Esperance is one of Western Australia's natural gems - enjoyed by families and nature-lovers for its unspoiled coastline, stunningly white beaches, rugged parks and marine adventures.

Esperance is an eight to nine-hour drive south east from Perth, depending on the route you take.

Alternatively, it's also serviced by daily flights, which take just over an hour - making it very accessible.

Duration: 5 days

Distance: 1,480 kilometres

Day 1: Perth to Esperance

The drive from Perth to Esperance is a full day's adventure in itself, with several options.

Head south first to Albany, then take in the spectacular views along the South Coast Highway to Esperance, or cut across country through York, Corrigin and Hyden to pick up the highway at Ravensthorpe.

The Albany route is longer, so you might want to add an extra day to your itinerary to make the most of this fascinating coastal town.

If you only take one tour here, it has to be through the old whaling station - a journey through Albany's whaling heritage and fascinating facts on these gentle giants.

Between June and October, humpback and southern right whales are often seen migrating along the coast.

Though you won't spot them in summer, it's still worth stopping at one of the many lookout spots on your way to Esperance for the sweeping ocean views.

If you're staying longer in Albany, head to the sandalwood factory and discover the healing powers of local sandalwood oil.

On the cross-country route, be sure to stop at Hyden for a few snaps of the weirdly beautiful Wave Rock and a tour of the wildlife park.

There are plenty of accommodation options in Esperance, including apartments, hotels and camping grounds.

Overnight: Esperance

Day 2: Esperance

After an ocean-view breakfast, jump in the car and follow the Great Ocean Drive.

The rugged Esperance coastline is famous throughout the state for its chameleon-like beauty.

Sometimes serene in the glimmering sunlight and sometimes raging, the ocean provides picture-perfect vistas throughout the year.

The Great Ocean Drive is a 38 kilometre circular route, first taking you west along the coast.

Beaches form a string of pearls, each as irresistible as the last.

Take a picnic and make a lazy day of it, or unpack the surfboard and ride some of the best waves in the country.

The northern loop of the drive heads past Pink Lake.

The colour of Pink Lake is attributed to high concentrations of salt tolerant algae, dunalella salina

Close by the Lake Warden Wetlands will delight bird-spotters where thousands of waterbirds can be seen around the lakes.

Follow a walk trail and look out for wildflowers in spring.

Be sure to stop off at Rotary Lookout for sweeping views over the town and across to the coastal islands.

An invigorating loop walk from the lookout will blow away the cobwebs.

If you feel like driving further inland, head for the solitude of Peak Charles National Park's ancient granite peaks. Between August and November, look out for wildflower sanctuaries along your route.

Or head back to town and try your hand at fishing off Tanker Jetty - great for an evening stroll too.

Watch for the local sea lion that often sits on the end of the jetty like an old fella on his favourite bar stool.

Another good fishing spot is Bandy Creek Boat Harbour, the hub of the local fishing industry.

Overnight: Esperance

Day 3: Esperance

Nature-lovers will easily fill the day in the parks and reserves around Esperance.

Drive 50 kilometre south east along more dramatic coastline to Cape Le Grand National Park, for wildflowers and coastal bushwalking tracks.

Or if you prefer to leave the car behind, check out some of the day tours out of Esperance.

Wildflowers bloom from September to November, but at any time of year the park's beautiful bays and rocky headlands are a visual feast.

Spend a day walking, boating, fishing and picnicking. If you've got the boat in tow, the best launching spot is Lucky Bay.

Or follow the half-hour coastal trail from here to Thistle Cove - part of a longer 15 kilometre route.

A more adventurous trek climbs to the top of Frenchman's Peak, one of the park's towering granite peaks.

Or take a gentle stroll from Rossiter Bay to the bird sanctuary.

Alternatively, spend half a day at Cape Le Grand and then move on east to Cape Arid National Park, 125 kilometres east of Esperance.

This is four-wheel drive country, remote and rocky.

There's a diversity of wildlife here, including rare birds, such as the western ground parrot, Australasian bittern, Carnaby's black cockatoo and hooded plover.

Overnight: Esperance

Day 4: Esperance

After gazing on the panoramic vistas of the Bay of Isles, take the opportunity to explore these untouched coastal islands.

There are 110 of them - collectively named the Recherche Archipelago - best viewed on an ocean trek by cruise boat.

Tour operators help guests to spot wildlife and know all the best snorkelling and diving spots.

Stop off at Woody Island - a natural jewel, with safari tents and a well equipped campground if you want to stay the night.

Choose between fishing, snorkelling and bushwalking, or just relax over a barbecue.

Divers shouldn't miss the opportunity to float among colonies of sea dragons or explore the famous Sanko Harvest shipwreck sitting 42 metres underwater and teeming with aquatic life.

Overnight: Esperance

Day 5: Esperance to Perth

From here, head back to Perth or explore Kalgoorlie or Western Australia's southern forests.

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