Much of the Margaret River experience is based around sybaritic pleasures, but to balance the virtue-vs-vice ledger, get active amid the region's stunning scenery. Surfing, swimming and walking are obvious choices, but there's also caving, diving and kayaking – to name a few.
Known to surfers as 'Yals' (around Yallingup) and 'Margs' (around the mouth of the Margaret River), the beaches between Capes Naturaliste and Leeuwin offer powerful reef breaks, mainly left-handers (the direction you take after catching a wave). The surf at Margs has been described by surfing supremo Nat Young as 'epic', and by world surfing champ Mark Richards as 'one of the world's finest'.
As is the way with such hot spots, surfers can be quite territorial, so respect the etiquette and defer to locals if you're unsure. If you're planning on spending a lot of time on the breaks, call in to the surf shops and get to know some locals.
Around Dunsborough, the better locations include Rocky Point (short left-hander) and the Farm and Bone Yards (right-handers), which are between Eagle and Bunker Bays. Near Yallingup there are the Three Bears (Papa, Mama and Baby, of course), Rabbits (a beach break towards the north of Yallingup Beach), Yallingup (reef with breaks left and right), and Injidup Car Park and Injidup Point (right-hand tube on a heavy swell; left-hander). You'll need a 4WD to access Guillotine/Gallows (right-hander), north of Gracetown. Also around Gracetown are Huzza's (an easy break within the beach), South Point (popular break) and Lefthanders (the name says it all). The annual surfer pro is held around Margaret River Mouth and Southside ('Suicides') in April.
Pick up a surfing map from one of the visitor centres.
Surfing is never without its risks. Three people have been killed by sharks in the vicinity of Gracetown in the last six years, and in 2014 a shark attacked an inflatable boat near Dunsborough.
Top Five Surf Spots
The main cave complexes are spread, perhaps unsurprisingly, along Caves Rd. Ngilgi Cave sits by itself near Yallingup, but the other main complexes are between Margaret River township and Augusta. These are split between Calgardup Cave and Giants Cave, which are run by the Department of Environment and Conservation, and Lake Cave, Jewel Cave and Mammoth Cave, which are more commercialised and are run by Caveworks. Caveworks offers a combined ticket for its caves.
- Beaches And lots of them; they're particularly beautiful between Dunsborough and Cape Naturaliste.
- Walking There are excellent tracks around Cape Naturaliste and between the capes.
- Diving Trips leave from Busselton and Dunsborough to explore local wrecks and reefs.
- Whale watching Cruises leave from Augusta (starting in June) and Dunsborough (starting in September).
- Lighthouses Both capes have them and both can be visited. From Cape Leeuwin you can watch the Indian and Southern Oceans collide.
- Adventure sports From mountain biking to climbing and kayaking.