When you travel around Australia, you visit a lot of beaches. So you may question if it’s worth driving nine hours from Perth to check out Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park. I hesitated. If you have a few days to stop on the way, the drive along the south coast of Western Australia is amazing. I’m glad we pushed all the way to Lucky Bay (and even a bit further). It’s a very special place in the world and a beach like no other. Plus, it’s really not just about going to the beach: there are many other things to do in Lucky Bay and Cape Le Grand National Park if you like hiking!
Is Lucky Bay overrated?
Lucky Bay looks like a postcard from paradise. Some say it’s Australia’s most beautiful beach.
And it could be. The sand is white and pure. It has even been named Australia’s whitest beach. The palette of blues in the water, from transparent to navy with lovely touches of turquoise, is unbelievable. Add on top the incredible contrasts with the granite. And when they’re not wandering in the car park or around the campsite, kangaroos are jumping on the beach. Unbeatable. An Australia bucket-list destination.
But visiting Lucky Bay shouldn’t only be about the beach and kangaroos: there are many other things to do in Cape Le Grand National Park. It is perfect for beach lovers and hikers.
Responsible travel tip: Don’t feed wild animals, it’s never good for them. It can make them sick, change their natural behaviours and even disrupt an entire ecosystem.
Hiking one of Australia’s best coastal trails in Lucky Bay and Cape Le Grand
The full Cape Le Grand National Park Coastal Trail is 15 km one way. As you do want to allow time to stop, it takes two full days to do it. But the trail can easily be divided into smaller parts for day hikes. We did two legs of the coastal trail in one day: from Lucky Bay to Thistle Cove and from Thistle Cove to Hellfire Bay (return). I highly recommend it.
With stunning views over the bays for most of the hike, it is one of the best hikes I’ve ever done.
It took us 6 hours return as written in the brochures, including many pauses to take photos and admire the incredible scenery. If you don’t want to hike for that long, I recommend going from Thistle Cove to Little Hellfire Bay (approximately 3 hours return). It was my favourite part of the hike. And if you’re really up for just a short one, Little Hellfire Bay is worth checking out and is only 40 minutes (return) from Hellfire Bay.
Climbing Frenchman Peak summit for panoramic views of the Lucky Bay area
The granite rock of Frenchman Peak can be seen from almost anywhere in the park. It’s named like that in reference to the summit shape that reminds the hats worn by the French army. The immensity and the beauty of the National Park are stunning from up there. It is a good idea to plan the climb after exploring the park to get a better orientation and understand what you’re looking at! Near the top, there is a fascinating cave: it was formed by the waves and the currents. Indeed, 40 million years ago, sea levels were higher than now, and Frenchman Peak was submerged!
Although it’s only 262 metres high, reaching the summit of Frenchman Peak looks tricky as the slope can be impressive and the path to follow isn’t always clear. It’s only 3 kilometres return, and I honestly didn’t find it that hard at all. The signs indicate a 1 to 3 hours hike return, and it’s a good idea to take your time to enjoy the scenery.
We aimed to arrive for sunset after a long day out of the park, exploring Duke of Orleans Bay. Without racing but without taking many photo breaks, it took us 30 minutes from the car park to reach the summit of Frenchman Peak. Because we watched the sunset from there, we had to go back at night. Although we had headlamps, it was difficult to find the sticks indicating the path, and we had to turn back a couple of times.
4WD driving or walking to Lucky Bay lookout platform
The view from the lookout at Lucky Bay is hard to beat. To reach it, you can walk for 45 minutes along the beach at Lucky Bay. Or if you have a 4wd, it will only take a few minutes to drive there. We went there in the morning before it gets busy. The view was stunning.
The other surprises of Cape Le Grand National Park: Rossiter Bay and Le Grand Beach
On our last morning in the National Park, we drove to the parts we hadn’t explored by foot: Rossiter Bay and Le Grand Beach.
Rossiter Bay didn’t impress us. It’s beautiful, of course, but it’s not special compared to the other stunning beaches of Cape Le Grand National Park.
However, Le Grand Beach was a great surprise. As usual, we scrambled around the rocks to watch the transparent water and the incredible blue palette.
That was our last stop in Cape Le Grand National Park.
We drove back to Esperance via the beach to enjoy its beauty for as long as possible.
After our day trip to Duke of Orleans and Cape Arid National Park, it was now time to head back west slowly!
Stay for the night: Lucky Bay camping
Camping is the only option to spend the night at Lucky Bay. Some visitors come here as a day trip from Esperance, but staying for the night in Lucky Bay is an experience I highly recommend. Kangaroos show up on the beach at dusk and dawn, and it looks lovely. It would be sad to leave just before it happens. But be careful: they are sneaky and very interested in your dinner or your breakfast!
We were travelling during the busiest period of the year. It was a bit stressful as a few campgrounds in national parks are first-in first-served, and it’s bad news if it’s booked out when you arrive. That’s how it works for Lucky Bay camping: you cannot book it in advance.
With stunning views of Lucky Bay and friendly kangaroos posing around for the postcard photo, Lucky Bay camping is very popular.
We left Esperance early in the morning to arrive at Lucky Bay camping when the first campers were packing up. This strategy was perfect: we found a spot straight away and had plenty of time to explore the beautiful area for the rest of the day. The campsite was full every night. When we left a couple of days later, someone was waiting for our spot as we were packing up. Although they recently upgraded the facilities and the size of Lucky Bay campground, it’s recommended to arrive early to secure a spot during the peak season as Lucky Bay’s reputation is increasing. This way, you may also be able to find a site with a perfect view.
There’s another campground in the national park: Cape Le Grand campground. With only 15 sites, it’s a lot smaller than the Lucky Bay campground.
Although Cape Le Grand National Park is remote, both Cape Le Grand and Lucky Bay campgrounds offer great facilities: camp kitchens, gas barbecues, picnic tables, toilets and water. For $11 per night, it’s a fantastic deal. We met a few people in the common area, and it was a great way to share tips about destinations in Western Australia and further away. As we were driving back from Esperance to Perth a few days later, we loved hearing stories about
We met a few people in the common area of Lucky Bay campground, and it was a great way to share tips about destinations in Western Australia and further away. As we were driving back from Esperance to Perth a few days later, we loved hearing stories about Bluff Knoll and decided to make a detour to the Stirling Ranges on our way back to do the hike.
Cafe on the beach: Lucky Bean Café
The area is rather pristine: there aren’t many buildings in Cape Le Grand National Park except car parks and camping facilities. So you may be surprised to find out you can purchase coffee, juices, freshly-baked muffins, ice creams and snacks at Lucky Bay. From September to April, the Lucky Bean Café – an Aboriginal-owned and operated – comes with its van to allow visitors to enjoy the stunning views with a coffee!
Have you ever visited Lucky Bay and Cape Le Grand National Park? Do you think it’s Australia’s best beach or did you find it overrated? Leave your tips in the comments below!
Where are Lucky Bay and Cape Le Grand National Park?
Lucky Bay is in Cape Le Grand National Park, in the south of Western Australia, less than one hour away from Esperance. Lucky Bay is almost 800km away from Perth. It takes approximately 9 hours to drive there. Alternatively, there are daily flights to Esperance from Perth for around $500 return.
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