Bus driving along the Great Ocean Drive in Esperance, Western Australia. Scenic view of the ocean to the left and green landscapes to the right
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7 Must-See Stops In Esperance Great Ocean Drive, Things To Do + Free Map

Esperance Great Ocean Drive is a 40-km scenic loop that takes you through +20 beautiful attractions of the town.

It’s the best way to explore Esperance for free, hands down. You don’t need a 4WD either!

The drive starts east of town, at the Cannery Arts Centre. You’ll continue driving west, through the Esplanade and West Beach, then through Blue Haven, and Twilight Bay, all the way to 11-Mile Beach. The way back takes you through Pink Lake:

Screenshot of the Great Ocean Drive map, in Esperance, Western Australia. Shows all the stops of the scenic drive

You can complete the entire drive in less than 1 hour, but there are LOTS of things to do – hiking, surfing, snorkelling, and even whale-watching!

That’s why we recommend spending at least half a day there. This is enough time to enjoy the drive and explore these 7 must-see stops on Esperance’s Great Ocean Drive.

Free map of the Great Ocean Drive (Esperance, Western Australia)

Some maps of Esperance’s Great Ocean Drive are outdated, as some stops were permanently closed a while ago.

Here’s an up-to-date version you can steal! Add it directly to your Google Maps account and do the drive stress-free.

It has all the stops marked. The 7 must-see ones are in yellow so you can easily find them on the map: routes mentioned further down and awesome spots to check out:

To add the map to your Google Maps, click on the star in the upper right corner.

7 Must-see stops on the Great Ocean Drive

There are +20 stops on the Great Ocean Drive. They’re all worth stopping by, but we recommend spending extra time on these 7:

1) Rotary Lookout

Excellent views, easy hikes.

The Rotary Lookout offers a 360° view of the town and the archipelago. It’s perfect to catch a breathtaking sunset!

If you enjoy bushwalking, don’t miss the small and easy trail that takes you to Lover’s Beach, a secluded bay snug between steep hillsides.

2) West Beach

Great surfing, whale-watching.

This is an excellent spot for catching some waves. It has three different reef breaks, making it an ideal location for surfers of all levels.

If you’re visiting anywhere between June and October, you might get lucky and spot some whales frolicking in the ocean!

3) Blue Haven

Superb snorkelling, perfect for sunbathing.

Blue Haven is a sheltered beach ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkelling, as it’s nestled between rock faces that protect it from the wind. To get to the beach, you have to go through a steep and winding staircase, which adds to the adventure!

4) Twilight Bay

Rated one of the best beaches in the WORLD.

Twilight Bay is one of the most popular beaches in Esperance for a reason! It has:

  • Soft, white sands

  • Beautiful blue waters, perfect for snorkelling

  • Ample space for visitors

  • Boulders to explore and jump off from

  • Dolphins, especially between September and May

During our visit, we jumped off the rocks and a pod of dolphins came swimming to us! It was life-changing:

5) Observatory point

Excellent views, beautiful during wildflower season.

Observatory Point has an incredible lookout, you’ll get there after climbing a set of stairs. From the top, you’ll get an amazing view of the coastline and the high coastal cliffs.

If you visit during wildflower season (August – November), make sure to try some of the surrounding walking trails! The whole area blossoms, it’s stunning.

You can also climb down the staircase to the beach for a closer look.

6) Nine-mile beach

Excellent surfing and snorkelling.

This beach is another excellent spot for surfing, with different reef breaks that make it a playground for surfers of all levels. And if you’re into snorkelling, explore the many rock pools at 9-mile lagoon!

7) Pink Lake Lookout

It’s a Pink Lake… that’s not usually pink.

The Pink Lake may not live up to its name as it lost its colour a few years ago. But the lookout offers excellent photography opportunities, especially at sunset.

Even if the lake isn’t pink when you visit, you’ll still enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Things to do along the Great Ocean Drive

Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast or a nature lover, the Great Ocean Drive has something for everyone! Here are some of the things you can do there:

Surfing

Woman surfing in Twilight Beach (Esperance, Western Australia) with turqouise waters and blue skies

The Great Ocean Drive is a paradise for surfers of all levels. There are several excellent surfing spots like West Beach, Chapman’s Point, and Fourth Beach where you can catch some exciting waves.

Snorkelling

The crystal-clear waters of Esperance are perfect for snorkelling. You can explore the underwater world at must-visit locations like Twilight Beach and Blue Haven. With an abundance of marine life, snorkelling in Esperance is an unforgettable experience.

Hiking

If you love nature and enjoy a challenging hike, the Great Ocean Trail is a must-do. This 17 km trail offers stunning views, seasonal whale-watching and wildflower blooms.

Most people do it on a bike, but the experience is exhilarating anyway. Just make sure to arrange pick-up if you’ll do it on foot!

Whale-watching

Between June and October, the Great Ocean Drive turns into a whale-watching hotspot. You can see these majestic creatures at various points along the drive. Remember to bring your binoculars and prepare to be amazed.

A humpback whale breaching in the ocean in Esperance, Western Australia

Don’t want to drive? Book this Great Ocean Drive tour

This 2-hour tour takes you along the Great Ocean Drive loop… on a motorcycle sidecar!

Your professional guide will take you beyond the tourist trail, showing you all the best views of the area. It’s the perfect blend of relaxation, scenery, and adventure.

Other things to do in Esperance

While the Great Ocean Drive is a must-do, Esperance has plenty more to offer! Including:

  • Exploring the stunning Cape Le Grand National Park

  • Visiting the kangaroos at Lucky Bay

  • Camping at Wharton Beach

  • Hike up Frenchman’s Peak

  • Snorkelling at Woody Island

Apart from Cape Le Grand, there are 2 national parks nearby which are 100% worth checking out – Stokes National Park and Cape Arid. The latter is 4WD only.

Keep reading: +15 things to do in Esperance that should be on every itinerary.

How to get to Esperance?

Esperance is a bit remote, sitting 700 km from Perth. You can get there by bus, by flying, or self-driving.

For those who don’t want to drive, you can get there:

  • By bus, with Transwa. It’s a public transport service offering the cheapest way to get to Esperance. The bus takes you from Perth to Esperance in 10-12 hours.

  • By plane, with Rex. It’s an airline that takes you to Esperance in 2 hours from Perth. This is the quickest way to get there. We recommend using Trip.com for the cheapest fares!

We love self-driving because the route between Perth and Esperance is PERFECT for a road trip. There are dozens of places in between worth checking out – Bremer Bay, Albany, Margaret River, Yallingup…

Here’s a detailed guide for road-tripping from Perth to Esperance. It includes the most direct route, the most scenic route, things to do along the way, and more. A free map is included, too!

Best time to do the Great Ocean Drive

The best time to do the Great Ocean Drive is between December and May. This is the end of summer and spring.

During these months, the weather is perfect for outdoor activities – surfing, snorkelling, hiking, etc. But if you want to watch the whales, the best time would be between June and October.

Where to stay in Esperance?

There are plenty of places to stay in Esperance. The ones that are closest to Esperance Great Ocean Drive are:

  • The Jetty Resort. This motel is the best budget-friendly option. It’s in the city centre and offers rooms that sleep up to 5 people.
  • Esperance Bay Holiday Park. Best for families, this holiday park is near West Beach. It has powered sites and cabins that sleep up to 6 people.
  • Esperance Island View Apartments. For those who want to feel at home, check out this aparthotel! Also in the heart of town, it has apartments and cabins for up to 7 people.

Top Tips

Due to its remoteness, you need a car to explore everything Esperance has to offer. But don’t worry, you can easily rent one in town. We recommend using RentalCars as they find the cheapest deals for you!

Bring plenty of water, especially if you want to go hiking or will spend a few hours outdoors. Don’t forget sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable footwear.

Leave no trace of your visit – it’s on us to keep Esperance beautiful and wild for years to come!

Finally, make sure to save the itinerary into your Google Maps. It has the updated route of the Great Ocean Drive, plus our 7-must-see stops. Click on the star to save the map, as shown here:

Screenshot of Google Map showing the Great Ocean Drive in Esperance, WA. It has a text saying that you have to click the star to save the map into your Google account

Did you know?

The Traditional Owners of the area are the Nyungar people, who called this area “Kepa Kurl“, which translates to “where the waters lie like boomerangs“, referring to the boomerang-shaped bays of Esperance.

The Great Ocean Drive originally had 23 stops, but one of them, the Ten Mile Wind Farm, is permanently closed.

FAQs

How long is the Great Ocean Drive Esperance?

The Great Ocean Drive Esperance is 40 kilometres long. It’s a loop that takes you through the main attractions of Esperance – the Esplanade, West Beach, Twilight Bay, Pink Lake, etc.

It features stunning beaches, rocky headlands, small bays, cliffs and hidden ocean pools.

Is Great Ocean Drive worth it?

Yes, the Great Ocean Drive in Esperance is worth it! It’s free, accessible by any vehicle, and there are plenty of things to do – surfing, snorkelling, sunbathing, hiking…

Where does Great Ocean Drive start and end?

The Great Ocean Drive is a loop, so it starts and ends in the same place – the Cannery Arts Centre.

How long does it take to drive the Great Ocean Drive?

It takes 40 minutes to do the Great Ocean Drive in Esperance without stops. But there are so many things to check out, we recommend spending at least half a day exploring it!

The bottom line

The Great Ocean Drive in Esperance is an adventure like no other. The drive offers something for everyone:

  • Stunning beaches

  • Breathtaking lookouts

  • Exhilarating surfing

  • Tranquil snorkelling

  • Vibrant wildlife

  • Rich cultural heritage

It packs a lot in just 40km, so come prepared! Bring water, food, comfy shoes and your sense of adventure!

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