5 Must-Do Stops On WA's Indian Ocean Drive

3 August 2016

When people think of holidaying in Western Australia, they typically envisage themselves wining and dining in the grandiose wineries of Margaret River; swimming or snorkelling in the sublime, clear waters of Rottnest Island; or tucking into some fresh fish and chips on the docks of Fremantle. But now there’s a new trend to head north of Perth, with a new coastal road rivalling some of the country’s best.

The Indian Ocean Drive gives intrepid travellers a real sense of the state’s alluring, wild and weather-beaten landscapes. You will drive through the largest fields of wildflowers in the world (August to October) in seas of neverending pinks, yellows and whites, and glorious clusters of native grass trees and scrubs. Then there’s the rich red, desert dirt that meets vivid cerulean seas and, of course, the charming cray-fishing towns dotted along the coastline.

My partner and I have enjoyed these towns many times and they are all very close to our hearts, not just because he grew up in the region, but because the land’s harsh beauty has the ability to bring forth a primal thirst that can only be experienced to be believed. These five towns and natural attractions get our absolute tick of approval.

A windsurfer walks along the beach at Lancelin in Western Australia. Join the windsurfers in Lancelin. Picture: Getty Images

Lancelin

Sandboarder or windsurfer? Be sure to put the brakes on here. Surfing down sand dunes here (whether it’s a proper sand board or simply a piece of cardboard) is just barrels of fun. When my husband took me down the dunes for the first time we enjoyed some much-needed belly laughs and a hell of a good time.

For those wanting to windsurf, this little beach town offers some of the best breezes in Australia. Let’s just say it is damn windy here, and the bay is full of windsurfers every day of the year. So if you like to feel the wind between your legs, get your sail on here. There’s also a great pub right on the beach, so bottom’s up!

The Pinnacles rise from the desert sands along Western Australia's Indian Ocean Drive. Eye The Pinnacles along the Indian Ocean Drive. Picture: Getty Images

The Pinnacles

Near the coastal village of Cervantes is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Western Australia, and until recently, hordes of tourists drove up and down the Brand Highway from Perth in buses to see these world-famous ancient desert formations. But not anymore – now you can take this amazing coastal road trip! Located in the Nambung National Park, these intriguing limestone figures are made up of shells and are remnants of yesteryear, when the sand was beneath the ocean. Scattered across the desert, some are up to several metres tall.

If you’ve been too busy hiking around the nearby national parks you can simply stay in the comfort of your car (which we did!) for this one and cruise through the park, being sure to jump out and get those Insta-worthy snaps. Want to stretch the legs? The 100-metre track is an easy walk and suits the little adventure seekers.

Local tip: This entire region is built on cray-fishing so it would only be fitting to try some of the famous western rock lobster. Lobster Shack is where it’s at when it comes to fresh off-the-boat crays.


More WA holiday experiences:

Marine life and wildlife on the Indian Ocean. Perth's Best-Kept Wildlife Secret

A WA insider guide on where to go. Local Love: Five Western Australia Wonders


Aquamarine waters and pristine sands at Jurien Bay in Western Australia. The Indian Ocean beckons at Jurien Bay. Picture: Getty Images

Jurien Bay

Recently revitalised, this town has become a family holiday favourite with its pristine white sand and turquoise waters. There’s snorkelling with sea lions, great fishing, beach skydiving, windsurfing, surfing and water skiing. Let’s just say if it’s on the water you can do it here! A highlight is the Jurien Bay Boat Harbour where there’s a sandy, man-made beach, which is perfect for young families and fishing-fanatics alike. You can also take a dive and witness the area’s magnificent sea life.

The beautiful basin of Dynamite Bay at Green Head in Western Australia. Dynamite Bay at Green Head is close to perfect. Picture: Getty Images

Green Head

Hightail it straight to Dynamite Bay for a no-disappointment wedge of paradise. Sheltered from any of the western state’s often harsh winds, the calm waters of this translucent bay give the Caribbean beaches a run for their money. Bring a kayak and explore the endless green waters, then sit and picnic on the sand banks.

Point Louise

Just north of Green Head’s township is another spectacular coastal spot, where pretty, azure waters spread for miles with more crisp, white sand. This headland has lots of bays to explore and is great for more swimming and reef diving.

My husband took me to a small, craggy cliff face just south of the point to a remote beach, which we had all to ourselves. It was such a romantic feeling knowing we were all alone on our own private beach! Stare out to the horizon and you will see all the tiny islands and inhale the clean, ocean spray. Bring a towel or blanket and cuddle up to dream about all your big ideas, and of course, sailing around the world. Because that’s what we did! It’s a definite must.
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Penny Shipway

Born into the balmy climate of tropical Queensland, it’s not surprising I’ve developed an obsession for all things beach. When I’m not swimming in the ocean singing Jimmy Buffet songs in my head, you will find me sipping colourful drinks with twizzle sticks or hunting for coastal vintage pieces. My dream is to retire on a sailboat.