Meelup Regional Park SUP Paddleboarding

How To: Discover the Sapphire Blues of Geographe Bay

Explore secret spots to swim, hike, play, stay and eat from Busselton to Dunsborough.

There is nowhere else I’d rather be, nothing else I would prefer to be doing. I am at the beach looking west with the continent behind me as the sun tracks down to the sea. I have my bearings. – Tim Winton

Tim Winton is renowned for exploring the physicality and beauty of Western Australian landscapes. He reminds us that the grass is greener right here at home. And there is no better place to drink in this sense of gratitude for Country – than the picturesque Geographe Bay. The coastline along Geographe Bay is something of a natural wonderland with safe swimming beaches, stunning hikes, and crystalline waters. Stretching from Busselton to Cape Naturaliste in Dunsborough you can discover secret bays, water-side dining options, and accommodation with breathtaking views.

So let’s celebrating some of the best ways to take in the loveliness of the landscape, allowing you to eat, stay and play with a deep appreciation for the land’s all-round beauty.

Equinox Restaurant Seafood
Casual dining with a view at Equinox in Busselton

Where to Eat

Food always tastes better with a view. Along the coast there are plenty of options to choose from – offering local seafood flavours of lobster and dhufish, fresh sourdoughs, and of course a good flat white or a cheeky chardonnay.

Bunkers Beach House

Bunker Bay

Feelings of smugness rise exponentially upon entering Bunkers Beach House. Positioned right on the sand at Bunker Bay, it’s hard to resist getting a selfie and sharing this experience on the socials. Food-wise, breakfasts offer everything from roasted rhubarb with house-made yoghurts to spicy shakshuka, and at lunch you can indulge on Busselton octopus or king prawn salad. The wine list is thorough so you can sip in the view over a couple of hours.

The Equinox

Busselton

Dining options along the Busselton foreshore come with good value and reasonable price points. A stand-out is The Equinox – situated close to the Busselton Jetty with uninterrupted views of the bay. You could try The Equinox waffles if dining in for brunch, or the lamb shanks for dinner, but seafood is really the highlight here. An entre of oysters, daily caught market fish, or the chef’s seafood chowder all go down a treat.

Wise Winery

Eagle Bay

The only winery in the Margaret River Region with views over Geographe Bay is the appropriately named – Wise Winery. This is fine dining for an occasion with someone special. With menu items that are inspired by elements of smoke and fire – it is worth indulging on the five-course chef’s special. Right now, the wisteria is in bloom too with a view of the bay. They should stay in bloom most of spring if you get down there soon!

Toby's Restaurant

Marybrook

An understated restaurant on a prized piece of land is Toby’s. Mid-week specials are a great excuse to make this a regular dining choice and happy hour gives the endorphins a hit with 1970s priced pints and house wines. Take a stroll along the beach before or after your meal and you can really make an occasion of it.

Bunker Bay Resort
Bunker Bay Resort

Where to Stay

Luckily, Geographe Bay is home to a raft of accommodation options stretching along the coastline from Busselton to Dunsborough. Family cabins, boutique self-contained units and resorts give you plenty of choice. All accommodation is well placed to explore Geographe Bay, with many positioned right on the water’s edge.

Ramada

Dunsborough

A fabulous location with all the frills, Ramada sits along the shores of Geographe Bay with spectacular views and the opportunity for morning walks along the sand. Great for families or large groups, Ramada offers all the facilities of on-site dining (see Toby’s Restaurant), and space for wedding receptions or conferences.

Mandalay Holiday Resort

Busselton

This is upscale camping that won’t disappoint. The ultimate of kid-friendly accommodation, and with designated areas for dogs too, Mandalay Holiday Resort ticks all the boxes. Indoor and outdoor pool – tick, jumping pillow and grassed football oval – tick, beach access right on your doorstep – tick. You can choose to camp or rent a cabin. Coffee vans arrive on site for your early morning brew, and movie nights will keep the kids entertained in the communal games room. The kids will love you for this one.

Amblin Holiday Park

Busselton

Pack the fishing gear, bikes and esky and head to Amblin Holiday Park. This is simple pleasures in the finest of locations. Set beachside, with uninterrupted views of the bay, shady bushland and a range of powered sites under peppy trees. A heated indoor pool, BBQ and kid’s playground will mean you barely need to leave the accommodation. Top tip – book into one of the glamping tents which are positioned close to the waters edge and are very comfortably set up.

Pullman Bunker Bay Resort

Bunker Bay

If you’re up for spoiling yourself, this is the place. With a range of studio and two-three bedroom villas, heated infinity lap pool, restaurant and bar onsite, as well as a day spa, Bunker Bay Resort is complete luxury. The well-designed rooms blend artfully into the resorts garden space and place you on the doorstep of exploring Bunker Bay and the Geographe Bay coastline.

Peppermint Grove Beach Holiday Park

Peppermint Grove Beach

Another fantastic option is Peppermint Grove Beach Holiday Park which is just over 2 hours drive from Perth – positioned north of Busselton. This is a family run business built with families in mind. The campsite includes a wealth of facilities including mini golf, tennis and volleyball courts, and an onsite liquor store (always comes in handy!). There are studio cabins available and four-wheel drive access onto the beach right on the doorstep. A café is also in the works and will open soon.

Meelup Eagle Bay Road Trip
Take a drive along the picturesque Eagle Bay-Meelup Road. Image: Matt Deakin.

Things to do

Geographe Bay not only offers an abundance of nature froth for the adventurist, but makes it so accessible, even the more sedentary traveller can get involved. The wild beauty of the Meelup Regional Park, calm bays perfect for relaxing, and bike tracks for exploring the coast are just some of the activities on offer. A few inspirational ideas below.

Discover the Whales

35 000 Humpback whales cruise along the Geographe Bay coastline each year from September through to December. Having been hunted to almost the brink of extinction, the comeback of these marvellous creatures is truly phenomenal. And it’s not just the Humpbacks. Last year (2019), more than 250 Blue whales were spotted in the bay too. To get a glimpse of these mammals, book into a tour with Naturaliste Charters. A family owned business and the longest running of the whale charters in the region, this is a signature experience you will not regret. Marine biologists will be on board to fill you in on the science behind these mysterious creatures.

Take in Meelup Regional Park

This part of the world is truly unique. A biodiversity hotspot with distinct wildflowers and animal life which colour the coastline in spring. Meelup Regional Park faces east and northwards, which means it has protection from the prevailing south-westerly winds. A drive along Eagle Bay-Meelup Road is one of the most picturesque parts of the region and does not disappoint.

Spend Time at a Secret Beach

Hole yourself up at Point Picquet or Castle Rock Bay for the day and have a picnic, play beach cricket and jump in and out of the water. There are plenty of secret sandy gems along the coastline of Geographe Bay but as you get closer to the cape the striking red rocks against the turquoise water and wide white swathes of sand will make you feel as if you have discovered a tropical paradise.

Castle Rock Bay
Discover secret spots, take a hike through Meelup Regional Park. Image: Matt Deakin

Learn About the History of the Land

Sadly, stories and knowledge from our nation’s first people are often quite unknown to the descendants of settlers. The Wadandi (Saltwater and Forest) people, are the traditional owners of this part of Australia. Josh Whiteland is a Cultural Custodian and local Wadandi man who runs Koomal Dreaming – sharing local wisdom on native plants and animals and offering stories and meaning about the land and the Aboriginal seasons. A ‘Kaya’ Cape Experience tour with Josh will take you on a walk around the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse site, includes an artefact interpretation and didgeridoo session and concludes with a gourmet barbie using seasonal native food tastings and local brews.

Walk the Iconic Busselton Jetty

If you’re travelling with kids, it might be good to appreciate the bay from some of the region’s unique landmarks. A day spent in Busselton walking the jetty, riding the train to the end, and discovering the underwater aquarium reveals a wildlife haven below the sea. Geographe Bay is home to thriving coral reefs and sea life, and a visit to the underwater aquarium provides a more in-depth education piece on these creatures on the sea floor. A few fun facts to kick you off – fish have a strict social hierarchy and some can be bullies, and sting rays have an exceptional memory and can recognise days of the week!

Busselton Jetty Sunset
The iconic Busselton Jetty