We live an hour from Lancelin and so have made the day trip numerous times. One of our favourite things to do in this coastal town is exploring the Lancelin Sand Dunes surrounding the town.

Wangaree, as Lancelin was originally called, was once a tiny fishing settlement and is now home to over 700 people. However, this number significantly increases on weekends and school holidays when Perth residents head out of the city for a more relaxed beach lifestyle.

The beach shacks give Lancelin a distinct holiday vibe, although some are replaced with modern double-storey holiday homes.

Lancelin Sand Dunes hold the Guinness World Record for the largest convoy of off-road vehicles organised by Lancelin District Community Association (Australia) on 15 October 2016. Lancelin also holds the World Record for the longest windsurfing race at 13.83 nautical miles.

Another record for Lancelin is that the world’s oldest message in a bottle was found 30 km north of Lancelin in January 2018. A scrolled note was inside a bottle that was thrown overboard from the German ship Paula in 1886.

Not bad for a small town!

huge white sand dunes

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Lancelin Directions

Lancelin is 127 kilometres north of Perth, on the west coast of Western Australia, in the Shire of Gingin.

From Perth, Wanneroo Road, which turns into Indian Ocean Drive (State Road 60), leads all the way up to Lancelin. You will need to turn left onto Lancelin Road, which takes you into the town. The journey will be about 1 hour and 40 minutes from the centre of Perth. Most of the road is single lane, apart from overtaking lanes, and can be dangerous due to road trains and slow moving vehicles towing caravans or boats. Take care when overtaking.

Once out of the suburbs, the road passes bushland and opens up to agricultural fields. In winter and spring, the fields are green, but summer and autumn brings the hot weather and dry land. There are a few rest stops on the side of the road where you can pull over for a break and stretch your legs. You pass the turn off for Guilderton (Moore River), but it’s a 14 km detour, so I would suggest leaving Moore River for another day.

The best way to get to Lancelin Sand Dunes is by car or tour. If you are arriving from overseas or interstate, there are car hire companies at Perth airport. We usually use Hertz or Europcar as they offer the most competitive pricing with a good reputation.

road with dry fields of grass
Dry fields in summer on the way to Lancelin

Lancelin Sand Dunes

Lancelin Sand Dunes are the largest in Western Australia, around 2 km long, and the main attraction in Lancelin. They consist of soft white sand with no vegetation making them perfect for sandboarding.

As you drive into Lancelin, you will see an Information Bay with a map and signs showing what there is to do in Lancelin, along with directions on how to access the sand dunes. Entry into the dunes is free of charge and they are open from 8 am to 7 pm.

Lancelin Sand Dunes are right behind the town and easy to get to from the main road. A dirt track leads to an open sandy area where you can park a 2-wheel drive vehicle at the base of the dunes on hard rock. You can see a photo of where to park on Lancelin Tourism‘s site. Do not drive anywhere else, or you may get bogged. If you don’t feel confident driving on the base of the dunes, you can park on Bootoo Street and walk about 300 metres.

If you have a hire vehicle, check with the company before, as most won’t let you off sealed roads.

Four-Wheel drives can go into the sand dunes, but you must take extreme care as deaths have occurred here. The dunes are continuously changing due to strong winds, creating huge drop-offs of 10 to 15 metres. Make sure you assess the dunes before driving over them (in your car or bikes).

Legally, you can only use the licensed off-road section, which is shown as you enter the dunes. It can be unclear, though, as there aren’t many fences or signs in the sand dunes to indicate where this part is.

directions to lancelin sand dunes

If you don’t have a sandboard, you can hire them at the sand dunes. You can reserve sandboards here and collect them from 7 am every day of the week. It’s a fun activity for families with kids as young as five enjoying sandboarding on the dunes. You can either sandboard sitting down or standing up, although we didn’t manage to stand! It’s harder than it looks and you do need a sandboard, boogie boards or cardboard won’t work. It also helps if you wax your board before going down.

It’s a popular free thing to do, so the dunes do get crowded, especially on long weekends and school holidays, so be prepared to share the dunes with sandboarders, 4-wheel drivers, bikers, and dune buggies.

people sandboarding on sand dunes

Make sure you come prepared as there aren’t any facilities here (including toilets). As it gets very windy, I would recommend sunglasses to minimise sand being blown into your eyes and reduce the glare of the bright white sand. Wear lightweight clothing as you will get sandy and insect repellent for the flies. These microfibre sand-free towels are fantastic, and we always take our reusable water bottles that keep your water cold all day.

You do require a decent level of fitness as once you slide down the sand dune, you have to climb back up which is hard work. Some of the dunes you will be sandboarding down are 40m high.

If sandboarding isn’t your thing, it’s a beautiful spot to sit on a dune and gaze at the panoramic views of the dunes, town, beaches, and islands. It’s spectacular at sunset when the sun sinks into the Indian Ocean.

If you love adventure, book this 2.5 hour Buggy, Quad Bike, Motocross and Sandboard tour. You get to experience it all in one tour.

quad bikes on sand dunes

Other Activities and Things To Do in Lancelin

Beaches & Islands

Back Beach is the most popular beach in Lancelin. You can access it with a 4wd from a track off Fisher Way or walk over the dune from the car park. This beach is popular with surfers, boogie boarders, bodysurfers, kite surfers, and swimmers. However, it is not patrolled, and there can be strong rips along the coast. As with all of the WA waters, there’s a small risk of a shark attack. In July 2012, surfer Ben Linden, aged 24, was tragically killed by a Great White Shark off Wedge Island, near Lancelin. Australian Geographic have tips on how best to avoid a shark attack. The main ones are:

  • Do not wear shiny swimwear or accessories and try to wear bland, darker colours.
  • Avoid swimming, surfing, or kayaking alone.
  • Be aware of entering the water after a storm or heavy rainfall.
  • Avoid swimming or surfing at dawn, dusk or night.

However, the risk is very small and you have more chance of drowning than being attacked by a shark.

The best months for surfing are March, April, May, June, October and November, but you can read more on the surf forecast site.

There are two islands off the mainland, Lancelin Island and Edwards Island. Lancelin Island is the largest, 700m offshore, which you can access with your boat. You are only allowed on the eastern and western side beaches and the boardwalk that crosses the island. Despite being used as a bombing target last century, it is now home to many birds. It’s the second most diverse seabird breeding island in WA after Pelsaert Island in the Abrolhos.

Edwards Island (also known as Edward Island) is located between 50 and 150 metres from the shore, depending on the time of year. Like Lancelin Island, it’s an A-Class nature reserve and home to many birds. Access to Edwards Island is prohibited.

A lovely beach walk is from the north point to the south end of Lancelin Bay. The 5.4 km return walk should take under an hour.

aerial view of sandy beach and coastline
View from Lancelin Lookout

Windsurfing (Sailboarding) & Kitesurfing

During summer, the roaring winds make Lancelin one of the best windsurfing and kitesurfing spots in Western Australia and is mentioned on the International Windsurfing Circuit. This seaside town hosts Australia’s largest windsurfing event, the Ocean Classic, attracting some of the best windsurfers and kite surfers from around the world. 

The best time to visit Lancelin for kitesurfing is from December to early February when there are strong afternoon south-easterly winds. Most kitesurfers set off from Grace Darling Park, where there’s parking, a rigging area, and a public toilet/shower.

kite surfer in the ocean

Lobsters and Fishing

Since 1950, Lancelin has been a lobster fishing town with around 20 commercial boats licensed to catch crayfish (lobster) now. You can buy live crayfish from the boats when they dock at the jetty. Orders are taken online, and prices will depend on supply and demand but expect to pay from $25 to $150 per crayfish depending on the size (smalls through to jumbos). There’s also a guide on the website for how to handle and store live crayfish.

Amateurs can catch lobster year-round with the appropriate license. You should check with the Fisheries Department for more information.

If you fish at the jetty, you may catch Herring, Whiting, Squid, Tailor and Samson fish. Beach fishing can provide some good catches, especially at the north point around dusk.

Lancelin’s waters are calm generally in the morning, which provides the best conditions for boats. Lancelin doesn’t have a boat ramp, but you can launch either side of the jetty. Launching and retrieving can be tricky, so be prepared. If you plan on going outside of the bay, you should only cross the reef by the prescribed paths and advise Lancelin Volunteer Marine Rescue of your plan on VHF 22 or VMR688.

A Fishing Charter Boat Tour allows you to try your luck at game fishing and to try to land Snapper, Baldchin Groper, or Dhufish.

Be aware that the Demersal ban runs from October 15 to December 15 inclusive. This means that you can’t take any Demersal fish (e.g. Snapper, Dhufish, Baldchin Groper) during that time.

Snorkeling and Diving

The protected waters provide ideal conditions for snorkeling and diving and are teeming with fish due to many reefs. Fourteen shipwrecks lie along the coast, creating some incredible dive trails for experienced divers.

Lookout

The new Lancelin Lookout is situated just north of the Lancelin Beach Hotel and has a car park at the foot of the path. This wooden boardwalk is a great vantage point to see the beautiful beaches, and the view is even more magical at sunset, although it’s more crowded at this time.

wooden boardwalk leading to lookout

Lancelin Tours

I think the Full Day Pinnacle Desert Explorer from Perth Including Hillarys and Lancelin Sandboarding Tour provides the best experience. It includes lunch at the Lancelin Beach Hotel, sandboarding, and a visit to the Pinnacles.

Lancelin Accommodation

As we always visit Lancelin as a day trip from Perth, we haven’t stayed in any accommodation. However, these would be my picks if we were to stay there.

Hostel – Budget

Private Accommodation

I use Stayz rather than Airbnb as they are often cheaper, and I have used them for over ten years now.

Lancelin Hotel

Lancelin Camping Grounds & Caravan Parks

Camping on the beach is discouraged by regularly patrolling rangers who can impose heavy fines.

Lancelin Motels

I don’t recommend any of the motels in Lancelin. They don’t have great reviews, and I think that you can find better quality accommodation for a similar price through Stayz or Booking.Com

Where To Eat

When researching where to have lunch in Lancelin, I noticed that most cafes, pubs, and restaurants had mixed reviews. Here are some of the options, but I would read the comments on Tripadvisor. We ended up driving to the Seabird Tavern (the fish and chips were good).

We did look in at the bakery, but it was empty, and the food didn’t look very appetising. Have A Chat General Store is a better option, in my opinion.

tavern with table and chairs overlooking the ocean
Views from the Seabird Tavern

Visiting Lancelin With Your Dog

If you are travelling with your pet, there are a few pet-friendly accommodation choices in Lancelin:

You can also take your dog on most beaches in Lancelin but check this list of On-Lead and Off-Lead Dog Exercise Areas.

The Offshore Cafe and Store and the Endeavour Tavern are dog friendly.

Lancelin Visitor Information

The Lancelin Visitor Information is located at the Lancelin Community Resource & Visitor Centre, 117 Gingin Road.

Lancelin Weather Forecast & Tides

Lancelin weather is slightly warmer than Perth, hot in summer and cold in winter with strong afternoon sea breezes. You can find the latest 7-day weather forecast on the Bureau Of Meteorology site and details of the tides at Tide Forecast.

Lancelin’s history

I would like to respectfully acknowledge the Yuat People, the Traditional Owners, and First People of these lands. I would like to pay my respect to the Elders past, present, and future, for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture, and hopes of the Yuat People.

In 1658 a Dutch ship, the Vergulde Draeck (Gilt Dragon), was wrecked on rocks near Ledge Point. Abraham Leeman landed on Lancelin Island later that year, searching for the missing ship.

French explorer, Jacques Felix Emmanuel Hamelin, named Lancelin Island in 1801 after the scientific writer PJ Lancelin.

The first European settler in the area was John Hopkins, who made money from fishing in 1928. This attracted more people, and by 1947 several cray-fishing boats were operating from there. It became a holiday camping destination around this time and was most likely when the shacks were built.

Despite being known as Wangaree, meaning fish in the local Aboriginal language, the town’s name was changed to Lancelin in 1954. During this year, the Lancelin Inn, later the Lancelin Beach Hotel, was opened.

The Lancelin Defence Training Area was established in the 1940s and is still used by the Australian Defence.

Flights

plane flying over a beach

I use different sites to try and get the best possible price for flights.

First I visit matrix.itasoftware.com to get an idea of the cheapest dates, but you can’t book through this site.

Next I compare the cost of flights with Trip.com and try different routes.

Accommodation

Lancelin Sand Dunes - How To See Them & Other Things To Do

I mainly use Booking.com for accommodation as they consistently have the lowest rates with free cancellation on most properties.

Car Hire

black car

To compare rental car company prices, I use Rentalcars.com. They are the world’s biggest car rental site, comparing all main brands including Europcar, Budget, Ace, Hertz, Avis, and Alamo.

Travel Insurance

Lancelin Sand Dunes - How To See Them & Other Things To Do

Don’t travel anywhere without travel insurance, it’s not worth the risk.

Travel insurance: simple & flexible

You can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from over 130 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

Travel Information & Guides

This Australia Travel Guide, which includes all essential information and tips, will help with the planning of your holiday to this beautiful country.

If you are looking for more things to do in Western Australia, check out this Western Australia Travel Guide.


If you found our article helpful, please consider booking through one of our links. It won’t cost you anything but will help towards the cost of running this site. Thank you 🙂

photo of bike on sand dunes with text how to visit lancelin sand dunes

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21 Comments

  1. I have to say I am slightly disappointed. I was reading the whole post looking forward to see a photo of you all doing sandboard :(.
    You know something funny? I know I did sandboard but I cannot really recall where ahahahahah. The part of eating lobster sounds also fantastic. I would be scared of driving through the dunes, I will get stuck for sure.
    Great post Wendy, thanks for sharing as always :).

    1. Well I was too busy trying to not make a total idiot of myself to worry about photos. Sandboarding in Lancelin was a lot of fun though.

  2. John Quinn says:

    The dunes look really superb and I would be well up for the sand boarding. It’s a sport I’ve not yet tried. That’s a cool story about the message in the bottle. If only it could tell it’s adventures.

    1. I’m not the best at sandboarding but the views from dunes in Lancelin are amazing and it’s great for off road adventures too.

  3. I think if I lived in Perth, I would be visiting Lancelin frequently at weekends. It looks beautiful and there is so much to do. I have never tried sandboarding but reckon I would give it a good go. Is it like skiing or snowboarding but on sand? Fun! Peter would want a 4×4 to do the driving, but I think I would leave him to it. I love that there is a Grace Darling park. I grew up on stories of Grace Darling! I wonder how that came about?

    1. Grace Darling Park was named after the vessel Grace Darling that was wrecked off the coast of Lancelin. I was hesitant about 4wd but we did a course and I’m now a lot more confident. I couldn’t stand up but it looks like it would be more like snowboarding.

  4. How lovely that you live an hour away! I’ve never been to any sand dunes before so I’d love to see Lancelin. Great tips on being a bit fit, 40m is a long way to climb!

    1. Yes we are lucky to live quite close to here (WA is so vast). It’s certainly a workout climbing sand dunes,

  5. Vanessa Shields says:

    What an awesome location with so many fun activities! I’m actually going sandboarding next week so I’m excited to try it. It’s incredible that a message in a bottle over 100 years old was found there! I’d definitely enjoy spending some time at the beach and explore diving after sliding down some dunes!

  6. Oh, my gosh that kitesurfing photo! So cool! I’m not a big fan of sand…but sand dunes might need to be on my list! Thanks for this!

    1. I love the view from the top of the sand dunes. Driving up and around them is a lot of fun too.

  7. This is so cool, sandbourding sounds amazing 👏 one more thing to add to our WA collection of things to do when we get back.

  8. Australia is so incredibly diverse! The Lancelin dunes look amazing. I would love to read a German message in a bottle from 1886!

  9. Ive never heard of Lancelin but love all their claims to fames with the records! Sand boarding sounds …like you’d get sand stuck in weird places but did you say lobsters??? It may be worth it in the end 🙂

  10. Wow, it looks like quite an incredible place! I would love to take my drone to the sand dunes, and watch a sunset from the lookout, even if it may not be as nice as in your picture if super crowded!

    1. Your drone would take some incredible footage of the Lancelin sand dunes.

  11. It just shows that small towns can be world-beaters! What an amazing place, and so much to do. I’ve never tried sand-boarding before but I’d give it a go. And I’d definitely be up for a fishing trip.

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