Orleans Bay was one of my favourite destinations east of Esperance, with the most perfect beaches you've ever seen, plenty of 4WD tracks, great fishing and diving and great accommodation. You really can't ask for more than that!
Where is Orleans Bay?
Orleans Bay is a 90km drive east of Esperance, directly south of the Condingup Tavern. It's on a hammer head section of coast, meaning regardless of where the wind is coming from you can find a sheltered beach.
What facilities are there?
Orleans Bay is essentially a little community that lives in a caravan park, which is popular with tourists enjoying the area. The caravan park has a small shop, fuel facilities and accommodation options. There is a boat ramp available (and many large boats launch here). There are a couple of lookouts and picnic tables, and then just the most perfect beaches you've ever seen!
If you want to stay near Orleans Bay, the only option you have is the Caravan Park, which I wouldn't hesitate to recommend. It isn’t 5 star luxury, but comfortable, clean and enough for what the majority would expect. Camping outside of the caravan park is likely to land you a $100 fine. I was very impressed with the level of customer service received from this caravan park, and they went above and beyond to make sure we were comfortable. There is plenty of lawn, lots of bird life and a friendly atmosphere with the locals.
What’s there to do?
I think we should start with the obvious; the beaches here are world class, and seriously some of the best that Australia has to offer. There is great surfing, fishing, swimming, sun baking, hiking, photography and sight seeing. Just exploring the area (on foot and with a 4WD) takes at least a couple of days, and its not hard to spend the majority of the day lazing on a beach, snorkeling, swimming and fishing.
Fishing at Orleans Bay
Esperance is pretty well known for top fishing, and the further east you head the better it gets! We didn't do a massive amount of fishing here, but did land a good feed spear fishing and fishing off some of the quieter beaches. A lot of people fish near the small boat ramp, as the water runs in from being quite deep and gets shallow quickly. Squid are often caught here too. If you want to know where to go, see the Caravan Park - they will point you in the right direction!
4WDing at Orleans Bay
The 4WD tracks around Orleans Bay are absolutely awesome. None are too difficult, but they are hard enough to have some fun and they jump around some of the best coastline in the world. Right behind the Caravan park are two big hill climbs which will have you pushing your car to get to the top. If you do get up there, the view is spectacular, over Table Island and Orleans Bay. If you head further around the coast, you can drive quite far out onto the hammer head. Some sections are just rocks going into areas with massive swell, but there are plenty of tiny beaches that are stunning, and available entirely to yourselves! You can do a great walk from one of the beaches out to a cave at the point; there is a lot to see. Having a 4WD makes this place so much better though, as pretty much every beach is 4WD accessible.
If you head west, you can drive onto a big beach that takes you miles around the corner. On the other side there is a spectacular little bay, with the perfect swimming location for little kids (and even adults!). Further around (don't drive on the beach) and you get to a great beach that is worth staying at to watch the sun go down.
Motorbikes at Orleans bay
Being such a little community, motorbikes are tolerated (and often driven on the roads). As the locals live in the caravan parks, expect to hear motorbikes fairly regularly as they drive out of the park and off to enjoy themselves. They are usually well mannered, and when driven sensibly there's no reason for anything to be done about it.
Other great places worth visiting in the area
Thomas River is amazing too, with 2 camp grounds that you can stay at. There are no facilities though, asides from BBQ's and toilets (and some non potable water). You can find out more about Thomas River here.
Lucky Bay is another great place to check out, and has been often referred to as one of the best beaches in WA. I'd say there are plenty more around Esperance that would compare though!
Orleans Bay Overview
Our original plan was to go to Lucky Bay and camp there, but due to how busy it was we ended up at Orleans Bay. After driving through the Lucky Bay camping area, I'm glad we stayed at Orleans Bay. The facilities are much better, the beaches are quieter and there is much more to explore. If you want a quiet holiday on the coast with some of the best beaches minutes away, this is a great place to visit!