Perth (SW coast) Best September-November, March-May
Nearer to Bali than Sydney, Perth and its environs have a lot to offer. Outside the skyscrapers and 19th century façades tourists will find a land of sand. Inland sand for camel safaris, sand scattered with bizarre pinnacles and coastal sand for ‘sandgropers’ – residents of Western Australia.
The city has nineteen beaches, mostly wide and white, with an occasional cove for interest. An easy bus ride takes you, for example, to calm protected Peppermint Grove or Crawley Beach on the Swan River, while surfers and gourmets will head for Scarborough, and nudists for Swanbourne.
Eight mile Rottnest Island, 30 minutes by ferry from Perth’s Fremantle suburb, is a popular holiday destination, not only due to the rampaging wallabies (quokkas) but also the many great beaches for swimming (e. g. Longreach Bay and Geordie Bay), fishing (e. g. Narrow Neck and Salmon Bay), surfing (e. g. Strickland Bay), and snorkelling (e. g. Parker Point). Lovely breezy cliffs at West End have excellent whale and dolphin views.
Monkey Mia, dolphin visiting time, Shark Bay, Western Australia. Picture by Nachoman.
Shark Bay (central west coast) Best May-October
Twelve hours north of Perth Monkey Mia is where dolphins come to play with humans. Bottlenose dolphins swim freely right up to the beach, but human animals are tightly controlled, need to buy a pass and can enter the water only at specified times. Some love the experience, others find it too strictly supervised to be enjoyable.
Exmouth (central west coast) Best May-October
This is a typical, thongs and tank-top Oz town, as relaxed as they come and gateway to Ningaloo Reef, a barrier reef Marine Park that successfully competes with the Great one on the east side of the country for style and content, if not in length.
Ningaloo Reef is a pristine 156 miles (250 km) long, much of it only 100m off shore. The truly exceptional experience available here is the chance to dive with 12 metre whale sharks, the largest fish in the world, along with dugongs, manta rays and other lesser sharks.
Turquoise Bay is a nearby, uncrowded, whiter-than-white beach lined with minimalist dunes that is a great snorkelling point for the reef, with guaranteed big-time marine lifeforms flitting by.
Broome (NW coast) Best April-October
On the edge of the massive, almost-desert of The Kimberley, Broome has two main attractions; camel safaris and Cable Beach. The clear blue Indian Ocean washes onto 22 kilometres of superb white sand, and the sunsets are spectacular. There are plenty of marine activities and accommodation on offer, and nightlife is good.