Western Australia has the best coastline in the world. From seemingly endless stretches of white sand to hidden bays fringed by all colours of rocks and forest we have everything anyone could want for a beach getaway. But where are the best of the best?
It's a tough call and one which will always be argued over because everyone has their own favourite. So perhaps it is dangerous to write this, but here are three lists of a) The beaches we see on all the postcards, b) beaches the locals love and c) my own favourite patches of beachside paradise.
The beaches used to draw tourists from the ends of the earth.
Why? It's more than just swimming. It's camel rides, it's staircase to the moon, it's photogenic, has impressive tides, and the temperature is good for year-round swimming.
Turquoise Bay Turquoise Bay on the Ningaloo Coast is one of the best spots in Australia to snorkel. As the name suggests, the waters are a beautiful colour and visibility is excellent.
The drift snorkel is just spectacular - step in the water down the far end and let the current take you along the bay, passing over a huge variety of corals housing many many species of marine life just metres from the beach. Be sure to heed the warning signs though, or you might find yourself in big trouble if you're not a strong swimmer.
No matter how hard we try, we will never make a pool quite like mother nature can. Green's Pool on WA's southern coast is quite remarkable. It's a crystal clear bay enclosed by pure white sand and beautiful rock formations.
The pool is very large, with plenty of room for the hordes of tourists who flock there over summer, and is great for kids and tourists who aren't the strongest swimmers but want to enjoy Australia's beach lifestyle.
Lucky Bay Speaking of pure white sand, they don't come much whiter than Esperance's Lucky Bay. Not only is it impossibly white, it is very fine too, squeaking under your toes as you walk along the isolated patch of paradise.
What really makes this beach however is the kangaroos. You know that postcard of the 'roo lazing on the beach that has made the rounds? That is Lucky Bay, and it isn't a rare sight. The 'roos come down to the beach most mornings, making for very Instagram-worthy snaps.
The name of this Coral Coast beach is a dead giveaway, Shell Beach in Shark Bay is a beach made up entirely of shells. Why this one has become so famous instead of the other few beaches along the Mid and North West coasts I don't know, but it has, and it is certainly a different feeling and sound walking on all those tiny colourful shells.
If you're the type who likes to ask the locals where to go, these are the beaches they will tell you to go to. They are less touristy, but just as postcard perfect for those who live by them every day.
Calm, relaxing bay, check. Great snorkelling, check. Decent surf, check. Smith's beach in Yallingup is good for the whole family. The side closest to the carpark is a crystal clear, calm bay protected by its rocky surrounds. It's safe for kids and great for anyone wanting to relax or go for a snorkel.
Further down the white sand is the more open, unprotected area, which can kick up a mean swell very close to shore. It's a very long beach too, meaning plenty of space for the often large crowds which head down over summer.
Everyone in Perth knows about The Basin - it's one of two great Rotto beaches (the other being Pinkies). Sunk beneath rocky outcrops, the basin looks like the name would imply.
There's a small sandy section beneath the rocks and a nice sheltered swimming area, which is great for kids and those who aren't strong swimmers. The snorkelling is fantastic here and you'll see plenty of young groups taking diving catches off the edge of the reef within the basin.
What an icon Cottesloe Beach is for Perth right!? Cott is one of the big three — alongside Trigg and Scarborough — popular beaches in WA's capital and it isn't hard to see why: the historic tearooms opening out on to an endless white sand beach, the bars and eateries just metres from the beach, the ample grassed area for those wanting to sit in the shade. Cottesloe is so much more than just a place to swim, not that it's a bad spot to do that either.
What I am about to say will surely irritate a few of Broome's tourist marketers, but Hearson's Cove is home to the best staircase to the moon in WA. The moon rises over the land, giving it a blood red glow at first before slowly turning white as it rises further. Also, there are A LOT fewer people there.
What else is good about Hearson's? It is a photogenic bay surrounded by red-rock hills. It's great for swimming and fishing at high tide and hunting for crabs or taking photos at low tide.
Eagle Bay is still a relatively well-kept secret but the outside world is slowly beginning to see its wonder. The drive in is quite serene. Winding down a tree-lined road with glimpses of ocean through the branches sets your mind up for something special and the beach itself doesn't disappoint.
The beach seems so well hidden when you get there. Complete with a few park benches and canopy-covered picnic area it's another one which is great for the family. The waters are mostly calm, the fishing is very good and it rarely gets too packed to find a spot to yourself.
Well it wouldn't be a review without my personal picks, right? Having driven almost the entire length of the WA coast, here are the places I would not give a second thought to spending the money on fuel to get back out to. They are, for mine, the best beaches in WA, Australia, and the world that I have seen so far.
When I said best beach in WA, Australia and the world this is the beach I was referring to. I know many would disagree, but for me there is just something about this place you can't quite put your finger on. The beach itself is a seemingly endless stretch of clear blue waters flanked on the coast by impressive sand dunes.
The fishing is good, you can drive right up to the waters edge and set up for the day, and the vibe created by the locals here is second to none. The residents of Wedge Island have a true patch of paradise and they sure know it.
Little Parakeet Bay
Just out of the main drag on Rottnest Island is Little Parakeet Bay. This is a great little spot for snorkelling and swimming away from the masses at the more popular beaches closer to the settlement. To one side is a rocky outcrop with a deep hole in the reef which is amazing for fishing or snorkelling if you dare.
The beach is long, which makes it easy to find your own spot, and it just has a great sense of calm about it which can be hard to find in the centre of town.
The name makes this place sound like an epic fish hole, but in reality it is a stunning bay surrounded by rocks, similar to Green's Pool, which very few people seem to go to. It has crystal clear aqua waters, beautiful rocky formations and is of course fringed by the deep green forests of the Great Southern.
It is a hard slog to get there, which makes this hidden gem all the more worthwhile. Conzinc Bay sits up the pointy end of the Burrup Peninsula and you need a high clearance 4WD to get there. It is a beautiful, wide white sandy beach which opens out from nowhere among the red rocks of the Burrup. The water is actually a channel between the peninsula and the nearest island, making it very calm, clear and perfect for swimming, relaxing and fishing.
Shelley Beach is one for those in the know. Kept secret near the little known coastal abode known as Cosy Corner, you drive through the sleepy forest hideaway and down the end of an ordinary road. That road takes a turn, and all of a sudden you are winding down the side of a steep seaside hill with impressive views of black cliffs covered in lush green forest.