Real family travel, that’s what we're am all about over here at Smør Store. Since becoming parents to our son Dusty, one of the biggest lessons Jason and I have learned is to make no plans and to have zero expectations when we travel together as a family. Instead, we create a hit list of things we’d like to see and do, and then we take each day as it comes. We are all about real family travel - we take the good with the bad, and this is the exact reason why we found Esperance one of the best kid friendly destinations. We flew over to Esperance for a week at the beginning of last year and we haven't been able to stop talking about it since. It’s just so relaxing and there's lots to do, but not too much to make you feel like you can't see and do it all. Read on to find out why we loved Esperance so much.
Finding kid friendly accommodation is not always easy. Kids love to explore and experiencing new things all the time, so being cooped up in a hotel doesn’t allow for much space or interest, for anyone. Also, kids are really noisy sleepers so we need two rooms to ensure we all get a decent night sleep - this makes staying in a hotel super expensive. When we travel as a family, we like to book accommodation with Airbnb or find a cute bed n breakfast. So you can imagine how stoked we were when we stayed at Esperance Chalet Village. We stayed in a one level cabin, which had two bedrooms, a bathroom with a washing machine (keeping Dusty’s grubby clothes clean on the regular, excellent!), an open living area and kitchen. Dusty could also safely run around outside and explore the grounds. For more information about Esperance Chalet Village, check out Jaharn's travel blog Mister Weekender.
Things to do
There are a couple of kid’s parks in town, but just outside of town is the Great Ocean Drive and along here you can find some of the best kids friendly beaches Esperance has to offer including West Beach, 11 Mile Lagoon and Twilight Beach. The best surprise of all is that Cape Le Grand National Park is only 45 minutes east of Esperance, which is perfect for travelling with kids. No long drives, hurrah! The airport is only 20 minutes out of town, and this is where you can jump on a small plane and explore Esperance, Cape Le Grand National Park and Lake Hillier from above. So lovely!
- West Beach, Great Ocean Drive
West Beach is the first beach on the Great Ocean Drive when you approach from the centre of town. You come over a hill and the view of this beach hits you with unimaginable beauty. You could easily spend a day here and not even look at the other beaches nestled along Great Ocean Drive. The surf here is also pretty good for those who want to catch a wave.
- Blue Haven, Great Ocean Drive
Just down the road is Blue Haven. It’s a smaller beach tucked down a hill and shrouded in wild native bushland. Blue Haven is a favourite amongst locals as it’s more quiet than West Beach. You can go climbing on the rocks here and slid into the water when the water is calm.
- 11 Mile Lagoon, Great Ocean Drive
We loved 11 Mile Lagoon. It’s along the Great Ocean Drive and one of the last beaches before driving inland. On high tide, a natural lagoon is formed and is the perfect spot to swim. It’s Mother Nature’s version of a swimming pool and absolutely perfect for kids. Do be mindful though, the water does move around a lot so keep an eye out for this.
- Twilight Beach, Great Ocean Drive
Twilight Beach is located along the Great Ocean Drive between Blue Haven and 11 Mile Lagoon. It has a huge carpark and a short flight of timber steps, which attracts a lot of families. There are also two huge rocks sitting up in the ocean in front of the beach, which helps protects the bay from winds and wildlife. Dusty particularly loved this beach and we saw lots of kids rocking jumping into the salty water.
- Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand National Park
Cape Le Grand National Park, where to start! Lucky Bay is definitely the main attraction here and for good reasons. It has the softest and whitest sand in the world (it feels like flour!) and the very friendly local kangaroos who like to come down to the beach during the warmer months. Most visitors visit Lucky Bay because it’s so pristine, but I think the great amenities (toilets, BBQs, camping) also appeal to people. And the fact that you can drive onto the beach doesn’t hurt.
- Thistle Cove, Cape Le Grand National Park
Last, but not least, is my absolute favourite beach in Esperance - Thistle Cove. I have a hot tip from me to you; no one ever comes here, so go here! Everyone flocks to Lucky Bay but on the two separate days we went to Cape Le Grand National Park, there was not a single sole on the beach at Thistle Cove. Each time, in peak season might I add, we enjoyed the blissful dreams of all holidayers - to stow away at a stunning beach without anyone else around. So yes, definitely visit Lucky Bay and Hellfire of course. But make sure you spend the most amount of time at Thistle Cove, you won’t regret it.
Places to eat
The beauty of Esperance is you can do as little or as much as you want in a day. There’s no rushing around here. The centre of town is located on the water, just a short five minute drive from the Chalet Village and there are some seriously cute shops. We loved having our daily coffee at Downtown Espresso Bar, we loved stocking up on groceries at Bob and Jim’s General Store, and we stocked up on salad sandwiches from the French Hot Bread Shop (who surprisingly do a really good Banh Mi) every day. I also did a spot of shopping at Luna & Sage and the local surf shop, Inner Tube. We also enjoyed a meal at Taylor St Quarters (the cocktails are really good) and Fish Face.
That pink lake
Ask anyone who knows me well and they'll tell you Lake Hillier has long been on Jaharn's bucket list. Well, she got to see this renowned natural pink lake with her very own eyes thanks to Australia’s Golden Outback and Goldfields Air Services. Lake Hillier is located on Middle Island, the largest island in the Recherche Archipelago in Western Australia. This spectacular land locked pink lake is only accessible by sea or air, and its colour is due to the presence of dunaliella salina (a micro-algae) especially found in highly saline water. And best of all, the vibrant colour of Lake Hillier is permanent.
You can explore Lake Hillier by land or sea, and for this occasion, Jaharn experienced the spectacular lake from above. To give these photos context, she was sitting in an eight seat, solo chartered flight with her pilot Will from Goldfields Air Services. They flew up to 1,500 ft from which she was able to completely open the door of the plane (wearing a seatbelt of course) and take as many photos as her heart desired, without the worry of glare from the plane windows ruining her shots. Will chartered the plane for almost two hours, up and down the coast, over Cape Le Grand National Park and over to Lake Hillier on Middle Island. The view is always best from above, isn't it?
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