If you like waves that are not too big, clean powdery-white sand, and crystal-clear water, then Port Beach in Perth is a wonderful beach for a swim.
I remember when I was very small this is the beach my Mum liked to take me to because the water is quite shallow and the waves small and gentle – perfect for toddlers and small children to swim and paddle in. At that age I was understandably scared of big dumping waves and Port Beach was the perfect beach for me to learn about the surf, and was the beginning my life-long love of the ocean!
Why is it called Port Beach?
Port Beach is located just to the north of Fremantle and so is very close to the huge rock wall along the northern edge of Fremantle port. You can clearly see the red, white and black cranes of the harbour from the beach. The “Port” feel of the beach continues across the road from it where there is a stark empty area full of fuel storage tanks, an old mill and containers waiting to be loaded onto trucks and ships.
Now I realise this might make it sound like an ugly industrial sort of beach, but you’ll just have to believe me that in reality it is a true paradise on a hot day when the sun is shining with some of the whitest, cleanest sand in Perth and the clearest water too!
A Paradise Beach on a Hot Day, and One of the Best Perth Beaches for Kids!
Port Beach has a quieter, more relaxed and family-friendly atmosphere in comparison to other popular Perth beaches such as glamorous Cottesloe and exuberant Scarborough. It is one of the more crowded beaches in Perth on hot days and is especially popular with people who live south of the Swan River, but the people who swim at Port Beach are mainly local families with small children, and older retirees rather than the teenager and tourist crowd.
In the summer its clean white sand, sparkling crystal clear water and smallish gentle waves breaking across a shallow sand bank make Port Beach a delight for families, or really anyone who’s after a relaxing beach where you can splash around in the waves without worrying about being knocked over by a powerful wave.
The wave height tends to be much lower at Port and Leighton than at other Perth beaches further north due to the rock wall of the harbour which extends out to sea, providing a bit of protection from Indian Ocean swells that roll in from the south-west.
Another reason why Port Beach is so popular is that it’s very accessible (at least, it is for Perth locals who mostly drive). There is ample free parking right next to the beach and further north at Leighton Beach, the next beach along.
Swimming and Playing in the Waves
Swimming at Port Beach is generally very safe and relaxing as the water starts off nice and shallow and slopes away gently into deeper water. The water is very clear and there are no underwater hazards such as reefs and rocks to worry about.
As I mentioned earlier the waves are gentle and small and best of all, they’re not dumpers. However, the wave height does depend somewhat on the conditions of the day, as there are no off shore rocks or reefs – the only thing that provides shelter from the open ocean is the Rous Head rock wall. When the waves are on the larger side there are rips at Port Beach but you can easily avoid these by swimming between the flags.
Little kids will enjoy body boarding in the small choppy waves but this is not a beach for serious surfers! When the wind is up however the kite surfers and wind surfers put on a colourful show of kites and sails flying over the waves. The launching area for the kite surfers is further north at Leighton, but south of the dog exercise area.
Beach Walks and Bike Rides
Port Beach is part of the long continuous strip of white sand that begins in the south at Sandtrax next to the Rous Head rock wall and continues all the way along Port, Leighton and Mosman Beaches to the rock groyne separating Mosman Beach from South Cottesloe/Cables Beach. This is the most fantastic beach to walk along with stops for swimming and paddling in the water, watching the colourful kite and wind surfers and meeting the dogs at the northern end of Leighton/Mosman.
If you prefer a paved track then you’re in luck as there is a shared bike/walking path from Port Beach all the way along the coast to Swanbourne Beach. The track is very popular with walkers and joggers, but more so at the northern end near Cottesloe.
Best Time to Visit?
During summer, the best time to visit Port Beach if you want paradise picture-perfect conditions is early in the day before the sea breeze comes in (which usually happens between about 10:30am and 2pm).
Bring a Beach Umbrella!
Like most Perth beaches, there is no shade at Port Beach. Don’t underestimate the harshness of the sun in the middle day in summer! Bring along a beach umbrella or tent if you plan on staying a long time at the beach or if you have very small children with you.
The afternoon sea breeze whips up white caps on the ocean and makes the waves choppy and brings a chill to the air. I know some fussy people hate the beach when it’s windy, but I don’t mind it at all because it makes the heat of the sun feel less intense and I think it’s fun to swim in the choppy waves.
Apart from the morning, the another great time of day to visit Port Beach is at sunset. Swim in the sea or walk along the beach while the sun sinks beneath the horizon, and if you’re lucky you could see the sky ablaze with bright sunset colours.
Although I love Port Beach in summer, in stormy winter weather it does not appeal to me all that much. I would much prefer to go for a walk along North Cottesloe, Floreat or Marmion Marine Park during the colder and stormier months of the year as these beaches have bigger waves and more shells.
Food, Services and Facilities at Port Beach
The restaurant Salt On The Beach has the most fantastic location in the low dunes almost right on the beach. The tables all get beautiful ocean views, and you can choose between the indoor restaurant or the indoor/outdoor beach bar microbrewery. Within the cafe there is a small enclosed play ground for the kids.
Port Beach also has change rooms, toilets and showers. During busy times there are surf life savers patrolling the beach and keeping it safe.
Getting to Port Beach
Driving to Port Beach From Around Perth
Port Beach is an easy drive from both Fremantle and the southern suburbs, and from the Western and northern coastal suburbs. Although the beach often gets quite busy, there are almost always parking spaces available in the big carpark right next to the beach and restaurant. If the main car park is full then there’s another one close by to the north, or head further north still to Leighton Beach where there are lots more parking spaces.
Public Transport to Port Beach From Perth City Center or Fremantle
You can get there on public transport as it’s located within walking distance of the Fremantle train line and the 98/99/103 bus routes. The closest train station is North Fremantle, which is about a one and a half kilometre walk to the north.
The closest bus station to Port Beach is the one near the Queen Victoria Street/Swan Street intersection. From there, walk a short distance north then turn left onto Tydeman Street which will take you straight down to Port Beach. The walk is about a kilometre and unfortunately not the most scenic!
If you’re visiting by public transport I would actually recommend the next beach along to the north, Leighton Beach, instead as it’s quite similar and so much easier to get to. It’s only a few hundred metres walk from North Fremantle Train Station, where the buses also stop. And if you decide you really want to go to Port Beach despite the longer walk, the most enjoyable way to get there is by walking south along Leighton Beach anyway.
Last Updated: 13th December, 2014.
First posted on 7th December, 2014 by Bonny.
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