Cottesloe Beach is by far the most popular and well-known beach in Perth, and for good reason. Like all Perth beaches, Cott has clean white sand and beautiful clear turquoise water, but what makes it stand out from the crowd are the grassed terraces and park behind the beach, the tall shady Norfolk Island pine trees and the fun and lively atmosphere in summer when it seems everyone in Perth wants to be down at Cottesloe Beach!
Then there’s the striking art-deco Indiana Teahouse building, right down on the beach. It houses a restaurant on the upper level and surf life savers on the lower level. This building is a Cottesloe land mark, featuring on the post cards and tourist brochures.
Across the road from the beach you’ll find a row of cafes, surf shops, pubs and restaurants bustling with activity, but it’s not too built-up and so feels more like a village than part of the big city.
I love Cottesloe partly because it’s the beach I’ve been going to all my life, but also because it’s such a great place to catch up with friends – whether that’s to go for a run along the beach or a swim in the ocean, or to have drinks at the pub with an Indian Ocean sunset view.
Swimming at Cottesloe Beach
Photo: Kim Davies on Flickr
The main swimming area at Cottesloe is beneath the Indiana Tea House/Surf Club. This is the most crowded section of the beach, but as always the safest place to swim is between the flags in front of the surf life savers.
The size of the waves varies from day to day, but they’re usually on the small side. When they’re big, they tend to break close to shore. These waves are not the best for surfing and boogie boarding (don’t listen to anyone who tells you Perth has good surfing beaches!), but of course this doesn’t stop people from trying to body surf the waves.
No matter how big the waves, there’s always a small patch of calm water next to the rock groyne.
Not too far offshore is the Pylon (also known as “the bell”), a large, concrete bell-shaped object that was originally built to attach a shark net to. The shark net no longer exists, so these days the pylon’s only use is for climbing and jumping off. It’s a lot of fun to swim out to the pylon and climb up onto it, but they’ve been painting it with a slippery coating recently that makes it a lot harder to climb than it used to be.
Photo: Kim Davies on Flickr
Cottesloe Picnics, Parks, Terraces and Beach Walks
The Cottesloe Walking Path
Cottesloe is a very fit and sporty sort of place, so you’ll always see lots of people out and about making use of the walking/cycle track, no matter what the weather.
The paved track from Swanbourne all the way down past Leighton Beach is one of my favourite Perth walks. For most of the walk the path is up on top of the dune, with panoramic views down to the beach and along the coast as far as Fremantle Port in the south and Hillarys Boat Harbour in the north.
Parks and Grassy Lawns With Ocean Views
The parks behind the beach are a great place to relax, sunbake, watch the sunset, or have a picnic or some fish and chips.
South of the Indiana Teahouse
Between the Indiana Teahouse and the rock groyne, behind the main swimming area at Cottesloe, a shady park slopes down the hill to the beach. Tall Norfolk Island pines provide lots of shade, so this is a popular place to sit and have a picnic or watch the ocean. A flock of Rainbow lorikeets roosts in the pines and when they return home at sunset their screeching is deafeningly loud!
On the other side of the Indiana Teahouse you’ll find 3 flat grassy terraces at varying levels. The terraces have no shade.
Playgrounds and Exercise Parks
Just north of the main beach there’s a small park with playground equipment for the kids. And if you go for a walk or jog along the pathway you’ll find a couple of other parks with exercise equipment (that kids also like to play on!).
Shops, Pubs and Cafes on Cottesloe Beach
Across the road from the beach there’s a busy cafe strip with fish & chip shops, pubs and restaurants. I’ll give you a brief overview of a few places I recommend:
My Favourite Cottesloe Beach Cafes:
The Blue Duck
A Cottesloe institution that’s been around for as long as I can remember. Beautiful views looking out over Peter’s Pool (a gorgeous swimming spot on North Cottesloe Beach) and good coffee.
John Street Cafe
A short walk up shady John Street from the beach, this cafe is a lovely spot to enjoy brunch after a morning swim.
The Cott Hotel
The Cottesloe Hotel is a 1930’s art deco building on the corner of Marine Parade and Warnham Road, just behind the main Cottesloe Beach. It was renovated and refurbished recently and the beer garden out the back is really nice. The front bar has ocean views.
The Ocean Beach Hotel (OBH)
The OBH is further north along Marine Parade at North Cottesloe. It’s impossible not to notice because the hotel section is the tallest building on Marine Parade. The front bar at the OBH is always quiet, even when the other bars are loud and busy. It has big open windows looking out across the road to the ocean and is a nice place to sit at sunset. The back bar with pool tables and the adjoining beer garden are pretty dingy, but very popular for some reason. The bar upstairs has a band playing on Sunday nights.
Cottesloe’s Sunday Session
Cottesloe is famous for its Sunday Session, which is basically a Sunday afternoon-into-evening of drinks and socialising at either the Cott Hotel or the Ocean Beach Hotel. Both pubs are on Marine Parade just across the road from the beach.
The Sunday Session draws a young (under 25) crowd made up of people from Cottesloe and the surrounding suburbs, plus farmers and people from country towns who are in the city for the weekend. The atmosphere is fun, summery and casual.
A Sunday Session starts early, around mid to late afternoon. It winds up early too, because on Sunday nights the Perth pubs close at only 10pm! Anyone wanting to party on until midnight heads over to Club Bayview in Claremont, about a 5 or 10 minute taxi ride away, which on a Sunday night is more casual than usual and plays pub rock songs rather than its usual nightclub music.
If you’re in town on a Sunday during summer and are up for drinking a bit too much in the beer garden and dancing to a cover band, then I’d definitely recommend heading down to Cottesloe in the afternoon for a Sunday session.
But if you’re the sort of person who would prefer just a quiet glass of wine with an ocean sunset view without the rowdy crowds, honking car horns, parking difficulties and lines at the door – perhaps make an effort not to visit the Cottesloe pubs on a Sunday (or make it an early one)!
Tips for Visiting Cottesloe Beach
When is the best time to visit?
The best time of year for Cottesloe Beach is from October to April. You get the occasional warm sunny day at other times of the year, but more often than not the weather is cold, windy and overcast. And sometimes winter storms erode away parts of the beach and wash up thick banks of seaweed.
While Cottesloe is beautiful at any time of day during the summer months, my favourite times of day are early in the morning (6am to 9am) or late in the afternoon around sunset (provided the sea breeze isn’t too strong).
How do you get to Cottesloe Beach?
Cottesloe Beach is less than one kilometre away from the Fremantle train line. From Cottesloe station it’s a 10 to 15 minute walk following Forrest Street up and over a hill. To make things easier, from December to March the Cottesloe council provides a free shuttle bus that does a loop around between the station, Cottesloe Beach and North Cottesloe Beach, running every 15 minutes.
Parking Your Car at Cottesloe
Parking near the beach at Cottesloe is generally not a problem. But if you’re heading down on a hot weekend day when everyone’s off work, expect to park further back in a side street. The other time when parking can be more difficult than usual is on Sunday afternoons because the Sunday sessions at the OBH and Cottesloe Hotel are hugely popular and attract a crowd from all over Perth (and Wheat Belt towns!).
Photo: Matt Paish on Flickr
Another beach even better than Cottesloe?
Yes, there is a better beach (in my opinion, at least)! Cottesloe is a Perth icon and a must-visit for tourists, but most Perth locals I know actually prefer North Cottesloe Beach, the next beach along.
At North Cottesloe the views up and down the coast are more open and expansive, the buildings behind the beach feel less built-up and, best of all, it’s not as crowded.
Last Updated: 23rd June, 2014.
First posted on 10th January, 2014 by Bonny.
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