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Holiday You: The Seascapist

Holiday You: The Seascapist

You’re lying on soft white sand, the sun beating down on your skin. You snooze to the sound of lapping waves, until someone hands you an ice-cold drink.

It’s a good thing you like to make the most of your time off, 4WDing to a secluded beach, fishing off a boat, catching the swell, or snorkelling with local marine life. On lazy days, you can be found oceanside, sipping a drink and soaking up the rays. You enjoy the occasional restaurant meal, but are most comfortable firing up the barbie to cook the day’s catch. Your go-with-the-flow approach makes Western Australia a dream destination, with beaches that put even the world’s finest destinations to shame – minus the crowds.  From a road-trip up the Coral Coast to dive with whale sharks, to a fishing expedition off the Montebello Islands, or a surfing getaway down south, you’ll be spoilt for choice for your next seascape!

ISLAND ESCAPES

Nothing says ‘relaxation’ like a getaway to a remote island – no phones, no emails, just you, a pair of bathers and a palm tree. With many world-class wonders dotted off our coastline, make sure you add these island destinations to your travel wish list. 

The Basin, Rottnest Island.

Rottnest Island

LOCATION Rottnest Island is located 19km off Perth, and is 11km in length and 4.5km in width.
ATTRACTIONS Rottnest is a Class-A Reserve, and home to 63 sheltered beaches and 20 bays. Strickland, Salmon and Stark bays are best for surfing. For a relaxing swim, head to the clear waters of The Basin, Little Parakeet or Geordie bays. You can also take up snorkelling to view the 400 fish species, or hike the hills (check out the Wadjemup Lighthouse). The native marsupial quokkas are
also a must-see, but take care not to touch them.
FISHING Fishing is allowed in some areas on Rottnest, however the fisheries are heavily policed. Make sure you check the rules dictating where to fish and what you can catch. There are free brochures on the island, with maps and rules clearly explained.
HOW TO GET THERE A 45-minute boat ride with Rottnest Fast Ferries from Hillarys Ferry Terminal, a one-hour boat ride from Perth, or a 30-minute trip from Fremantle with Rottnest Express. Once you’re on the island, bicycles are the most popular mode of transport. Punters can also purchase an all-day pass for the hop-on-hop-off Island Explorer Bus.
ACCOMMODATION You can moor and stay overnight on your boat – Geordie Bay or Marjorie Bay are sheltered spots. On the island, book in advance for peak periods. Options include camping, bungalows, cabins, rooms and dorms at Rottnest Hostel and Hotel Rottnest. The Rottnest Lodge offers a variety of comfortable options plus a bar and restaurant.

The Rottnest Lodge.

Woody Island

LOCATION Woody Island is one of the hundreds that make up the Recherche Archipelago. The island is located 15km offshore from Esperance.
ATTRACTIONS A fisherman’s dream, Woody is also great for snorkelling. Don’t miss Twiggy’s Landing while you’re there, and take a glass-bottomed boat tour to see even more.
HOW TO GET THERE A 30-minute ferry trip, direct from Esperance’s Taylor Street Jetty in peak periods.
ACCOMMODATION This is the only island in the archipelago with accommodation. Camp at the designated campsites, or stay overnight at its eco-friendly retreat, complete with elevated safari huts. 

Abrolhos Islands

LOCATION The Abrolhos Islands are located 60km west of Geraldton, and span 100km of ocean. The 122 islands are clustered into three groups: Easter, Pelsaert and Wallabi.
ATTRACTIONS With a dazzling array of marine and birdlife, the Abrolhos are unbeatable for nature lovers, as well as fishing and diving enthusiasts. If you’re lucky, you may spot some sealions, bottlenose dolphins, and even a migratory whale. History buffs and divers will be keen to learn about the famous Dutch East Indies ship Batavia, which was wrecked there in 1629 and makes an amazing dive. The Abrolhos Islands are more an adventure destination than resort island getaway.
HOW TO GET THERE By boat from Geraldton, or you can fly to Wallabi Island. There are many tour companies in the area that offer full-day tours through to five-day charters. There’s a public jetty at East Wallabi Island, and the East Wallabi airstrip is available for private aircraft use.
ACCOMMODATION If you do choose to stay the night, it will have to be on the boat. There is no public accommodation on the islands, and camping is strictly forbidden. Accommodation is available in Geraldton, 424km north of Perth.

 Snorkelling at the Houtman Abrolhos Islands (photography Tourism WA).

 

Dirk Hartog Island, Shark Bay

LOCATION Dirk Hartog Island, in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, is 80km long and up to 15km in width.
ATTRACTIONS Located in the protected Ningaloo Reef Marine Park, the island is great for fishing, self-guided nature walks, snorkelling and whale-watching. As a national park, the island is also good for exploring native wildlife, much of which has been re-introduced.
HOW TO GET THERE Boat cruise from Denham, flight from Monkey Mia, or 4WD barge from Steep Point.
ACCOMMODATION Stay at the lodge, or take your 4WD across and camp at one of the sites.
FACT This is the spot where Dirk Hartog recorded the first European landing on the west coast of Australia. For more details, see our Culture Vulture feature (p118), or our guide to Shark Bay (p310).

Dirk Hartog Island (photography Australia’s Coral Coast).

 

Montobello Islands

LOCATION 20km north of Barrow Island, and 130km off the Pilbara Coast, this group is made up of 174 small islands.
ATTRACTIONS A famous site for nuclear testing in the 1950s, the Montebello Islands are a fascinating place to visit. Remnants from the military operations can still be found on the southern end of Hermite Island, but visits to test sites should be limited to one hour per day because radiation levels are still slightly elevated. Visitors also go to the island for game fishing and diving.
HOW TO GET THERE Boat charter from Exmouth and Coral Bay.
ACCOMMODATION Stay on your boat, or camping is permitted on Hermite, Primrose, North West, Bluebell, Crocus, and Renewal islands for up to five nights, within 100m inland of the high-water mark.

The Montebello Islands.

Mackerel Islands

LOCATION 22km from Onslow (south of Karratha), 1400km north of Perth. Made up of 10 small islands.
ATTRACTIONS Turtle lovers, look no further – the Mackerel Islands are an annual breeding ground for green and flatback turtles, which can be seen laying their eggs from mid-October. The island is also great for snorkelling, swimming, fishing and lapping up the sun on its secluded beaches.
HOW TO GET THERE A 45-minute boat ride from Onslow, or by charter flight, available from Exmouth, Karratha, and Onslow. Moorings are at Thevenard and Direction islands.
ACCOMMODATION On Thevenard Island there are 12 self-contained beach cabins, or visitors can stay at Club Thevenard, a 30-room accommodation village (closed between November and March). Alternatively, book the only beach cabin on Direction Island, where you and five companions can enjoy the island to yourselves.

Buccaneer Archipelago

LOCATION Off the coast, west of Derby, the Buccaneer Archipelago consists of 800 to 1000 rocky islands.
ATTRACTIONS The area is known for its monster tides, which rise and fall every six hours by up to 12m. Visitors can experience this phenomenon at Talbot Bay, and even ride the raging whitewater that rushes through the gap in the islands at the Horizontal Falls. Visit the islands to experience some breathtaking rock art.
HOW TO GET THERE By boat or air from Broome, Derby or Kununurra.
Accomodation On board one of the luxury ships or cruise liners that visit the island. Cape Leveque offers cabins and camping.

Flying Fish Cove, Christmas Island (photography Christmas Island Tourism Association).

Christmas Island

LOCATION A lot further out to sea in the Indian Ocean – 2623km west of Western Australia, and 360km south of Jakarta.
ATTRACTIONS Christmas Island is a nature-lover’s paradise. From October to January, see millions of red crabs as they migrate across the island they call home. You can also check out the array of birds and animals that have developed in isolation out there, and take part in nature work, play golf and scuba dive.
HOW TO GET THERE Approximately four hours’ flight from Perth.
Accommodation Plenty of cabins and lodges are available for bookings.

Coco Keeling Islands

LOCATION In the Indian Ocean, 2750km northwest of Perth (southwest of Christmas Island).
FACTS Never heard of these two circular atolls of islands, boasting lagoons full of tropical fish? You have now! Atop a range of extinct volcanos that include Christmas Island, the Cocos Keeling Islands are an offshore territory of Australia, home to a small community of expat Aussies on the 15km long West Island. Across the lagoon on Home Island, you’ll find a wonderful tiny community of 400 Cocos Malay, who speak the old trading Malay language of the East Indies as well as English.
ATTRACTIONS Natural, uncrowded stretches of endless, sandy beach; warm waters teeming with precious marine life in a kaleidoscope of colours; peace and quiet; palm and coconut trees; far horizons and tropical weather (24-30 degrees all year round) under perfect skies. Wildlife includes turtles, graceful manta rays, bottlenose and spinner dolphins and dugongs. Diving puts you among gardens of hydrocorals, soft corals, sea fans, sea anemones, stony corals and black corals.
On land, you can also spot the purple land crab, red hermit crab and horn-eyed ghost crab. Tours, snorkelling, windsurfing, walks, fishing and scuba diving are just some of the great activities.
HOW TO GET THERE Flights from Perth via Learmonth go three times a week.
ACCOMMODATION On West Island, there’s self-contained holiday houses, bungalows, cottages, villas, apartments and a budget-style motel. Book six to 12 weeks in advance – visit cocoskeelingsislands.com.au.

Prison Island, the Cocos Keeling Islands (photography Chris Tate).

 

The Rowley Shoals

LOCATION The Rowley Shoals Islands are located 260km west of Broome, on the edge of the continental shelf, south of the Timor Sea, encompassing three isolated, pear-shaped coral cays surrounded by coral reefs (Mermaid Reef, Clerke Reef and Imperieuse Reef).
ATTRACTIONS The spectacular reefs at Rowley Shoals are known as some of the most remote and pristine in the world. The reefs boast more than 600 species of fish and 200 coral varieties, making them the ultimate diver’s playground. Visitors can also birdwatch, swim, surf and fish (except at Mermaid Reef), and take snaps of the Imperieuse Reef Lighthouse. The average water temperature is 27 degrees.
HOW TO GET THERE Travel by boat from Broome. Several cruise companies in the north west offer six-day tours of the islands.
ACCOMMODATION The only way to stay at Rowley Shoals is aboard a boat.

The Rowley Shoals (photography Nigel Gaunt).

 

UNDERWATER ADVENTURES: DIVING & SNORKELLING

Drift weightlessly in an underwater wonderland of colourful coral gardens and curious fish. Spot turtles and manta rays, dugongs, perhaps even a whale shark. Divers will go mad for WA, with so many wrecks and untouched reefs yet to be explored. It’s world-class diving, without the crowds or pollution.

Top 3 bucket-list dives

1. NINGALOO REEF
The warm, clear waters around the 260km-long, heritage-listed Ningaloo Marine Park are home to 500 species of fish and 300 types of coral, along with reef sharks, dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles, dugongs and migrating humpback and killer whales. Oyster Stacks and Turquoise Bay rank amongst the park’s best – and most picturesque – snorkelling sites. The strong daily currents allow snorkellers to drift slowly past the coral, taking in the watery world below. The reef is easy to access from Coral Bay and Exmouth at Cape Range National Park

Diving at NIngaloo Marine Park (photography Tourism WA). 

 

2. THE ROWLEY SHOALS MARINE PARK
Also listed as one of the world’s best diving sites, the Rowley Shoals rise vertically out of the water, sitting on the remains of three volcanoes, 180 nautical miles west from Broome. Under the water, you will be awestruck by the masses of colourful coral, including at least 28 species of staghorn coral alone.

Fish life at Rowley Shoals (photography Danny Messom).

 

3. BUSSELTON JETTY
Many species of fish can be seen here, from crabs, shellfish, shrimp and starfish, to clingfish and jewfish. The 2km jetty was originally built in 1865 and is now known as one of Australia’s greatest artificial reefs. Easily accessible, with depths of only 8m, the jetty is suited to novice divers. There is even an underwater observatory on site for the kids.

New Marine Parks on the Kimberley Coast

The Kimberley Coast is one of the most pristine marine environments in the world, ranking alongside Antarctica and the Arctic in terms of freedom from human interference. WA’s Environment Minister Albert Jacob has committed to creating four new Kimberley marine parks – North Kimberley, Roebuck Bay, Horizontal Falls and Dampier Archipelago – in the region by the end of 2016. The parks will protect 48 per cent of Kimberley coastal waters, and almost treble the area of the state’s marine parks to 4.1 million hectares. Get to know your WA marine parks, and where you can and can’t fish and play, at dpaw.wa.gov.au/management/marine/marine-parks-and-reserves. Learn how you can explore the Kimberley region via scenic flights, tours and cruises in our guide on p338.

The Horizontal Falls.

 

Desert Oasis

KARIJINI NATIONAL PARK Take a refreshing dip in the clean fresh waters at Fortescue Falls, Dales Gorge, and Fern or Circular pools, or plunge into a natural spa pool at Hamersley Gorge.
GIBB RIVER ROAD Bell Gorge is famed for its waterfall. Not far from the track, cool off in Lennard, Adcock or Barnett River gorges, and swing from the rope into Galvans Gorge.

Meet the snubbies

The newly declared marine park of Roebuck Bay is home to a huge pod of more than 130 friendly snubfin dolphins, a species endemic to Northern Australia. These little cuties have a prehensile neck, which means they can turn their heads and smile at you! It’s rumoured that Sir David Attenborough will be filming the dolphins for a new doco in 2016. You can meet them on the Roebuck Bay Eco Tour, the first snubbies tour in Australia. The dolphins (one family in particular) love the boat, and will come right up to say hello. Call (08) 9192 8163 or visit broomewhalewatching.com.au.

Wrecks

BATAVIA The famous ship lies beneath four to six metres of water at Morning Reef off Beacon Island (Abrolhos Islands) near Geraldton, making it a suitable choice for beginners through to experienced divers.
CHEYNES III Located off the coast of Albany, this wreck is split into two in 23m of water. The ex-whale chaser is home to a diverse range of marine life.
LENA A former illegal shipping vessel, this is situated near Bunbury beneath 18m of water.
SOUTH TOMI This 57m confiscated fishing vessel was scuttled in 2003 off Geraldton to serve as an artificial reef and dive attraction.
HMAS PERTH A former 133m guided missile destroyer, scuttled into King George Sound, Albany. This 35m-deep wreck dive is suited for experienced divers.
GUDRUN Located in the Shark Bay Marine Park, this has been taken over by brightly coloured corals and fish.
CITY OF YORK Wrecked in 1899, 200m off Cape York Bay at Rottnest Island.
SANKO HARVEST This wreck is the largest off the Australian coast, and the second-largest wreck in the world. The Japanese-owned 174m ship sank near Esperance in 1991. Today, the wreck sits in 30-40m of water. Suitable for experienced divers only.
HMAS SWAN The first deliberately prepared dive wreck in the southern hemisphere, HMAS Swan sank off the coast of Dunsborough in 1997. It rests 30m below sea level in an upright position.

The wreck of the HMAS Swan.

Cave diving

WA is blessed with a number of underwater caves, including the jewel of Australian cave-diving, Cocklebiddy Cave on the Nullarbor Plain. Recently the cave was named as one of the top 10 dive locations in the world, and with good reason; divers describe the water as so clear you won’t even realise you’re underwater... it’s the closest experience to space travel you’ll get. The cave stretches 6.5km and is the longest underwater passage in the country. Only experienced open-water divers should consider cave diving, but that’s not to say you can’t aim to cave dive in the future. Head to cavediving.net.au to check out courses in WA and various associations in Australia. 

Diving the Cocos Keelings Islands

As a dive destination, the Cocos Islands ticks all the boxes: water temperature between 26 and 29 degrees; average visibility of 25m; more than 25 uncrowded, regularly dived sites including wrecks, reefs, caves and drop-offs; and 1550 species of sea creatures, including the Cocos pygmy angelfish. Snorkelling on Cocos is great for all ages. As your own aquarium comes alive in protected waters, you’re likely to see clams, sea stars, sea urchins, rock cod, basslets, butterflyfish, bannerfish, angelfish and parrotfish. Book all dives at cocoskeelingsislands.com.au.

Cocos angel fish (photography Takako Uno and CKITA).

 

Don't miss: swim with whale sharks

Imagine plunging into the open Indian Ocean and coming face-to-face with a speckled, bus-sized whale shark. It’s possible each March to July, at the stunning heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef, off the coast of Exmouth. The region has become one of the world’s most reliable destinations for whale-shark encounters, thanks to the annual coral spawn that enriches the waters with plankton for the whale sharks to feed on. These gentle giants can be up to 12m, weigh 20 tonnes and reach 100 years old, and snorkelling alongside them is one for the top of the bucket-list. If you’re lucky, you’ll have long swims with multiple whale sharks on your tour – enough time to take in the dot painting-like pattern on their thick skin and their tiny dark eyes that seem to peer back at you just as curiously as you look at them.

 

CAST A LINE: BOATING & FISHING

With endless fertile waters along the coast and islands, fishing in WA offers
a vast amount of possibilities. Here are the best places to cast your line, and what you can expect to find. See our regional guides for more details.

Offshore

COCKBURN SOUND Pink snapper and crab can be caught
when they are in season.
ROTTNEST ISLAND Dhufish, blue manna crab and western rock lobster are just some of the species here.
MONTEBELLO ISLANDS Catches can include marlin, blue-line emperor, sailfish and blue bone (restrictions apply to the Montebello Islands Marine and Conservation Park).
DAMPIER ARCHIPELAGO Portions are open to recreational fisherman
who hold appropriate licences. Expect red emperor, coral trout, and northwest snapper.
HOUTMAN ABROLHOS ISLANDS Think western rock lobster, dhufish, snapper, baldchin groper, coral trout and more.
KALBARRI Another great spot for fishing, turning up the likes of dhufish, yellowfin tuna, Spanish mackerel and snapper.
EXMOUTH Home to five different types of rock lobster and all the Australian billfish species.
COCOS ISLANDS Try fly-fishing for bonefish or trevally up to one metre long. Pelagics such as wahoo, mahi-mahi, sailfish and tuna can be hooked, along with sweetlips, silveries, cod and mullet.

West Australian dhufish off Exmouth (photography Tourism WA).

 

Onshore

JURIEN BAY You can expect skippy, whiting and mulloway.
THE TANKER JETTY IN ESPERANCE There are many fish that can be caught here, especially herring and squid.
LEEMAN Also known as a cray-fishing town.
DESPERATE BAY White herring, tailor and bream can be caught from the beach.
AUGUSTA Great for salmon and herring. Head to Ringbolt Bay for squid and Skippy Rock for (you guessed it) skippy.
PALM BEACH IN ROCKINGHAM Popular catches including herring and scaly mackerel.
BUSSELTON JETTY Think large tailor, bonito and bluefin tuna.
OCEAN BEACH IN DENMARK Good for skippy, herring and mulloway.
Conspicuous Beach near Walpole Accessible by 4WD only. Catches include tailor, herring, and occasionally salmon in the cooler months.

Freshwater

BLACKWOOD RIVER A great fishing trip where you can pitch a tent close by at Alexandra Bridge.
PEMBERTON If trout is your thing, this is the place to catch it. You can also head to Big Brook Dam for seasonal marron fishing.
WARREN AND DONNELLY RIVERS, WALPOLE AND NORNALUP INLETS MARINE PARK  All boast a high diversity of fish species.
WELLINGTON DAM Located in Collie, this dam is perfect for redfin and trout.
HARVEY DAM AND LOGUE BROOK DAM Harvey Dam and Logue Brook Dam Great for fishing and marroning.
FITZROY RIVER in Kimberley. Catch the local favourite, barramundi.

Spearfishing

Allowed only in unprotected ocean waters, spearfishing is the most environmentally friendly form of fishing, and can be great fun once you’ve done your research. For the best tips, contact one of the many spearfishing clubs and associations in WA.
OUR RECOMMENDATIONS Check out Exmouth to catch parrotfish, mangrove jacks, mackerel and tuna, or Dampier, Coral Bay and Albany for dhufish. Margaret River and Geraldton are best for trout, snapper, dhufish, fox fish, baldchin and groper.

Must know

FISHING REGULATIONS The Department of Fisheries (fish.wa.gov.au) has strict guidelines and licences required for lobster, abalone, marron, freshwater fish, fishing south or north of Margaret River, bag limits, sizes, and boating. Rule-breakers can expect to pay hefty fines.
BOATING TIPS A good place to start is myboatinglife.com.au.
NAVIONICS APP Track the tides and your position, save your fishing locations, plan your trips, and measure fuel consumption.
FISHING CALENDAR An iPhone app that combines weather, solar and lunar data to predict conditions.
FISHING KNOTS LITE A great app that teaches you how to properly tie a knot in your fishing line.

Houseboating

Why not combine your love of fishing and boating and hire a houseboat for a week for your next holiday? Many companies don’t require a skipper’s tickets – all you need to bring is food, water and fishing gear!
Mandurah House Boats (Mandurah, Peel Inlet, Murray River, Harvey Estuary)
(08) 9535 9898, houseboatsmandurah.com.au.
Dolphin Houseboat Holidays-Blackwood River Houseboats (Augusta)
(08) 9758 0181, blackwoodriverhouseboats.com.au.
Ord River Houseboats (Kimberley) 0418 168 592, ordriverhouseboats.com.au.
Houseboat Holidays (Walpole) (08) 9840 1310, houseboatholiday.com.au.

HIT THE BEACH: SWIM & SUP

The simple things in life are often the best, and Western Australia is blessed with so many beaches you’ll never tire of exploring them. Swim, SUP, or simply sit by the shore and gaze out to sea.

Top 10 Beaches

1 CABLE BEACH, BROOME
A 22km sandy stretch with clear water, gentle waves and sunsets that are out of this world (plus a nudist beach).

2 LUCKY BAY, ESPERANCE
Located east of Esperance in the Cape Le Grand National Park, Lucky Bay’s sand is among the world’s whitest. Even the kangaroos head to the shore for some sunbathing.

3 SHELL BEACH, SHARK BAY
Tiny white shells of cockle species have washed up on this 60km shore to a depth of seven to 10 metres. Shell Beach is one of only two beaches of its kind in the world.

Shell Beach.

4 COTTESLOE BEACH, PERTH
Surrounded by enchanting Norfolk Pines, this has several swimming areas sheltered from waves by a rock wall. After a dip, get a drink and a bite at the bustling cafe strip across the road.

5 TURQUOISE BAY, EXMOUTH
This is the place for snorkelling, with the Ningaloo Reef and hundreds of tropical fish species coming up as close to the shore as 10m. 

6 ELEPHANT COVE, DENMARK
The small cove has a cluster of tall boulders that look like elephants. In calm conditions, Elephant Cove is a fantastic, secluded swimming spot.

Elephant Rocks.

7 EIGHTY MILE BEACH, BROOME TO PORT HEDLAND
Actually closer to 140 miles (220km), this stretch of beach is perfect for fishing, 4WDing and shell collecting.

8 YALLINGUP BEACH, MARGARET RIVER
Great for surfing, and with a lagoon for swimmers, this beach has golden sand and views of distant sea cliffs.

9 THE BASIN, ROTTNEST ISLAND
Named one of the country’s most idyllic swimming beaches, this natural reef pool is perfect for the family. 

10 DOLPHIN BEACH, MONKEY MIA
Get up close with the dolphins. Get there early (from 7.45am to noon).

Yallingup (photography Digital Love Photography)

 

Rent a Stand-up paddleboard

Where there is a glassy surface, you can SUP, and both humans and dogs enjoy this deceptively vigorous activity around WA's beaches and rivers each summer.

PERTH AND SURROUNDS
Elemental SUP 0410 142 878, elementalsup.com.au
Stand Up Paddle Sports (08) 9244 4162, standuppaddlesports.com.au
SoulKite 0413 275 058, soulkiteaustralia.com
Stand Up Surf Shop (08) 9335 5636, standupsurfshop.com.au
Windforce Watersports (08) 9386 1830, windforce.com.au
Stand Up Addiction (08) 9329 9333, standupaddiction.com.au
KSS Scarborough Beach (08) 6161 3544, kitesurfsup.com.au
Mandurah Boat and Bike Hire (08) 9535 5877,
mandurahboatandbikehire.com.au

SOUTH AND NORTH
Capricorn Sea Kayaking 0427 485 123, capricornseakayaking.com.au
Yallingup Adventure Co 0497 085 123, yallingupadventureco.com.au

 

AIR TIME: KITE AND WINDSURFING

With a coastline buffeted by the winds of the Indian Ocean, WA boasts several of the world’s best locations.

Top spots

GERALDTON Consistent summer winds have earned Geraldton the title of the country’s windsurfing capital. Conditions are so perfect that hundreds of windsurfers and kitesurfers from across the globe descend each year to experience the thrill of the racing across the water on a sail- or kiteboard.
LANCELIN Home of the legendary Lancelin Ocean Classic, its world-class wind and wave conditions are perfect for testing novices and professionals.
GREEN HEAD South Beach, Dynamite Bay and a string of sandy beaches are exposed to some of the strongest coastal winds in summer.
CERVANTES Beyond the famous Pinnacles of Nambung National Park, you’ll find some of the best smooth-water windsurfing and kitesurfing on the Coral Coast.
GNARALOO, CORAL BAY Some of the longest wave rides in WA can be found here, at the southern end of World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef.
NINGALOO Sheltered by the largest fringing reef on Earth, the beaches and bays of Ningaloo Reef offer some of WA’s best flat-water conditions.
PERTH On Perth’s 19 beautiful beaches, you’ll find wind and wave action during the summer months.
SWAN RIVER The life-giving artery of Perth, this is also a haven for watersports enthusiasts of every kind.
MARGARET RIVER Indulge your windsurfing passion at the home of some of WA’s most consistent breaks. Surfer’s Point is perfect for windsurfing, and there’s excellent kiting between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste.
ESPERANCE Long beaches and enormous bays, sheltered by the untouched islands of the Recherche Archipelago, offer stunning locations to surf.
BROOME Kitesurf off Cable Beach.
COCOS ISLANDS The lagoon comes alive during the winter months of July to October, when the southeast trade winds bring ideal conditions for kitesurfing and windsurfing.

Windsurfing schools

2nd Wind Sailboards, Attadale (08) 9317 2916, 2ndwind.com.au
Werner’s Hot Spot Windsurfing Hire & School, Lancelin 0407 426 469
wernershotspot.blogspot.com.au
Windforce Watersports, Nedlands (08) 9386 1830, windforce.com.au

PADDLING, CANOES & KAYAKS

Paddling a kayak or canoe is a great way to explore the waters of WA. We recommend taking a guided tour of the sites in remote areas.

Where to launch

Ord River; Ningaloo Reef; Murchison River; Murray River; Swan River; Penguin Island, Rockingham; Avon River; Harvey Dam; Collie River; Preston River;
and Blackwood River.

Paddling tours

Gecko Canoeing, Ord River 0427 067 154, geckocanoeing.com.au
Go Wild Adventure Tours 1300 663 369, gowild.com.au
Water Wanderers East Perth, Swan Valley, Ascot Waters
0412 101 949, waterwanderers.com.au
Penguin Island Sea Kayak Tour (08) 9591 1333, penguinisland.com.au
Rivergods Monkey Mia, Ningaloo Reef, Broke Inlet and Penguin Islands (08) 9259 0749, rivergods.com.au
WulaGudaNyinda Eco Adventures, Shark Bay 0429 708 847, wulaguda.com.au
Blackwood River Canoeing, Nannup (08) 9756 1209,
members.westnet.com.au/blackwoodrivercanoeing/
Capricorn Sea Kayaking, Seal/Penguin islands, Ningaloo, Meelup, Walpole, Shark Bay 0427 485 123, capricornseakayaking.com.au

Kayaking at Ningaloo Marine Park (photography Tourism WA).

 

SURFING

Get to know your way around the world class waves of Margaret River and the top surfing spots up and down the coast

Top spots

DOWN SOUTH Yallingup, Surfers Point, Smith’s Beach, The Three Bears
or The Box in Margaret River; North Point in Gracetown.
FURTHER SOUTH Denmark, Bremer Bay, Esperance reefs and West Beach.
AROUND PERTH Try Trigg, Cottesloe or Scarborough, Strickland Bay off Rottnest Island or Eddie Island and Back Beach in Lancelin, North Coast.
CORAL COAST Ningaloo Reef, the left-hand ledge at Gnaraloo, Yardie Creek near Exmouth, the Bluff in Geraldton and Jake’s Point in Kalbarri.

Seasonal breaks

SUMMER The famous Surfers Point and Grunters in Margaret River.
WINTER Red Bluff, north of Carnarvon; Jake’s Point, Kalbarri; Ocean Beach, south of Denmark; Abrolhos Islands (charter boat from Geraldton).

Photography russellord.com.

For beginners

THE RIVERMOUTH, MARGARET RIVER Despite the seaweed, the wave is a fun ride and only a 25m paddle offshore.
REDGATE BEACH, MARGARET RIVER Great for kids, the waves are clean
and will give you a nice long ride.Beware of busy summer weekends.

Surfing events

MARGARET RIVER CLASSIC One of the longest-running surfing competitions in the state, this is a great weekend away with plenty of social events at local taverns. It’s free for spectators.
DRUG AWARE MARGARET RIVER SURF PRO This World Championship Tour,
held in April, sees guaranteed participation of the top 32 ranked male, and top 18 ranked female surfers in the world. It’s the WA equivalent of Hawaii’s Banzai Pipeline.
HIF PRO AM SERIES This awesome three-event surfing series is held between February and July, and travels to some of the state’s best surfing locations, including Margaret River, Geraldton and Rottnest Island.

Tip  Head to Surfing WA’s website for a list of surf schools. surfingaustralia.com/wa/

 

For the thrill

Suitable for experienced surfers only, these breaks are guaranteed
to get the heart racing.

NORTH POINT, COWARAMUP BAY, Gracetown In prime conditions,
the break is arguably one of the heaviest and best right-handers in WA, and has been deservedly named a world-best location among pro surfers. It’s not uncommon to see two barrels on one wave.
THE BOX, MARGARET RIVER Surf at The Box and you’re asking for
a beating, but get a good ride and you’ll be hooked. Its name reflects the square barrel shape that’s formed from the shallow, often exposed reef slabs.
SUPERTUBES, YALLINGUP Intermediate surfers will relish the right-hand tubes, which generate enough power to get you grinning. Be warned: the reef is shallow.

North Point (photography russellord.com).

Surf kit

WAVEFINDER AUSTRALIA A pocket guide with more than 900 surf locations, plus details of optimal swell and wind, also on seabreeze.com.au or coastalwatch.com.au
SHARK SHIELDS For $600-$700, you can effectively keep sharks at a distance. sharkshield.com.
Beachsafe app From SLSWA, helping you stay shark smart.

 

SAIL THE HIGH SEAS

Much of Western Australia’s endless coastline is so remote, it’s accessible only by boat. Hotspots for yachties include Albany, the ports of Fremantle and bays of Mandurah, the tranquil Swan River, the Coral Coast waters of Shark Bay, Exmouth, Coral Bay and Geraldton, plus the Abrolhos Islands. In the far north, luxury yacht charters take you to the untouched reefs and islands of the Dampier Archipelago. For current coastal wind reports, visit marineweather.net.au/marine/wa.

A proud history

Sailors have been cruising up and down the WA coastline since the 1600s. In 1841, a group of sailors staged a modest regatta to celebrate Foundation Day, and WA’s first sailing club – the Royal Perth Yacht Club – was established. This club bred the builder of Alan Bond’s 1983 America’s Cup-winner Australia II, along with sailing champion after champion. You can see the Australia II at Victoria Quay in Fremantle, along with many relics of seafaring days. For more, visit museum.wa.gov.au/research/collections/maritime-history/maritime-history-boats-and-watercraft.

Learn to sail

Learn the ropes and how to capture the wind in your sails, cut a jib, tack, turn about and distinguish your port from your starboard. Courses can be found
at wa.yachting.org.au.

Australia’s largest training tall ship, the STS Leeuwin II.

Board a tall ship

Be a pirate for the day aboard Australia’s largest training tall ship the STS Leeuwin II. Launched in 1986, the working ship offers anyone over the age of 14 the opportunity to learn to sail from Fremantle on three-hour day trips or extended voyages. Better yet, no previous sailing experience is required. Bon voyage! (08) 9430 4105, sailleeuwin.com.

Yacht clubs

Clubs abound in WA and extra hands are always in demand during racing seasons. Put your name down to crew on a twilight sail, or, if you have your own yacht, dock and say g’day as you travel. Many clubs take advantage of fabulous waterside views, with a bar open to the public. Clubs can be found at wa.yachting.org.au.

Charter a yacht

Outsource the crew duties and make yourself comfortable aboard a luxury yacht, for a twilight sail from Fremantle, around Rottnest, Carnac and Green islands.
Perhaps you want to head up to Shark Bay and Monkey Mia overnight? Yachts are available for exclusive charters to cruise Lake Argyle and the rivers of the Kimberley, take a sea safari to the Buccaneer Archipelago, go barefoot sailing in Geographe Bay, cruise up Ningaloo Reef, and more. Visit yachtcharterguide.com/location/australia/western_australia.

Don't miss: Geograph Bay

Geographe Bay is nestled between Busselton and Dunsborough in the Margaret River region, and is a great place for your next sailing holiday. Formed behind Cape Naturaliste, the north-facing coastline is protected from prevailing southerly and southwesterly winds. More often than not, you’ll share a stunning anchorage with only one or two other yachts. Further north is the port city of Bunbury, where the locals will welcome you for some racing or a twilight sail.

Geographe Bay.

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