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 (although the tourist boards have now renamed it The Amazing South Coast), Albany is around a 4.5-hour journey by car south of Perth. This has become our summer escape from the overpowering heat of the Middle East in July/August each year. 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 Albany beaches though is like picking between your children! Putting family practicality as well as natural beauty front of mind, here’s the Globetrotters countdown of the five most family-friendly beaches, that should feature on any Australian travellers bucket list.
This post is part of our Discover Australia Series. You may also like to check out our guide on How to Road Trip Western Australia
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.
Where to stay near Emu Point
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 explorer’s delight!) and lined with huge Norfolk Pines, providing wonderful shade in the hot summer months.
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 are 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.
Where to stay near Middleton Beach
This is arguably the best place to position yourself when exploring the region with kids. You are walking distance to several large and recently refurbished playgrounds as well as the beach, yet only a stone’s throw from Albany town centre.
3. Fisherman’s 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 Whaling Cove to the 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.
Where to stay near Fisherman’s Beach
There is no accommodation actually on Vancouver Peninsular, the nearest township you pass through is Little Grove where you will find a few B&Bs and the Harbourside Motel, or simply drive from downtown Albany.
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 most weather 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 wider strip of sand then Greens Pool is your place, where there is also a toilet in the car park.
Where to stay near Williams Bay
As this is National Park, you will need to head back towards Denmark for accommodation where there’s a huge range of self-catering cottages through to luxury chalets.
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 gently 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 it’s 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 viewpoint. This is our paradise.
Where to stay near Little Beach
The Two People’s Bay Nature Reserve allows camping though facilities are limited and 4WD may be required. If you prefer walls around you, head back towards Albany where there is a large range of motel and self-catering style accommodation from holiday parks through to farm stays.
A little more on the Amazing South 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 South Coast do, so plan stops carefully!
- All beaches mentioned are accessible by standard 2WD 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 coast is quite rugged so it’s important to check water safety and where rips might occur before simply jumping in. Other than Middleton Beach, there is no regular surf life-saving service so be extra vigilant, tides can change fast.
- 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.
- Continue your journey around the southern coast of WA with our next family guide, Walpole & the Southern Forests.
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Do you have a favourite South 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! And don’t forget to check out our complete guide to exploring Albany with kids, along with our suggested road trip itinerary for exploring southern Western Australia
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