These Are the Best Ways to Explore Western Australia's Lesser-traveled Southern Coast
While the Coral Coast is epic in its scope — an 800-mile stretch of largely empty road along Western Australia — T+L A-List travel advisor and Brisbane resident Suzy Mercien-Ferol can plan an equally magnificent road trip in the opposite direction, from Perth to Esperance. Mercien-Ferol recommends stopping first in the small town of Margaret River to indulge in its world-renowned wines. After a restful night at the bucolic Cape Lodge (from $265), explore lighthouses and the largest landlocked sand dunes in the southern hemisphere en route to Albany, a coastal town settled in the 1820s with well-preserved historic buildings. Then, visit Bremer Bay, known for its stunning beaches, and overnight at Aqua Views (doubles from $406), a guesthouse that takes in the Great Australian Bight. In Esperance, the trip’s final destination, take an eco-discovery tour and give sandboarding a try before a night at the casually luxe Esperance Island View Apartments (from $153). Nine-day itineraries from $25,000.
If you’d rather explore by boat, True North’s new Adventure South West cruise (7-day sails from $5,742) traces the coastline from Esperance to Perth. The week-long sail introduces passengers to the bright-pink waters of Lake Hillier on Middle Island in the vast Recherche Archipelago (algae and microbes are responsible for its neon color). Then it’s on to Bremer Bay, which draws in scores of orcas, sharks, dolphins, sperm whales, and giant squid thanks to its nutrient-dense water. There’s also a stop in Albany, the oldest colonial settlement in Western Australia and known for its old whaling station and a fascinating aboriginal history. Here, guests can try their hand at fishing or observe eagle rays along the shore. You’ll also glimpse fur seals, get the chance to swim with wild dolphins, and snorkel above the coral reef. To end this action-packed voyage, there’s a visit to Rottnest Island, a nature reserve beloved for its population of quokka — a miniature marsupial that resembles a small wallaby. Scuba diving, bike rides, and beachcombing are all available to guests.