Western Australia is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, and it’s not just local bias that will tell you so.
Esperance’s Lucky Bay and Broome’s Cable Beach regularly wind up among the world’s best, with Exmouth's Turquoise Bay taking out the third spot on Tripadvisor’s list in 2022. Even Perth has beaches to rival the most talked about across the globe.
For what Perth has in the quantity of beaches (19, to be exact), it certainly doesn’t lack in quality. These are some of Perth's best beaches, from Cottesloe’s photo-worthy bay to the snorkelers' paradise at Mettams Pool.
The most popular beach
Come summer, throngs of people flock to the sandy shores of Scarborough; it’s easily Perth’s most popular beach. The clean waves and long stretches of sand make it a desirable place to swim, but its popularity is as much about the attractions nearby as the beach itself. Cool cafes, bars, and restaurants line the promenade, open from breakfast through to dinner. Head to the family-owned Knead Bread & Coffee for a flaky croissant and flat white pre-swim, or cap off a beach trip with El Grotto micheladas and tostadas.
Scarborough is also incredibly family-friendly; those with kids are drawn to the foreshore by the sprawling whale playground to the beach’s north and the skate bowl and climbing wall along the promenade. They’re all just steps from the famed ‘Sunset Hill’. Find yourself a spot on the grassy knoll, and you’ll have one of the best vantage points as the sun dips below the horizon.
The prettiest beach
Have your cameras at the ready because Cottesloe beach is begging to be the star of your holiday snaps. The ocean in this calm bay is just as blue as any other beach in Perth, and the sand as clean, but the British Colonial-style Indiana Teahouse on Cottesloe’s shores sets this strip of coastline apart. Built in 1996 as a tribute to the original pavilion that sat in its place, the Indiana Teahouse is to Perth what Icebergs is to Bondi.
Post-dip, freshen up and head inside to Latin-American inspired Indigo Oscar for a refreshing sangria de Cava and freshly shucked oysters with pineapple mignonette. Cross the road and continents for Il Lido’s Italian-aligned menu or The Cottesloe Beach Hotel’s more refined take on your favourite Australian ‘pub grub’. But, sometimes, you just can’t beat a picnic on the grassed tiers with a few dollars worth of chips and freshly battered fish.
The best surf beach
The surf is almost always up at Trigg Beach, thanks to a significant groundswell and a rocky outcrop at its northern end. It’s Perth’s most consistent break. Grommets and intermediate-level surfers can bank on getting a good session in here, sometimes even being joined on the waves by the local dolphin population. Head down in winter for the cleanest and most sizeable waves or in summer to surf something less intimidating.
Spectators and everyday swimmers can still enjoy Trigg, parking up to read a book on the soft sand or paddling about in the cove just north of the rocky outcrop. When hunger strikes, relocate to the nearby Clarko Reserve for a barbecue or pop into Island Market Trigg Beach for a feed.
The locals’ favourite
Quiz the locals on where they like to go swimming, and ‘south City Beach’ will be a common answer. If you want the crystal-watered City Beach experience sans the crowds, find a patch of sand to the left of the southern groyne. It’s not hard. Most people set up between the flags and beyond on the northern side, so you’ll have meters and meters of beach to yourself.
Of course, the northern side is just as beautiful, albeit a little busier — this section of beach fronts the surf club, eateries, and parkland. It’s easy to spend the entire day at City Beach, barbecuing under the trees and tag-teaming with your friends for a dip. Didn’t bring the snags? Pop into Odyssea, Hamptons City Beach, or Clancy’s Fish Bar for a meal instead.
The best beach for long walks
The southernmost beach before the Fremantle wharves, Port Beach sits at the end of a chain of beautiful beaches. There’s around 3km of shoreline to walk from Port through Leighton and Mosman beaches, 6km by the time you’ve doubled back. Stroll the length of the sand to get your steps in for the day, then stop for a dip and coffee from the Wooden Wagon coffee van at the return point as a reward.
Not much into beach walks? Admire the view from a seat at COAST Port Beach, an ice-cold beer in hand.
The best family beach
With its low wave conditions and relatively clear ocean floor, Leighton is a beach that the whole family can enjoy. Little ones can splash around in the shallows and build sandcastles with close adult supervision. More experienced swimmers can grab a kayak or paddle board and head a little deeper; the calm water no challenge for your balance. Even your four-legged family member is welcome, so long as you stick to the dedicated dog zone to the north, where the beach abuts Mosman Dog Beach.
The best beach for anything and everything
If Perth beaches had personalities, Coogee would be the ‘people-pleaser’. Stretching for 3.7km from North Coogee down to Woodman Point, this long, gently curving beach has an attraction to suit any kind of beach-goer. Jump off the pontoon into the waveless water, paddle a kayak about, or throw a line off the end of Coogee Jetty to catch snapper or tailor. Just north of the Jetty is a shark eco-net, giving slightly nervous swimmers peace of mind while going for a dip.
At the very north of the beach, keen snorkelers can follow the Coogee Maritime Trail to see the underwater art gallery and Omeo dive wreck. Just 25m from shore, Omeo is Perth’s only snorkel-friendly wreck.
The most secluded beach
Getting to Perth's most secluded beaches takes a train, a ferry, and a 12-minute bike ride. But the effort is worth it. The idyllic Parakeet Bay and Little Parakeet Bay sit at the very northern reaches of Wadjemup / Rottnest Island, 3km from the main township and some 33km from mainland Perth. Bookended by rocky outcrops, the adjoining bays are entirely protected from the notorious afternoon sea breeze. Chances are, the water will be as still as a millpond regardless of what time of day you make it there.
If you’re heading across on a private boat, anchoring in the bays is permitted. Pull up and watch stingrays cruising the sandy bottom from the bow, or dive in with a snorkel to find other marine life on the patchy reef.
The best beach for SUPing
South Beach is one of four main beaches in Fremantle; of all of them, it’s by far the calmest. Protected by rocky groynes, the water here barely ever gets even a minor swell. On a windless day, it’s a glass off in the bay — perfect conditions for the most novice stand up paddle boarder to head out for a ride. Bring your board or hire one for $65.00/day from the North Fremantle-based Stand Up Surf Shop.
Recoup with a picnic or barbecue under the Suffolk pines in the park when you've grown tired of time on the water. There’s a basketball court and playground there, too, should you have any kids with excess energy to burn. Fancier fare can be found just up the road at La Cabana or the understatedly cool Madalena’s.
The best beach for snorkelling
You don’t have to go far to meet some of Perth’s more interesting marine life. Take just a few steps off the shore at Mettams Pool, and you’ll be in the company of wrasse, anemones, cushion stars, and more. The shallow pool-like lagoon is brimming with sealife, some swimming freely along the sandy bottom, others tucked away in crevices on the coral-covered limestone reef.
On the protected beach side of the reef, the water is calm enough for even the least confident swimmer to have a dip. Families flock here for that reason. Five Sundays a month for just one hour at a time, the open side of the reef is fair game for abalone fishermen, the molluscs (and experienced divers) much preferring the rougher and colder waters.