Popular Esperance Shore Excursions
Esperance's roll call of local activities is so lengthy that you will need to choose carefully with the limited time you might have.
Water Sports: Known for its fantastic beaches, obviously water sports are numerous -- scuba-diving, beach, game or deep sea fishing, sea kayaking, sailing, sand boarding, snorkelling, canoeing, surfing, windsurfing, or just simply swimming in the crystal clear southern waters.
Land Adventures: On land there are 4WD beach safaris, indigenous cultural tours, eco-tours, off-road driving, abseiling, trail bike riding, birdwatching, cycling, and bushwalking.
Museum Park Period Village: It's worth wandering through. Close to the main street, it has a selection of historical buildings, shops, and an Aboriginal art gallery as well as the Tourist Centre and Museum which house pieces of Skylab, the US space station that broke up over this area in 1979. (Open daily from 1.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.; small entry fee for the museum)
Local Art: Pick up an Art Trail brochure from the Visitor Centre. This will lead you to artists working in a number of fields: textiles, fine arts, glass, pottery and photography. At the Cannery Arts Centre (Norseman Road, Esperance, +61 8 9072 1158; Open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mon. to Thurs. and Sat. ; 1 p..m. to 4 p.m. Sun.), children may create their own arts and crafts. The Innerspace studio has exhibitions and an artist in residence. There are also public sculptures along the foreshore walk.
Salt Lakes: A number of salt lakes are close to the town centre. Pink Lake really is pink, and its rosy waters are caused by the red algae living in it.
Cape Le Grand National Park: Cape Le Grand National Park is a 45-minute drive from Esperance and offers rugged scenery and stunning beachscapes. It is popular with hikers and those who enjoy recreational fishing or 4WD trips. With enough time, a 1.5 hour (3 km) hike to the top of Frenchman's Peak rewards with sweeping views of the area.
Tour Esperance Bay: The horizon of Esperance Bay is dotted with islands, and a half- or full-day island tour -- complete with sea birds, fur seals and sea lions -- with Esperance Island Cruises is worth doing if time allows. (72B The Esplanade, Esperance; +61 8 9071 5757; Office open (Winter) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon. to Fri.; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sat. to Sun; (Summer) 8 a.m. to 5.pm. daily; tours daily depending on numbers and availability)
Helms Arboretum: Western Australia is noted for its wildflowers and this corner of the state has wonderful examples at Helms Arboretum, a huge reserve on the Coolgardie/Esperance Highway, 17 km north of Esperance near Gibson. Free entry.
Great Ocean Drive: Take the 38 km Great Ocean Drive (Tourist Loop) along the coastline and back to town. Highlights include Rotary Lookout, Twilight Beach, Observatory Point, the Wind Farm and Pink lake.
Cyclops Wave: The Cyclops wave, said to be the world's heaviest wave, can sometimes be seen near Esperance. Ask a local for the best place to witness it unloading massive amounts of water onto a shallow reef. Cyclops is featured in the surfing films "Billabong Odyssey," and the "Bra Boys" documentary.
Ten Mile Lagoon Wind Farm: Ten Mile Lagoon Wind Farm might not be a traditional tourist stop, but this is the first electrical wind farm in Australia, built as a research facility in 1987. These massive turbines, at Salmon Beach 19 km west of town, are very impressive.
Esperance Stonehenge: Esperance Stonehenge is an exact full-sized replica of the original Stonehenge found in England, and it's built from huge slabs of locally quarried pink granite. (Open Thursday to Monday from October to March from 8.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; from April to September, the site is open from 9.30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; +61 8 9075 9003)
The beaches of Esperance are the true stars of the show for visitors. Remote, uncluttered, with the whitest sand on earth, and clear and sparkling water a colour you may never see again, these are a must to include in your day's visit.
Twilight Beach: There are so many, but the good news is many are close enough to town for you to sample several. The Great Ocean Drive will deliver you to Twilight Beach (voted WA's most popular beach) seven kilometres from town. This is a good family beach, which is patrolled on summer weekends, and good for snorkelling, too. Toilets, parking and showers are available for public use.
Observatory Beach: Observatory Beach is about 10 km away. It's popular for surfing, wind and kite surfing, and boogie boarding. Toilets are available for public use.
Fourth Beach: Many surfers recommend Fourth Beach, too; it's popular for water sports and offers parking.
Ten Mile Lagoon Beach: Ten Mile Lagoon, adjacent to the beach of the same name, is a good family swimming spot. Note, however, that there is a designated spot for nude bathing about 200 metres down the beach from the lagoon. There is a small car park, toilets but no showers.
West Beach: West Beach, just 3 km from town, is a surfers' favourite. There are no facilities.
Blue Haven Beach: Don't overlook Blue Haven Beach, reached by a long flight of cliffside stairs. Descend to the beach for sheltered swimming, snorkelling and good fishing, or simply enjoy the view from the platform at the top. There are no facilities.