Esperance, West Australia, Australia

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Famed for its picture-perfect white-sand beaches, aquamarine waters and rosy-hued lakes, the south coast of Western Australia is among the most isolated and beautiful areas of this island continent. The gateway to this natural splendor is Esperance, which gets its name from a French vessel, the Espérance, that made landfall here in 1792. The town overlooks the Recherche Archipelago (also known as the Bay of Isles), a group of around 100 islands that are scattered across nearly 4,000 square kilometers (1,500 square miles) and boast remarkable reefs and abundant sea and birdlife. The calm waters of Esperance Bay make it an ideal spot for swimming, diving, snorkeling and fishing; nearby surf breaks produce big waves that can rival those in Hawaii. There are a number of walking trails along the coast and around the area’s pink lakes, which get their color from the red-tinged algae. And national parks and nature reserves surround the city, showcasing the pristine beauty of the region. The best known of these is Cape Le Grand National Park, a 45-minute drive from Esperance, where gray kangaroos roam the wildflower-covered coastal stretches of heathland.
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