mountain tops peaking out above clouds

Best Things to do in Esperance

As locals, we have visited Esperance on a Perth to Esperance road trip. I’ve lived in WA for over 20 years, and Dave was born here, so we’ve spent many years exploring our state.

Esperance is in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia and lies on the Southern Coast, about 720 km from Perth, the state’s capital.

This travel guide provides the best things to do in Esperance and tips on the weather, location, and where to stay.

This post may contain affiliate links (of companies I book through). This means I may receive a small commission if you book through them. You can read the disclaimer for more information.

The Top 25 Things To Do in Esperance Western Australia

1. Cape Le Grand National Park

Cape Le Grand National Park is a 45-minute drive from Esperance on sealed roads. Fees apply as follows:

Private vehicle with up to 12 occupants A$15 per vehicle (standard)
Private vehicle with more than 12 occupants A$7 per occupant 6 years or older
Motorcycle A$8 per motorcycle

If you are a RAC WA member, you can buy annual passes for a 50% discount directly through the online RAC shop.

a sealed road with red diret on the side and native bush with a fire warning sign

We arrived in Esperance the day Cape Le Grand National Park was re-opened after devastating bush fires. Not wanting to miss the main reason for our trip to Esperance (Lucky Bay), we decided to visit the next day. There was still a fire burning in the park, and we didn’t want it to flare up and the park to get closed again.

It was an early start, as there is the most chance of seeing the kangaroos on the beach at Lucky Bay around dusk and dawn. Once we entered the 31,801 hectares (78,580 acres) park, we could see the result of the fires ourselves. The landscape was black and looked completely desolate, as you can see from the photo below.

blackened bush after fires in cape le grand national park

Check for road closures before leaving for Cape Le Grand or Cape Arid. You don’t want to drive all that way and find out the track you want is closed.

road sign showing if road are open or closed in cape le grand and cape arid

2. Lucky Bay

Once you’ve entered Cape Le Grand National Park, follow the road until you get to a left turn into Lucky Bay Road. Follow this to the end, where you will find a car park.

When we arrived, there were a few kangaroos in the car park. They are very tame, so they came up to us. Under no circumstance should you feed them and remember that they are wild animals. Please respect them and watch children closely. Let them come up to you for a sniff, and let them be if they don’t.

car park overlooking a sandy beach with brown kangaroos sitting there
Kangaroos in the car park at Lucky Bay

After spending some time with them here, we headed down to the beach. At first, there weren’t any around, but soon a couple appeared. They tend to hang out at the far end, where the seaweed is. As it was early, not many people were there, so we had the beach pretty much to ourselves. A couple of other families were trying to get photos of the kangaroos on the beach. You can’t get anything more Australian than kangaroos on a white sand beach.

a kangaroo sitting on the sandy beach at lucky bay
Kangaroo on the beach at Lucky Bay

Lucky Bay has the whitest sand, which is very soft and squeaks when you walk on it. We had a beautiful stroll up the bay, but the beach was packed with four-wheel drives by the time we got back (you can drive on the beach). Be aware that it is easy to get bogged here, so check the tide times and sand conditions. Drive slow as it is a family beach with lots of young children running and playing on the sand.

aerial view of a sandy bay with turquosie water and a car park with green bushland
Aerial view of Lucky Bay Cape Le Grand Esperance by Tourism Western Australia

The girls went for a swim, but the ocean was too cold for me despite being in the middle of summer. The average sea temperature for January (our summer) is 19°C (66.2°F).

Beach fishing, boating, swimming, snorkelling, and surfing are all popular activities on this beach.

4wds parked along a white sand beach
4wds parked on Lucy Bay beach

The bay was named by Matthew Flinders while exploring the south coast of Australia in 1802. While sailing a dangerous route through the Recherche Archipelago on HMS Investigator, he took shelter from a storm here.

It’s a beautiful beach with clear turquoise water and stunning coastal views of the Southern Ocean. Lucky Bay is known for being one of the best beaches in Western Australia, if not the whole of Australia.

It has been voted as Number 7 in TripAdvisor’s Travellers Choice Top 25 Beaches in the South Pacific, so a must-visit when in Esperance.

There’s a campsite here with unpowered sites, but it gets booked quickly. The fees as of December 2022 are:

A$15 adult per night, A$9 concession card holder per night, A$3 child per night (over 5 and under 16 years). Basic site facilities include toilets and barbecues. Bookings can be made through the Parks & Wildlife Service.

a white sand beach with calm turquoise water lapping onto it and green hills in the distance and a blue sky

3. Hellfire Bay

After spending the morning at Lucky Bay, we decided to check out Hellfire Bay. We parked and walked down to the secluded bay. Again, the sand was white and soft, and the water was bright blue. The huge granite boulders made a spectacular contrast against the blue water.

This picturesque bay  is thought to have been named after St Elmo’s fire – a bluish flame-like electrical discharge that sometimes occurs above ship’s masts.

Unfortunately, the wind had picked up by the time we arrived, and it was too windy to relax on the beach.

It’s a good choice for a picnic with toilets, barbecues and a large picnic shelter with several tables.

white sand bay with turquoise ocean and people swimming with blue skies
Hellfire Bay

4. Wharton Beach

Wharton Beach, the most accessible and most popular surfing beach in the area, is  2 km west of Duke of Orleans Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park.

5. Thistle Cove

Explore Thistle Cove and its sculpted rock formations that capture the sounds of the wind and waves. Captain Matthew Flinders named this bay after the ship’s master John Thistle.

people lying on white sand beach with coliyrful sun umbrellas and the turquoise waves lapping onto the beach on a summers day with blue skies
Thistle Cove by Tourism Western Australia

6. Rossiter Bay

Bird-watchers love Rossiter Bay as flowering thickets attract a diversity of birdlife. It’s also a brilliant beach for beach-combing.

7. Le Grand Beach

Le Grand Beach has a small boat ramp for launching small boats only. It’s another great beach for surfing, swimming, snorkelling, fishing, and diving. Camping facilities are available here, but they book up quickly and can be booked here. We haven’t camped at either spot, but I’ve been told this is the better one out of the two, with flushing toilets and solar-powered hot showers.

large granite headland facing white sand beach with small waves rolling onto beach
Le Grand Beach

8. 4WD along an Esperance Beach

If you own a four-wheel drive and are a confident beach driver, there are a couple of options for beach driving.

We drove along the beach from Le Grand Beach to Bandy Creek Road (about 4km east of Esperance along Fisheries Road). This was an alternative drive back to Esperance rather than the sealed roads out of Cape le Grand National Park. It was around 20km of beach driving before Wylie Bay Road turned off.

view from a 4wd driving along a white sandy beach one of the many things to do in esperance
Driving along Cape Le Grand Beach

Bandy Creek is a popular spot for families as the children can play and swim safely in the creek.

The beach was fairly hard but talk to the Department of Environment and Conservation staff in Esperance before heading out to inquire about beach status and any current warnings.

The other option for beach driving is to head east of Lucky Bay along Rossiter Bay. This drive is more of a challenge as the sand is softer.

tyre tracks along white sand beach on a summers day
The beach near Bandy Creek

9. Hikes

One of Esperance’s best hikes is to the 262 m Frenchman Peak in Cape Le Grand National Park. The hike is a 3 km return, but you should allow two hours to complete the walk up this steep rock. The boardwalk gives you a misleading sense of security before it gives way to gravel and steep, smooth granite rock. You will be rewarded with beautiful coastal scenery from the summit, though.

The Cape Le Grand Coastal Trail is a challenging 20 km one day hike that can be broken up into smaller sections:

Rossiter Bay to Lucky Bay – 6.6km allow 2-3 hours, medium walking. Starting at Rossiter Bay then up and over the first ridge, it provides panoramic views of Lucky Bay’s bright white sand.

Lucky Bay to Thistle Cove – 2.5km allow 1 hour, easy walking. This is the easiest section with spectacular 360-degree views everywhere, including out to the Recherche Archipelago.

Thistle Cove to Hellfire Bay – 4.7km allow 2 to 3 hours, hard walking. This part is mainly granite, which becomes slippery when wet, so take caution.

Hellfire Bay to Le Grand Beach – 6.2km allow 3 hours, hard walking. This is the hardest section, with the trail ascending and descending, often at awkward angles.

a huge granite hill with people hiking to the top
Frenchman Peak

10. Explore Esperance Town & Foreshore

We felt there wasn’t much to do in town. Maybe that’s the attraction. To slow down and take in the beautiful views across to the islands that make up the Recherche Archipelago.

The Adventure Park along the Esplanade is currently in the middle of an upgrade. Once completed, it will feature a flying fox/cableway, a giant swing, a small kid’s playground, and a large adventure playground with a big custom-built ship and climbing elements.

It’s a lovely walk through the Don McKenzie Waterfront Garden and along Taylor Street Jetty with views of Esperance Port. Don’s Lighthouse Sculpture can be found here, built by Andreas Maier to honour the local fisherman.

The Jetty Headland has BBQs, restrooms, and showers for public use and is a great place for a picnic.

The Esperance Visitor Centre is a great place to grab a map, ask for directions, or find out what is on while you are in town. It’s located within the historic Museum Village and is open 7 days a week.

For a unique way to see the highlights of Esperance, this 2-hour guided tour in a motorcycle sidecar takes  in the views of beautiful beaches and Rotary Lookout on Signal Hill.

red and white lighthouse sculpture
Don’s Lighthouse Sculpture

11. Take a port tour

Please note: The Port Tours were suspended due to Covid and as at February 2023 hadn’t resumed. Visit the Esperance Visitor Centre for up to date information.

Port tours are held every Saturday at 1:30 pm from the Port viewing area. It is free, but donations are appreciated.

a port with fishing boats and a walkway along the waters edge
Esperance Port

12. Check out the street art & sculptures

The Esperance foreshore playground is further on close to the Whale tail Sculpture. This art piece was created by artists Jason Wooldridge and Cindy Poole and is the centerpiece of the foreshore. There are quite a few sculptures and murals around the town centre.

street art of an aboriginal elder man wearing a blue shirt
Street Art in Esperance

13. Cindy Poole Glass Artist

If you enjoy art, visit Cindy Poole’s gallery and workshop, located at  23 Longbottom Lane, Pink Lake. It appears there is a fee to visit, which is refunded against the purchase of an item.

artist in gallery with glass art display
Cindy Poole Glass Artist, Esperance by Tourism Western Australia

14. Esperance Museum

Pay a visit to the Esperance Museum for an insight into the history of Esperance. The admission is $8.50 per adult and $3.50 per child, or a family (2 Adults/2 Children) for $20. It is open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm.

a sculpture resembling a whale's tail overlooking a port
Whale Tail Sculpture on Esperance Foreshore

15. Great Ocean Drive

Great Ocean Drive is a 40 km loop that takes in many natural attractions, including beaches, along the Esperance coastline and then inland past the Pink Lake.

It starts at the Cannery Arts Centre & Lookout along the foreshore and follows the road to the Rotary Lookout & Walk trail. This lookout has magnificent 360-degree views of the town and its magnificent beaches. It was very windy when we visited, though! The Great Ocean Drive finishes back in town.

Alternatively, you can explore the attractions individually.

16. West Beach

West Beach is a beautiful sandy bay with rocky headlands. The rock formations are stunning, with alternating light and dark minerals bands that include glistening mica and small deep pink garnets. This beach is popular with surfers and features swimming lagoons between the reef and shore. Watch out for powerful rips and currents.

large granite headland on white sandy beach with green bushes in front near a path
West Beach

17. Chapman’s Point

Chapman’s Point is a surf break for experienced surfers due to the sharp reef.

green heathland by blue ocean and a white sandy bay
Chapman’s Point

18. See Salmon Beach Wind Farm

Salmon Beach Wind Farm is the site of Australia’s first commercial Wind Farm, but only one turbine remains. We have visited other wind farms, so we missed this one out.

19. Blue Haven Beach

The incredible Blue Haven Beach and rugged coastline can be seen from the viewing platform. Then descend the steep wooden staircase to this white sandy bay with turquoise water. This beach is ideal for swimming.

20. Fish off Salmon Beach

Salmon Beach is great to fish but can be dangerous to swim, so it is best to avoid it in rough conditions.

people fishing off a white sand beach with turquoise ocean and waves crashing onto beach
Salmon Beach

21. Surf at Fourth Beach

Fourth Beach is another popular surfing beach just after Salmon Beach. Whales can be spotted here during the Whale Season (July – Oct).

22. Twilight Beach

Twilight Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Esperance. The cove is slightly protected from large waves due to the big rocks just offshore. The beach is patrolled by the Esperance/Goldfields Surf Life Saving Club during summer. Twilight Cove is the safest swimming and surfing beach in the Esperance area but stay in the western patrolled area. Avoid swimming up the beach where waves and rips are more prevalent.

view of green bushes in front of turquoise ocean and large granite rocks in the water
Twilight Beach

23. Observatory Lookout

Our favourite lookout was at Observatory Point. Even driving down the road towards it had amazing views. The wooden stairs lead up to a high vantage point to see the magnificent coastline.

24. Other Esperance Beaches

Further along the coast are Nine Mile Beach, Ten Mile Windfarm, Ten Mile Lagoon, and Eleven Mile Beach. Nine Mile Beach has rock pools perfect for exploring and a great snorkelling spot, whereas Ten Mile Beach is the access point to a “free beach” where clothing is optional.

view of a sandy bay with turquoise ocean backed by green shrubs
Observatory Beach from Observatory Point

25. Pink Lake

Stop at the “Pink Lake“, which is no longer pink but still nice to see. The lookout provides some history and knowledge about the lake and why it has lost its pink colour.

The pink colour was caused by microscopic algae producing beta carotene, which diminished as the salt levels fell due to salt harvesting being stopped. I have read that scientists have plans to try to return the lake to its pink colour.

The pink lake in esperance that is now hard and white
Pink Lake Esperance

26. See Lake Warden

Lake Warden is being touted as the new pink lake of Esperance. It is often mistaken for Pink Lake, which as you can see from above, is no longer pink. Lake Warden is just east of Pink Lake on the other side of South Coast Highway.

aerial view of a lake with orange and pink coloured water
Lake Warden by Tourism Western Australia

27. Visit Pink Lake (Lake Hillier)

The best way to see a pink lake in Esperance is to fly over the world-renowned Lake Hillier on Middle Island.

During this 80-minute scenic flight, you will see 300 km of WA’s coastline as you fly over the town, port, Esperance Bay, past Frenchman’s Peak, and over Cape Le Grand National Park. As the water in this region is so clear, you can see reefs, sandbars, and even sometimes sharks and whales. Your flight takes you through the Recherche Archipelago to Middle Island, home to the world-famous Pink Lake Hillier.

aerial view of a bubblegum pink lake surrounded by green grass and blue ocean
Lake Hillier, Middle Island, by Tourism Western Australia

28. Scenic Helicopter Flight

Helispirit operate scenic helicopter adventures from the Esperance Foreshore over the Recherche Archipelago, Cape Le Grand and Cape Arid National Parks, including Woody Lake, Frenchman Peak, Lucky Bay, Hellfire Bay, Blue Haven, Twilight Bay and Lake Hillier, Middle Island.

Check their website for more information, including operating times.

red helicopter flying over scenic pink lake in esperance western australia
Helispirit, Esperance by Tourism Western Australia

29. Try Craft Beer at Lucky Bay Brewing

Lucky Bay Brewing has a paddock to pint concept – raw barley is sourced from local Esperance farmers and the wheat from farmers in the Esperance region and the West Australian Wheatbelt. This award-winner brewery has a large range of beers for you to try, and why not stop for something to eat with woodfire pizzas and shared dishes on the menu.

As with most WA craft breweries, Lucky bay offers tasting paddles if you want to try four different beers.

On certain days, you can book a Brewery tour and learn all about beer brewing and be guided through the brewing process while tasting some amazing Lucky Bay beers. 

a fire pit with a sign saying lucky bay brewing
Lucky Bay Brewing by Tourism Western Australia

30. Esperance Diving

You can do shore dives in Esperance – the town jetty dive is great to see leafy sea dragons, a large variety of nudibranchs with the jetty pylons covered with soft corals, telestos, and gorgonia.

There’s also the choice of two wreck dives for advanced divers; the Sanko Harvest and the Lapwing.

Esperance is rated as one of the ten best dive locations in Australia!

31. Esperance Island Cruises

Enjoy a scenic wildlife cruise with Esperance Island Cruises  to view the stunning coastline, islands, and wildlife up close.

This family-owned company has been operating since 1983, providing guests a magical experience through the islands of the Recherche Archipelago.

Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

32. Woody Island Eco Tours

Woody Island is one of the many islands that make up the Recherche Archipelago. It is located 15km off the coast of Esperance and takes 40 minutes by ferry. You can either make a day trip to the island or stay overnight in one of the accommodation choices.

This group of 105 granite isles is home to Australian Sea Lions and Rock Wallabies.

More information and ticket prices can be found here.

underwater reef with colourful coral
Woody Island by Tourism Western Australia

33. Esperance Bird & Animal Park and Café

We didn’t visit the Esperance Bird & Animal Park and Café, but it is close to town and a place to take children to pat animals and walk through the aviary. A bag of animal feed is included in the price.

34. Esperance Stonehenge

Esperance Stonehenge always comes up as one of the things to do in Esperance. Coming from the UK, I admit that I don’t understand why. However, it could be interesting to see if you haven’t been to the original or even to compare it to the one in the UK.

You can see it on the way to Cape Le Grand NP.

a modern replica of stonehenge
Esperance’s Stonehenge by Tourism Western Australia

35. Bay of Isles Leisure Centre

Please note the leisure centre will be closed from 26th January, expecting to reopen 13 February 2023.

The Bay of Isles Leisure Centre is an excellent option for things to do in Esperance when it’s raining. There are four heated indoor pools, including a lap pool and a lagoon pool, with a whirlpool, seated spa, and spa pool.

🤩 To Book Tours Direct with the Tour Operators, click the links in the box below

Further Afield

We didn’t have time to visit these national parks during our visit to Esperance. However, if you have longer and want to explore the region, these are a good option.

Stokes National Park

Located 80 km west of Esperance, Stokes Inlet National Park is fantastic for fishing and canoeing.

Peak Charles National Park

The ancient granite Peak Charles, 174 km NW of Esperance, provides spectacular views over the sandplain and salt lakes.

Cape Arid National Park

Head to Cape Arid National Park for pristine beaches, great bushwalking trails, and camping.

Fitzgerald River National Park

Fitzgerald River National Park is between Albany and Esperance and a beautiful place to break up your road trip. We stayed in Bremer Bay and visited Fitzgerald National Park from there. This is one of Australia’s largest and most botanically significant national parks, with nearly 20% of Western Australia’s flora species found there.

rocky beach with blue turquoise water and red rocks
Fitzgerald National Park

Esperance Accommodation

Caravan Park | Budget

We stayed at the Esperance Bay Holiday Park in their Two-bedroom Deluxe Chalet. The unit was spotless, with a self-contained kitchen and reverse cycle air conditioning in the lounge and dining area. The master bedroom had a queen bed and television, while the second bedroom had bunk beds. The bathroom was modern, with a large shower, toilet, and basin. There was parking for our car and a small area to sit outside. The campsite is centrally located, within a short walk of the Esplanade and town. Photos can be seen in the gallery further on.

It was a good budget option, and we would definitely stay here again.

Rating: 8.8


My top pick for mid-range accommodation is the Esperance Chalet Village. These unique chalets, cabins, and shacks are all individually styled and located on the town’s edge.

Rating: 9.1

Private Accommodation

Alternatively, Stayz has a lot of private accommodation in or near Esperance. See options here.

For other options, this article on the best accommodation in Esperance is an excellent resource.

inside chalet at esperance bay holiday park with kitchen and brown tiled floor
Esperance Bay Holiday Park deluxe chalet

Esperance Food & Drink

Some of the Esperance restaurants, cafés, and pubs to try out are:

  • Lucky Bay Brewing
  • Fish Face Takeaway and Restaurant
  • Condingup Tavern
  • Coffee Cat
  • Pier Hotel (we only had a drink here)
brown kangaroo with white stripe of forehead in park
Kangaroo at Lucky Bay


Is Esperance WA worth visiting?

Esperance is worth visiting if you pass close by or are on a road trip from Albany or to/from Adelaide. It’s a long drive from Perth for beaches when there are some amazing ones a lot closer. Obviously, it depends on your expectations and what you would like to get from your visit to Esperance.

What is Esperance known for?

Esperance is known for its stunning white soft sand beaches, rugged coastline, and friendly kangaroos lazing on its pristine beaches.

Can you swim in Esperance?

Yes, you can swim in Esperance. The closest swimming beaches to Esperance are Blue Haven Beach and Twilight Beach. Lifeguards patrol Twilight Beach in summer.

Is the Pink Lake in Esperance still pink?

Unfortunately, the pink lake in Esperance is no longer pink. This is due to salt levels falling when salt harvesting stopped in 2007.

What Ocean is Esperance on?

Esperance lies on the Southern Ocean in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia.

My Thoughts

We spent three days in Esperance as part of our summer Perth to Albany and Esperance road trip. The weather was sunny but very windy. Therefore, we weren’t able to enjoy the beaches as much as we would have liked.

I’m not sure there would be much to do in the wet weather as even some of the hikes would be dangerous.

The three days was enough time for us to see what we wanted. Maybe stay a couple of days longer if you want to hike more or do other activities like surfing or fishing.

Is Esperance worth the drive? At the time, I would have said no, as I’m not good on long road trips with not much to look at. However, looking back on our time there, I’m glad we went and experienced this part of the state.

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