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You’ll be surprised by Esperance, the secluded but very beautiful Western Australia beach town. When on an Australia cruise, you’ll find there are plenty of reasons to go off the beaten path to Esperance, whether for the famous white-sand beaches like Twilight Bay or Lucky Bay.
On a cruise to Esperance, you can spot quirky attractions like a full-scale replica of Stonehenge in the middle of Western Australia. Or, venture on a boat cruise to the famously pink Lake Hillier to experience some of Australia’s most mind-boggling natural landscapes. Unlike big cities like Perth or Sydney, Esperance feels approachable for all kinds of visitors. Relaxation on the beach or a day trip to a remote island or nature park won’t make you feel like you’re missing the bustle of a city. In fact, quaint Esperance is a breath of fresh air.
This museum showcases a collection of usable objects that powered the lives of residents and Aboriginal populations living in Esperance for thousands of years. Look for ancient weaponry, preserved train carriages, and other artifacts. You’ll quickly gain understanding of the town’s role as a farming hub. Plus, remnants of the NASA space station Skylab, which fell to earth in 1979, are housed here.
Top-rated Twilight Bay lives up to Australia’s reputation for beautiful white sand. Tip your toes (or your whole body!) in the clear turquoise waters, grab a snorkel, or simply set up with a beach towel and watch boats sail by. You’ll probably have the beach to yourself, anyway.
Ever so quirky and locally beloved, the Museum Village hosts markets every Sunday morning as well as plenty of art galleries featuring Aboriginal artists. Cafes and food trucks are popular for the hungry, and market stalls sell local wares like honey and jams.
Just 40 miles from Esperance and easily accessible by car is Cape Le Grand National Park, which is known for its mountains and secluded beaches. You won’t see many other travelers or residents at Cape Le Grand, but you will spot kangaroos basking in the hot sun of Lucky Bay. If you have time while stopped on one of our Esperance cruises, camp out in the remote nature of the bush.
Woody Island is just nine miles from the center of Esperance, and it’s the perfect half-day trip for hiking, swimming, and snorkeling. You might see local Australian wildlife like wallabies while you’re here, and marine life is plentiful. Check out the underwater snorkel trail or take a swim in the crystal clear waters.
Esperance is easily navigable on foot, where cafes, bars, and pubs filled with friendly faces are ready to welcome you to town. Because Esperance has so much to offer in terms of ecotourism and nature, they take it easy downtown.
Esperance Downtown Espresso Bar
Address: 94C Dempster St, Esperance WA 6450, Australia
Coffee and pastries are done well at Downtown Espresso Bar, a light and airy space bringing locals fresh brews, hot or iced, and plenty of muffins and flaky pastries. Grab an iced latte before you head to the beach.
Castletown Fish & Chips
Address: 67 Goldfields Rd, Castletown
Called the best fish and chips in town, Castletown knocks this comfort food classic out of the park. It’s a value-friendly option for visitors and a good way to refuel after a day of sun and sand.
Esperance Bay Yacht Club
Address: The Esplanade, Esperance WA 6450, Australia
If you’re feeling hungry as soon as you arrive, there’s a restaurant inside the yacht club where Esperance cruises dock. It’s right on the waterfront, so you can enjoy food and drinks with a sea breeze as you plan your next activity. Mains include the classics like rack of lamb and steak, plus plenty of seafood options like seafood chowder and fresh catches of the day.
Indigenous peoples, including the local Noongar people, have lived in this general part of Western Australia for thousands of years. French colonists arrived and named the town “Esperance” or “hope” based on the ship they sailed in from. By the 1840s, British colonists came to Esperance, and word about gold got out, too. The town’s status as a farming and fishing town never changed, though. Today, this municipality is home to around 15,000 people.
Esperance lives up to its small town status in many ways, including the fact that your cruise to Esperance docks in the Esperance Bay Yacht Club rather than in a designated cruise terminal. After all, this is off-the-beaten path Australia we’re talking about. Walk from the Yacht Club to the center of town in about 10 minutes. There’s also a tourist information center within the Museum Village.
Car rentals are available in Esperance, and the town’s center is just a 10-minute walk from where your cruise ship docks and departs from. If you’re staying confined to the local sights, walking around is your best bet. If you want to arrange a half-day trip to Woody Island or Cape Le Grand National Park, transportation is typically included in the excursion plan.
There’s not much in the way of luxury items or boutiques in Esperance, but there are galleries filled with Aboriginal art and an entire factory dedicated to making leather from fish. You can learn all about the process on a quick tour of the facility. Esperance is also home to the Esperance Boulevard Shopping Centre, home to 16 stores where you can find all sorts of things you might need for your trip before Esperance cruises depart.
You’ll use the Australian dollar ($AUD) while stopped in Esperance. Visa and Mastercard are the widely accepted credit cards in the area, and cash is accepted pretty much anywhere. American Express is less commonly accepted. Tipping isn’t common practice in Western Australia, so it’s not necessary to tip, unless you want to leave change in a tip jar at cafes as a thank you.