This is my guide to what to see and do in Broome. Here’s how to best use your time no matter how many days you have to explore this part of the Kimberley.
This post was updated in August 2020 to reflect changes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
With only a 2.5 hour flight from Perth, Broome is a favourite winter getaway for many West Aussies. With average temperatures in July to September in the low 30s, little to no chance of rain and less chance of food poisoning (I’m looking at you Bali), the Kimberley town is popular for a reason.
I’ve visited Broome annually for the past three years, with five trips in total. To help those visiting the area, I’ve compiled this guide with my suggestions for what to see and do in Broome.
This blog post is limited to Broome town and does not cover the many day trips available. However, if I were to recommend a single day trip, it would have to be Horizontal Falls. I visited the falls in 2018, which you can read about here with a short mention below. While expensive, it’s one of those ‘once in a lifetime trips’ that you won’t soon forget.
But alas, back to this guide. Whether you’re a first timer or routine visitor, I hope it helps with your upcoming trip.
Getting to Broome and transfer to your accommodation
Unless you have the luxury of several weeks off and are driving to Broome, you’re most likely arriving by plane. Airfares tend to be expensive during the West Australian winter (the Kimberley dry season). However, if you plan ahead, tickets can be as low as $200 per person each way. Or if you have the points, Qantas seats can be as little as 12,000 points (plus taxes) each way.
To get the best deal, I have a few tips. First, book as early as you can. Qantas and Virgin tend to have sales in November to January for the following winter. If you don’t already, pay attention to the sale fare emails from both airlines as they do come up throughout the year. As a last resort, pay attention to the news when sale fares drop (due to government subsidies) and hope to get lucky!
Whether or not you paid $200 to get to Broome or $600 plus, here’s what to do when you arrive.
Options for getting to your accommodation from the airport
If arriving at the Broome airport, you have a couple of options for getting to your accommodation:
- A transfer service from your accommodation provider. Not all resorts provide this service but it’s worth asking in advance of your arrival to see if they do. Most notably, Cable Beach Resort has a shuttle service and as of 2020, Kimberley Sands offers one as well. I’d suggest calling a few days ahead of your arrival to see if it is offered. It’s unlikely a shuttle will be there unless you book, so make sure to do so in advance.
- Broome Transit offers a transfer service to various resorts. At $15 per person, it quickly ends up being more expensive than a taxi unless you’re travelling alone. The bus is there to meet every flight so at least you’ll get on your way quickly. Pre-booking is not necessary. The downside is the high cost for more than two people compared to a taxi. Since it’s a shuttle service, you’ll likely need to make multiple stops unless you’re the first to be dropped off. See details on their website here.
- Various taxi operators. There are a number of taxis that operate in Broome. Outside the terminal next to the car rental agencies, there is a taxi stop. There’s a sign posted with a list of taxi operators and their phone numbers. Getting a taxi quickly can be hit and miss. I’ve waited over an hour and also less than five minutes. You can always book ahead to arrange a taxi to meet you on arrival. In case the flight is late, I tend to call as soon as the bags start arriving in the arrivals area. A taxi to Kimberley Sands / Bali Hai is about $25. Add a few more dollars for other resorts in the Cable Beach area.
- The Broome Bus. Not for the faint-hearted but this is the cheapest option. The closest bus stop is about 10 minutes walking distance from the arrivals terminal. A bus ticket costs $4 per person and has many stops. Pretty much all resorts in town and around Cable Beach will have a stop nearby. Keep in mind the buses are currently only running hourly so you can be in for a long wait. I’d recommend this only if you want to save money and you have little to no luggage! See below for more information on the buses.
Getting around Broome
As a very high level orientation to Broome, there are four main areas. The airport sits pretty much inbetween the Cable Beach area and the rest of Broome.
- The Cable Beach area: The home of Cable Beach, beautiful sunsets and camel rides. This is where you’ll find the higher end resorts (including Cable Beach Resort and The Pearle of Cable Beach). There’s also numerous mid-range resorts, backpacker style accommodation and caravan parks. For dining options, there are a number of options but tend to be more expensive than in town. Notable restaurants include Zanders at Cable Beach, Zookeeper’s Store and the closest pub and bottleshop to the beach – Divers Tavern. Several resorts also have restaurants on site. These include Cable Beach Resorts’ Sunset Bar and Grill, and Bali Hai and Kimberley Sands’ restaurants.
- The Broome town centre area (including China Town) – I was going to say the ‘non-touristy’ part of Broome but that’s only half true since it’s full of tourists during high season. In China town you’ll find lots of shops selling high end jewellery (lots of pearls!), art and souvenir shops. For eating options, there are a number of less expensive restaurants and cafes, the Courthouse Markets and the Roebuck (Roey) Hotel. You’ll also find a Coles and a Rip Curl (in case you forgot any beachwear at home).
- The Town Beach and coastal area. While probably still considered Broome town centre, for me it’s a bit separate. In this area, which is just south of Frederick Street and the Courthouse Markets, you’ll find Matso’s Brewery, the Mangrove Hotel and Town Beach.
- Local Broome and the industrial area. It’s unlikely you’ll spend any time here unless you want to go to the larger shopping centre (Boulevard Shopping Centre) which has a Woolworths and a Target. Five trips to Broome and I’ve never been so I can’t comment on what it’s like!).
- Other notable mentions: Gantheaume Point and the Broome Race Track (popular during the Broome Cup) are at the far south of Cable Beach. The port is located south of Town Beach.
Best way to travel around Broome
So what’s the best way to get between these different areas? Besides hiring a car (which I’m told is near impossible at the moment!), taxis are an option. But despite the short distance of pretty much all trips, they are expensive! Expect to pay $15 for a five minute taxi ride. They are also notoriously difficult to find without pre-booking. So if you need to use a taxi, my advice is to call in advance with a set pickup time. In short, don’t call and expect the ‘next available taxi’ to be any time soon. As an example, during the first week of August 2020, I called for a taxi at 9pm from China Town and received a text an hour later saying the taxi was on its way. By then we had waved down a random taxi and was already back at our accommodation.
My preference, during its hours of operation, is to use the Broome town bus. One way tickets are $4 per adult and it covers almost all the areas of Broome you’ll want to visit. On the downside, services can run late and during 2020 services are only running hourly. Bus stops are a mix between bus shelters (which have bus times and shade) and simple ‘bus stop’ signs with no information whatsoever.
Due to COVID-19 this winter, services are running on a Low Season timetable. The first service starts around 9am and finishes around 7pm (Monday to Saturday only). On Sundays the bus starts around 11am.
Broome Bus Schedule (as of August 2020):
- Monday through to Saturday: an hourly service between 8.53 am & 6.45pm
- Sunday Services begin at 10.53am
- For the most up to date information the Broome Bus website can be visited by clicking here.
If you’re super keen, you can walk from the Cable Beach area into town. Google maps will show you the most direct path. Besides walking through one of the residential areas, most of the walk is not scenic and doesn’t have any shade. So if you’re thinking of the hour stroll into town, I’d suggest going early in the morning. I tend to do this once per trip and that is more than enough! I also use the handy bus to return to my accommodation.
What to see and do in Broome
One of the joys of visiting Broome is there is not a lot to do. Well unless you count lounging by the pool, on the beach and eating and drinking. Come to think of it, there are plenty of options!
If you’re looking for traditional sightseeing activities, your options increase if you take a day trip out of town. But if you’re in the group that is happy to eat, drink and be merry, (like me!) there’s enough to keep you occupied for a solid week or more. Here are my recommendations on what to see and do in Broome no matter how much time you have.
The white sands of Cable Beach stretch for about 22km (give or take). So you will find it difficult to not find a patch of sand for yourself (f that’s what you want). Most people congregate on the sand where the Surf Lifesavers and beach gear rental shop is set up. But if you walk 5 minutes down the beach, you’ll have lots of space for yourself.
One note of warning. On a recent trip there was a shark sighting and no audible alarm was sounded. The surf lifesavers evacuated everyone from the water but those further away didn’t get the message. So if you’re in the water and the rest of the water is empty on a 30 degree day, you should probably get out as well! On a side note, I was told ‘well, at least it isn’t a crocodile!’ Crikey!!
A note on the tides. Unlike the southern part of the state, Cable Beach has major tide variations throughout the day. As a result, the beach looks completely different within a four hour time period.
Check the tide maps here.
Also, the water isn’t as warm as you might expect, with the temperature hitting about 22 degrees in August. So very brisk for cooling off after baking in the sun!
Where to rent beach gear in Broome
Located at the popular area of Cable Beach next to the surf lifesavers, Beach Hut Hire rents out beach gear. This includes umbrellas, two different types of beach loungers, snorkel gear, boogie boards and standup paddle boards. For $30 you can rent an umbrella and two lounge chairs for four hours or $40 for the full day. For an umbrella and one lounger, it’s $20 for four hours.
The Kimberley sun is strong and having the shade when it gets hot is priceless. I’ve rented loungers from these guys on every visit. They know the tides well and place the loungers where you won’t get wet when the tide rises! And don’t be shy to ask to have an umbrella set up where you want and with the type of lounger you want. They tend to have equipment already set up but will set something new up if none of the options are suitable.
Riding Camels on Cable Beach
Besides the white, sandy beach, Cable Beach is also known for its camels. There are a couple companies that provide tours each day, with the sunset tour being the most popular. To take a tour or to see the camels, head to the beach and turn right. Past (north of) Cable Beach Resort, you’ll see the company representatives ready to book a camel ride. Otherwise, you can book before you arrive in Broome contacting the companies directly.
If the thought of riding a camel doesn’t interest you, you can watch the camels from the beach. As long as you head north along the beach from the Cable Beach Resort, you’re guaranteed to see them. They also walk nearby Sunset Bar and Grill just after sunset as they walk home in a camel train.
I have to admit being on the camel was pretty scary at first because you’re fairly high off the ground. Once I got over that, it was a really cool experience. Though I recall being a bit sore by the end of it! Add in the sunset over Cable Beach and it’s a bucket list item ticked off!
Here are links to a few Camel ride operators. If you want a single camel ride down the beach, all operators provide a similar service. Check out all the operators if you’re looking for more bells and whistles. Some will provide package deals with other activities.
Gantheaume Point is located at the southern end of Cable Beach. It takes about 10 minutes by car from Cable Beach Resort or a 7km walk along the beach. The area is best known for its dinosaur prints that are accessible by climbing down rocks at low tide only.
Getting to Gantheaume Point
When there isn’t a pandemic, the first Broome Bus of the day goes to Gantheaume point after it leaves the Cable Beach area. The bus drops you off at the entrance to the beach which is also next to the Broome Turf Club. The bus doesn’t return to the area until the next morning, so you either need to call a taxi to return to your accommodation, or walk along the beach.
After getting dropped off by the bus, you have to continue down the dirt road for another 500m to reach Gantheaume Point. The first time I did this, I didn’t know to keep walking and instead turned left and followed the water until I realised I was going to have to climb up a cliff. I ended up finding a path through the bush back up to the road and continued from there. Despite being momentarily lost, the beach between the road to Cable Beach and Gantheaume Point is worth the detour and it’s pretty easy to find your way back to the road.
During pandemic times with the reduced bus service options, your only option to get to Gantheaume Point is by taxi or transfer. Of course if you’re really keen you could walk both ways!
What to see at Gantheaume Point
Sights at Gantheaume Point include the lighthouse and the lightkeeper’s house, the 130 million year old dinosaur prints and the natural beauty of the area.
NB – check the tide tables before venturing out if you want to see the dinosaur prints. Except at very low tide (~2 metres), they are underwater and you won’t have any chance of seeing them. They’re also fairly difficult to find and require climbing over slippery rocks with no easily accessible path. For those who don’t time their visit for low tide, there are replicas to view higher above sea level, near the end of the walking path. They are also helpful to show you what to look for when you’re clambering over rocks trying to figure out if a crack in a rock is a dinosaur footprint or just a crack!
Whether you see the dinosaur prints or not, the area is worth checking out for the red rock formations and the beautiful ocean views.
I like to visit the area around 8am when it’s blissfully free of tourists. It is such a unique area, with the bright orange rock formations and the turquoise water. It really is difficult to describe.
Walking back to the resort area from Gantheaume Point
If you spend any amount of time exploring Gantheaume Point, it’ll probably be rather warm during the walk back. There is no infrastructure or services along the 7km stretch, so bring water, a hat and plenty of sunscreen!
Staircase to the Moon
If you’re lucky (or you’ve planned for it), your trip may coincide with the Staircase to the Moon. This natural phenomenon occurs three days each month during March to October. For a list of dates and times in 2020 and 2021, click here.
There are a few good places to watch the moon rising including Town Beach. My favourite is the popular outdoor beer garden at the Mangrove Hotel. With drinks and food on offer and plenty of atmosphere, it’s a great spot to chill out while waiting for the main event. Just before the moon starts to rise, they play didgeridoo music, so you know it’s go time. As the moon rises from the east, the ‘staircase’ appears over the mudflats.
I have to admit my emotional reaction of watching the moon rising caught me off guard my first time. I spoke to a few people who had planned their trip to Broome to make sure they could see it. Prior to watching the spectacle, I would have thought it was a bit odd. But after seeing it for myself, I’m a convert!
It’s not all good news though. With all the people watching, there are bound to be some who watch through their cameras repeatedly trying to take a photo. Needless to say, using a flash on a camera to take a picture of the moon rising doesn’t work. So be nice to your fellow tourists and don’t do it! During one viewing, the woman in front of me tried 20 plus times and then eventually gave up.
But besides the ridiculous tourists distracting others with their flashEs and phone screens, it is pretty epic!
I’d post a picture, but well, I know better than to think I can take one with my iphone. I suggest getting a postcard if you’re keen to remember the view! Instead here’s a photo of a small part of the Mangrove Hotel‘s ‘beer garden’.
Coinciding with the Staircase to the Moon, are markets with the same name. You can find them at Town Beach (about 15 minutes walking distance south of the Mangrove Hotel). The markets are smaller than the Courthouse markets, but still have a variety of stalls. There are a number of food trucks and stalls selling things like jewellery, clothing, wood art and coffee. We had a decent and reasonably priced meal here while listening to a busker playing guitar.
If you’re looking for alcoholic drinks, you might want to stop in at the nearby Matso’s Brewery. It’s a Broome institution and a must-visit, especially if you like ginger beer. There’s also a small Irish pub nearby that I found was a bit lacking in atmosphere. Though it may have been a slow night when we visited.
Broome Courthouse Markets
The Broome Courthouse Markets operate Saturday mornings all year and Sunday mornings from Easter weekend until October. Of all the markets I’ve been to, these are on the higher end of the scale. There are lots of artists, jewellery, food options and clothing. They are definitely worth a look if you’re in town on a Saturday or Sunday.
While you can’t miss the main stalls, make sure to walk around the courthouse building to find a bunch of other stall operators as well. A few stalls that were extremely popular on our recent visit included the Kimberley Coffee Company (great coffee – highly recommended) and the Mango Shake food truck.
For more information on various Broome markets, click here.
Broome town centre
Broome’s town centre is fairly small, so it doesn’t take long to explore. There are a variety of decent cafes all serving much or less similar offerings. Most are located on Carnarvon Street and Dampier Terrace and the laneways in between the two streets.
While the town area is called China Town, don’t expect to be overwhelmed by Chinese food options. The town received its name due to an influx of Asian immigrants when pearling was very popular in the late 1880s. Unfortunately back in those days pearl diving was a very dangerous occupation!
Besides cafes and restaurants, you’ll also find a number of high-end pearl stores, art stores including a local photographer and a variety of beachwear and clothing shops. You’ll also find a full-sized Coles , which is useful for stocking up on groceries if you want to do some self-catering.
Relaxing at a Day Spa
If you’re after the ultimate relaxation experience you can’t go past an hour or three at one of Broome’s day spas. Two very popular and highly rated spas (with links to their websites) are:
I’ve gone for a 2 to 2.5 hour package at both spas and they have both been excellent experiences. While Bali Hai has a very Balinese feel to it (as it should with that name), Cable Beach Resort’s spa is next level of luxury. Perhaps it’s because it’s located in the middle of the Resort’s well manicured grounds and bubbling ponds. There was an instant feeling of relaxation upon entering Chahoya Day Spa. The prices match the experience, so it is very pricey. Bali Hai’s prices are a bit lower and still provide an excellent experience.
Kimberley Sands used to offer a day spa but as of the end of August 2020 it was still not operational. While less opulent as the two spas above, it is worth a consideration especially given how busy the other two have been!
Bonus suggestion – Horizontal Falls
If you’re looking for a day trip outside of Broome I can highly recommend a trip to see Horizontal Falls. Since it is on the pricey side, I visited the falls during my “I’ve just quit my job so I want to treat myself before I start my new one” trip. To read about my day trip in more detail click here.
The trip was a once in a lifetime experience and I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to experience a very unique natural phenomenon and also doesn’t have a fear of flying!
Where to eat and drink in Broome
Broome has a wide range of dining options to suit everyone. Expect prices to be higher in the Cable Beach area than in town.
A quick word on the COVID situation in Broome. Some restaurants are not currently open and some have reduce hours or operations. Always check with the restaurant directly to confirm operating hours and when you can, book ahead. With some restaurants not operating, those that are tend to be very busy.
Broome Town Centre and surrounds
Aarli Bar: Asian fusion style restaurant, with outdoor and indoor seating. Wide range of meal options including share plates and larger servings. Highly rated and bookings are recommended for both breakfast and dinner. Great cocktails, food and atmosphere.
Mangrove Hotel: Located about 5 minutes walking distance from Broome’s town centre. The Mangrove Hotel also has accommodation but we go for the ‘beer garden’ with plenty of seating. While the beers are always cold, they really excel with their cocktail list. Though popular for the Staircase to the Moon, you tend to have beautiful views any day at sunset (though it’s east facing so no actual sunsetting). They also have a range of pub style food if you’re feeling peckish. Highly recommended for late afternoon / early evening drinks.
Matso’s Brewery: Matso’s is synonomous with Broome so is worth checking out if you haven’t been before. It’s a short walk outside of town, has an excellent outdoor area, all their ginger beers on tap and a huge menu.
Coffee spots in Broome centre: I’ve been to the Green Mango, Dragonfly Cafe and the Runway Bar & Restaurant. All are located across from each other and serve decent coffee so go where you can find a seat! I’d recommend the Kimberley Coffee Company pop up at the Broome Courthouse markets on Saturday mornings for a takeaway coffee. I’d also like to say RIP to the Shady Lane Cafe which was closed when we visited in August.
The Roebuck Hotel: What can I say about the Roey? If you’re looking for a TAB, a wet t-shirt contest or barmaids in ‘skimpy’ attire, this is your place! They also have live music on occasion so worth checking out what’s on when you’re in town. On my few quick visits, it has been very popular with men in high vis. I’ll leave it at that!
Cable Beach Area
Cable Beach Sunset Bar: I would put this as a must-do at least once while in Broome. Get there early (by 5pm but 4pm would be better) to grab a prime seat. They have a decent list of cocktails on offer and you can’t really beat the sunset views. The cocktails are pricey, but the view is superb. They also have a small menu for a light dinner. Once the sun has set, the camel trains heading home for the evening in front of the bar.
As of August 2020, the Sunset Bar and Grill is only serving guests of Cable Beach Resort. Fortunately the bar is open and available to anyone and no bookings needed (or possible!). Before arriving in Broome, check with the resort to see if their Japanese restaurant Zensai, which is an all-time favourite of mine, has re-opened. If it is, do yourself a favour and book.
Zookeeper’s Store: One of my favourites in Broome but for this season they have significantly reduced their service. They are currently only offering takeaway coffees and food from their glass display cabinet. While everything is served as takeaway, you can dine in the cafe to eat and drink.
So for 2020 it looks like no a la carte dining for breakfast or lunch and dinner is completely unavailable. As of 20 August 2020, they are only open from 7am to 12pm.
Despite the reduced offering, it is still my go-to spot for a morning coffee. They have a lovely courtyard area that is always popular.
Divers Tavern: while far from fine dining, this very popular pub has two main areas. The bistro that serves generous portions of all the pub favourites and has huge TVs for sport. The second areas is the external “beach bar” that also serves the meals from the bistro but also has live music and even quiz nights. A top attraction has to be the Miss Cable Beach competition every August. This year it’s a bit later so there will be some rounds in early September.
Divers has daily specials so check those out along with their huge menu. Order at the bar (on the side opposite the road). TheY accept bookings for the outdoor tables and the inside seating seems to be first come, first serve.
Zanders at Cable Beach – The location is fantastic looking over Cable Beach. The food has been hit and miss, but the beers are always cold. They also have a pretty hefty cocktail menu with excellente views. Perfect for late afternoon drinks waiting for the sunset.
Besides the main restaurant, Zanders also has a small takeaway area that is perfect for midday (non-alcoholic) drinks and a snack or two. My go-to is a mango smoothie, taken back to my lounge chair on Cable Beach 🙂
Cable Beach General Store: while not a restaurant or bar it deserves a mention for its cheap eats and small selection of grocery items. It may save you a trip into town to visit the Coles or Woolworths and they have ice cream and cool drinks. It’s located across the road from Divers Tavern.
Other honourable mentions that I haven’t tried but are worth checking out:
- Bali Hai Restaurant: attached to the Bali Hali Resort and Spa, the restaurant is always packed in the evenings. I haven’t dined there before so I can’t vouch for the food but it seems to be popular. Main dishes range from $35 to $50, so on the pricer side of all the options. Their menu is posted outside the restaurant on street level.
- Kimberley Sands Restaurant: before the resort went into administration in early 2020, they offered a degustation menu that was superb. The new menu is small (about 5 mains on offer) and wasn’t overly exciting to me during this recent trip. So no review for the new offering. It only re-opened for service during the first week of August.
- Wharf Restaurant: Another restaurant I haven’t visited, has mixed reviews and seems to be on the pricey side. As the name suggests, they specialise in seafood. The restaurant is located near Seashells Broome and the Zookeeper’s Store.
Overall thoughts on what to see and do in Broome
It is a well known fact that it is expensive to travel to regional areas. In some cases it’s cheaper to fly to Japan than it is to travel within Western Australia. And don’t get me started on the comparisons to Bali! (Don’t bother comparing them, they are very different!).
I find Broome to be a perfect winter getaway that is easy to ‘do’ in only a few days. Getting immersed into “Broome Time” is a real treat and a nice escape from the city. With only a short 2.5 hour flight from Perth, it’s an excellent option for a short, relaxing getaway.
Have you visited Broome? Are there any sights that I missed? I’m always looking for ideas and feedback.
I visited Broome in August 2012, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.