice along Twilight Beach Road and if it’s blowing a gale at one beach you’re guaranteed that it will be sheltered at another. The right-hand-side of West Beach is an ideal option for families, the reef creates a shallow pool for little ones when the tide is out – although do consider that there’s a few stairs to climb (prams are a definite no-no). You can spot whales from June to October or count the islands in the archipelago (there’s over 100) but our favourite way to enjoy this pretty stretch of coast is a sunset drive to Observatory Point. BYO vino and cheese board!
From top: Observatory Point stairs; left-hand view from Observatory Point; Cove Lane carpark at Twilight Cove; West Beach.
WHERE TO EAT
Taylors Beach Bar & Cafe
Taylors is our pick of where to eat in Esperance – the gorgeous exterior resembles something out of the Hamptons: relaxed coastal, flowers aplenty and a huge wrap around balcony with white timber finishes. In the interest of full disclosure, breakfast was a bit hit and miss but lunch was fantastic – great portions and reasonable prices. Also, you can’t go wrong with the $10 cocktails (hellooooo espresso martini!).
You’re literally spoilt for choice at Ollies thanks to the whopper of a menu. You name it, they’ve got it (including cocowhip!) – there’s something for even the fussiest eaters. The coffee here is fab and the breakfast is described by the locals as the best in the world…but we’ll let you decide if it’s worth that title!
This traditional country pub is on the way back (or to) Cape Le Grand. The burgers here are favoured by the locals, and there are billiard tables to keep you busy while you wait.
Plenty of pub grub with a salad bar included with main meals. It’s not going to win any michelin stars but you’re guaranteed beer on tap, sport on the screens, big portions and a hearty dish. Also, as it’s name suggests, it’s a stones throw from the foreshore.
WHERE TO STAY
The Esperance Island View Apartments (here) are our pick of the pack alternatively there’s a ton of great holiday rentals on AirB&B at very affordable prices.