Perth’s closest beaches extend along the Sunset Coast, 30km of near-unbroken sand and coastal suburbs stretching north of the Swan River, bordered by the Indian Ocean and cooled by afternoon sea breezes. There are also tiny inshore beaches worth a look along the Swan River at Crawley, Nedlands, Peppermint Grove and Mosman Bay on the north shore, and Como, Canning Bridge and Applecross on the south shore, which are calm and safe for children, and make wonderful picnic spots.
Cottesloe Beach, 7km north of Fremantle, is the most popular city beach, with safe swimming. There are ice-cream vendors, cafés and watercraft-rental outlets aplenty, all just a ten-minute walk from Cottesloe train station. Two kilometres north of here, Swanbourne Free Beach – cut off by army land in both directions but accessible from the road – has nude bathing. North of Scarborough Beach, 6km north of Swanbourne, the surf and currents are more suited to wave-riding and experienced swimmers, though with fewer beachside facilities, crowds are reduced.
A little further up the coast is Hillary’s Boat Harbour where you’ll find the Aquarium of Western Australia (daily 10am–5pm; $28; whttp://www.aqwa.com.au). This is the country’s largest aquarium and underwater tunnel, and it features giant sharks, rays and turtles plus living coral reefs.