The Ultimate Perth to Esperance Road Trip Itinerary [Complete 2024 Travel Guide]

As Perth locals, this is our absolute favourite coastal itinerary to do each summer. From the postcard worthy white sand beaches in Esperance, to the forests of Denmark and the iconic Margaret River region this Esperance road trip promises to be the ultimate adventure through some of Australia’s most stunning natural locations.

10 Day Perth to Esperance Road Trip Summary

  • Day 1: Perth – Esperance (7.5 hours)
  • Day 2 – 4: Esperance
  • Day 5: Esperance – Albany (5 hours)
  • Day 6: Albany – Denmark (0.5 hours)
  • Day 7: Denmark – Margaret River Region (3.5 hours)
  • Day 8-9: Margaret River Region
  • Day 10: Margaret River Region – Perth (3 hours)

Have extra time? We recommend an additional day in Albany or Margaret River.

On a time crunch? Choose to overnight in either Denmark or Albany, rather than both.

Day 1: Perth to Esperance via Hyden (The start of your Perth to Esperance road trip)

Start in the capital city of Western Australia, Perth. This Perth to Esperance road trip can either be completed in a camper van or a regular hire car (arrange for pick up and drop off in Perth), you won’t need a four wheel drive for this itinerary. 

Try and hit the road early as there is going to be a fair bit of driving today, from Perth all the way down to Esperance. One of the most direct routes from Perth is inland through Hyden, which has a few unique landmarks to break up the drive like Wave Rock. Wave Rock, as its name implies, is a huge ancient 15 metre wave shaped rock which is a fun spot to drop into and get some pics.

The journey down to Esperance will take around 7 and a half hours with long stretches of open road, so be sure to fill up on fuel where you can and bring plenty of snacks. If you have a little extra time and are not keen on a big drive this day then we recommend spending the night half way at the Wave Rock Caravan Park in a campsite or cabin. 

esperance road trip
Coastal drive from Esperance town
The world renowned blues of Esperance await
The world renowned blues of Esperance await

Day 2-4: Esperance

Welcome to one of the most stunning coastlines of Australia! Esperance is best known for its picturesque white sand beaches and vibrant blue water, spots where you can put up your umbrella and spend a whole day relaxing and soaking in the scenery. 

The best beaches in Esperance are spread between Esperance town area and in the Cape Le Grand National Park, a 50 minute drive from town. To enter the National Park you will need a National Parks Pass, which you can either purchase online in advance or upon arrival at the entrance to the park. It costs $17 for a day pass or you can get a 5 day all parks pass for $30. They do take credit card so no need to bring cash.

Below are out top recommendations for your days here during your Esperance road trip. 

 Best Things to Do Around Esperance Town

Twilight Beach

Just 10 minutes drive from Esperance town centre and home to the famous jump rock, Twilight Beach is not one to miss on your Esperance road trip. If you’re up for it we definitely recommend swimming out to the rock for some jumping and sun baking, it is such a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon. Once we jumped off and a whole pod of dolphins swam around us – it was absolutely magic!

 Blue Haven Beach

The picturesque staircase here leads down to a protected cove with white sand and Gatorade blue water. Sun bake on the rocks or pitch your umbrella in the sand here. This beach is 9 minutes drive from Esperance town. 

 Esperance Growers Markets

Every second Saturday morning is the Esperance Growers Markets in town which are some of our favourite markets we have been to in Australia. There are lots of local artisans here so it’s the perfect spot to pick up some unique souvenirs and have a coffee or delicious French breakfast at Bistro Louis.

Lucky Bay Brewery

Just 10 minutes drive out of town is the Lucky Bay Brewery. Not only is this an unreal spot to try some local craft beers and pizza, they also regularly host musicians so keep an eye on their events page!

Dolphins at Twilight Beach
Dolphins at Twilight Beach
Stairs down to Blue Haven Beach
Stairs down to Blue Haven Beach

Best Things to Do in Cape Le Grand National Park

Lucky Bay

Famously known for its kangaroos on the beach, Lucky Bay is a stunning cove where you are able to drive onto the beach, even if you only have a 2wd car. Spending a day parked up here on your Esperance road trip is one well spent. While it’s not guaranteed that the kangaroos will come down to the beach (we have visited three times and seen them twice), dawn and dusk are said to give you the best chance of sighting them. 

Hellfire Bay

Another beautiful beach in the National Park, Hellfire Bay is a protected cove ideal for a swim on a summer’s day. 

Hike Frenchman’s Peak – Mandooboornup 

In Cape Le Grand National Park is Frenchman’s Peak (Mandooboornup in the local Aboriginal language), a 260 metre high peak that you can hike up for stunning views over the National Park’s landscape and beaches. It takes around 3 hours to complete the 3km return hike and it can be quite steep in some sections of flat rock, so you may have to scramble in some areas. We wouldn’t recommend completing the hike during or after rain for this reason. 

Wharton Beach

While not technically in the National Park, around 50 minutes drive east is Wharton Beach, a very worthwhile addition to your Esperance road trip itinerary. This is our favourite beach in all of Australia and has been voted one of the world’s best beaches. If you have a 4wd you can drive right down onto the white sands but if you are in a 2wd then don’t worry, the car park is situated just above the beach and is a short walk down. We like to bring long boards down here as sometimes there is a little wave.

If you’re keen to experience more of what Esperance has to offer, check out our comprehensive list of the best things to do in Esperance.

The clear waters of Esperance
The clear waters of Esperance
Cars parked along Wharton Beach
Cars parked along Wharton Beach

Where to Stay in Esperance

We have always chosen to camp in Esperance, however the Esperance Chalet Village has been highly recommended to us as a great base to explore Esperance from. Their stunning A-frame cabins are located just east of Esperance main town.

Where to Camp in Esperance

Our favourite campsites in Esperance are in the Cape Le Grand National Park at Lucky Bay and Cape Le Grand, where you can camp right by the beach. If you want to secure these sites we recommend booking well in advance as spots fill up sometimes 6 months in advance (spots open 180 days before). Spots at Cape Le Grand campsites cost $20 per person per night in addition to your National Parks Pass. It is still worth checking on arrival at the National Park entrance for any last minute cancellations if you don’t manage to book a spot in advance, it might be your lucky day! 

If you want to stay near the National Park but miss out on these spots then the Orleans Bay Caravan Park is a great option, a little further from town but closer to the beautiful Wharton Beach and they do have an overflow campsite that is a first in best dressed if you aren’t able to secure a site in advance. There is a little shop here with some food supplies but we recommend stocking up in town if you do stay here as it is a bit further afield. 

If you miss out on these sites then you can also choose from a number of caravan parks in the town of Esperance, our favourite is the RAC Esperance Holiday Park by the bay. 

We also recommend downloading WikiCamps, there are a few lesser known free camps featured on here if you get stuck but there are no amenities here so just take extra care to leave no trace, particularly if you’re not self contained! 

In busy times when everything is booked out, people pull up at night in Twilight Beach carpark as well as Wharton Beach (2wd car park or 4wd on the beach itself). But if you heard that here, no you didn’t (there is a $50 fine if you get caught). 

Day 5: Esperance – Albany (half way through your Perth to Esperance road trip)

Driving from Esperance to Albany will take 5 hours, so we recommend getting on the road pretty early. Albany was once a whaling town that is now a thriving regional hub home to 40,000 residents. Once again there are some gorgeous beaches to explore here as well as some stunning hikes. 

If you have some extra time in your Esperance road trip itinerary adding an additional overnight in Albany is a great choice, there is just so much to see around this coastal town. 

Best things to do in Albany

Little Beach

An iconic white sand beach with a remarkable granite rock formation in the water, 40 minutes drive east from Albany in the Two People’s Bay Nature Reserve, this is a great spot to go for a swim on your way in to Albany. 

Waterfall Beach

Waterfall beach a short walk around the headland from Little Beach and while the waterfall that flows down onto the beach here is best described as a trickle it’s still a beautiful spot to hang out. There’s a little reef here so bring your snorkels too. 

Little Beach Store

A 10 minute drive from Waterfall and Little Beach is the Little Beach Store. Located at the grounds of The Old Marron Farm these guys serve up delicious wholesome lunch Wednesday to Friday and both breakfast and lunch on weekends on a beautiful farm property.

Bald Head Walking Trail

One of the most spectacular hikes in the great southern region, this 12km return hike is our favourite around Albany. The start of the Bald Head Hike is 25 minutes drive out of Albany town on the peninsula and the walk takes 3 to 4 hours to complete, with some sections of pretty brutal stairs but stunning views to make it all worthwhile! 

Misery Beach

Right next to Bald Head is Misery beach, the perfect spot to cool off after the hike. This beach was voted Australia’s best beach in 2022 and it’s not hard to see why, with a huge granite boulder on one side and surrounding bush land on the other this protected cove is absolutely breathtaking.  

Granite boulders of Little Beach
Granite boulders of Little Beach
Bald Head walking trail from above
Bald Head walking trail from above

Where to stay in Albany

We recommend the beautiful tiny home River’s End Retreat. Tiny home stays are always so relaxing and this place is not exception, set among 30 acres of bush land you feel miles away from civilisation while only being 20 minutes from the centre of town.

Where to camp in Albany

Hands down our favourite place (and arguably the best place to camp in Albany) is the free camp at Betty’s Beach. It’s 45 minutes east from Albany town centre, with million dollar views across this secluded bay. There are toilets here for campers but otherwise it’s pretty basic, remember to leave no trace so that this spot stays open for future campers to come.

Day 6: Albany – Denmark

It’s time to continue the journey on your Esperance road trip. From Albany to the quaint town of Denmark it is just a 40 minute drive along the coast, so you can hit  the road early to get a full day in Denmark or spend your morning seeing some more of Albany’s sights before heading to Denmark for the afternoon. 

Best things to do in Denmark

Elephant Rocks

This swimming beach is an icon of the great southern with its large granite boulders and turquoise blue water. There are a series of rock jumps into the water here and if you have a drone this is a great place to get some aerial snaps.

Greens Pool

Literally right next to Elephant Rocks, Greens Pool is a beautiful protected spot with a little reef, perfect for another dip or snorkel. The earlier you arrive to these beaches the better as the car park can get very busy on a hot day!

Boston Brewing Co

Boston Brewing serves up a range of locally made beverages and pub food in a laid back open air venue. Many of their cans have artwork depicting the most treasured areas and symbols of the Denmark region, so it really doesn’t get much more local than this!

Singlefile Winery

A stunning winery set on top of the rolling hills among the forest of Denmark, Singlefile Winery is just 10 minutes drive from Denmark town. Stop in here and roll out a picnic rug for a memorable wine tasting.

Greens Pool
Greens Pool
Elephant Rocks
Elephant Rocks

Where to stay in Denmark

The coziest forest stay can be found at the Ark of Denmark where you can sleep peacefully among the Karri trees with the fireplace crackling and the sounds of nature around you.

Where to camp in Denmark

Parry Beach campground is our favourite camp spot to stay at near Denmark. It’s located 25 minutes west of the main town and is a volunteer run community campground. It costs $22 per site per person but they do not take bookings so it’s first in first served. During summer spots can fill before lunchtime so arrive early if you’re travelling in peak season. They take eftpos here so no need to bring cash.

Day 7: Denmark – Margaret River Region

Today is another driving day as you make your way from Albany to the famous wine and surfing region of Margaret River (known as Margs to the locals). If you want to see some of WA’s old growth forests then stop in at Pemberton on your way to Margs at the Valley of the Giants, where you can visit the 600 metre long suspended tree top walk (open every day, $21 admission per person) and swim in the picturesque Pemberton Pool.

Another stop over option on this route is to Hamelin Bay just 30 minutes south of Margaret River, where huge stingrays swim in the shallows (this is a great spot to put up your drone if you have one!).  

If you have time on your afternoon of arrival to Margaret River we recommend picking up some picnic supplies for sunset over the stunning peaks of Canal Rocks. 

Pemberton Swimming Pool
Pemberton Swimming Pool
Sunset at Canal Rocks in Margaret River
Sunset at Canal Rocks in Margaret River

Where to Stay in Margaret River Region

The Margaret River region is fairly spread out along the coast so there are a range of different areas to stay down here. If you like to be close to shops, cafes and restaurants then we recommend staying in Margaret River town at the self contained chalets behind the historic pub The River

The town of Margaret River itself is not right by the ocean so if you would prefer to be on the coast our pick of the bunch is Chandlers at Smiths Beach

Where to Camp in Margaret River Region

We recommend Prevelly Caravan Park for its beach side location which is really central to the Margaret River Region. Our other recommendation is Yallingup Beach Holiday Park which is a little further north of Margaret River at the base of the stunning Yallingup Hill. Margaret River is a very popular spot for holiday makers so we recommend booking a campsite well in advance to avoid missing out.

There is no free camping in Margaret River unfortunately however you can stay south of Margaret River at Boranup forest Campground (first in best dressed, $15 per person per night cash) or Contos Campground which is also $15 per person per night but must be booked (up to 180 days) in advance to secure your spot.

Day 8-9: Margaret River Region

We recommend spending your days in Margaret River enjoying the beaches and the wine and food scene, we’ve chosen some of our favourite things to do below. 

You can easily spend a week seeing all that this region has to offer, so if you do have some extra time up your sleeve on your Esperance road trip itinerary we would recommend another day or two here.

Best things to do in the Margaret River region

Injidup Spa

Probably the most instagrammed spot in this area, the Injidup Spa are natural rock pools where waves cascade over the rock pool edge, creating a bubble bath effect. Despite their exposure, this place actually does live up to the hype. Head here early as it can get busy during summer, there’s a carpark at the top of the 10 minute rocky walk down to the pools. Spend some time soaking in the rock pools and getting a natural (admittedly somewhat aggressive) back massage under the flowing water. 

Margaret River Bakery

An icon of the Margaret River region, this bakery at the bottom of town in Margs has been here longer than most of us have been alive. They serve a range of pies, homemade rolls, coffees and all that good stuff in an eclectic little store. 

Gracetown Beach

One of our favourite beaches close to Margaret River, this is a lovely protected spot to put up your umbrella and relax for the day. The Gracetown General Store just up the road serves some banging pies, rolls and coffee. 

Prevelly Beach

Another lovely beach is Prevelly Beach, nearby to the famous Margaret River surf break. Luckily, there’s no big waves in this protected cove so it’s the ideal spot to go for a leisurely dip. The White Elephant Cafe here is a relaxed spot to grab some coffee or lunch with a view. 

TIP: It is common for beaches along this coastline to become windy in the afternoon, so aim to head to the beaches in the morning if you can.

Wineries and Breweries (DIY or organised tour)

There are literally hundreds of wineries to choose from in the Margaret River region which is known for its award winning chardonnays and cab savs. Even if you’re not a wine connoisseur we highly recommend visiting a couple while you’re in the region, most tastings will only cost you $10 a person and it’s a great way to learn a little more about wine in a beautiful setting. After sampling our fair share of the wineries here, our picks of the bunch are:

Our favourite brewery for lunch is Black Brewing, a stunning venue on Caves Road set amongst rolling vineyards. They serve up a huge range of beers brewed in the venue and a delicious lunch menu with an asian twist. Other great breweries in the region include Colonial Brewing and Beer Farm

If you want to have more than a couple of tastings then an organised winery/brewery tour is the way to go or if you have a larger group then Dunsborough Taxis can drive you around to the venues of your choice.

Injidup Spa
Injidup Spa
Margaret River winery
Margaret River winery

Day 10: Margaret River – Perth (The end of your Perth to Esperance road trip)

Spend the day in the beautiful Dunsborough region, 40 minutes drive north from Margaret River before your journey back to Perth.

Things to in the Dunsborough Region

Meelup Farmhouse

Our favourite breakfast spot in the whole south west region is Meelup Farmhouse. They have nailed the vibes here with their bohemian open plan interior, beautiful gardens and adorable farm animals (including Highland cows!) serving up delicious breakfast and lunch. 

TIP: Meelup Farmhouse is not open on Wednesdays so keep this in mind when planning a visit here.

Meelup Beach / Castle Rock

Just down the road from the farmhouse, this part of the coastline is known for its calm, sparkling blue waters and picturesque rocky outcrops and is the perfect spot for a morning or afternoon dip. Drive along the coast here to find your own little private beach in one of the many sandy coves.

Eagle Bay Brewing Co

Back up the road from Meelup Beach is Eagle Bay Brewing. Set on top of rolling green hills with casual dining and their own tasty local beers, this is arguably the perfect spot to round out your Esperance road trip. We recommend the fish and chips here, and our pick of the beers is their Kolsch. 

And that’s a wrap on your Perth to Esperance road trip! If you have time, we recommend a stop in at Bunbury Farmer’s Market on your way back to Perth. Just off the main highway, 1 hour north of Dunsborough, it is laid out like the IKEA of farmers markets. You will inevitably end up with some delicious snacks and fruit for the rest of your drive back to Perth after making your way through here.

Castle Rock views
Castle Rock views
Coastline view of Castle Rock
Coastline view of Castle Rock

When is the best time to visit Perth and Esperance?

The best time to complete a Perth to Esperance road trip is during Australia’s warmer months, December to March. During these months you can expect the sunniest weather making it ideal for beach days, however even at this time the weather can still be a little variable. The further from this peak season you are, the greater the chance you will experience some rainy and cold days, so factor this in when planning your Esperance road trip. 

Esperance Road Trip Packing List

Here is a list of the clothes we recommend packing for this Perth to Esperance road trip (for the summer months and excluding any camping gear):

  • Shorts 
  • T-shirts 
  • A nice outfit for breweries / wineries
  • A wind proof warm jacket
  • Jeans / pants 
  • Tracksuit pants
  • Hat
  • Thongs
  • Exercise gear for hiking
  • Socks + underwear
  • Hiking shoes / running shoes
  • Beach towel
  • Beach umbrella
  • Snorkel (and fins optional)

How long do I need to road trip from Perth to Esperance?

To experience all that a Perth to Esperance road trip has to offer, we recommend spending 7 days at least to allow you to have time to enjoy each location in between the driving required. If you are driving straight from Perth to Esperance and back, you will want 5 days or more to make the long drive worthwhile. If you are flying to Esperance we recommend at least 3 days to explore.

Do I need a car to visit Esperance?

Even if you fly to Esperance, you will still need a car to explore the region. If you aren’t able to drive or hire a car, then we recommend visiting with an organised Esperance road trip from Perth. We recommend Adventure Tours.

How long is the drive from Perth to Esperance?

The drive from Perth to Esperance takes 7 and a half hours to drive. All of the roads are sealed bitumen and 2wd friendly. 

Can I fly to Esperance from Perth?

Yes you can! Flights from Perth to Esperance are 1 hour and a half long with REX airlines. Flights to Esperance from Perth start from around $140 depending on the season. You will still need to hire a car upon arrival to Esperance to explore the region. 

Do you need a four wheel drive (4wd) to visit Esperance?

No, you do not need a four wheel drive to experience this Esperance road trip. All roads down to Esperance and between Esperance and Cape Le Grand National Park are 2wd friendly. There are a couple of beaches around Esperance that you can only drive on if you have a 4wd, this includes Wylie Bay and Wharton Beach but driving on these beaches is by no means essential to making your most of your time in this region. We do still recommend a large car for your Esperance road trip if you can get one (like an SUV) as you will be much safer if you hit any wildlife in a bigger car.

Is there phone reception/signal in Esperance?

There is strong phone signal in the town of Esperance however reception in Cape Le Grand National Park is limited, so remember to download an offline google map of the area and plan your Esperance road trip in advance. We recommend getting a Telstra sim card for the best coverage in this region.

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