- Perth’s popular and touristy beaches vs a few of the local favourites
- What time of day are the beaches in Perth are at their best?
- Which Perth beaches have decent surf?
- Which Perth beaches are good for little kids and other people who prefer calm water?
- Where can you go if you want to escape the summer crowds?
- A couple of tips and hints for beach fishing
- On which beaches in Perth are dogs allowed? (If this is the info you’re after you might want to jump straight to the dog beaches page.
- Where are the best snorkelling spots along the coast?
- And where along Perth’s coastline do you find the most beautiful and interesting shells?
The Popular and Touristy Beaches, Vs Local Favourites
Perth’s Busiest and Most Well-Known BeachesThese beaches are very popular among both locals and travellers to Perth for good reason! The numbers 1 to 3 are considered to be the “must-see” beaches for travellers:
- Cottesloe Beach
- Scarborough Beach
- Pinky Beach, Little Parakeet Bay and The Basin at Rottnest
- Hillarys Boat Harbour
- City Beach
Beautiful Perth Beaches, Out of the Spotlight
And here are some more beautiful beaches that a good many Perth locals prefer to the more popular and well-known touristy ones:
- North Cottesloe
- South Beach, Fremantle
- Salmon Bay and Little Armstrong Bay at Rottnest
- Marmion Marine Park beaches
- Brighton Beach
Climate and the Weather – Best Times to Enjoy the Beaches in Perth
During summer, the beach is nicest in the morning before 11 oclock. The sun can be extremely harsh in the middle of the day from around 11 to 4, and you have to be careful not to get sunburnt.
My favourite time of year for the beaches in Perth is probably early Autumn, when you get lots of fine sunny days that are still warm enough to swim but with lighter winds and gentler sunlight, and also less crowds of people, than in summer.
The Sea Breeze, AKA the Fremantle Doctor
Almost every day in summer, the sea breeze will come in sometime between late morning and early afternoon. It’s quite a fresh and gusty wind that makes the water choppy and brings a refreshing chill to the air.
The exception to this rule is during a heatwave, when the seabreeze never arrives. By far the nicest time to be at the beach during a heat wave is at sunset. On days like this, everyone in the city flocks to the beach after work and school.
The strong daily sea breeze is what makes Perth and the WA coastline to the north such a popular destination for wind surfing and kite surfing.
Perth Waves, Perth Surf
The fact is, the beaches in Perth are not great surf beaches like what you get in other Australian cities like Sydney and Surfers Paradise. Islands and reefs off the coast lower the wave height, and even when the waves are big they tend to close out near the shoreline.
That being said, there are a few Perth beaches where the surfing can be alright, and some are definitely better than others!
The Best Surf in Perth:
Trigg Beach has the best and most consistent surf. The waves there break much further offshore than at other Perth beaches, and are not dumpers. Scarborough and Brighton, just a few kilometres south of Trigg, also can be pretty good.
Other popular surf beaches in Perth include South Cottesloe (a reef break), and on wintry days with a high swell, Cottesloe itself. Leighton Beach has an artificial reef built purposely for surfers, but it’s a long paddle out to sea and only really has great waves on days when everywhere else also has great waves!
…And Better Surf Nearby…
- Secret Harbour Beach, near Mandurah is my favourite place near Perth to go boogie-boarding
- Rottnest Island has the best surf anywhere within day-tripping distance of Perth
- Some of the beaches along the Turquoise Coast to the north of Perth, such as the Lancelin back beach.
- Further away, about 3 hours drive south, the Margaret River Region Beaches are among the best in Australia for surfing.
Gentle Waves and Safe Swimming for Children
Perhaps you don’t like surf beaches at all and are looking for a calm beach with no waves?
The calmest, safest beach of all the beaches in Perth is the one at Hillarys Boat Harbour. It’s almost completely enclosed by jetties and rock walls and feels almost like a swimming pool.
And right down the other end of Perth’s coastline south of Fremantle, Garden Island provides a barrier to the largest of ocean waves, keeping the beaches between Rockingham and Fremantle calm.
At Safety Bay and Point Peron, the islands and reefs off shore provide the beach with shelter from the waves. The beautiful calm beaches of Safety Bay, Point Peron and Penguin Island make for a good family day trip in summer.
Along the central Perth coastline between Fremantle and Hillarys, the biggest waves tend to break at Floreat, Scarborough and Trigg Beaches. The beaches further south towards Fremantle, like Sandtrax and Port Beach, have much smaller waves. Unless the ocean is completely flat, avoid all beaches from Cottesloe to Trigg if you don’t like big dumping waves.
North beyond Trigg, the beaches in the reefy Marmion Marine Park are another option for people who prefer calm beaches, as they are somewhat protected by the reefs offshore. But these beaches tend to be at their best when the ocean is calm anyway, and in wavy conditions the reefs and rocks can make swimming hazardous in some spots.
Rock groynes have been built at many Perth beaches, including Cottesloe and City Beach. Because the waves come in from the south-west, there is always an area of calmer water directly on the northern side.
Crowded Beaches, Peaceful Beaches
Port Beach, Cottesloe, City Beach and Scarborough all get very busy on a hot summer’s day. Some people really enjoy the busy atmosphere and the people watching of a crowded beach, but if you prefer beaches with peace and seclusion, there are many options in Perth even on the busiest of beach days!
Floreat and Swanbourne Beaches, for example, are usually far less busy than nearby Cottesloe and City Beaches. The beach immediately south of City Beach and the Army Beach beyond are the most peaceful and spacious of all.
Dog Beaches in Perth City
A trip to the beach is the best treat ever for a dog. They love so much to run around on the sand and swim in the sea.
But the boisterousness of dogs playing and running around is a bit too much for some beach-goers. It’s nice to see all the dogs out and about when you’re walking on the beach, but it can be frightening to have a big dog come over to say “hello” when you’re lying down on the sand!
Some beaches in Perth are designated as Dog Beaches, and all the others are strictly dog-free. The Perth and Fremantle beaches (ocean), south to north, where dogs are allowed are:
- The northern segment of South Beach, Fremantle
- Mosman Beach (and North Leighton)
- Grant Street Beach, Cottesloe (limited hours during summer)
- South City Beach (Army Beach)
- Peasholm Street Dog Beach (aka North Floreat Beach)
- Bennion Beach, Trigg
- Waterman Beach South, North Beach
- Hillarys Dog Beach (off north end of Hillarys Beach off Flinders Avenue)
Perth Beach Fishing
For beach fishing in Perth, North Cottesloe and the Grant Street Dog Beach are my family’s favourite spots.
Species commonly caught off Perth beaches include herring, whiting, tailor and mulloway.
The best beaches for fishing in Perth are generally the ones that have some reefy areas, like Cottesloe. Another hint is to fish north of a storm water drain, especially following heavy rain. These drains release extra nutrients into the ocean. They’re not so good for the environment, but they do a good job at attracting fish! There are storm water drainpipes at Floreat Beach and the Army Beach.
The rock groynes along the coast are also popular fishing spots at sunset, providing convenient access to deeper water.
The snorkeling off the beaches in Perth can be interesting, if you go to the right beach on the right day. Sometimes you’ll even be lucky and see something quite extraordinary, like this huge baler shell on the reefs off Point Peron:
The most common sea creatures you’ll see, however, are schools of bream, old wives, stripeys, red lipped morwong and a few smaller brightly coloured fish. It’s not unusual to see sting rays, and if you dive down and look under the ledges, the occasional crayfish. Weedy seadragons also inhabit the Perth coastline, but I am still yet to see one!
Along the central Perth coastline, the reefy beaches from Trigg northwards in the Marmion Marine Park are some of the best for snorkeling. The limestone reefs are covered in seaweed and scattered with lots of pretty shells, like shiny abalone and turban shells.
These reefs provide some protection from waves, but it’s always best to snorkel on a calm day because wind and large swells tend to stir up the water, reducing the visibility.
On a calm and windless day, the reefs off south and north Cottesloe can also be pretty good for snorkeling.
Further away, the reefy areas off Point Peron and Penguin Island are a bit better than the Perth metropolitan beaches.
But the best-of-the-best snorkeling beaches are at Rottnest Island. These are some of the most beautiful beaches in the Perth area and are have absolutely fantastic for snorkeling! The island is surrounded by reefs, and some of them are coral reefs – the most southerly tropical reefs in the world. The marine life at Rottnest is so much richer and more abundant than along the mainland coast, largely due to being in the path of the Leeuwin current, which brings warmer water down from the tropics.
Some of the beaches in Perth are great for beach combing at low tide, especially in winter after cold fronts and storms.
In fact, one of my favourite things about winter in Perth is braving the wind and going for a long beach-combing walk. I like the beach when it’s wild and wavy and I’m the only person there.
On all Perth beaches you’ll find plenty of sea weed, sponges, cuttlefish bones and thousands upon thousands of small, pretty white and orange shells, many of which have delicate patterns or tiny round holes – perfect for making jewellery and shell hangings with.
The best shells are found on the Fremantle beaches. South Beach is my favourite because of the variety of pretty shells that wash up, especially the fan shells in bright shades of yellow, orange, pink, red and purple. South Beach and Bathers Beach are also good for finding seaglass.
I also like the rocky coast to the north of Trigg because there are so many abalone shells to be found there, and sometimes turban shells too.
But be aware that you’re not allowed to take shells from the beaches of marine parks.
Last Updated: 17th May, 2015.
First posted on 15th January, 2014 by Bonny.
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