A great day trip you can take from Perth is to the Lancelin Sand Dunes and Pinnacles Desert. Both of them are unique and breathtakingly beautiful! The perfectly white sand dunes at Lancelin look out onto The Indian Ocean, whereas you are literally transported to another world at The Pinnacles Desert! You can combine the two on a day trip as Lancelin Sand Dunes are on the way to The Pinnacles Desert – they are a 1.5 hour drive north of Perth and The Pinnacles Desert is another hour further north, so stopping off really breaks up the journey. Read on for my day-trip itinerary and discover the beauty of Western Australia!
You can do this trip independently or as part of a tour. If driving yourself and travelling independently on a day trip, I suggest you to visit Lancelin Sand Dunes first as they are on the way to The Pinnacles Desert as opposed to visiting them on your way back to Perth. This also means you can stay at The Pinnacles for sunset – it is undeniably beautiful there at that time!
Lancelin Sand Dunes
Lancelin Sand dunes are Western Australia’s biggest sand dunes and are stunningly white! What’s more, you can go sandboarding on them whilst looking out onto The Indian Ocean, how cool is that?!
You can find the sandboard rental at the entrance to the sand dunes: renting a sandboard costs $10AUD per hour (£5.60). If you don’t want to rent a sandboard, entrance is free. Sandboarding down the dunes is really fun but surprisingly harder than it looks! As the sand dunes are next to the coast it can get quite windy, so try and wear sunglasses to prevent sand being blown in your eyes! The dunes are also quite steep so it is a good workout climbing back up to the top! It can also get really busy here during the weekends and holidays so try to come mid-week if possible!
You don’t need a 4WD to access the car park, but if you would like to go driving on the dunes you definitely need a 4×4. Please only do this if you are very experienced, it can be VERY dangerous otherwise! If you want to experience a drive on the sand I recommend to check out the sand dunes adventure tour.
The sand dunes are open daily from 8am until 7pm. Click here to find the location on Google maps! It will take you about 1.5 hours to drive here from Perth (distance 130km).
The Pinnacles Desert
Drive one hour (80km) north from Lancelin Sand Dunes to the otherworldly Pinnacles Desert! Located in Nambung National Park it is a truly unique desert landscape. The Pinnacles are unusual natural structures rising out of yellow sand dunes, formed approximately 30,000 years ago. They are made from ancient sea shells and limestone and their unusual shapes are a result of the coastal winds. Click here to find the location on Google maps.
When to visit The Pinnacles?
Visit during the late afternoon so you can stay until sunset: The Pinnacles are simply amazing at sunset with the spectacular sunset colours! Also visiting at sunset is better as it is not as hot as during the day, especially if you are visiting during the summer. Plus all the tour groups have disappeared by then so it is a lot quieter!
Is there an entry fee to The Pinnacles?
Yes – you pay per vehicle, not per person though. It costs $12AUD for each vehicle, regardless of how many people are in the vehicle. Once you are inside you drive along the 4km one-way dirt road to admire the pinnacles. There are several spots where you can park your car and get out, walk around and take some pictures! Luckily it is very easy to get photos without other people in as the place is so big! Many people go to the lookout point, but I found it better to just wander in between the pinnacles, take pictures and admire their uniqueness.
What else is there to see near The Pinnacles?
Nearby are the secluded white beaches of Hangover Bay, with dreamy turquoise waters – great for swimming, snorkelling and surfing. Kangaroo point is just 8km from the park entrance, named after the mobs of kangaroos that gather on the beach at sunrise and sunset!
Nearby accommodation (Cervantes)
20 minutes drive north of The Pinnacles Desert is the fishing village of Cervantes. It is fairly quiet and remote but it makes a convenient place to stay for the night if you are too tired to drive back to Perth or carry on your journey up north. There is not much to do here – just a few restaurants and a shop but the beach is really nice! There are not too many choices for accommodation in Cervantes, and especially during the peak season things get booked up quickly, so you’ll probably want to book ahead. Accommodation is not cheap here, so at least booking ahead you should be able to have more choice over the accommodation and the price. Visit booking.com for accommodation options in Cervantes.
There is also not too much choice for dinner here and places close early so don’t leave it too late until you go for food! We went for food at 8pm on a Sunday evening and we could only find one place open!
If you are staying over in Cervantes, make sure to check out Jurien Bay in the morning – another beautiful sandy beach! From there make your way back down to Perth, which should take about 2.5 hours.
How to reach Lancelin Sand Dunes and The Pinnacles Desert?
Ideally you need a car to get here (luckily car hire is pretty cheap in Australia!). It’s a very simple, smooth and straightforward drive up on The Indian Ocean Drive highway from Perth. The highway runs right next to the coast for the majority of the journey, making the views SO beautiful whilst you are driving – it is such an idyllic stretch of coast! Just be careful of the odd kangaroo jumping out (sadly we saw a couple of dead ones by the side of the road). If time allows, definitely head north up to Ningaloo Reef and Exmouth in Western Australia. You can either do a road trip – it will take you around 2 days from Perth to Exmouth, or you can fly from Perth to Exmouth in under 2 hours.
If you do not have access to a car or would prefer to do a tour, check out this one which includes a 4WD on the same dunes at Lancelin! If you have the option to go by car, definitely choose it as the tours do not stay at The Pinnacles until sunset.
To read more about Western Australia, check out my blog post 24 hours in Perth & Fremantle!
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