We were high-fiving and cheering when we saw Broome, Western Australia make an appearance on TripAdvisor’s Destinations on the Rise list for the South Pacific in 2016.
Can we claim playing a part in that rise to fame?
We stayed in Broome for five weeks on our road trip around Australia and have consistently named it as our favourite destination in Australia on TV, radio, print and online publications, and of course endlessly through our social channels and blog.
Our love affair with Broome and the Kimberleys is deep and long, beginning in 2004 when we worked on the PasPaley Pearl Farm at Kuri Bay. It was the most exotic adventure I’d ever experienced.
Writing this post on Broome fills me with a deep longing to return. It connects to my soul like no other place does, and there are no adequate words to convey why.
It’s a way of life, it’s a spiritual energy, it’s a beauty that’s so ancient and mesmerizing.
We’re partnering with TripAdvisor for the next month to bring a series of posts. I practically jumped through the computer at them when I saw their Destinations on the Rise list: “I want to write about things to do in Broome!”
It takes me back to balmy nights under palm trees with new friends watching spectacular sunsets.
Many of the places we enjoyed in Broome came from friend’s recommendations, our community, and from the TripAdvisor app. We search what’s nearby and then read the reviews. We’re careful to read multiple reviews for a general all-over feel, bearing in mind that our interests and perspective could be vastly different from those writing the reviews.
TripAdvisor is one of the few travel apps we use consistently to help us plan our travel experience. You can now also book accommodation and travel experiences through TripAdvisor.
Get yourself to Broome. It may not be the easiest place to get to, but that’s part of its undiscovered and untarnished charm.
Here’s what we suggest for things to do in Broome.
Broome Town vs. Cable Beach
When I first arrived in Broome in 2004, my brother’s welcoming words were,
“Broome is pretty much split in two. There’s the town, and then there’s Cable Beach, a 5km road separates them. Each has its flavour, choose the one that suits you.”
Broome Town, which is comprised of Town Beach and Chinatown, is an eclectic pot of grunge and bohemian with an edge of posh creeping in. You’ll find great shopping, cafes and restaurants, and the nightlife, which was much wilder when Broome was mostly a pearling town.
The GFC crushed that, and any miners that are left tend to skip on over to Bali during their weeks off.
Cable Beach is where you find the Zen. The chilled zone of summer love – all year round. (Well, check the end of the post to see the best time to visit Broome.)
Things to do in Broome, Western Australia
Things to do in Cable Beach, Broome
You’ll soon get hooked on the daily 5 pm Cable Beach event. One of my favourite things to do in Broome (and probably ever) is sunset on Cable Beach. Come 4 pm the people stream in with chairs, blankets, and picnics to celebrate the end of the day with that giant red orb.
Sunsets in Broome are some of the best in the world. You can do it yourself, or enjoy the following experiences.
Sunset from Cable Beach Sunset Bar
Get here early for front row seat. Drinks at the Sunset Bar is an iconic sunset event. Hopefully, you can time it right like we did, with a live acoustic jam session.
Sunset 4WD on the beach
There is a section of Cable Beach that allows 4WDs. It’s down where the camels roam, so take care, and watch out for kids running around. Pack a picnic, a fishing rod, and a bottle of wine and enjoy this magical event. Don’t go too far north, or maybe do, it’s a nudist beach!
Don’t go too far north, or maybe do – it’s a nudist beach!
Sunset camel ride
Another iconic thing to do in Broome, and I know you’ve seen the photo a thousand times. I’m sure a sunset camel ride in Broome is on your bucket list – it’s worth it. The shorter 30-minute ride will be adequate and will protect your bum a little more than the longer one.
We rode with Broome Camel Safaris, who are the longest running operator in Broome. Their guides were super friendly – all traveller’s and keen to share their stories and that of the camels they all had an obvious affection for.
After your camel ride, you will get a sheet of discounts at some of the local attractions. One being two for one cocktails at Zanders – another place with amazing, close-up views of the sunset AND next door to a playground. Take the free drink and enjoy the tail end of the sunset. The colours linger long after the sun’s gone down.
Sunset at Gantheame Point
Gantheaume Point is a red rock cliff face overlooking a white sandy beach at the Southern End of Cable Beach. Especially spectacular at sunset, but any time of day is worth the short drive on the unsealed road, or you can even walk the length of the beach if you’re up for it.
Photographers, this is the place for you.
You can also walk with the dinosaurs at Gantheaume Point. By the end of this article, you’ll understand that everything in Broome is about timing. The moon controls everything. Get there at low tide and you’ll see the 120 million-year-old dino prints. They’re real. Dinosaurs did roam here.
Friday night sunset at the Broome Surf Club
Oka, so this was meant to be a secret, but I just can’t keep it. Friday night from 5-7pm was our night to sneak into the local surf club for the cheapest drinks in Broome and the best sunset views.
Perched on top of the dune, it’s the closest you’ll get to the sunset from an establishment. It’s a rustic shed that oozes that old Broome charm. Get a local to sign you in, pull up a plastic chair, enjoy the $6 drinks, retro tunes, and a chance to hang out with and meet new friends. They also have a food truck come on a Friday night to satisfy the tummy cravings.
Is that enough sunsets for you above? What about Moon rises? (see below)
Broome was where I learned the value of starting your day off right. A 6 am bike ride along the beach road, a cool breeze waking me up and hardly a soul to be seen, followed by a 90-minute yoga session at the Buddha Sanctuary.
Transformation on a physical and spiritual level. Highly recommend and extraordinary value. The best yoga I’ve ever done. I love you, Broome. This much!
It’s $15 for a casual class or $100 for ten classes. Classes are free for those who stay at the Cable Beach Club.
Massage at Bali Hai
Keep lifting your physical and spiritual Zen with a massage. I enjoyed a Kimberley Stone therapy massage at the Bali Hai resort, said to be the best place in Broome for a massage. It was divine. The only problem being that I kept drifting off to sleep!!
Other friends dined at the restaurant here and said it was very good.
Enjoy Cable Beach
From sunrise to sunset there is so much to love about a day on Cable Beach. Consistently ranked as one of Australia’s best, it’s 22km wide, flat sweeping beach is perfect for beach cricket, polo, long walks, meditation, building sandcastles, and just chillaxing. Cable Beach takes its name from the telegraph cable that was installed between Broome and Java in 1889.
Rent a seat and an umbrella (or bring your own) and enjoy a swim. The winter water is stinger free. Our girls loved their days here playing with their friends.
Broome Deep Water Wharf and Jetty
Down the end of Port Drive is the Broome Deep Water Wharf and Jetty, a much quieter area visit and highly recommended for photographers. There’s a beautiful beach here and a cafe and restaurant. Kayak tours can also be taken around this area.
Things to do in Broome Town
Staircase to the Moon, Town Beach
If you time it right, you may catch the Staircase to the Moon, a natural phenomenon that occurs during a full moon as the moon rises over the exposed tidal mudflats of Roebuck Bay. The full moon’s reflection on the water looks like a staircase rising to meet the moon.
Town Beach has Staircase to the Moon markets with international food stalls, hand-made products and local artists.
An alternative is to see the Staircase to the Moon from the Mangrove Hotel. Get there early, grab yourself a seat on the edge of the beer garden and relax until the show. They also have live acoustic music. This was my favourite way to experience Staircase to the Moon. The didgeridoo playing as the moon rose made it so spiritual and ethereal.
During the heyday of Broome’s pearling industry, the pearlers (many from China, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Europe) would arrive back on shore cashed up and head to the opium dens and billiard halls of Chinatown.
Now, Chinatown is Broome’s main shopping district. It’s a fascinating mix of Colonial and corrugated sheds next to colourful Asian architecture. There are plenty of stories to tell in each building. Grab a map from the Visitors Centre to help you explore the few streets in Chinatown.
In Chinatown, you can visit the Cygnet Bay Pearls showroom and learn a little more about pearling. At 11 am on weekdays, a free pearl harvesting demonstration is done, which is interesting to watch if you have no idea about the pearling industry. Broome has a rich pearling history.
While you are here, you might want to pick up some pearl jewellery. I just love pearl shells, maybe because my job on the pearl farm was to lovingly scrape the barnacles off hundreds of pearl shell each day to keep them alive. Now my pick, which won’t break the bank too much, is a Keshi pearl or a pearl shell. They are pretty and an affordable souvenir.
Keshi shells are as close to a natural pearl and don’t have the perfect roundness of the cultivated shells. True beauty lies in authentic and imperfect expression.
Red Dirt Photography Gallery and tours
For budding photographers, you might want to join a photography tour with local photographer, Nigel Gaunt, who owns the Red Dirt Photography Gallery in town. We gave this to Craig for his birthday, and he loved it. They spent the day exploring Broome and the surrounds learning how to capture better the red pindan soil and turquoise water that makes this region so striking.
Broome Saturday Courthouse Markets
Give me a market and I’m there. The Broome Markets have grown considerably from when we lived there in 04 and are worth a Saturday browse and a wander through the Courthouse grounds.
You must try Kimberleys coffee – it was one of the best in Broome. There was also a dress shop that sold such beautiful and cheap clothes for girls. The girls each picked out an outfit with their birthday money of only $10 each.
They have live music and food as well as stalls offering sparkling crystals, hand-blown or painted glass, lanterns and plates, clothes, scarves, photos, paintings and ceramics.
Held from 8 am to 1 pm
Town Beach, Broome
Don’t let the glamour of Cable Beach distract you from spending time at Town Beach on Roebuck Bay. When those colours come out, it’s more stunning than Cable. The turquoise sea sparkles at high tide next to the red earth and lushness of the green bush. Wow!
Plenty of people swim here, but I get croc jitters too much. They’re rarely found here, but you just never know, this is mangrove land. When the tide is low – the change of tides in this area is mind-blowing – you can walk a kilometre out through the squelchy mud to see the wreckage of the World War II flying boats, sunk during the bombing by the Japanese.
There’s also a small cool waterpark for kids here and a great cafe (see below).
Broome has such a fascinating history. Bombed by the Japanese in World War II, yet they were also an important part of establishing the pearling industry in Broome. The Japanese Cemetery in Broome is the biggest one outside of Japan, home to more than 900 Japanese pearl divers.
Sun Pictures, Broome
Sun Pictures is the world’s oldest operating open-air picture gardens. Don’t expect anything glam here, this is total Broome style, sitting on some deck chairs or lying on the grass of the tropical garden gazing up at the big screen.
Just try not to let the stars distract you. And I hope a plane comes into land while you are there. It will freak you out, and you’ll think the Japanese bombers are coming all over again. The plane almost scrapes the top of the roof as it comes to land at the airport behind the cinemas.
The cinemas show two movies every evening and are a must do activity in Broome. It was a Saturday night date with my girls!
The best Broome Restaurants
The food scene in Broome is on the rise. You’ll find the better dining experiences are in Broome Town.
Sunset Bar and Grill, Cable Beach
We did not eat at the restaurant but enjoyed some delicious pizzas from the bar menu for my birthday. There’s a large grassy area out front for the kids to run around on, and the camels will wander by on their way home.
Friends dined at the Sunset Bar & Grill restaurant and said the Surf & Turf was exceptional and big enough to share between two.
Town Beach Cafe, Town Beach
OMG. Have you ever seen more divine breakfast views then this?
You cannot even imagine the beauty of it until you’re standing in front of it. Town Beach Cafe is the place to come for breakfast. There is a kids playground here, which will help you to relax while they have fun.
Our must try is the Eggs Florentine
Matsos Brewery, Roebuck Bay
Even better, is Matso’s Brewery, in my opinion, the best in the country. With those steamy tropical days, nothing beats sitting under the shady trees in Matso’s garden with an ice cold ginger or mango beer. The best. They serve pretty good food as well and a few trees for your kids to climb. If you’re there in October, they hold an Oktoberfest event. Their quinoa salad at lunch is exceptional.
Mangrove Hotel, Roebuck Bay
The Mangrove Hotel is possibly my favourite place in Broome and cannot be beaten for lunch time views. You have the deep red earth, the dark green of the mangroves, the sparkling turquoise water of Roebuck Bay. It’s just CRAZY beautiful.
They also do incredible food.
Our must try the venison chorizo, slow cooked cherry tomato and goats cheese pizza. The popcorn chicken is another locals pick.
The Good Cartel, Broome Town
Funky, eclectic cafe with the best vegetarian nachos I’ve ever tried. Seating is outside on milk crates with striped and colourful cushions chucked on them and small tables. Every Sunday The Good Cartel has live acoustic music only enhancing the chill factor. It can get hot as you are outside, but there are big fans to help cool you down.
Their coffee and raw cake is also delicious. They have drive-through as well. Pull up in the car park and the waiter will run out to take your order. Too cool! God, I love this town.
Dragonfly Cafe, Chinatown
The Dragonfly Cafe is located in the historic Hashimoto House. They do a great breakfast, and the coffee is good. It’s a good place to watch the slow-paced Broome town life go by
Town Beach Pub
If you want to experience a little Kimberley fun, head to the Town Beach Pub at 6 pm on a Sunday night. Not only will you get a deliciously huge $17 roast dinner, but you can join the fun of the hermit crab races.
18 Degrees, Broome Town
If you like good food, incredible wine and tapas, 18 degrees is your pick. This restaurant came so highly recommended to us from other traveller’s and Trip Advisor’s that we decided to check it out with some new friends.
I’ve never really been big on tapas, but this hooked me in. The food was extraordinary, and I could not decide which was my favourite dish. They were all so good. But my pick is the crispy shrimp cake, smoked paprika dressing, coriander, lime, house smoked salmon.
Mollie Bean Coffee
This mobile coffee drive through van is halfway between Broome town and Cable Beach. It’s worth driving past the Japanese cemetery where you’ll find them and ordering a coffee from the car window. Service is friendly, fast and efficient and the coffee well worth the drive there. (You can tell by the line of cars)
Mantra Frangipani, Cable Beach
We loved the outdoor shower feature of the Mantra Frangipani, Cable Beach. The villas have everything you need and is tucked away in a quieter part of Cable Beach, not that it gets very busy or noisy. It’s an easy bike ride or walk to the beach.
You’ve also got a swimming pool.
Palm Grove Holiday Resort
Palm Grove Holiday Resort was our home for nearly a month. It’s only a block back from Cable beach and a short walk, or bike ride to the surf club. There’s a small pool, which we got a lot of use out of, and is family friendly. We loved our shady possy right next to the pool!
Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa
The Cable Beach Club is your respoert option, with prime position on Cable Beach. It’s also where you’ll find the Sunset Bar and Grill, plus your free yoga lessons and plenty of other facilities like a pool and mini-golf.
Kimberly Klub, Broome Town
In Broome town, we’ve only ever stayed at the Kimberly Klub YHA. We spent two weeks here standing in the pool all day before we landed our jobs on the Pearl Farm. Yep, we visited during the hottest time of the year!
We stayed again when we visited with the kids and enjoyed it. Although, we had no problems, it’s probably not the best place to stay with families. It’s not overly family friendly and is mostly filled with young backpackers. Ahh to be young again! If you’re a backpacker, you’ll love it.
Find other Broome accommodation here.
Kimberly Adventures near Broome
Another reason Broome is out of this world as a travel destination is its location within the Kimberlys. It’s the gateway to discovering this untouched wilderness that is the three times the size of England.
The Gibb River Road
The biggest disappointment of our Australian road trip was that we could not take our vehicle along the Gibb River Road to explore the many waterfalls, gorges, and stunning vistas. Thankfully, back in 04, we spent a week 4×4 driving through here. There’s no place in Australia like it. Our pearl farm was in the middle of the Kimberly’s on the coast, and it was so stunning.
Some areas to visit: Windjana Gorge, Tunnel Creek, Lennard Gorge, Galvan’s Gorge, Adcock Gorge, Bell Gorge, and then further afield, Mitchell Falls.
Horizontal Falls Tour
Flying along the Kimberly coastline above Cape Leveque and the Buccaneer Archipelago to the Horizontal Falls at Talbot Bay is an amazing adventure and way to see this incredible region from the air. The Horizontal Falls are natural phenomena!
They’re created by two narrow openings between two escarpments. The tides in this region are some of the biggest in the world and can reach a difference of up to 12 metres.
As the tides change from low to high (and vice versa) they are sending an immense amount of water from one bay to another. The build up of that water forms a drop of up to four metres, hence creating a horizontal waterfall.
Once you arrive, you jump in a jet boat and zoom right through the falls. It’s awesome fun and so cool to see these falls up close. There’s nowhere else in the world like it.
Wowser! Prepare for a rainbow kaleidoscope explosion! Par of this drive in is on sandy (and corrugated) red dirt, so ensure your vehicle can handle it and look out for conditions. Our AWD made the 240km trip from Broome okay, but conditions were good.
Pull up a campsite at Kooljaman Safari Camp on the Northern tip of the Dampier Peninsula. Or rent a campsite shelter or deluxe safari tent. You’ll feel like you have the entire ocean and the sunsets to yourself.
The two surrounding indigenous communities of Djarindjin and Ardyaloon (One Arm Point) jointly own Kooljaman, making it Proudly 100% Indigenous Owned. There is plenty to do with unique cultural tours, swimming, snorkelling, mud crabbing and exploring the peninsula. Make sure you visit Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm, the oldest working pearl farm in the region. There is a great cafe here for lunch, and the views are spectacular!
Once again sunsets here sitting down next to the red pindan cliffs on Western Beach are incredible, AND you with a short walk to the other side of the peninsula to Eastern Beach you get pretty sunrises too!
Best time to visit Broome
Broome sits on the western top end of Australia. It’s tropical and one of the hottest places I’ve ever been. Prepare to sweat and spend the entire day in the pool, if you time your visit wrong. The humid, wet season runs from November to April. You can visit during this time, and although it will be much quieter and perhaps cheaper, the heat will be intense. But, those tropical showers will cool you down.
The winter is the dry – perfect, summer-like days. Be prepared for cool evenings, but the days are magnificent. It’s going to bring the crowds though as this is the best time to visit and the town is small. Book your accommodation in advance, particularly if you are camping.
TripAdvisor’s Destinations on the Rise
In case you’re wondering, here are the other Destinations on the Rise for the South Pacific.
- Brisbane, Australia
- Queenstown, New Zealand
- Auckland, New Zealand
- Wellington, New Zealand
- Hobart, Australia
- Christchurch, New Zealand
- Taupo, New Zealand
- Margaret River, Australia
- Broome, Australia
- Surfers Paradise, Australia
This post is brought to you in partnership with TripAdvisor