This list of things to do on the West Coast of Australia is a guest post by Ann.
Australia’s west coast is packed full of incredible sights to see and plenty of bucket-list-worthy experiences to be had.
With an endless number of pristine white sand beaches to choose from, many jaw-dropping natural formations, and a huge World Heritage-listed coral reef to explore, there really is no shortage of amazing things to do on the west coast of Australia!
Read on to discover nine of the very best highlights, all of which can easily be seen on an epic road trip from Perth to Exmouth. These sites are located along the Coral Coast Highway which spans from the small town of Cervantes and runs for 1,250km along the scenic coastline to the town of Exmouth.
9 Amazing Things To Do on the West Coast of Australia
1. Lancelin Sand Dunes
Only 1.5 hours of driving north from Perth will take you to Western Australia’s largest sand dunes. Within the relaxed beach town of Lancelin, you’ll find these beautiful dunes right next to the ocean.
The spectacular sight of crisp white sand dunes against a blue sky backdrop creates the ultimate setting for an adrenaline-filled day of flying down the steep slopes on a sandboard.
This is by far the most popular activity that Lancelin is known for but if sandboarding isn’t your thing, you can also explore the dunes by quad bike, relax by the beach, and watch a stunning sunset from WA’s best beer garden, the Endeavor Tavern.
Entrance to the sand dunes is free and boards can be hired for $12 per person for 2.5 hours, board rentals can be booked from this website. Keep in mind that the best time for sandboarding in Lancelin is early to mid-morning to avoid strong coastal winds.
Where to Stay – The Lancelin Lodge is centrally located and a popular place to stay with a pool, beach volleyball court, and a shared BBQ. Sandboard and bike rentals are available there too. With friendly hosts and easy-going vibes, you can’t go wrong here!
2. Pinnacles Desert – Nambung National Park
One of Western Australia’s most iconic natural landmarks, the Pinnacles Desert is a true wonder to behold. It’s located within Nambung National Park which is a two-hour drive north of Perth and makes for an excellent day trip.
Stretching out over 17,000 hectares of land, this vast desert is home to thousands of limestone formations, some of which rise up to 3.5-meters tall! This unique and impressive landscape gives you the surreal feeling of walking on another planet.
The best way to see the Pinnacles Desert is to either follow the 4-km driving loop that runs through the national park or explore the desert by foot. Make sure to stop at a few of the lookouts for some amazing views looking out over the Pinnacles and the Indian Ocean.
If you’re looking to spend the night near the Pinnacles, the nearest town is only a 30-minute drive away. The small seaside town of Cervantes is well-known for its delicious seafood, specifically lobster. You cannot visit Cervantes without stopping at the Lobster Shack!
Where to Stay – The RAC Cervantes Holiday Park is a good option if you’re camping or traveling by RV. If you’re looking for a place to stay with a bit more comfort, The Pinnacles Edge Resort will suit you well, offering all of the amenities including comfortable rooms, a restaurant, bar, and a swimming pool.
3. Kalbarri National Park
The coastal town of Kalbarri is full of natural beauty and offers many exciting outdoor adventures. Kalbarri is a 5.5-hour drive from Perth which means that spending a few days there is ideal if you want to experience the most of this amazing place.
Go for a day hike in the national park to explore the ancient gorges, take a dip in the sparkling clear water at Chinaman’s Beach, and watch the sun sink below the horizon from the spectacular sea cliffs just outside of town. Kalbarri is such a special place that deserves a spot on everyone’s WA bucket list.
Here are some of the best natural formations and gorge lookouts within the national park:
⦁ Nature’s Window
⦁ Kalbarri Skywalk
⦁ Z-Bend Lookout
⦁ Hawk’s Head Lookout
All of these attractions are easy to reach via sealed roads and designated parking lots. The views of ancient gorge walls leading down to the flowing Murchison River are simply breathtaking and can be seen from all of the above-listed spots.
Nature’s Window is a particularly famous WA landmark and features an impressive natural arch perched on the top of a cliff. It costs $15 per vehicle to enter Kalbarri National Park.
Where to Stay – Looking to escape into nature? Murchison House Station offers a peaceful bush camping experience next to the Murchison River. Kalbarri Edge Resort caters to those seeking more of a resort-style vibe with easy access to the beach, shops, and restaurants in town.
4. Pink Lake – Hutt Lagoon
Seeing a vibrant bubblegum-hued lake is such a magical and unearthly experience that one cannot miss when visiting the West Coast of Australia! Located only 30-minutes from Kalbarri, right next to the small fishing village of Port Gregory, this pink massive lake stretches over 15 km along the coast.
The lake’s unique color is caused by carotenoid-producing algae called Dunaliella salina, this is also used as a food coloring agent. The best time to see Hutt Lagoon is around mid-day when the sun is at its highest and no clouds are in the sky. If you visit during an overcast day, the lake will not appear very pink.
Hutt Lagoon is open to everyone and it’s free to visit. There is a designated lake viewing area but there are plenty of other spots where you can park your car on the roads around the pink lake and walk to the water’s edge.
Swimming in Hutt Lagoon is not very commonly done as it is quite shallow in most parts. You can walk through the lake but be aware that the bottom is covered with sharp salt crystals so it’s best to wear shoes to avoid getting your skin cut.
Why not get a different perspective and take a scenic flight above the pink lake? The lake often appears even more vibrant from above and this will also allow you to see the beautiful contrast of the turquoise ocean and pink lake.
Where to Stay – It’s best to tie in your visit to the pink lake with a trip to Kalbarri since it’s so close. As you make your way from Perth to Kalbarri, you will drive directly past the pink lake and can easily stop in for a visit.
5. Francois Peron National Park – Shark Bay
The Shark Bay region is a designated World Heritage Site that covers a number of islands and peninsulas about halfway up WA’s coast.
There are many awesome things to see in Shark Bay however one of the best and most unmissable attractions here is Francois Peron National Park.
This is where you will be able to see the striking contrast of bright red cliffs, white sand, and turquoise water. There are several spots within this park where you can see these colorful landscapes; Cape Peron at the far end of the park and Big Lagoon which is quite close to the park’s entrance.
Big Lagoon is a beautiful sheltered bay with gorgeous calm turquoise water which is great for launching kayaks or SUPs. Cape Peron has direct beach access and a number of epic viewpoints where you can spot a variety of marine life from.
Access to this national park requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle as the terrain throughout the park mostly consists of soft sand.
Where to Stay – Big Lagoon has a basic campsite that runs on a first come first serve basis. There are drop toilets, BBQ facilities, and a sheltered cooking space all located on the shores of the picturesque lagoon. You can also choose to stay at the popular RAC Monkey Mia Resort and take an easy day trip to Francois Peron National Park.
6. Monkey Mia Dolphin Interactions – Shark Bay
Don’t miss a chance to get up close to dolphins when you’re in Shark Bay! Without a doubt, one of the best things to do on the West Coast of Australia, the dolphin interactions in Monkey Mia provides the amazing opportunity to meet and feed a group of adorable wild dolphins.
These friendly dolphins will swim right up to the shore at the Monkey Mia Resort every day at certain times when a ranger comes to feed them a small amount of fish. A few people will also be selected to hand-feed them some fish. They are only fed small amounts so that they remain wild and still continue to hunt on their own.
The feeding sessions begin at 7:45 am and continue at select times until 12 pm. There is no cost to feed the dolphins however you must pay to enter the Monkey Mia Conservation Park, costs can be found on the official Shark Bay website.
Where to Stay – The most convenient option is to stay at the RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort, this is right where the dolphin feedings take place. The resort offers accommodation to suit every type of traveler, from basic campsites to hostel dorms and even private beachfront villas. There is a restaurant and bar on-site and the beach there is beautiful too, keep your eye out for the odd emu strolling around.
7. Ningaloo Reef Snorkeling Trip – Coral Bay
One of the biggest highlights of traveling the West Coast of Australia is snorkeling or diving on the UNESCO Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef.
Located just off the shores of Coral Bay and Exmouth, this is the world’s largest fringing reef. There are few places in the world where you can find a coral reef like this one so close to the shore.
A diverse range of marine life can be seen on the Ningaloo Reef such as turtles, reef sharks, many colorful fish, manta rays, and even whale sharks! If you visit this area between the months of April and July, you’ll be lucky enough to see whale sharks swimming around the reef.
One of the best things to do when visiting Coral Bay is taking a snorkeling tour. A variety of amazing day trips can be booked through Coral Bay Eco Tours however the most popular ones by far are the Whale Shark Safari and the Manta Ray Tour. Swimming alongside these majestic sea animals is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If you’re not a fan of getting in the water but still want to see the reef, perhaps booking a glass bottom boat tour would suit you better. Alternatively, a scenic flight over the Ningaloo Reef would also be a great option.
Coral Bay is a popular holiday town, ideal as a stop on your West Coast road trip (it is an 11-hour drive from Perth) but also makes for the perfect getaway on its own. Besides the incredible Ningaloo Reef, the beaches around Coral Bay are simply stunning and worthy of a chilled day of swimming and lounging.
Where to Stay – Stay right on the beachfront at the lovely Ningaloo Reef Resort. This resort features comfortable rooms with aircon, a pool, restaurant and bar. If you’re camping check out Coral Bay’s most popular caravan park, Bayview Coral Bay. This is a huge campground located close to the Coral Bay shops and only a short walk from the beach.
8. Turquoise Bay – Exmouth
The list of things to do on the West Coast of Australia wouldn’t be complete without including one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches. The soft white sand and vibrant water of Turquoise Bay make it the perfect place to spend a relaxing day at the beach.
Turquoise Bay is known for more than just its beauty, the coral reef that can be easily accessed only meters from the shore is full of life. You can expect to snorkel with sea turtles, thousands of colorful fish, reef sharks, and more.
Be aware that this is a drift snorkeling area which means you will be carried across the reef ending up in a different spot than where you started from. You should only try snorkeling here if you’re an experienced swimmer, in some areas the current can become quite strong.
Turquoise Bay is located within Cape Range National Park, about 60 km from the town of Exmouth. Getting to Exmouth can be done by driving around 13-hours from Perth or choosing to take a short flight with Qantas.
Where to Stay – There are a number of amazing beachfront campsites near Turquoise Bay that can be booked through the WA Parks website. These campsites don’t offer any amenities such as toilets or showers but the freedom of camping on the beach is the perfect escape!
Yardie Homestead is a great caravan park to stay at located only 25-minutes away from Turquoise Bay. The other option is to base yourself in Exmouth and take a day trip from there.
9. Charles Knife Canyon Gorge – Exmouth
Explore more of the fantastic Cape Range National Park by visiting this spectacular gorge. A 25-minute drive from Exmouth will bring you to the entrance of a winding road that leads you upward along the edge of Charles Knife Canyon Gorge.
Follow the road until you reach the Thomas Carter lookout which is the highest point in the national park. Panoramic views over the ocean and gorge can be seen here however a number of jaw-dropping lookouts can also be found along the drive. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking here and if you have a drone, this is an epic spot to put it to use.
You can access this road without a four-wheel drive but keep in mind that it does turn to gravel and become steep in some areas which makes it more challenging for a car. You could park your car at one of the lower lookouts and continue by foot if the terrain becomes too difficult to drive on.
Where to Stay – The RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park is the perfect place to stay for campers and those traveling with families. Choose from a number of accommodation options ranging from basic campsites to luxury cabins.
Mantarays Ningaloo Beach is a great choice for those who aren’t camping. It’s centrally located in Exmouth and features beautiful rooms with ocean views, an infinity pool, and all the amenities you could wish for.
Ann is the other half of The Road Is Life where she blogs with her partner Rick about travel and living a minimalist lifestyle. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Ann has spent many years living abroad and solo traveling to 45 different countries.
She is currently based in the beautiful city of Perth, Western Australia where you’ll often find her on a road trip, exploring the most stunning beaches and landscapes that Australia has to offer.
Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad and epically failing at the American Dream since 2011. Her sassy yet informative blog, Where in the World is Nina? is all about how to work abroad to live a more adventurous life. If you want to travel longer you have to work to wander.