Perth’s Sunset Coast is a 50 km long strip of coastline that stretches from Cottesloe Beach and goes all the way up to Two Rocks. 19 metropolitan beaches, each with its own distinct character, seem to flow from one to another endlessly. It would take you about an hour to drive non-stop from Cottesloe Beach to Two Rocks but of course we wouldn’t recommend that. And to be honest, we don’t think you would want to do that either – the beautiful Sunset Coast beaches would probably prove too much of temptation. Here’s the inside scoop on some of Perth’s most popular oceanside playgrounds. So grab your gear and spend a wonderful day by the beach.
Cottesloe Beach with the Indiana cafe at sunset
Cottesloe Beach or just "Cott" to the locals, is an easy 20 minute drive from Perth’s city centre, barring heavy traffic. Just head for Marine Parade and you’ll get there. It is WA’s most famous beach and extremely popular with families, swimmers, body-boarders, snorkelers, paddle boarders and surfers. Cott is served by the Transperth buses and makes a very pretty beach with its Norfolk Pine trees, green grassy slopes, neighbouring hotels, beach cafes and restaurants. The Indiana, formerly known as the Indiana Tea House, is one of WA’s most iconic landmarks, stands right on the beach and you can’t miss it – just look out for a large, yellowish building surrounded by shady pine trees. It was built in 1910 and its Indian Ocean sunset views are stunning. Take a walk along the 100 m groyne (groin) and enjoy the views from there too. Cott, with its fairly sheltered bay and generally calmer waters, makes an ideal beach for kids. However, it’s best not to swim near the groyne and reefs as the currents can get pretty strong there. The Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club operates here. There is a nearby playground, public amenities and free public parking at Marine Parade. If you’re here in March, don’t miss out on seeing one of the most memorable events ever – Sculpture By The Sea. This major art exhibition is an amazing visual spectacle and one that you are likely to remember forever. Just imagine more than 50 larger than life sculptures presiding over Cott’s white sand beach with the spectacular Indian Ocean and WA’s clear blue skies as the backdrop and you’ll get what we’re on about. It’s magnificent.
Photo of Swanbourne beach courtesy of Tourism Western Australia
The next beach north from Cottesloe is Swanbourne. This is a quiet secluded beach and very popular with nudists but if you’re not prepared to join the crowd and completely disrobe, the next beach might be better. The beachgoers on Swanbourne respect each other’s privacy and visitors should not take photographs or videos of other beach users. This beach has a car park, surf club and patrol tower. The waves here are generally lower than some of the other beaches.
Photo of Beach volleyball on City Beach, Perth courtesy of Tourism Western Australia
City Beach has won several awards for being ‘The Best Beach’ in WA. This is no surprise once you see its clean, soft powder-white sand beach, excellent facilities and well maintained surroundings. City Beach has facilities such as barbecue pits, public amenities, beach volleyball and a scenic boardwalk that leads to Floreat Beach. The City of Perth Surf Life Saving Club is situated here. There is a popular café restaurant, Clancy’s Fishbar City Beach, which has great views of the Indian Ocean. A playground, public amenities, barbecue pits and public parking are available too. Please take note that the access from the car park to the beach and boardwalk can be difficult for strollers and wheelchair users due to the steep gradient of the slope. You can get to City Beach via Challenger Parade which is off the West Coast Highway and Transperth buses operate here. City Beach has some of the most expensive real estate in WA and as you drive through this upmarket suburb with its huge beach houses and manicured green lawns you’ll realise why.
The next beach up from City Beach is Floreat Beach. Just continue along Challenger Parade and you’ll get there. This is another scenic white sand beach which is quieter than some of the other beaches. It can get rather windy here and the surf is a little rougher. Barbecue pits, public amenities, a kiosk and café, a popular sandy playground, volleyball courts, and a large car park are located here. The Floreat Surf Life Saving Club has its base here too.
Photo of Aerial view of Scarborough Beach courtesy of Tourism Western Australia
Scarborough is another iconic beach and very popular with the local teenagers and surfing crowd. Once you see its long stretch of sand, surf breaks, expansive grassy areas (great for picnics) and free barbecue pits you’ll realise why. On clear, sunny blue-sky days, which are pretty much the norm here, you can even see Rottnest Island in the distance. The West Coast Highway will lead you to The Esplanade which fronts Scarborough’s foreshore; it has many cafes, restaurants and hotels that seem to burst into life on warm summer nights, busy weekends and school holidays. The most prominent landmark is the towering beachfront Rendezvous Hotel Perth.Water sports enthusiasts will enjoy engaging in the wide range of activities here such as swimming, surfing, body-boarding, kite surfing and windsurfing. Scarborough is also popular with the beach cricket, volleyball and Frisbee catching crowd. Please note that Scarborough Beach is not for inexperienced swimmers and children as the waves can get pretty rough. The Scarboro Surf Life Saving Club regularly patrols this beach. Transperth buses serve the area.
Girls enjoying the view at North Beach
Trigg Beach is popular with surfers, snorkelers and swimmers. It makes a picturesque beach with its outcrops of limestone rocks and varied hues of blue, turquoise and azure. The surf break at Trigg is Perth’s most consistent, however it can get very rough and Trigg is regarded by many life savers to be Perth metropolitan’s most dangerous beach. A restaurant, car parks and Lifesaving services can be found there. You can get to Trigg via Karrinyup Road and West Coast Drive.
Mettam’s Pool is well loved by local families as its calm, sheltered waters allow kids and inexperienced swimmers to wade and snorkel. Mettam’s Pool looks like a large, reef-protected, turquoise paddling pool and has an abundance of marine life inhabiting it. Fish, shellfish and star fish live in these waters. There is no lifesaving service here. Public car parks and amenities are available. Another interesting thing about Mettam’s Pool is that abalone fishing is permitted on 5 Sundays every year. These are usually the first Sunday of each month from November to March. Abalone can be gathered for one specified hour on these mornings but an abalone fishing license is required. Perth is unique in this respect for Mettam’s Pool is one of the few sustainable abalone fishing areas in the world that is located so near a major city. Click herefor more information on where to get this licence and when fishing is allowed.
The beaches of Waterman, Marmion and Sorrento are popular with local families who go there to swim, body board, fish and exercise. The surf can get rough at Sorrento Beach, particularly around the groynes, and the local surf Life Saving Club patrols this area. North Beach is a favourite with its residents. A long pathway runs along these northern beaches next to the West Coast Drive; many joggers and cyclists use this path for their daily exercise and the Indian Ocean views here are good. The cosy but well-presented Mount Flora Regional Museum is located in Waterman’s Bay and worth a visit. You can get 360 degree views of the Indian Ocean and the surrounding suburbs from the top of this museum.
Photo of Sorrento Quay, Hilarys Boat Harbour courtesy of Tourism Western Australia
The Marmion Marine Park is a wonderland that is full of marine life and a favourite among snorkelers. The Marine Park extends from Trigg Island to Burns Beach. The protective reef here has led to the formation of shallow, clear blue lagoons where a variety of marine life can be found. Playful dolphins and sea lions live within the Marine Park.
Hillarys Boat Harbourand its neighbouring Sorrento Quay are well worth a visit. Just continue along the West Coast Drive from Sorrento Beach till you’ll get there. This picturesque marina is surrounded by Sorrento Quay’s many shops, cafés and restaurants. The boardwalk is a great place to take a stroll and enjoy the views. A vibrant nightspot, The Breakwater is also situated there. Hillarys is a great place to take the kids as it has many attractions such as The Aquarium of Western Australia (AQWA), the Naturaliste Marine Discovery Centre and the Great Escape Leisure Park; the latter is a theme park that offers water rides. The green grassy slopes and beach area in front of the Leisure Park is a great place to spend a lazy afternoon or have a picnic. The beach here is a favourite of families due to its sheltered bay and calm waters. Hillarys Boat Harbour has boat launching facilities and you can also catch the Rottnest Island ferry from the jetty.
Windsurfers in action off Pinnaroo Point
Whitfords Beach lies north of Hillarys Beach, just after the Hillarys Boat Harbour. You can get there via the West Coast Highway which continues on to become Whitfords Avenue and Northshore Drive. This beach has a car park, boat launch area and a sailing club. Water skiing is permitted north of Pinaroo Point. Part of the Mullaloo Beach has lifesaving services. The surf here can get rather rough at times so it’s best so stay within the red and yellow flags at all times. The Whitford and Mullaloo beaches are not recommended for inexperienced swimmers and children.
Pinaroo Point is a popular windsurfing spot and it is exciting to watch the windsurfers catch the wind and take off into the air. Continue along Northshore Drive which will become Oceanside Promenade. At the end of the Promenade, turn left onto Ocean Reef Road which will lead you to Burns Beach. Take a walk along the Burns Beach pathway and enjoy the stunning sunset coastal views.
Further inland to the east of Ocean Reef lies Joondalup. Joondalup is a busy commercial hub and most shops are open 7 days a week. Joondalup is well connected via public transport and Transwa train services operate here. Joondalup Resort and Country Club offers world class golfcourses and accommodation for the avid golfer. Further to the east of Joondalup is Wanneroo which has several interesting historical sites and the Wanneroo Museum, which is situated in the new Wanneroo Cultural Centre, is definitely worth a visit. You can pick up a brochure from the museum that has information on these historical sites. Wanneroo is also the home of many vegetable and fruit farms and some of them are open to the public. The famous Wanneroo Market sells fresh local produce at reasonable prices during the weekend.
Photo of Mindarie Keys Resort courtesy of Tourism Western Australia
Further up north from Burns Beach lies Mindarie Keys Marina. This Mediterranean style marina has boardwalks, a fishing platform for the disabled, cafes, restaurants, a resort hotel, a microbrewery and a pub. You can get to Mindarie Keys Marina via Marmion Avenue.
Photo of Boating in Yanchep National Park courtesy of Tourism Western Australia
If you continue north on Marmion Avenue, you will come to Yanchep Lagoon. This lagoon has a coastal drive that runs on top of the 20m high sand dunes, thus providing some good views. The local Surf Life Saving Club operates here. Inexperienced swimmers and children should stay clear of the mouth of the lagoon and the areas near the reefs due to rip currents. Pretty Yanchep National Park is located a little further inland and you can tour its caves, enjoy a picnic, explore its bush land walk trails, row a boat on Loch McNess, go on an aboriginal tour (subject to availability) and see the native fauna and flora.
Photo of Sunset barbecue at Cottesloe Beach, overlooking the Indian Ocean courtesy of Tourism Western Australia
By now, you must have realised how this coastline got its name. Yes, the sunsets here are simply drop dead gorgeous, to die-for kind of stuff. Every local seems to have his or her favourite spot and some are loathe to share their secrets too. But we’ll be kind and tell you this – practically all the beaches mentioned here are great spots to catch one of WA’s legendary Indian Ocean sunsets. And to make that magical moment even better, we suggest having a refreshing ‘Sundowner’ (evening drink) while you watch the magnificent western sun disappear into the ocean. Life can’t get any better than this. So there you have it – the lowdown on Perth’s stunning 50 km Sunset Coast. But if you still can’t find your beach paradise here (we can’t imagine why though), then why not extend your trip and traipse up and down WA’s magnificent 12, 889 km (just a mere 80087 mls) coastline and see if your nirvana is hidden there. Happy hunting. See the virtual tours of Cottesloe from the groyne and Sorrento Quay, Hilarys Boat Harbour.
We must mention a couple of extremely important things before you go beach hunting. Please make sure that you take all safety precautions seriously. Remember this: always swim between the red and yellow flags that are placed on the beaches. If there are no red and yellow flags on the beach, do not swim there. Do check the following websites for the latest updates & more information on beach safety: