Never heard of West Cape Howe? It’s a peninsula jutting out into the Southern Ocean, five hours south of Perth, featuring a wide range of adventures in a pristine environment.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Menang people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Quick Overview

West Cape Howe National Park is the southernmost point of Western Australia, halfway between the coastal towns of Albany and Denmark. The landscape ranges from pristine white beaches, to karri forest, coastal heath, and 60m granite and dolerite cliffs plunging into the Southern Ocean.

About West Cape Howe National Park

West Cape Howe is a little-known national park on the south coast of Western Australia. Unless you’re an avid 4WDer, Bibbulmun Track hiker, or partial to West Cape Howe Wines, you probably haven’t heard of it.

Shelley Beach and the lookout above it can be accessed by 2WD vehicles. The rest of the park is only accessible by 4WD or hiking trails. The vegetation varies from stands of majestic karri forest to stunted coastal heath that bursts with colour in spring.

The three or four accessible beaches have white sand and protected waters, while the southern cliffs plunge into the heaving Southern Ocean.


Everywhere you look, it’s stunning


Highlights include:

  • Golden Gate Beach – a popular surf beach
  • West Cape Howe cliffs – where rock climbers abseil down and climb back up
  • Dunsky Beach – calm protected beach

While you’re in the area: 9 Stunning Natural Wonders to Visit in South Western Australia

West Cape Howe National Park History

The Menang people are the local Traditional Owners. Captain George Vancouver named the peninsula after Admiral Howe in 1791. Matthew Flinders renamed it West Cape Howe to differentiate it from Cape Howe in Victoria.

The process of protecting the area began in 1977 culminating in its national park status during the late 1980s.


And it’s pretty big so there’s lots to explore

How to Get to West Cape Howe National Park

By Car

West Cape Howe is 30km west of Albany and 30km east of Denmark via the Lower Denmark Road. Turn into Cosy Corner Road and then turn right into Coombes Road. Shelley Beach Road is on the left. The road turns into well maintained gravel, through the small karri forest and winds down steeply towards Shelley Beach. You’ll see signs for the lookout and hang gliding launch site.

The entry into the rest of the park is on the right as you head towards Shelley Beach. There’s a gate and an area to drop your tyre pressure. The tracks are challenging, requiring a high clearance 4WD. It’s mainly soft sand and steep bits with varying states of rubber matting used to reduce erosion. The tracks take you to Golden Gate Beach, West Cape Howe cliffs, and Dunsky Beach.


As far as 4WDing goes, this is a dream


By Foot

A section of the Bibbulmun Track passes through West Cape Howe National Park. The West Cape Howe to Torbay section of the Bibbulmun Track is a beautiful 16km walk through the coastal heath, with a wide variety of flowering shrubs and orchids in spring. The views down to Shelley and Dingo Beach are breathtaking.

You can take a detour off the Bibbulmun Track via the 4WD trail to the cliff’s edge if you don’t mind the extra effort. Heading east from Denmark, the West Cape Howe shelter on the Bibbulmun Track is at the 31km mark of the trail.


Karri forest along the Bibbulmun Track

Where to Stay in West Cape Howe National Park

West Cape Howe is all about camping. There are two campgrounds in the area and two Bibbulmun Track shelters for hikers.

Shelley Beach

This is the only campground in the national park and is accessible by 2WD. It has a small area for tents and campers only. The Shelley Beach campground isn’t suitable for caravans or camper trailers. The access road is very steep – just in case caravan owners need more convincing to avoid the area! There isn’t a booking system and site fees are $11 per person, per night. The only facility is a toilet.

Cosy Corner Campground

Cosy Corner Campground is outside the national park and has two sections: one for caravans (21 bays) and one for tents (15 bays). Facilities include toilets and a dump point. Peppermint trees surround the campsites and protect them from wind. There’s access directly to Torbay Beach too, which is part of the Bibbulmun Track. The Albany Shire looks after this area and comes around daily to collect the fees of $15 per site, per night. 

Torbay Shelter

Torbay Shelter (on the Bibbulmun Track) is 2.6km south of Cosy Corner picnic ground along the Bibbulmun Track. As with all Bibbulmun shelters, there are platforms to sleep on, tent sites, picnic tables, water tanks, and a drop toilet.

West Cape Howe Shelter

West Cape Howe Shelter (on the Bibbulmun Track) is 16.5km west of Torbay shelter. It has spectacular views over the western side of the peninsula. Like Torbay, there are platforms to sleep on, tent sites, picnic tables, water tanks, and a drop toilet.

If camping isn’t your thing there’s a range of accommodation options in nearby Torbay and Kronkup such as this apartment.


Camping along the Bibbulmun Track near Torbay

Where to Eat in West Cape Howe National Park

There are no eating options in West Cape Howe National Park or Torbay. The nearest food is at Elleker General Store (20 km west). The towns of Denmark and Albany are 30km west and east respectively.

Things to do in West Cape Howe National Park


The 1000km Bibbulmun Track passes through West Cape Howe National Park. The two shelters – West Cape Howe and Torbay – are in the national park 16.5km apart.

Read more: Hiking the Bibbulmun Track: A Thousand Emotions in 1000km




4WD on very soft sand tracks to Golden Gate Beach, Dunsky Beach, and the steep granite cliffs of West Cape Howe. The tracks have some rubber matting but conditions are dynamic. Tyre pressures must be lowered to protect the tracks and make sand driving easier.

Read more: What Should You Carry In Your 4WD Rescue & Repair Kit?


The road to Shelley Beach

Hang gliding and Paragliding

The wooden platform at the Shelley Beach lookout is Western Australia’s premier launch site for hang gliders and paragliders in favourable winds.


Gliding launch platforms

Rock Climbing

Experienced rock climbers can abseil 50m down to rock platforms and climb multiple routes back up the cliffs. If the swell is up, the rock platforms may not be accessible. If you’re more into bouldering, or trad climbs there are plenty of opportunities for those too!

The Crag website has handy guides for all the best climbing routes in the national park.


Marty Wolczyk, sweet-dreams-bardens lookout, rock climbing, blue mountains, nsw, gear review, scarpa vapor V

Photo by Marty Wolczyk


Shelley Beach, Dunsky Beach, and Golden Gate Beach offer year-round fishing for herring (also called ‘tommy ruff’), whiting, and other species. During autumn and winter months, big schools of Australian salmon provide plenty of action for beach anglers. Rock fishing is also an option for experienced anglers, but only when the seas are calm. Deaths have occurred when anglers get swept off rocks.

Read more: Staying Safe on Coastal Rock Platforms


Cheap, Solo and Minimalist Hiking on The Bibbulmun Track, Simon Shepherdson, fish, fishing rod, dinner, food

Photo by Simon Shepherdson


Shelley Beach has camping spots for tents and small motorhomes. Cosy Corner can accommodate caravans and camper trailers.


Dwellingup WA: Guide to a Little Town With Big Adventures, Jane Pelusey, Bibbulmun, camping, tent, forest

The Bibbulmun Track sites are quite beautiful too



Golden Gate Beach is popular with local surfers. It has an average 2m break.

Love the water? 13 Best Beaches in Perth 2023 for a Salty Swim


Essential Gear for West Cape Howe National Park

West Cape Howe is close to two towns but once you’re there you’ll need to be self-sufficient.

  • Drinking water – enough for your stay
  • Food
  • Tent and sleeping bag
  • First aid kit
  • Equipment for your adventure of choice – backpack, fishing gear, 4WD recovery kit, gliding kit, rock-climbing gear

What it’s Like to Visit West Cape Howe National Park

By 4WD

The steeply-rising road is sealed for the first bit but as it levels off, we enter a delightful and unexpected stand of karri trees at the entrance to the park. With both hands firmly on the steering wheel, and frequent braking, I nurse our 4WD down a steep winding unsealed road to Shelley Beach. The curved white beach, and breaking aqua swells with hang gliders wheeling around on thermals high above, makes for a wonderful sight.

Look how CLEAN that sand is!


Later on, we head back up to the earlier turn off for a 4WD adventure at the West Cape Howe cliffs. After dropping our tyre pressures, we began the rollercoaster drive over the sand dunes. To protect the dunes, the Department of Parks and Wildlife has installed rubber matting that is in different states of disrepair.

Arriving at the cliffs, we lie down and safely peer over the edge trying not to get too dizzy looking at the seething ocean far below. The cliffs of volcanic dolerite are an awe-inspiring sight.


Safety first – it’s a looooong way down!


By Foot

Our other perspective of Cape Howe National Park is from hiking along the Bibbulmun Track.

During our final week on the Bibbulmun Track, before ending in Albany, we hiked across the peninsula through a painter’s palette of wildflowers and coastal vistas to camp at the shelter. Thankfully, the West Cape Howe shelter is orientated to provide relief from strong prevailing winds.


Time for dinner at West Cape Howe shelter


The next day we hiked down many wooden stairs before heading east to Torbay. Along the way we sat on granite outcrops and soaked up the sun, like our fellow lizards. Much of the trail is on boardwalks to protect the sand dune vegetation. Reaching the coast again, the water at Shelley and Dingo Beach is inviting but so is the sanctuary of the Torbay shelter.

Tips For Visiting West Cape Howe National Park

  • None of the campsites (Shelley Beach, Cosy Corner, the Bibbulmun shelters, West Cape Howe, or Torbay) can be booked. Be mindful that it gets busy on long weekends and school holidays, so you may need to leave early to secure your ideal spot
  • If driving into West Cape Howe, drop your tyre pressures at the beginning of the 4WD track, where there’s space for you to pull aside
  • The 4WD road through West Cape Howe National Park is a single lane so take care approaching crests as there may be a 4WD coming in the other direction
  • Take extreme care around steep cliffs, especially with children
  • Entry fees apply and can be paid at the park entrance. It’s $15 per car. Monthly and yearly national park passes are available


These views were made to be enjoyed!

FAQs West Cape Howe National Park

Where is West Cape Howe National Park located?

West Cape Howe National Park is located on the south coast of Western Australia, approximately a five-hour drive from Perth. You’ll find it 30km west of Albany and 30km east of Denmark.

How do you get to West Cape Howe National Park?

You can access the West Cape Howe National Park from either direction via Lower Denmark Road.

When is West Cape Howe National Park open?

West Cape Howe National Park is open all year.

Is West Cape Howe National Park free?

No, but it’s very affordable. An entry fee of $15 per car is required to access West Cape Howe National Park. If you’re planning on multiple visits, you might want to consider getting a Western Australia park pass instead (it’s better value!).

Are there wineries in West Cape Howe National Park?

No. The popular winery, West Cape Howe Wines, isn’t located within the West Cape Howe National Park. It’s a one-hour drive north via the Denmark-Mount Barker Road.

Is West Cape Howe National Park busy?

Despite being relatively unknown by most people, this place is definitely lively during school holidays and on long weekends. Once you’re in the know, you’ll join the rest of us faithfuls who aren’t satisfied with just one trip!

Where else can I go that’s similar to West Cape Howe National Park?

There are so many fantastic national parks overflowing with adventure in WA! You can’t miss the myriad of adventures waiting for you in Kalbarri National Park or the vibrant red Purnululu/Bungle Bungles National Park. Go for a gnarly paddle in Mount Frankland National Park, or squeeze between rocky valleys to reach luxurious waterholes in Karijini National Park.

Want to venture interstate? You can’t go past Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park in QLD or hit up no less than eight national parks in northern NSW on this road trip!


Header photo by @pelusey_life

This piece was brought to you by a real living human who felt the wind in their hair and described their adventure in their own words. This is because we rate authenticity and the sharing of great experiences in the natural world – it’s all part of our ethos here at We Are Explorers. You can read more about it in our Editorial Standards.