A Globetrotters favourite and a true hidden gem for families – everything you need to know for visiting Broome
In this guide we talk you through
- Best times to visit Broome
- Things to do with kids ( a lot of them are free!)
- Best places for families to stay
- How to get there and get around
A bit more about Broome
The seaside township of Broome is nestled on the northern Western Australia coastline, over 2,200km north of Perth or 1,800km south-west from Darwin.
Originally founded as a pearling town in the 1880’s, it is now better known for it’s amazing Cable Beach sunsets and tourism. The pearling trade over the decades brought with it an influx of mainly Japanese pearl divers and cheap labour from South East Asia. To this day there is still a strong Asian influence as you stroll around town. The permanent population of Broome is only around 15,000 but this can swell to over 45,000 during peak holiday seasons.
One thing that fascinated visitors to Broome and the Dampier Peninsula is the incredible tides. At some points of the year, there is up to a 10m difference between low and high tide. Whilst some attractions are better at high tide, others are only visible when the tide is significantly low so you will need to plan your daily adventures accordingly.
Best times to visit Broome
There are two distinct seasons in the north of Australia; Wet and Dry. The dry season runs approximately April to October and is the best time to go with long mild days with daily temperatures around 32c. Wet season can be incredibly unpredictable with the threat of hurricanes and humidity, as well as frequent rain and increased chance of “stingers” – poisonous jellyfish – in the water.
If you are looking to see the phenomena of Staircase to the Moon, this only happens over 2-3 days of the month during March to October – (more on this below!).
Booking during peak times will naturally cost you more. If you do come during off season you may be risking the weather but get some exceptionally good rates!
Note that Western Australia winter school holidays generally fall in early July. This is peak tourist season and may be worth avoiding for overseas visitors. Aussie visitors should book early to secure accommodation and car hire at this time – you can find a full listing of WA school holidays here.
Things to do in Broome with kids
Honestly, this list could go on forever! If simply enjoying the weather, the beaches and the most phenomenal sunsets aren’t enough, set out around town to see some amazing natural wonders and beauty that will genuinely keep the kids engaged.
One criticism we had on our last visit was that prices seemed to have been inflated a lot, more so than other parts of Australia. Meals to petrol all cost a lot. Tourist shops, attractions are priced accordingly for a very touristy market. Some things are definitely worth the price – others only if you feel its a once in a lifetime experience.
Free Activities in Broome
Cable Beach – Stroll along 22kms of one of the most magnificent wide sandy beaches in the world. Watching the sunset is, of course, free, although busy near the car park and surf club at dusk. 4wds are allowed on certain parts of the beach – but its shared amongst the joggers, yogi’s – even the nudists so just be careful where you set up camp!
Near the Broome Surf Club, there are shower facilities as well as a playground and cafes.
Exploring the dinosaur footprints – yes really! Head out to Gantheaume Point at low tide and you might just get to stand inside a 130 million-year-old fossilised dinosaur footprint! It’s a bit of a hike for those with small legs and a little slippery. Take smaller tots in a carrier and you’ll probably need a set of hands free per child, but well worth the scramble. Suggest you wear proper footwear and check tides as you can only see them when the tide is under 2.16m.
If you come at the wrong time of day there is still a cast near the car park you can try for size! The views from here are truly spectacular too. The red rocks against the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, and as you can imagine even more amazing sunsets as you watch the sun kiss the ocean each night – we always end up making several visits out here!
The Shell House – located on Guy Street, this private collection of over 5000 shells is open to the public to view the shells for free, as well as selling jewellery. A great place to come and peruse (just mind little kid hands!) [We have read conflicting reports that the Shell House has closed or was sold since our last visit]
Visit the deep sea harbour – Hours of fun here for kids watching the ships load and offload from this busy working pier. Pedestrians can walk along the footbridge to the end to see giant cargo ships loading and unloading. Its also a popular spot for fisherman. Our kids enjoyed watching and asking them what they had caught – if you have your own line with you, why not throw it in? (Or pick up a cheap one from Target in town!).
In the car park opposite the pier (turn right instead of left at the end of the road), there are further rocky beaches and rock pools to explore at low tide.
Town Beach – not the wide sweeping white sandy beaches of Cable Beach but none the less a pleasant wade on the Roebuck Bay side of town ideal for little ones. There are good familiy facilities here, toilets, playpark and a small splash park, and an excellent place to watch the colours and tides of Broome.
Stroll through Chinatown – truly demonstrating the town’s diverse history and character, Chinatown is the mix you’d expect of Australian colonial style architecture with an Asian influence. Back in the day, this is where the pearl luggers would come back to spend their hard earned cash after months at sea. Today, it’s rather full of tourist tat shops, though it’s still fun to have a stroll and collect your trinkets and grab an icecream! Amongst the tat, you will find the real deal too with genuine WA cultured pearls still being sold.
Courthouse Markets – all the charm and character of a country Australian market in the lush tropical gardens of the old courthouse. Pick yourself out a genuine, handcrafted Aussie souvenir as well as enjoying local delicacies and entertainment. Held Saturday mornings throughout the year and Sunday mornings during dry season.
Staircase to the Moon – When there is a full moon rising over the tidal flats of Roebuck Bay, the rippled mud flats make it appear as though there is a staircase you could climb until it’s touching the moon.
Truly sensational to watch (but remember EVERYONE visiting Broome at this time turns out to see it too, it will be busy, you will be competing with selfie-sticks and everyone wanting that perfect shot).
If you don’t have a “good” camera, forget trying to capture it on an iPhone or compact and just enjoy the experience! There are also night markets held at Town Beach on the Staircase to the Moon nights making it a fun hub of activity (albeit have something on your kids to try and identify them in the dark!!)
And activities in Broome for a fee
Camels on Cable Beach – I bet most of you are familiar with the beautiful and dramatic shots of camels gracefully walking along Cable Beach at dawn & dusk. They are, of course, run for profit though so expect to pay the price for this experience, and not particularly cheap (expect to pay around $90AUD per adult, $50-70AUD per child and lap children $10AUD).
Broome Cycles – Although Broome is fairly well spread out, it’s also fairly flat making it good for cycling. You can hire from Broome Cycles in Hammersley Street or get a fat tire beach bike from Cable Beach. Kid-sized bikes are available as well as helmets and baby seats.
Malcolm Douglas Wilderness Wildlife Park – Moved to its new home 16kms north of Broome, head out here to not only capture crocodiles but other Australian birds and wildlife. Open only in the afternoons, daily feeding tours start at 3pm. The entry price for 3 hours seems a little bit extortionate, especially paying for a whole family, but I comfort myself that the money is going to a good place.
See more on Aussie wildlife in our Aussie Animal Encounters post
Pearl Farm Tour – head out to Cygnet Bay or Willie Creek to catch an insight into a modern day cultured pearl farming still operational today.
Matso’s Brewery – One of the better boutique breweries in Oz. Specializing in the unusual combination of Indian food and mango & chilli beer! The mango beer is a unique experience but I must say the chilli was a step too far for me (Yes you need the curry to wash the beer down!). Lovely grounds for the kids to have a bit of a run around as well as some arcade games to keep them entertained.
Sun Pictures Broome – The world’s oldest outdoor theatre still operating today. Come and pull up a deck chair or a picnic rug and catch the latest blockbusters in an outdoor setting every evening.
Day Trips from Broome & into the Kimberleys
If you are new to Western Australia, then exploring further a field into the Kimberleys during a visit to Broome is a must. There are some amazing day trips and overnight experiences to be had with some of the most dramatic and spectacular scenery in the world (no exaggeration!)
Something we are yet to experience for ourselves but remains extremely high on our bucket list is Horizontal Falls in the Buccaneer Archipelago. You take a 4wd up the Dampier Peninsular then seaplane or helicopter out to Talbot Bay to watch this tidal phenomenon where the huge tidal surges try to escape through a tiny 25-meter gorge. This forces the water back to form a horizontal waterfall! There are day tour and overnight options from Broome. and explore by speed boat.
There are several companies that offer day tours, involving either jetting through the rapids in a speedboat or take in the dramatic views from above in a light aircraft or helicopter. There are also overnight camping options to sleep on a houseboat under the stars – definitely one of those once in a lifetime experience! (For the most dramatic forecast tides of the year you need to book early with the tour companies).
For other scenic flights, safari’s, boat tours and so much more check out Visit Broome or visit their information center in town
Broome family accommodation
The good news is, there’s a load of accommodation options around Broome to suit different budgets, from backpackers through to the high-end luxury like Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa.
Those looking for a happy medium with kids will probably prefer a self-catering holiday rental. We last stayed at Cable Beachside Villas which offer 2 & 3-bed self-catering apartments, perfect for family groups and easy walking distance to Cable Beach. The onsite pool and lovely gardens and barbeque area were also a big plus.
Families wanting more space will also enjoy the aparthotel’s at the gorgeous Mantra Frangipani Broome – 10 minutes drive from town/airport or 3 minutes drive to Cable Beach.
If you want to be closer to the action of town and the shops, look for options near to Roebuck Bay. Mangrove Hotel is a highly rated option only minutes walk from the town centre, weekend markets and set in lush gardens, as is Moonlight Bay Suites with self-contained apartments minutes from the beach.
Staying anywhere near the Town Beach you will also have access to a lovely splash area and cafe and this is the best location for Staircase to the Moon.
Those on a budget or caravaning, there’s a great guide to best caravan parks around Broome written by Big World Small Pockets – she gives a thumbs up to Broome Caravan Park – albeit it’s quite far out of town but plenty of space for kids to run around. Her top billing though is Cable Beach Caravan Park (across the road from the beachside villas we mention above!).
Note we personally use and recommend HotelsCombined, linked in this post for comparing quotes on best pricing offered by global booking companies.
Getting there and getting around Broome
You are undoubtedly in a pretty isolated part of the world here. Unless you are doing a grand Australian road trip with your own camper or caravan, the best way to get in and out of Broome is flying. There are fairly regular daily services from Perth and Darwin, or 2/3 time a week services from Melbourne & Sydney with Qantas. You can check cheapest flights and timetables on Skyscanner.
The township of Broome and attractions listed here are quite spread out. Although the airport is very close to the town centre, Cable Beach is several kilometres north-west. If you haven’t driven to Broome, I would recommend hiring a car from the airport to get around with a family (but note, being an isolated place – your car hire options might be limited). Book in advance especially during peak times – we recommend comparing prices with Skyscanner’s new car rental search tool.
There is also a town bus service in operation every hour, every 30 minutes during peak times to get you between the major sites – kids travel free.
Want more from Western Australia? Come check out our Aussie Travel Archives
Whether it was the wonderful warm weather, wide open beaches or the fascinating history, visiting Broome as a child was one of those truly memorable experiences.
It was something we couldn’t wait to share with our own children when we returned to Australia. Prices had certainly gone up and the town has grown a lot, but much of the charm, has been retained and mass development appears controlled. We will most definitely be back and hopefully next time we will get out to the falls and see more of the Kimberley region!
So what are you waiting for? Time to get beautiful Broome on your bucket list
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Disclosures: We received no remuneration in return for comment on any of the places or attractions listed. As always, all opinions are our own. This page contains affiliate links, if you click on these they may earn us a small income to keep this page running as a free resource. You can see our full disclosure policy here.
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