Hands up who likes amazing soft white sand, gentle crashing waves and year-round awesome weather?
The southern coast of Western Australia, also known as the Rainbow Coast has a stunning array of beaches for holidaymakers and locals alike to relax, swim, surf or fish from.
Located in the Great Southern region, around a 4 to 5-hour journey by car south of Perth, this is our summer escape from the overpowering heat of the Middle East in July/August each year. We stay with my parents in the rural town of Mount Barker, only a short drive to some of the most spectacular and inviting coastline in the world. Despite being the middle of the Australian winter when we visit, we still find plenty of opportunities to explore the great outdoors every chance we can.
Asking to choose our favourite beaches though is like picking between your children, but putting all my heart and practicality into it, here’s the Our Globetrotters countdown of the five most family-friendly beaches, also encompassing amazing views that should feature on any Australian travellers bucket list.
5. Emu Point Beach
This is probably the best one for small children. Located at the entrance to Oyster Harbour, the water is incredibly calm, and as a huge bonus you have proximity to a cafe, toilets and a wonderful and very newly refurbished play park. Only a short distance further on there is also a small marina with a fish ‘n chip shop; fisherman bring in their catch here and our kids love watching the huge pelicans begging for scraps (safely from behind the window of the car though!).
My only criticism of this beach and reason it doesn’t rate higher is that the water here is a little murky compared to some of the other choices but certainly tops the list for family-friendly facilities.
4. Middleton Beach
Lovers of silky white sand will surely be in heaven in this part of the world, though compared to other beaches this one is a little more seaweed covered (much to our little explorers delight!) and lined with huge Norfolk Pines, providing wonderful shade in the hot summer months. This place is utterly packed with holiday makers in the summer with a lot of motels and caravan parks in close proximity, but we have open run at it in the winter.
Home to the Albany Surf Life Saving Club (Winners of Surf Life Saving WA Club of the Year 2015!) you know the kids are in safe hands playing here, there’s also two play areas at either end of the beach if you want a reprieve from the sand, a cafe with toilets, and you are only a few minutes walk to Eyre Park, a wonderful grassed parkland full of play equipment suited to all different ages.
At the very west end of the beach is Ellen Cove, a perfect picturesque pier for fishing and a picnic spot, which then leads to the Ellen Cove Boardwalk, an undulating path that takes you all the way around to Albany Harbour. Little legs might start complaining about the hills but it’s still a relatively easy walk with a stroller with some of the most utterly spectacular coastal views you’ll ever see. We’ve been lucky a few times to see seals out on the rocks, and at the right time of year, you can even capture whales on their migration.
3. Fishermans Beach, Possession Point
A slightly hidden gem facing on to King Georges Sound off the Frenchman’s Bay Road is Fisherman’s Beach. Absolute pristine white sand, waves gently crash on the rocks and the beach, perfect for your little explorers, and perfect sand consistency for sand castles!!
It is well frequented by local fisherman (hence the name) and on a warmer day you could most definitely jump in for a dip too (A local did warn us to veer right coming from the car park to the smaller beach rather than left where ‘clothing is optional’ – you can easily climb across the rocks if you’ve frequented the wrong side!)
A little walk is needed down to the beach itself so very small legs may need some help, and the only facilities are a drop toilet, so BYO picnic and plastic spades for the beach! We last went on a winters day when the water was literally shimmering, absolutely postcard perfect.
2. Williams Bay
OK, technically this one is in Denmark, but so spectacular and still part of the Rainbow Coast. There are several beaches to explore here dotted along little dirt tracks (easily driveable still in a normal car). The popular ones include the calm waters of Greens Pool, exploring the fascinating rock formations of Elephant Rocks, Waterfall Beach or our personal favourite, Madfish Bay.
Here the all mighty waves from the Southern Ocean crash against a small outer island, but they then meet on either side of this breakwater creating a wild swirling pattern – hence the name. At very low tide you can walk out to this island. This is not one I would recommend the small kids go swimming in but clambering the rocks and playing on the beach is fine at low tide (NB check your tide charts before travelling!!) – if you want more protection and a wide strip of sand then Greens Pool is your place, here there is also a toilet.
1. Little Beach, Two Peoples Bay
Love a secluded little beach, printing sand, azure waters and utter serenity? Well, this could well be your paradise.
A weekday in the cooler months other than the occasional fisherman the beach is yours. Local’s advise us that there are some strong currents but the gentle crashing waves are just perfect for youngster splashing and the sand is perfect for sandcastle building, a small scattering of shells just the icing on the cake.
The drive out to the beach through Two Peoples Bay is a spectacle in itself, crossing the King & Calgan Rivers is incredibly picturesque and the lush greenery – particularly now I live in the desert is a bit overwhelming!
If you’re a little more adventurous then there are several coastal walks in Two Peoples Bay as well – with three little ones in tow I haven’t felt brave enough for this yet but I really look forward to future outings back to Little Beach where we can take in this spectacular coastline from a different view point. This is our paradise.
A little more on the Rainbow Coast
All the beaches mentioned here have toilet facilities of varying quality (ie some are long drops – newbies to the country may find these a little, ah surprising, to begin with!) not all beaches along the Rainbow Coast do, so plan stops carefully! All mentioned are also accessible by standard vehicles, there are many others, even more remote, we haven’t had the chance to explore yet which are only 4wd accessible, these tend to be more for surfing and fishing.
The South West is typically a few degrees cooler than Perth. Like many more southern parts of Australia, the winters can be quite cool but daytime temperatures can still rise to over 20 degrees and be spectacularly sunny, making it an ideal year-round destination.
Pin for Later
Do you have a favourite Rainbow Coast beach that I’ve missed? (There are plenty more!). We already can’t wait to come back next year!
You might also like Grape Adventures in Great Southern – a wine lover’s guide to touring the region – with kids!