One of my favourite towns in Western Australia is the small beach-holiday hamlet of Yallingup.
Yallingup occupies a spectacular coastal location in the north of the Margaret River Region towards Cape Naturaliste. The houses of the town look out over the Indian Ocean from high on the slope of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, and down at the base of the hill you’ll find one of Western Australia’s very best beaches.
Yallingup Beach is famous for its legendary surf breaks.
But there’s even more to Yallingup than just the beach and the surfing. The town and the area surrounding it is jam-packed with beautiful scenery, scrumptious food and wine, and fun things to do.
Things to do in and around Yallingup, Western Australia:
- Go surfing!
- Swim and snorkel in the Yallingup lagoon and take a long walk along the length of Yallingup Beach.
- Right on the town’s doorstep, descend deep down into magical Ngilgi Cave.
- Walk, swim, surf and snorkel the coastline to the north and south of Yallingup – a string of stunningly beautiful white-sand beaches, world-class surf breaks, dramatic granite rock formations, and jagged reefs and seacliffs.
- Set out on a bushwalk either along part of the Cape to Cape Track following the coastline, or on one of the Yallingup town walk trails. This is the best way to experience Yallingup’s natural beauty.
- Yallingup Food and Wine – go wine tasting and enjoy a scrumptious long lunch at one of the region’s top restaurants
- Stock up on plenty of local gourmet foods for sunset picnics on the beach or cheese and wine by a log fire.
- Learn about Yallingup’s nature, ancient history and legend on a Wardandi Aboriginal cultural tour
- Indulge in Yallingup’s romantic and luxurious side – book into a spa retreat for the weekend
- Explore further afield – Yallingup is an excellent base from which to explore the entire Margaret River Region. Cape Naturaliste, Dunsborough Busselton, Margaret River & Prevelly or Augusta, Boranup & Cape Leeuwin are between 10 minutes and one hour away by car.
A Surfing Mecca
Yallingup is considered the home of surfing in Western Australia. The surf breaks in the area were among the first ones surfed in WA, back in the early 1950’s. Since those early days, Yallingup, and the Margaret River Region in general, has become one of the world’s top surf destinations.
You’ll find that despite becoming more and more upmarket over recent years the towns still have a strong surf-culture influence as so many of the locals are surfers.
A few of the more famous surf spots in the Yallingup area include:
- The Yallingup main break – a very consistent reef break next to South Point, off the section of beach immediately in front of the town.
- Rabbits – a powerful beach break further along Yallingup beach beneath the Rabbit Hill carpark
- Smiths Supertubes – fast heavy barrel over a shallow reef at the far northern end of Smiths Beach near Torpedo Rock
- Three Bears – Papa, Mama, and Baby Bear are three perfect waves of varying sizes at Kabbijup Beach north of Yallingup
Here’s a surfing video filmed in the Yallingup Area:
Filmed and edited by Joshua Titchener
There’s no doubt about it, Yallingup Beach is one of the best beaches in Western Australia.
Although it’s famous most of all for its surf breaks, it is also a fantastic spot for swimming, long walks, snorkeling and beach combing. The best spot for swimming is in the lagoon at the southern end of the beach right in front of town. The Yallingup Reef shelters the water in the clear, sandy swimming lagoon from big waves.
Ngilgi Cave is located just outside the Yallingup townsite, an easy walk through the bush from Caves House.
The cave features huge underground caverns and chambers, cramped tunnels and secluded fairy-like grottos. Beautiful karst formations like stalactites, stalagmites, columns and shawls are illuminated by soft coloured lights, creating a mystical atmosphere.
You also have the option of exploring further into the cave on one of the adventure tours. These take you well beyond the touristy part of the cave with its boardwalks, staircases and lights.
The cave is named after a good spirit from local Aboriginal legend, whose story you’ll learn if you visit the cave!
Caves House is a Yallingup icon atop the hill in the old part of town. It’s an old, rambling set of buildings containing a bar, beer garden, restaurant and hotel accommodation. There is also a caravan park right nearby, and some well kept old-fashioned gardens and lawns.
The pub is pretty quiet for much of the time, but on weekends and other busy times it attracts a fun crowd and gets quite lively. Events are held there sometimes, for live music and for special nights like New Years Eve.
A holiday in Yallingup doesn’t feel complete without stopping for a drink or dinner at Caves House.
Cosy Yallingup Townsite
Yallingup town is only small, surrounded on three sides by national park and on the other by the Indian Ocean.
Beginning down at beach-level with a caravan park, picnic area and a cafe, rows of homes and holiday houses rise up the slope of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge. From streets further back up the hill you get some spectacular views of the weather rolling in over the ocean and of the setting sun.
The older part of Yallingup town is in the bush, back behind all the houses near where Caves Road joins up with the road that snakes its way down past South Point to Yallingup Beach. Here you’ll find the Caves House Hotel, a newer luxury resort, a caravan park, plus several other old buildings housing a general store/cafe, bakery and town hall.
Romantic Yallingup, the Place of Love
In the Wardandi Aboriginal language, the word “Yallingup” means “Place of Love”.
And true to its name, Yallingup is one of the most romantic holiday destinations in all of Western Australia.
Originally, the town’s very reason for being was to house newlyweds on their honeymoons. It was established following the discovery of Ngilgi Cave (back then known as “Yallingup Cave”) by non-Aborigines in the late nineteenth century.
To the Victorians, the beautiful subterranean world of caves like Ngilgi was associated with otherworldliness and romance. Spelunking-themed honeymoons became such a huge craze among West Australians that the Caves House Hotel had to be built to meet the demand for luxurious accommodation.
So Yallingup was a honeymoon destination for a good many years before it became so popular among surfies, foodies and wine buffs.
And the romantic “place of love” tradition remains strong to this day. It is a favourite place in WA for weddings, honeymoons and romantic getaways – with a huge range of luxurious spa retreats, boutique B&B’s, resorts and romantic restaurants set amongst the vineyards.
Some Top Recommended Luxurious and Romantic Yallingup Accommodation:
Explore the Yallingup Area’s Surrounding Coast and Countryside
Yallingup’s Beautiful Beaches and Dramatic Coastal Rocks
On the coast to the south of Yallingup Beach there are several more stunningly beautiful beaches and dramatic granite rock outcrops to explore.
The following spots along the coast are within a 15 minute drive from Yallingup town, or a half day’s walk along the Cape to Cape Track:
- South Point and Torpedo Rock – the point separating Yallingup Beach from Smiths Beach offers beautiful views of both beaches. A great spot for rock fishing, and watching surfers and sunsets.
- Smiths Beach – dazzling white sand and crystal clear waves make this one of the most popular swimming beaches in the region. The reefy area near Torpedo Rock has good surf, including the well known Supertubes break.
- South of Smiths Beach – walk the Cape to Cape Track south from Smiths past some secluded coves and small beaches amongst cliffs and rocks.
- Canal Rocks – a spectacular natural wonder and one of the Margaret River Region’s top attractions.
- Wyadup Rocks – a granite headland at the northern end of Injidup Beach
- Injidup Beach – yet another beautiful beach that’s good for swimming and sometimes surfing. More isolated and quiet than Smiths and Yallingup Beaches.
North of Yallingup the coastline is absolutely spectacular, but for the most part inaccessible by car. Sugarloaf Rock is the first point along the coast to the north of Yallingup that you can get to with a normal vehicle.
With a four-wheel-drive, you can drive to Three Bears, but I’ve only ever walked there. Aaron Schubert has a good article about the Three Bears 4WD track over on 4wdingaustralia.com.
The Cape to Cape Track follows the coastal cliffs all the way to Cape Naturaliste, a full day’s walk away from Yallingup. In my opinion walking is by far the best way to fully experience the dramatic beauty and wildness of Yallingup’s coastline.
- Three Bears (Kabbijup) Beach – a good, consistent surf spot. Named after the three breaks off the beach, ranging from largest to smallest: “Papa Bear”, “Mamma Bear” and “Baby Bear”.
- Sugarloaf Rock – a massive island of triangular-shaped granite looms out of the waves. Lots of interesting rocks and crags to scramble over and explore along the nearby coastline. Awesome photo opportunties!
Yallingup Wineries, and the Food and Wine Trail
Here’s a list of some of my favourite wineries close to Yallingup, for both wine tasting and for scrumptious lunches.
- Windance – a smaller, family-run winery with a simple cellar-door where you can taste a selection of good wines that they sell for decent prices. No restaurant.
- Will’s Domain – good wines and a beautiful restaurant with delicious modern food and some of the best views of all the Margaret River wineries, especially if you sit outside.
- Swooping Magpie – a relatively new and unpretentious Yallingup winery with good cheap wines
- Knee Deep – the vines grow almost all the way up to the floor-to-ceiling windows at the Knee Deep cellar door/restaurant. Beautiful vineyard views paired with good wine and food – what more could you ask for?
- Duckstein Brewey & Saracen Estate – sit outside with a group of good friends overlooking a serene lake, and enjoy a range of top quality beer or wine with tapas or German-style food.
- Swings and Roundabouts – tasty pizzas served with wine! Love the relaxing grassed area outside where you can laze around enjoying the bucolic views
- Vasse Felix Estate – one of Margaret River’s original wineries, and to this day one of the very best. The wine and the food in the restaurant are both superb. The estate also features a gallery and sculpture garden.
- Wise Wines – around past Dunsborough on the way out to Cape Naturaliste. Good wines, and beautiful views from the restaurant and lawns, especially on a sunny day when you can see the bright blue Geographe Bay ocean.
- Eagle Bay Brewery – a favourite place to while away a lazy afternoon for my friends and I when we’re staying in Dunsborough. Casual atmosphere with yummy food and good beer. Like Wise Wines, it has views over rolling hills all the way down to the ocean.
I also recommend stopping in at the Yallingup Woodfired Bakery, and buy some bread fresh from the oven.
Even more superb wineries and restaurants are to be found on a drive further south towards to Margaret River town. You could spend a whole day just in the area around Metricup Road and Cowaramup going from winery, to chocolate factory, to olive grove, to brewery.
Dining Out Around Yallingup
As well as the restaurants attached to the wineries listed above, here are some more top recommendations for good food close to Yallingup:
- The Studio Bistro – my number one pick! (open for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, and breakfast and lunch every day)
- Samudra’s – my favourite cafe in Dunsborough. Creative vegetarian and raw foods cafe attached to a yoga studio, with a fantastically quirky indoor/outdoor dining area
- Eviva – across the road from Samudra, another good option for breakfast or lunch in Dunsborough.
- Bunkers Beach Cafe – a bit further afield, but worth it for the scrumptious breakfast with a beautiful view, followed by a morning swim!
- Caves House – great atmosphere inside or out in the beer garden; standard hearty pub grub (steak sandwich, fish and chips, pizza, that sort of thing)
Closed for Dinner!
The strange thing about dining out in the Margaret River Region is that you’re spoilt for choice at lunch time, but hardly any of the winery restaurants stay open for dinner.
So when you’re booking accommodation in Yallingup, try to find something self-contained with a good kitchen. That way you can stock up on fresh gourmet produce and ingredients during the day, and cook something special in the evening.
If you really want to go out for dinner somewhere other than the Caves House pub, drive to Dunsborough or Margaret River town. Both towns have a range of restaurants and takeaway places, of different styles, cuisines and prices. The expensive restaurants attached to some of the bigger resorts, including Smiths Beach, Bunker Bay and Cape Lodge, are also an option for dining out at night.
Artists and Galleries
Many of Western Australia’s artists and photographers are based in the Margaret River Region. The majority of the region’s galleries happen to be found in the Yallingup area, in amongst bush and farmland land along the side-roads off Caves Road.
Yallingup Galleries on Gunyulgup Drive is a good place to start. It has a beautigul range of quality paintings, sculptures, jewellery and furniture.
Another gallery I really like is the Studio Galleries on Marrinup Drive. It’s only small but it always has fantastic artworks to view. And even if you’re not an art person, it’s worth the visit just for the food at the Studio Bistro!
Where to From Here?
An Excellent Base for Exploring the Margaret River Region
With so much to see and do, Yallingup is an excellent town to base yourself in when exploring the Margaret River Region.
From Yallingup, you’re within easy day-tripping distance of everywhere else in the region.
- Both Margaret River town and Prevelly Park are only half an hour’s drive to the south.
- All the big-town conveniences of Dunsborough, and the attractions of Cape Naturaliste and Geographe Bay are just around the corner.
- Augusta, the Boranup Forest and Cape Leeuwin are within easy day-tripping distance.
Last Updated: 9th July, 2015.
First posted on 28th November, 2013 by Bonny.
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