I’m not sure why it took me 10 months to finally write a blog about Esperance. Perhaps I was scared that my words would never fully capture the natural beauty of Esperance. Perhaps, like a great love affair, I selfishly want to keep the experience that Alex and I had in Esperance a secret; relegating the experience to a private memory that we could revisit in old photos and videos. Or, perhaps, I’ve simply been lazy and apathetic because of the global predicament in which we find ourselves in 2020. All realistic options. It’s hard to be motivated to write about travel when you can’t travel. So, here we are 10 months after our trip to Esperance, Western Australia, and it is finally time to recount the experience.
Western Australia covers more than 10,000 KM of coastline and is his home to some of (if not the most) the most beautiful beaches on the planet. These beaches are isolated, pristine, and unscathed by tourists. Aside from a great career opportunity, Australia’s beaches were the foremost reason we were keen to move to Perth and to spend a couple years living in one of the most remote destinations on Earth. As expected, we had a bucket list filled with destinations we wanted to visit after moving here, and the #1 destination on that bucket list was Esperance.
Esperance is, without a doubt, home to the most gorgeous beaches we have ever seen. Yes, more beautiful than Bora Bora, Hawaii, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Indonesia, Aruba, Thailand, Spain, you name it. Photos and words do an utter disservice to the natural beauty of this untouched oasis.
If Perth is isolated, there isn’t exactly a word to accurately describe Esperance’s geographical position (BFE and Timbuktu probably come closest). You’ll find Esperance along the Southern Ocean after driving 8-hours Southeast from Perth. The small port town is misleading. It is a bit of a shantytown with dilapidated hotels and only a couple of decent restaurants. However, Esperance town is vindicated by the beauty of the national parks and beaches.
Andrew Carnegie famously stated, “Anything in life worth having is worth working for.” Well, a trip to Esperance is both worth having and worth working for.
The easiest way to get to Esperance is to fly. Flights range in price and a direct flight from Perth to Esperance is about 1.5 hours. You can also fly to Esperance from other major airports around Australia.
An 8-hour road trip is right on the verge of what I would consider a “long drive,” but it’s also close enough that you can leave in the morning and be there before dinner.
You’ll remember how we just touched on how remote is Esperance? Well, it’s imperative that you have a car while you’re in Esperance, and we would highly recommend that you have a 4×4 (FWD) vehicle so that you can drive on the beaches (which is both safe and legal in many parts of rural Western Australia). Alex and I borrowed a 4×4 truck from a buddy of ours (thanks Luke!) and opted to drive so that we could drive on the beaches and off-road to the most remote parts of Esperance.
Of course, you can always fly and rent a car, but by the time you drive to the airport, wait an hour for your flight, fly, taxi, get your bags, hire a rental car in Esperance and make it to your hotel, you could have probably just driven and saved $500/person.
*Be sure to stop at Wave Rock on the road trip. It’s pretty much the only site to see along the 700km drive.*
Like many rural towns in Australia, there is pretty much one restaurant worth visiting. In Esperance that is Taylor St Quarters.
Taylor St provides travelers both decent food and ambiance. The menu is broad, including options for carnivores and vegans alike. The patio is quaint, and the coastal views elevate the food above the 6.5/10 or 7/10 that the food alone probably deserves. The staff is friendly and there is a great area for the kids to play in the yard area.
One thing that is ubiquitous in Australia is good coffee. Two years ago, I was a skeptic, but having had the opportunity to drink coffee in all corners of Australia, I would argue that Australia is one of the best coffee cultures in the world. Downtown Espresso Bar upholds that standard with very, very, good coffee. Maybe you can get by on espresso and pastries for the trip? Might be a good option.
Book an accommodation with a kitchen and buy groceries at IGA or Coles so you can cook your own meals in your room. At the very least, these markets will allow you to buy non-perishable snacks, fruit and vegetables, drinks, etc. for your cooler (or as they call it here, Esky).
We honestly have no recommendations on hotels as we booked the singular last hotel room that was available in Esperance. Christmas is a very busy time for Aussie travelers, so every campsite and every hotel room in Esperance was booked. Our hotel was fine, but we wouldn’t recommend them on the blog. Your best bet is to check out Airbnb or Booking.com
Esperance town a small port town that doesn’t offer much. Travelers visit Esperance to see, perhaps, the most beautiful beaches in the world. The town itself is about 30-45 minutes from the Cape Le Grand national park. If you have the option to camp near (or in) Cape Le Grand, seize it. If not, you’ll be commuting back and forth between town and the park daily. That being said, there are a number of gorgeous beaches just West of Esperance town that require a much shorter drive.
Cape Le Grand National Park is home to the best beaches in Esperance, hikes, and of course a plethora of cute kangaroos. Some of the key attractions within Cape Le Grand are:
Infamous photos of travelers playing with adorable kangaroos are invariably shot at Lucky Bay. It is the most popular beach in Esperance, and rightfully so. It. Is. GORGEOUS. When we got our first peek of Lucky Bay the white sand literally glowed. The sand has developed from fine grains of milky and frosted quartz and thanks to a lack of tourists, it remains as white as a pearl. The mineral content of the sand makes a squeaky sound when one walks upon it and the sand nearest the tide line forms a texture that is so solid it is almost like a fully formed slab of quartz. Don’t worry, other sections are as soft as a pillow.
At Lucky Bay you can swim in water that is 50 shades of blue. The diversity of various types of blue water you’ll find in Esperance will rival that of anywhere in the world. The only other comparison we can muster is the Bora Bora atoll. Of course, you’ll want to play with the kangaroos at Lucky Bay. Be sure not to feed them, or if you do, stick with small pieces of carrots as they’re easily digestible.
Hellfire is a bit more secluded, less inundated with humans, and enveloped by massive rocks. You can surf, swim, fish, kayak, or just lay on the beach and meditate on the beauty. It’s a short drive from Lucky Bay in the natinal park.
A mountain peak that you can hike up for panoramic views of the national park. Its short, but steep. Plan to spend about 45 minutes – an hour for a return hike.
Above these two beaches, you’re perfectly positioned for a 180-degree panoramic view of the world’s most gorgeous beaches. Just look at the photos, because my words are going fail to do this spot any justice.
Never have we seen so many gorgeous beaches in such a short distance. One after the other after the other after the other. It’s endless. Esperance’s Great Ocean Drive is a 40-kilometer circular look that you can explore by car (no FWD needed) or bicycle. Some of our favorite beaches along the drive are:
For a full list of beaches and stops, please reference the map above provided by the tourism authority of Esperance. The entire 40-km of this drive is jaw-dropping.
There are more than 1000 species of sharks globally and only about 3 of them happen to be the culprits of shark attacks. We swam with black tip, lemon, and whale sharks before, but we have not (knowingly at least) ever swam with great white sharks. There really is no such thing as shark-infested waters. The ocean is their ecosystem. It is their home. The ocean is where sharks live. And boy, do they live in Esperance.
While we shouldn’t consider the waters to be shark-infested, we must consider that when the waters become human infested, there have been a higher number of incidents than in most parts of the world. We regularly see news reports about shark attacks in Esperance, so it’s incumbent upon us to recommend you check shark advisories to know when they’re close to shore. Just remember the ocean is their home and swim/surf with caution.
You can get news and alerts from Sharksmart so that you can be sure to avoid particular beaches when great whites are in the area.