For those looking for a beach-break destination with charm, history, and buckets of natural beauty, Esperance in Western Australia is perfect for you. Let’s unveil all you need to know about visiting this southern coastal town, and discover these 8 fun things to do in Esperance!
Why visit Esperance?
Esperance has plenty to offer for a short break or stopping point in your trip around Western Australia. It makes for an ideal weekend visit from Perth to escape city life and embrace Australia’s Golden Outback. Or, if you’re on a journey along the southern coastline of Australia, add Esperance to your stops to experience all that’s on offer.
With a coastline boasting another dazzling beach at every turn, a unique past, and enough rural space to leave your worries behind, what more could you ask for?
8 Fun Things To Do In Esperance
What’s that? Stonehenge in Esperance?! You read that right.
Right where you’d least expect in Australia’s Golden Outback you’ll find a full size replica of the iconic English attraction Stonehenge. Made from the beautiful pink granite rocks in Esperance, the replica reimagines the remains as they were in their original state 4,000 years ago.
What’s even better, is that you can walk right up to the stones and touch them. Something you certainly can’t do in the British version! What’s more, is that Esperance Stonehenge has been built in a part of the countryside that closely resembles the rolling British hills. If it weren’t for the beach in the distance you’d wonder if you’d stepped back in time!
Entry to Esperance Stonehenge is $10 per adult (cash only). As the stones are built on private property, remember to be respectful and take care during your visit. Take your litter with you, and only park up if you really intend to visit them. You won’t be able to spot them from the road or car park, so don’t try to sneak a peek without paying!
The staff at Esperance Stonehenge are clearly incredibly passionate about their replica. They’ll provide all you need to know about its construction in 2011 and presence in Esperance. They’ll share comparative info to the British version, and explain how they follow similar practices and traditions to mirror the original. If you want to know even more, the well-stocked gift shop has a book with facts and details!
Esperance Stonehenge is only a 20 minute drive from the town itself, and it’s even on the route to Cape Le Grand National Park so it’s perfectly positioned to add to your trip’s itinerary. With the tagline “closer than you think” Esperance Stonehenge is a novel idea that brings a piece of the Northern Hemisphere to the south.
Road trip the Great Ocean Drive
As you drive along the coastline around Esperance you’ll wish you could pull over at every corner, it’s all so gorgeous! You can give your road trip direction by planning a visit to the various lookouts around the coast.
For a double-whammy view of two bays for the price of one, head to Chapman’s Point. From the small car park from just off Twilight Beach Road head along the short footpath to the outstanding lookout points on the headland. Views of West Beach and Blue Haven Beach flank either side, giving a perfect panoramic view of the coastline.
The short walks through the bushland here are a nice way to break up a coastal drive and stretch your legs. And, of course, see the beautiful views!
Observatory Point offers similarly outstanding views of Observatory Beach and the expansive coastline. Additionally, this lookout has its own significance in history making it an especially worthwhile visit. Observatory Point was named by the French explorers on the ships the Esperance and the Recherche as it was the first safe sighting of land during a terrible storm on their ventures around Australia. If it wasn’t for the safe anchor at Observatory Island just off the mainland, the crew may not have survived. Visiting this part of Esperance sheds some more light on the European history associated with the area, making it more than just a beautiful spot of nature!
The lookout carpark is accessed from Twilight Beach Road and by driving down the steep road to the gravel parking area. From there, you can follow the boardwalks up to the lookout itself, or down to the beach! We found the lookout quite busy with lots of visitors. Conversely, very few people made the walk down to the beach which we had all to ourselves.
Rotary Lookout is a short drive up the hill from the seafront of Esperance. Once at the car park, you’ll see the lookout atop a few steps. From there you can enjoy 360 views of the bay and town! Around the area there is also a path to walk along the coastline and to meet the cliff edge, offering spectacular ocean views. Be careful in the area, as the rocks may become slippery when wet.
The position of the lookout makes it a worthy spot to enjoy a sunset. Pack up a picnic and head over to enjoy the last light of the day admiring the beautiful surroundings.
Learn about Esperance’s history at the Museum
There’s nowhere quite like a museum to dive into a location’s past. You can discover all sorts of weird and wonderful things at small town museums, and Esperance is a shining example.
Sat right by the main road of cafes and shops, just a stone’s thrown from The Esplanade is Esperance Museum on James Street. Entry is $8.50 per person, and you can be assured that costs will go to a good cause covering the maintenance of the museum.
If you’re as fortunate as us, you’ll be greeted by an enthusiastic elderly gentleman who clearly knows anything and everything about Esperance. With a warm welcome and map in hand, it’s time to venture inside.
Esperance museum is basically a jumble sale where nothing’s for sale.
What’s inside Esperance Museum?
The large warehouses are packed with items, many of which are gifted by local families and collectors.
In the first hall, the displays focus on Esperance as a port town. You’ll find stories of the naming of Esperance and the surrounding areas, shipwrecks, the Recherche Arichpelago, and more. You’ll also get to understand a bit more about the marine life that lies beneath the surface of those vivid blue waves. Alongside the displays, there are cabinets brimming with shells and precious stones gathered by a handful of residents passed down through generations.
Moving on to the main hall, there is barely an inch of wall space spare. Yet more residents who’ve donated entire homes-worth of stuff! At first sight the room looks like a complete mess of disorganised items, but it’s actually very well managed. There are areas dedicated to the ANZAC soldiers from Esperance, sections for each room in the home throughout history to get a sense of what life in Esperance was once like, and so much more.
A favourite display is that of the Skylab space station debris that crashed onto Esperance in 1979, causing quite the stir in the town and across international news.
While most of the artefacts on display have useful tidbits of information, lots of the information is anecdotal provided by the previous owners. Each item tells its own story of how it came to be in Esperance. Although it can leave you wondering about its meaning and use, you at least get a sense of Esperance’s charm and community that lives on through these belongings.
Stroll along The Esplanade
Walking along The Esplanade in Esperance is the perfect chance to admire the towns waterfront.
You’ll come across the Whale Tail sculpture by Cindy Pool as a reminder of the town’s artistic side. From afar it’s a striking subject with an ocean background. Up close, the coloured glass and finely crafted wood is just as marvellous.
Continuing on, you’ll come across Adventureland Park, home to the Ministeam Express Esperance and a small recreation area. This miniature steam train adds even more small-town charm to Esperance than before. Open only in school holidays and weekends (we missed it unfortunately!) it’s a novel activity for everyone, not just for train enthusiasts and kids!
Just up the road from Adventureland Park is the Don Mackenzie waterfront garden. This simple but alluring garden is ideal for an evening walk along the harbour. With a novelty lighthouse and unique wooden sculptures it’s clear how much attention and care has gone into this garden.
Scenic Flight to Middle Island & Lake Hillier
By far one of the best things to do in Esperance is enjoy its outstanding natural beauty. A unique way to do that is to take a scenic flight over the Recherche Archipelago. Flying over this collection of islands, you’ll head to Middle Island where you can see the bubble gum pink hues of Lake Hillier!
This natural phenomenon is truly a remarkable sight. Caused by a salt-loving algae in the water, the lake’s colour has drawn people to the island for years. The lake is best seen from above on a the 2 hour trip by Goldfield Air Services. You’ll learn plenty of facts along the way, and witness some spectacular scenery along the WA coastline.
At $385 (AUD) per person this activity doesn’t come cheap. However, if you have room in the budget it’s an experience I can’t recommend highly enough. Flying in an 8-seater plane you’ll have an intimate, informative, and incredible time!
Beach hop along the bays and coves
No one goes to Esperance without visiting the beaches. The best beaches in Esperance are the epitome of perfection in every way. You’ve got brilliantly white sands, the bluest waters imaginable, lapping waves ready to be surfed, and sloping rocks for an added aesthetic element.
I do have to mention the incessantly irritating flies, though… If you visit between October-December you’ll be sure to find hundreds at every beach. They like moisture so will try to aim for your face as often as possible. It’s unpleasant, but try not to let it detract enjoyment from your trip and just keep swatting.
Bring bug spray and expect the flies to be everywhere! They like dark colours so if you can wear lighter clothes that might help.
There is truly a beach to suit everyone. Whether you like the rough expanse of Observatory Beach, or the calm corner of Blue Haven Beach, find your favourite by trying them all!
Many of the beaches in Esperance have facilities such as toilets, and all have a clearly signposted car park. This means you can drive between the neighbouring sections of coastline with ease. The beaches are also close enough together that you can see them all in a few hours, ideal if you’re short for time.
Day trip to Cape Le Grand National Park
Just 1 hour’s drive from Esperance town is Cape Le Grand National Park. For $15 (AUD) per car entry you can spend the day exploring the beaches and coves of the park, take a hike up Frenchman’s Peak, or drive and see where the never-ending road takes you!
Note: you can pay by cash or card at the entrance to the national park, but cash is quicker and easier for the staff.
A visit to Cape Le Grand is a real escape from the town and urban life left far behind. It’s just you, nature, and the local wildlife! If you wanted to really embrace the park, you can camp at either Le Grand Beach or Lucky Bay for $15 per adult ($9 concessions and $3 children). That way, you can maximise your time and won’t have to rush if there’s more you’d like to see and do. At some of the bays you can also drive on the beaches. Do note that you can’t do this in a rental vehicle, and only 4×4 drives can go onto the sand.
Like many places in WA, there are wild kangaroos that roam freely around the park! Drive with care, especially at dusk and dawn when the ‘roos are most active and likely to cross the roads.
Talking of kangaroos, there’s an especially awesome thing to do in Esperance which is…
See the kangaroos at Lucky Bay
Yep, there are kangaroos that live on a beach in Esperance! Seeing the kangaroos at Lucky Bay is a must-do activity in the area, and one that many visitors put at the top of their list. Lucky Bay is in Cape Le Grand National Park, and is by far the most popular spot. And for good reason!
As mentioned, cars can drive onto this beach and park up alongside a small cafe van (perfect for an afternoon ice cream!). Many visitors will bring a picnic, play music, swim, and generally enjoy the beautiful outdoors on the beach. Then, when the sun is lower and the temperature cooler, you might spot a handful of friendly kangaroos hopping around the beach! Take care not to pet them, as friendly as they are the are still wild animals. You can take lots of photos though, I know I did!
The kangaroos like to stay near the seaweed for a snack, so stick around these areas for the best chances to see them.
Not only are there kangaroos that like to come and nibble the seaweed at Lucky Bay, they do so on the whitest sand in Australia. Could this beach get any better?! The fine quartz sand is so pure it sparkles and squeaks as you move on it, making it feel like walking on another planet. It’s fair to say that Lucky Bay wins the nature prize for most Aussie beach!
Getting to Esperance
There are generally 2 ways to visit Esperance; by car or by plane. Both have their advantages and challenges, but whichever way you choose to visit Esperance you can be sure the journey will be worth it!
Perth to Esperance Flight
Flights to Esperance depart pretty much daily from Perth, and with a flight time of 1.5 hours it can be a time-efficient way to explore this part of WA. Domestic airlines such as Regional Express (ReX) will charge around AU$270-$300 per person for a return flight. While this isn’t the cheapest means to reach Esperance, it is by far the quickest.
The alternative to a Perth to Esperance flight would be to go by road. Whether you choose to self-drive on a road trip or catch public transport, both are lengthly journeys!
Perth to Esperance Drive
Driving from Perth to Esperance in your own vehicle would take around 7.5 hours. There are some notable points of interest along the way, such the Wave Rock in Hyden around the halfway mark. Additionally, if you wanted to stop overnight there are limited camp grounds and hotels but it’s very doable.
If you’d like to drive to Esperance from Perth and if the time allows, I’d recommend taking a road trip down to Margaret River and the South Western corner of WA. Destinations like Yallingup and the Cape to Cape tourist drive offer amazing views and a different climate to the rest of the state. You could enjoy wine tasting, delicious seafood, and fantastic natural scenery. From the south west, drive along the coastline to Albany and then onwards to Esperance to really embrace the WA south coast.
Avoid driving at dusk and dawn in WA as this is when kangaroos are most active and out on the roads. Driving at these times poses a risk to both the wildlife and yourselves so take extra care if driving at these times.
Esperance can also be reached from the east if driving from South Australia and the Nullabor. If you’ve got the time and driving will-power, why not right?!
Perth to Esperance by Public Transport
Lastly, it is possible to reach Esperance from Perth via public transport on the TransWA bus services. To do this, catch the train from the city centre to Armadale and then an onwards bus to Esperance. The journey takes about 9.5 hours from Armadale, and an adult return ticket costs around $200. With buses running only a few times in the week, you’re better off catching a flight for a fraction of the time and only a small increase in cost. However, for the environmentally conscious traveller, the bus might be preferable to flying.
Where to stay in Esperance
There are a number of hotels in Esperance in the centre of town. Due to their prime location and relatively low competition, prices can be from AU$320-$520 per night, putting it on the higher end of budgets. The benefit of these hotels is their proximity to the beautiful Esplanade and beachfront, as well as the local cafes and restaurants.
If you have access to a car (highly recommended to get around Esperance!) then staying at an Airbnb slightly out of the centre would lower costs. This gorgeous guesthouse in West Beach is a stone’s throw from the nearest beach, a 20 minute walk to the centre of Esperance, and has a pool! At AU$434 for 3 nights we were thrilled with this find and would really recommending staying here.
If you’re travelling in a camper or caravan, then Esperance also has plenty of campsites for a low entry fee too. The campsites in Cape Le Grand National Park are especially popular, and cost just $15 per adult.
Where to eat in Esperance
Despite being a small town, Esperance has a diverse range of eateries to enjoy.
- For a quick takeaway fix, Ricardo’s pizza is deliciously tasty with an abundance of choices to suit all tastes. We tried to order online and had multiple errors, so it might be worth taking a trip down there to order in person.
- Taylor St Quarters is a charming old tea room sat right on the harbourside of Esperance. With pub-grub and a relaxed atmosphere, it’s the perfect spot for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Get yourself a window seat if possible to watch the gentle waves on the waters outside as you enjoy your meal.
- If you’re after a simple yet effective cafe, then Ocean Blues restaurant is perfect. With views across the ocean and a no-frills menu, you’ll certainly find something for everyone here. I recommend the veggie breakfasts to set you up for the day!
- Brown Sugar Cafe is right on Dempster Street alongside all the quirky shops and charming cafes in Esperance. Another classic menu awaits, and you’ll definitely get your money’s worth if the veggie breakfast is anything to go by – we were stuffed!
- For a quick pitstop in your day, Anywhere Cafe can do a range of foods and drinks while you enjoy more ocean views while set back from the Esplanade.
Plus, there are plenty more options we didn’t get to try ourselves along The Esplanade and Dempster Street. Simply wander the few streets of Esperance and you’ll definitely see something that takes your fancy.
Note that many cafes and restaurants in Esperance are closed on Mondays. Either stock up the day before or be prepared to go hungry!
If you have the facilities at your accommodation, you could also save costs by going to the local Woolworths supermarket and grabbing a few ingredients to cook up a treat at home, or have a casual evening enjoying a BBQ.
How Much Should I budget for a trip to Esperance?
There are aspects of Esperance that can be expensive, and others more budget-friendly. This breakdown shows what we spent for 4 days away for 2 people.
- Return Perth – Esperance flights: $566
- Budget car rental 4 days + insurance: $372.96
- Airbnb entire guesthouse 3 nights: $434.44
- Scenic flight for 2 tickets: $777.70
- Attraction entry fees: $52
- Petrol: $40
- Food & drinks: $266.36
($1,245.48 per person)
As you can see, the majority of our expenses went to flights and accommodation. Transport and our main activity (the scenic flight) also were a big contribution to the overall cost.
If you wanted to visit Esperance on a strict budget, then dormitories in hostels or low-cost campsites combined with cutting out the more expensive excursions would drastically reduce costs.
I hope you enjoyed this summary of things to do in Esperance all the info you need to plan your visit!
Fancy a trip to Esperance after seeing these awesome activities? Which one will be first on your to do list?
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