Located in Western Australia, Margaret River is a town not to be missed when exploring the Perth area. The city is very popular with surfers, divers and backpackers for its relaxed lifestyle, beautiful surroundings and excellent food. At the gates of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, explore the natural treasures of the region: eucalyptus forests, unspoiled coastline, white sand beaches, turquoise waters and exceptional seabed… You will fall in love!
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When to visit Margaret River and how to get there?
Best time to visit the region
The best season to visit Margaret River is from November to March. The weather is always more pleasant and much less windy in the mornings. Watch out for the currents when swimming. Swim at supervised beaches when you can and most importantly, always follow the indications of the signs at the entrance to the beaches.
How to get there?
Margaret River is 270km south of Perth, at the tip of Western Australia. The road is in excellent condition and accessible by van, car and 4×4. Allow about 3 hours for the drive.
If you want to rent a car from Perth, compare car rental prices to make sure you get the best price.
There are also daily buses from Perth with Southwest Coach Lines and TransWA. Departures with Southwest Coach Lines are from Perth city center and airport. Departures with TransWA are from Perth East.
Things to do in Margaret River
Margaret River is traditionally one of the stages of the international surfing competition. With some world famous breaks, visiting Margaret River is a great opportunity to try surfing. While conditions can be harsh in winter and not really recommended for beginners, there are low swell days in summer that are suitable for learning. You can save money and just rent a board (about $15/h) if you already have some experience surfing. Otherwise, you can go to surf schools that offer lessons (about $50 for a group lesson). And a little reminder: the water being rather cold, a wetsuit is strongly recommended!
Snorkeling and diving
The Ngari Marine Park is full of marine biodiversity. If you have the opportunity to snorkel there with a simple mask and snorkel, you won’t regret it. Margaret River is an ideal spot for diving. If you want to learn, you will find many diving schools there. A little info for amateurs and enthusiasts: the bay of Prevelly is an easily accessible spot protected from the waves. Watch out for sharks, which are quite common in the region!
The Margaret River region is also spectacular for its underground. Over 100 limestone caves are spread beneath the surface of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. It is possible to visit the natural caves of the park, in particular the Mammoth Cave (from $22.50) and the Ngilgi Cave (from $22.50). Some companies also offer different packages to visit several caves in one day.
Gastronomy in Margaret River
Margaret River is famous in Australia for its gastronomy. Many places like vineyards, breweries, chocolate factories, etc. offer workshop visits with tastings. It doesn’t get more immersive than that!
For a food-themed day out: start with breakfast at the Chocolate Factory, then visit the local Cheese Factory around noon. In the afternoon, head to Berry Farm and finish with a glass of wine/beer at one of the local wineries/breweries.
If you want to learn more about beer, it is possible to book a “beer tour”. You then take part in tastings back to back all day long, from brewery to brewery, for around $80.
Every Saturday morning, the farmer’s market takes place a few steps from Margaret River. You will find many local producers and fresh products to cook locally. However, the prices are relatively expensive.
The Gourmet Espace event
If you have the opportunity to visit Margaret River in November, take a trip to the Gourmet Escape: a renowned event in Australian gastronomy where several renowned chefs meet. The Gourmet Village is made up of many stalls and takes place over a weekend. Entrance prices can range from $40 to $230 depending on the package you choose (wine / wine + meal etc.).
Going out in Margaret River
Margaret River is a small town of about 17,000 people. The evenings are quiet, but it is still possible to listen to good music over a drink at the weekend. Settlers Tavern, the main bar located right in the town centre, is particularly renowned for its live music (Thursday to Saturday evenings). Entry is usually free. Check their website for more information about gigs and events.
During the summer months, the Cape Mentelle vineyard screens movies outdoors several evenings a week. An experience to try at least once! See their website for information on the programme.
National parks surrounding Margaret River
Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park
The Leeuwin-Naturaliste Park owes its name to the two capes, Cape Leeuwin in the south and Cape Naturaliste in the north, both of which have a lighthouse. Along the coast, the park extends over 190 km² and offers exceptional views of the Indian Ocean.
The Cape to Cape Track is a coastal path in the national park which runs along the coast and connects the two capes. If you’re really keen you can complete this 135-kilometre walk in one week. Otherwise, you can take it easy and just do sections of it, as there are access points along the way. That way you can do shorter walks and choose the tracks you are most comfortable with (walking on the beach, cliffs, bush…there is something for everyone!).
Ngari Capes Marine Park
The Ngari Capes Marine Park is adjacent to the Leeuwin-Naturalist Park and is a marine park that stretches from Cape Leeuwin to Geographe Bay north of Cape Naturaliste. There is a very rich biodiversity in this park and you can observe many marine animals from the coast.
During winter and spring, whales migrate along the coast and they are easy to spot from the shore. During the whale watching season, you can spot them almost everywhere, but you will have the best chance if you visit the park in November. Most of them are humpback whales, but if you’re lucky, you will spot blue whales too. If you want to see these wonderful animals up close, you can book a boat tour with one of the tour companies. Even if you visit the region outside of the whale season, you still have the opportunity to see dolphins that are there all year round.
In summer, it’s possible to have an impressive encounter with the largest rays in Australia: the Smooth stingrays on Hamelin Bay beach. Curious, they will approach a metre from the edge and come to tickle your feet if you tap the surface of the water. They are not generally aggressive, but caution is recommended. You maximize your chances of seeing a stingray if you visit in the morning before 11am, when the fishermen return to the dock.
Beaches and tidal pools
The pristine coast offers miles of almost deserted white sand beaches. Since it is quite windy on the coast, you can seek shelter in the bays. For example, in Prevelly Bay, where it can get pretty crowded at times, or Kilcarnup Beach. In general, the wind doesn’t pick up before 10 o’clock. So you can take the opportunity to go to the less sheltered beaches like Redgate Beach, Conto Beach, Boodjidup, Gasbay, or Smith Beach.
It’s important to note that for swimming, the water is relatively cold, even in summer! The waves and currents are also sometimes really strong in this region. Nevertheless, you can swim almost anywhere, as long as you are cautious. Otherwise, there are safer alternatives: the natural pools that emerge in the rocks at low tide. For example, the Yallingup and Injidup pools.
Margaret River – Practical advice
– For iPhone: Your Margaret River Region (tourist office app)
– For Android: Find the Fun Margaret River