The Great Ocean Drive is a true bucket-list destination.
Often dubbed ‘Australia’s most beautiful stretch of road,’ this spectacular 40-kilometre coastal route takes you past a string of stunning Esperance beaches, karri forests, lush wine regions, and breathtaking panoramas.
Your journey begins just a few kilometres from Esperance Bay Holiday Park and meanders around the dramatic south coast of Western Australia before looping back to the region. Adding to the loop, there a few additional must-see attractions around Esperance that have been included in the list.
Here are 20 memorable things to do in Esperance you should definitely pull over for.
Unmissable highlights on Great Ocean Drive
1. Rotary Lookout
The Rotary Lookout makes an ideal first stop on the Great Ocean Drive, giving you a glimpse of some of the memorable vistas to come. Stand atop this high granite outcrop and take in Esperance’s magnificent beaches, then see how many of the Recherche Archipelago’s remote islands you can spot.
2. Lucky Bay
Not only is Lucky Bay one of Australia’s whitest and most beautiful beaches, it’s also home to some loveable furry residents. You’ll find wild kangaroos skipping happily along the 5-kilometre-long pristine shoreline, making for a pretty spectacular photo op against the backdrop of the clear turquoise waters.
3. Frenchman Peak, Cape Le Grande National Park
Walk the 3-km trail to the summit of Frenchman’s Peak, also known by its Aboriginal name, Mandooboornup, and you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views over Cape Le Grande National Park. Be sure to bring your camera around for the large cave toward the end of this moderate hike, which is thought to have been formed by ocean currents over 40 million years ago.
4. Twilight Bay
With its unbelievably clear turquoise waters, glittering white sands, and sloping granite cliffs, the infamous Twilight Bay requires no filter. This is the gem amidst the Great Ocean Road’s numerous beautiful beaches, and its idyllic conditions make it a perfect swimming spot for the entire family too.
5. Nine Mile Beach
Head to Nine Mile Beach for a sunset you’ll never forget. During the day, you’ll find any number of rock pools to explore, while powerful break peaks make it a popular spot for surfers too.
Family-friendly Esperance activities
6. Dolphin Cove
Don’t be fooled by the name, Dolphin Cove is a great spot to see migrating southern right and humpback whales. It's situated in Cape Arid National Park and gets its name from nearby headland that’s shaped just like a dolphin.
7. Ten Mile Lagoon Wind Farm
Walk the scenic trail to this fascinating wind farm where you can get up close and personal with the powerful turbines. Listen to them hum and learn how their huge blades collect and store energy from the coastal winds. The Ten Mile Lagoon Wind Farm is a great location to explore with your family when looking for things to do in Esperance.
8. Esperance Bird and Animal Park Café
It’s only 10 minutes from Esperance town but the Esperance Bird and Animal Park Café offer a fun bushland adventure for little road-trippers. You’ll find over 200 birds and animals to watch, feed, and interact with, from colourful parrots to ginormous emus.
9. Esperance foreshore
The little ones can stretch their legs and let off some steam in this shady natural playground on the beautiful Esperance Foreshore, while the adults can enjoy mouth-watering local food and coffee as they soak up the scenery.
The best Esperance beaches
10. Blue Haven
Blue Haven is worth a visit if only to marvel at the incredibly blue waters from which it takes its name. Magnificent polished granite boulder and outcrops arise from these crystal-clear shores, which are also an ideal spot for snorkelling.
11. Hellfire Bay
Hellfire Bay is more than just a pretty beach. Snorkelling, swimming, bushwalking, or swimming — this sheltered bay has plenty of activities to entertain every level of adrenaline junkie and is the perfect spot for a barbie too.
12. West Beach
Surfers won’t want to miss this stop, just a few seconds drive from Esperance town centre. Choose from three different reef breaks along the pristine West Beach coast, or snorkel or whale watch in the idyllic lagoons in front.
13. Salmon Beach
14. Observatory Point Lookout
Get your perfect Great Ocean Road selfie at the Observatory Point Lookout as you take in expansive views of Esperance Bay and Twilight Beach. And if you visit between June and October, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and migrating whales as they can often be spotted just a hundred or so metres from the shore.
15. Pink Lake (Lake Hillier)
This naturally coloured pink lake gets its rosy hue from the presence of micro-algae. Find it on Middle Island, just off the coast of Esperance. Lake Hillier has been looking a little less pink in recent years, but should you catch it on a pale day, there’s still plenty of bushwalks and local wildlife to enjoy.
16. Esperance Stonehenge
Yes, Esperance boosts its very own exact to-scale replica of the famous Esperance Stonehenge, built with 137 stones of Esperance pink granite. Stop by for Summer or Winter Solstice to watch the sun's rays shine spectacularly into the heart of the impressive stone formation.
17. Wylie Bay sand dunes
Thrill-seekers and Instagrammers alike shouldn’t miss the towering pure white sand dunes near Wylie Bay. Explore these sweeping peaks and troughs by 4WD, sandboard, or motorbike, or ride more watery waves in the surf zone.
Shop locally on Great Ocean Drive
18. Cindy Poole Section Glass Gallery and Café
Browse an extensive range of unique, kin-fired glass jewellery, home décor, sculpture, and wearable art by renowned Aussie artist Cindy Poole. The Cindy Poole Section Glass Gallery and Café is the perfect spot for a coffee while you browse the range of goods so you can take home the perfect Great Ocean Road souvenir.
19. Lucky Bay Brewing
Stop for a quick pint in this uniquely local microbrewery. Lucky Bay Brewing uses raw barley in their hand-crafted local beers, sourced straight from Esperance farms.
20. Mermaid Leather
Mermaid Leather is the only fish and shark leather tannery in Australia. Find out how raw fish and shark skins are turned into unique leather goods and browse the leather studio for gifts.
Book your road trip down Great Ocean Drive Loop in Esperance
There’s never been a better time to load up your family and road trip essentials before you take a WA road trip down to Esperance in Western Australia’s South West. Book family-friendly Esperance accommodation and explore the beautiful natural landscape right from your doorstep. For additional attractions and tours in Esperance, check out our Esperance Travel Guide which is full of fun, family-friendly travel ideas.
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