Winter is whale season in Esperance, and every year from June to October these gentle giants can be seen as they make their annual migration up the coast of Western Australia. The many secluded bays of Esperance are perfect places for mothers and calves to relax, feed and practice their swimming! The region mainly gets southern right whales, as well as a smattering of humpback whales, which are known for their curious and playful nature. Don’t forget Esperance’s dolphins too, which can regularly be frolicking from the coast along the Great Ocean Drive. West Beach is a popular spot with great views from the car park.
We’ve rounded up the best places to spot the whales (and dolphins!) in and around Esperance and the Fitzgerald River National Park. Our top tip? Take your polarised glasses so you can see into the water and pick somewhere with a bit of elevation for the best view! Happy spotting!
The great thing about Esperance is the fact that the coastline starts pretty much right in town. The Great Ocean Drive loop meanders for 38kms, taking in some of the most beautiful coastal scenery Australia has to offer. All of these sheltered beaches and bays are the ideal resting ground for migrating whales. So, take a drive, stop at a couple of different beaches and take a look at the water!
Cape Le Grand
Cape Le Grand is another popular spot for migrating whales, with many being spotted along the coast between the National Park and Esperance town. Le Grand Beach and Wylie Bay seem to be favourite spots for resting or playful whales, so start your search there. Le Grand beach is just a 45-minute drive from Esperance, so this is a good spot to explore if you’re staying back in town and want to get back before dusk.
If you’re up for travelling a little further and have a 4WD, it’s definitely worth the journey to the amazingly rugged and unspoilt Cape Arid. This National Park is a haven for vast white beaches, colourful wildflowers, fishing and of course, whale watching. Dolphin Cove and Alexander Bay (between Cape Arid and Cape Le Grand) are extremely popular spots for whales, and the latter has a great campsite, so you can settle in for your own private sunset whale show! If you’re up for a moderately difficult hike, The Tagon Coastal Trail is a 14km return loop that winds through coastal heath and across rocky headlands, providing excellent vantage points for whale watching.
Shoal Cape and the Fitzgerald River National Park
If you’re heading East from Esperance back towards Albany, there are heaps of whale-watching spots along the way. Shoal Cape is a popular spot, about 100km from Esperance in the Stokes National Park. If you continue onto the Fitzgerald River National Park, Point Ann is a spectacular place to spot whales. Point Ann is a purpose-built whale-watching platform in the National Park with a picnic area, BBQs, large covered areas and seating on platforms to gaze out to the open ocean – so you can really settle in!