Esperance Port Guide (Australia), Things to Do, Shore Excursions

Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia

Welcome to Esperance port, Australia!

The town of Esperance lies on the Southern Ocean coastline of the Goldfields–Esperance region of Western Australia state and is renowned for its gorgeous white sandy beaches, salt lakes, water activities and national parks. Due to its natural attractions and well-developed infrastructure, Esperance has become a popular stop in Australian cruise itineraries. In this article, read about:

  • Esperance cruise port (Esperance cruise terminal, getting around)
  • Top 6 things to do in Esperance port and the best Esperance shore excursions

Visit also our cruise port guides to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Darwin, Cairns and New Zealand cruise ports

Esperance Port Info

Esperance cruise port is a tender port. Cruise ships anchor in the Bay of Esperance, and cruise passengers are transferred to Cruise Ship Tender Pier on Taylor Street via tender boats. The tender boat ride takes approx. 20 minutes.

Cruise Ship Tender Pier is located within 900 meters or less than a 15-minute walk from Esperance downtown, also referred to as Esperance central business district (Esperance CBD). The pier overlooks The Esplanade, a long, tree-lined waterfront boulevard with vast green lawns and parks. There’s not much around the pier itself, except for the Esperance Bay Yacht Club, parking lot, public toilet, and restaurant.

Esperance downtown and port area are flat, wheelchair-accessible and easy to navigate. Downtown is centered around Andrew St and Dempster St, which runs parallel to the Esplanade. Within a short walking distance of the pier, you’ll find shops, restaurants, bars, car rentals, ATMs, banks, supermarkets, and a couple of pharmacies.

Esperance town center
Esperance town. Photo courtesy of Roxana Popescu.

Useful info:

  • See Esperance port on Google maps
  • The currency in Australia is the Australian Dollar (AUD). 1 USD equals approx. 0.70 USD. Tipping is not customary in Australia. See the currency converter
  • Public transport in Esperance is operated by the TransRegional public bus service, which is managed by the Public Transport Authority of Western Australia. “Trans” branded bus services operate in 15 major regional towns, including Esperance (TransEsperance is the local operator). There are several routes that run through the town and in the suburb of Esperance including Nulsen, Castletown, and West Beach. You can check timetables and fares on the official webpage https://www.pta.wa.gov.au/
  • Esperance Boulevard is the main shopping mall in the town, located a 20-minute walk from the cruise port. More info on https://www.esperanceboulevard.com.au/
  • Esperance has a Mediterranean climate, with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. For more tips on how to pack for a cruise to Esperance, check out my article What to Pack for a Cruise – Top 50 Cruise Essentials 
  • Esperance Visitor Center is located on Dempster St, a 15-minute walk from the cruise pier.
  • Esperance Airport is located about 23 km/15 miles (a 20-minute drive) north of Esperance port.
  • Esperance is located along National Route 1, 720 km/450 miles southeast of Perth or a 1-hour 30-minute flight to the small Esperance Airport.
  • Check out the best hotels in Esperance

Top 6 Things to Do in Esperance Port

Esperance is best known for its glorious beaches and beautiful national parks that are home to rare wildlife, secluded bays and spectacular landscapes. Downtown Esperance is also an interesting place to wander around, with a variety of shops, bars and eateries, cultural landmarks and parks.

Some of the main activities in Esperance port include hiking, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, boating, surfing and fishing. Little is known that the coast of Esperance is home to the Cyclops wave, one of the most dangerous waves in the world that scares even the boldest and most experienced surfers and that can only be accessed by boat. Cooper Reef is a purpose-built artificial reef constructed to attract fish and enhance fish stocks in order to create new fishing and recreation opportunities for both tourists and locals.

Before I share with you the best things to do in the port of Esperance, I invite you to sign up below and get my insider, exclusive SHORE EXCURSION GUIDE for FREE!

1. Cape Le Grand National Park

Cape Le Grand National Park is located 49 km/30 miles (a 40-minute drive) southeast of Esperance. It is one of the five national parks found in that area, famous for its rugged granite shoreline, rich flora and fauna, impeccably white beaches and stunning coastal sceneries.

Popular activities in the park are hiking, rock climbing, recreational fishing, off-road driving, swimming, and camping. The Coastal Trail is a spectacular, but challenging 20-kilometer walk trail, while Frenchman Peak (262 m) is one of the most popular hiking locations offering incredible views of the park and islands of the Recherche Archipelago once you’re on the top.

The islands and waters to the south of the park are known as the Recherche Archipelago Nature Reserve, a protected area located in the Recherche Archipelago off the south coast of Western Australia.

Cape Le Grand National Park includes the beaches at Rossiter Bay, Hellfire Bay, Le Grand Beach, Thistle Cove, and Lucky Bay, home to a colony of kangaroos which are often seen basking in the hot sun of the bay. Park entry fees apply, and you can find more information on https://exploreparks.dbca.wa.gov.au/

Check out Cape Le Grand National Park tours and activities

Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand National Park
Lucky Bay. Photo courtesy of Roxana Popescu.

2. Cape Arid National Park 

Renowned for its wild nature, diverse landscapes, and wide sandy beaches, Cape Arid National Park is a perfect spot for those looking for remote places of unspoiled beauty. The park lies at the eastern end of the Recherche Archipelago, east of Cape Le Grand National Park, and approximately 115 km/72 miles (a 1-hour 15-minute drive) east of the port of Esperance. The bay on its eastern side is Israelite Bay, while the western end is known as Duke of Orleans Bay.

Cape Arid is home to more than 1100 species of plants and more than 160 species of birds, including some rare and endangered species. The major activities in the park include bushwalking, kayaking, canoeing, 4WD driving, surfing, fishing, camping, snorkeling and swimming. In winter and spring, nature enthusiasts come to Dolphin Cove and Tagon Coastal Trail to spot the migrating southern right and humpback whales. Park entry fees apply and you can get more information on https://exploreparks.dbca.wa.gov.au/

Explore Cape Arid National Park tours and activities

Cape Le Grand National Park, white beach
Endless white. Photo courtesy of Roxana Popescu.

3. Esperance Downtown

There are several attractions not to be missed in Esperance downtown, and one of them is Esperance Museum situated on James Street, a 15-minute walk from the cruise ship terminal. The museum offers a glimpse into the rich cultural and historic heritage of Esperance including artifacts and objects such as ancient weaponry and preserved train carriages.

Less than 250 m from Esperance Museum, next to the Esperance Visitor Center on Dempster St, the Museum Village hosts markets on two Sundays every month, with stalls selling fresh produce, authentic arts and crafts, local food, honey, jams, and so much more!

Esperance Museum
Esperance Museum. Photo courtesy of Roxana Popescu.

Another unique place is Mermaid Leather studio, located a 5-minute drive north of the port. Mermaid Leather is one of the few companies in the world specializing in turning waste fish skins into fine leather and some of the classiest fashion accessories available. In the studio, you can learn about the making process and shop for handcrafted leather goods. https://mermaidleather.com.au/

Situated less than a 10-minute drive from the cruise pier, near Pink Lake, Cindy Poole Glass Gallery features stylish and sustainable handcrafted glass art. In the gallery, you can learn about the artist’s work, and join the hands-on workshops and behind-the-scene tours. https://www.cindypoole.com.au/

Although small, downtown Esperance boasts many green spaces, playgrounds and parks filled with sculptures and artworks such as Wind Farm sculpture, Whale Tail sculpture, and Lighthouse sculpture at Taylor Street Jetty.

A little bit further from downtown, several lookout points such as Rotary Lookout and Dempster Head offer stunning views of the town of Esperance and its magnificent beaches.

Explore Esperance tours and activities

4. Esperance Beaches

The beaches in Esperance are ranked among the most stunning beaches in the world due to their incredible turquoise and crystal clear waters, perfectly white sands, and scenic coastline.

Dozens of beaches are nestled along the coastline within a short driving distance of the town of Esperance (Blue Haven, Twilight beach, Salmon Beach, Fourth Beach, 9 Mile Beach, 11 Mile Beach, Wylie Bay Beach…) while some of the most spectacular beaches and secluded bays dot Cape Le Grand National Park a little bit further (Lucky Bay, Hellfire Beach, Cape Le Grand Beach, Wharton Beach, Thistle Cove, Duke of Orleans Bay…).

Lucky Bay beach
Lucky Bay beach. Source: Creative Commons

Esperance beaches and bays are popular for activities including camping, hiking, fishing, surfing, swimming, boating, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

Below is the list of the most beautiful and famous beaches in the Esperance area:

  • Twilight Beach – Nestled along Twilight Beach Rd, 8 km/5 miles (a 10-minute drive) southwest of Esperance port, Twilight Beach is a picture-perfect white sand beach with crystal clear blue waters and smooth offshore rocks. Due to its shallow waters, the beach offers safe swimming and is ideal for families with kids.
  • Blue Haven Beach – Situated around 6 km/4 miles (less than a 10-minute drive) from Esperance cruise terminal, Blue Haven Beach is another beach boasting unbelievably turquoise waters and fascinating views. It is known for its rugged coastline and steep and winding staircase providing easy access to the beach.
  • Lucky Bay – The iconic beach is home to a colony of friendly Western Grey kangaroos that can often be found wandering along the white sand beach, playing with the visitors or soaking up the sun. Lucky Bay beach is located within Cape Le Grand National Park, about 65 km/40 miles (a 50-minute drive) from the port of Esperance. Lucky Bay boasts turquoise crystal clear waters and sugar-white sands, ideal for swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and surfing. It is also a popular camping and whale spotting location.
  • Hellfire Bay – This magnificent bay is located within Cape Le Grand National Park, a 10-minute drive from Lucky Bay and around 60 km/37 miles (a 50-minute drive) from the port Esperance. Hellfire Bay beach is considered to be one of the most breathtaking beaches in the park.
  • Cape Le Grand Beach – Also known as Le Grand beach, it is located 60 km/37 miles (a 45-minute drive) from Esperance cruise port. Cape Le Grand Beach is the trailhead for the western end of the Le Grand Coastal Trail and is a popular camping area.
  • Thistle Cove – Thistle Cove is nestled between Lucky Bay and Hellfire Beach in the Cape Le Grand National Park. It is yet another spectacular bay with white sand and turquoise waters, named after John Thistle whose ship sailed these waters in 1802.
  • Duke of Orleans Bay – Located a 1-hour drive from the Esperance cruise port, Duke of Orleans Bay lies on a peninsula between Cape Le Grand and Cape Arid National Parks. This beautiful bay is backed by dense woodlands and popular activities here are fishing, surfing, wakeboarding, water skiing, and four-wheel driving. Duke of Orleans Bay Caravan Park is an RV park available on Wharton Rd, at the southern end of the bay.
  • Wharton Beach – Wharton Beach is an incredible beach located only 5 minutes from Duke of Orleans Bay. The beach boasts powdery soft sands and a peaceful vibe ideal for chilling and relaxing. The beach is popular for surfing and fishing.
  • Wylie Bay Beach – Wylie Bay is located in the vicinity of Mullet Lake Nature Reserve and is adjacent to Rossiter Bay. This beach is popular for surfers and 4WD drivers as it provides access to sand dunes and off-road rugged terrain.
  • Rossiter Bay – Rossiter Bay lies 13 km/8 miles (a 15-minute drive) northeast of Esperance cruise terminal. It is a secluded bay with a long, curving sandy beach, known for a variety of birdlife and birdwatching activities.

Explore Esperance beaches tours and activities

Hellfire Bay beach
Hellfire Bay beach. Source: Creative Commons

5. Pink Lake

Western Australia is known for numerous salt lakes whose striking pink colors are due to algae that live in the water and produce beta-carotene under adequate salinity levels and light conditions. There are several pink lakes in the proximity of Esperance, including Lake Hillier on Middle Island, off the coast of Cape Arid at the eastern end of the Recherche Archipelago.

Separated from the Southern Ocean by a thin strip of sand and surrounded by dense woodland, the extraordinary lake is bubblegum pink, which makes the whole scenery even more surreal. Lake Hillier lies about 130 km/70 miles from Esperance and is best visited by boat or helicopter.

Another pink lake near Esperance is only around 7 km/4.3 miles (a 10-minute drive) west of Esperance cruise terminal, however, this pink lake has lost its pink color in the past years due to salinity changes.

Check out Pink Lake tours and activities

Lake Hillier
Lake Hillier on Middle Island. Source: Creative Commons

6. Woody Island Nature Reserve

Woody Island is one of the 105 islands of the Recherche Archipelago that stretches 230 km/140 miles from Esperance to the Great Australian Bight. Woody Island lies 15 km/9 miles off the coast of Esperance and is known for its abundant wildlife and flora, sheltered bays, tall trees, and numerous tourist facilities allowing visitors to fully enjoy this unspoiled slice of paradise.

All the visitor facilities and a visitor center are operated by Woody Island Eco Tours, and these include accommodation, camping facilities, walk and snorkel trails, ferry transfers, and more. Woody Island is a perfect day trip for those looking for hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and wildlife spotting.

Check out Woody Island tours and activities

Wrapping Up

Whether you decide to explore Esperance downtown or visit one of its magnificent beaches and national parks, the Esperance cruise port offers many choices for everyone’s taste! Make sure you plan your day ahead to get the most out of this beautiful port of call!

Visit also our cruise port guides to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Darwin, Cairns and New Zealand cruise ports


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