The Best Attractions in Broome, Western Australia (and complete travel guide)
Table of contents
Broome’s one of the best places to visit in Australia, both for a short break and an extended period of time. It’s a gorgeous town where the outback meets the sea, with a tight-knit local community but also a backpacker vibe – there are heaps of attractions in Broome that are loved by travellers of all ages. The famous Cable Beach is what I’d imagine paradise to look like and the sunsets are out of this world.
I think that June is the best time to visit Broome; it’s just before the madness of the holiday season begins but is still well in the dry season. This means you’ll be graced with blue skies (I think during my whole month in Broome, I had one cloudy and one hazy day) and temperatures topping 30 degrees most days.
Yep, that’s right, while the rest of Australia – except Darwin, of course – freezes in a miserable winter (sorry Melbourne) – up in the North West, Broome enjoys a never ending summer.
The best time to visit Broome: why you shouldn’t go in Sydney’s summer
Seasons in north Australia are different to the south. There is no spring, autumn or winter – but there is a very wet summer and a very dry summer.
The wet season in Broome isn’t like the wet season in Asia or Central America. The rain comes down in buckets, cutting many roads off and making lots of tourist attractions unvisitable. In fact, lots of restaurants and bars close during the wet season because there’s just no point in staying open!
So without doubt, the months of October – March are not the best time to visit Broome.
Many people argue that the best time to visit Broome is April. This is the month after the wet season normally ends and the landscape is lush and green. However, there is still rain in April; you aren’t guaranteed sun every single day (although it’s highly likely).
If you are just holidaying to Broome, you might not care about who else is there; or even want to go in the quieter time. But if you’re backpacking in Broome and wanting to meet other travellers at hostels, it’s best to go a bit later on in the season. That’s why I think June is the best time to visit Broome. It’s before school holidays, so it’s not crazily rammed; but there’s a lovely community of like-minded backpackers.
July is Broome’s coldest month, and while you won’t have any problems with the day temperature (unless you’re from Mercury) as it is normally around 30 degrees, the nights can get chilly. In June, they’re completely bearable unless you want to camp – then you might need to layer up.
The Best Attractions in Broome in the Dry Season:
Watch the sunset on Cable Beach
During the dry season you’re basically guaranteed a phenomenal sunset every day. I coined the phrase ‘a bad sunset in Broome is better than a good sunset anywhere else’…
Go to Gantheaume Point
Gantheaume Point is a popular spot for cliff jumping – or for watching everyone else cliff jump! It is a beautiful spot with jagged cliffs and the bluest of blue waters, with dinosaur footprints and cliff jumping. Either jump off the cliff, or be a pansy like me and just watch everyone else do it. I injured my back pretty badly by cliff jumping when I was 19 and now I stay firmly on the cliffs!
You can’t swim in Broome’s seas in the summer as there’s lethal jellyfish; but if you go in the middle of the dry season, there won’t be a chance of being stung.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
This is another great activity to enjoy during Broome’s dry/ non stinger season! SUPs can be rented out for half days or full days.
Visit Coconut Wells (4WD only)
Beautiful Coconut Wells is best experienced at high tide, when water fills the beaches and it resembles huge pools. Visit during dry season and you can to go for a swim too!
Drive along Cable Beach
If you have a 4WD vehicle, this one’s for you! Cable Beach is really fun to drive along, and if you manage to navigate right to the end you might even find a beautiful spot of your own.
Staircase to the Moon
This natural phenomenon only happens during the dry season, so it’s a fantastic reason to visit Broome in the winter. It’s an impressive ‘moon rise’ where the huge bright moon ascends out of the water, causing a rippling effect on the waters below that resemble a staircase leading up to it.
There’s night markets on the first two days of Staircase to the Moon, where you can get all sorts of different delicious food and some great souvenirs.
Visit Broome’s open air cinema
This cinema was the first of its kind in the world. It was built in 1913 and still screens modern releases in its quaint, old-style setting.
Guided Tour of Broome
If you want to learn about Broome’s past, present and future with a knowledgeable guide who will take you to all the best spots, check out this guided tour of Broome.
Things to do near Broome
The drive from Broome to Cape Leveque traverses the Dampier Peninsular, which is the perfect location for anyone who enjoys four wheel driving, rugged roads, jaw droppingly beautiful coastline and camping.
James Price Point
This headland juts out into the ocean, and is home to dinosaur footprints, gorgeous beaches and not many tourists.
Things to do in Broome at Any Time of Year!
If you can’t go at the best time of the year to visit Broome, there’s still some attractions you can enjoy!
Cable or Town Beach
Of course, the beaches are still there and can be laid on at any time of year – but the wet season is the hottest time of year and you can’t get in the sea because of stingers, which must be a form of torture right?
This is one of the best places in Broome to really see the scale of the tragedies of the pearling industry. The rows of headstones each represent somebody who died in the early stages of the industry, by drowning, sharks or decompression injuries from diving too deep. It’s a really harrowing sight to see as visitors can realise how lethal this industry was to its first workers.
Stroll around Chinatown
Chinatown is a picturesque little part of Broome that’s worth visiting whatever the weather.
There’s loads of these in Broome, and some of them are really interesting. Most are free to look around, such as Short Street Gallery, so don’t miss seeing this part of Broome culture whatever the season!
This is the place if you want to learn about the history of Broome – which makes it one of the best Broome tourist attractions. The Broome historical society is dedicated to telling the full story of the town, and it’s a great place to learn about the Kimberley area as well as Broome’s social history.
Places to eat and drink…
- Zanders this restaurant has one of the best views of Cable Beach’s legendary sunset and serves a variety of different food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- The Good Cartel – my favourite Broome café to work in, The Good Cartel serves great coffee and Mexican inspired snacks – and has probably the best wifi in Broome.
- Matso Brewery – Matso is a Broome based brewery and restaurant. They serve their homemade beers in different flavours – like chilli or ginger.
- Dragonfly Café – a cute café tucked away in Chinatown, Dragonfly Café serves great coffee and delicious white chocolate raspberry muffins… need I say more?
- Zookeepers – a Cable Beach company, Zookeepers serves up breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks in a quirky setting.
- The Roebuck Hotel – everyone’s favourite Thursday night dig! Head to Roeys for tunes in a tropical setting.
- Murphys Irish Bar – they have an open mic night on Tuesdays which is always pretty fun – especially if you can sing!
Brief History of Broome:
I think it’s incredibly important to know the history of places we visit, especially with somewhere as complex as Broome. I don’t want to write a travel post about Broome and ignore its history which at times, is incredibly harrowing, because that would be a disservice to the people that suffered there. It may seem all sunshine in Broome; especially during dry season – but the town’s pearling industry claimed a lot of victims. Here’s the history you’ll need to know when visiting Broome:
William Dampier was the first European to visit Broome in 1688, when he sailed North from Shark Bay on the HMS Roebuck – which is what Roebuck Bay is named after, although he never actually landed there.
In 1861, the pearl oyster was discovered off the oceans of Broome – which is the largest pearl shell in the world. It was then that the pearling industry started.
The first pearl industry workers were Aboriginal men and women, who were forced to dive to fetch shells up to 12 meters deep. These people were rounded up, chained and taken to Broome where they were crammed onto boats and worked as slaves. This was a horrific time in Broome’s past and is just one of the examples of the shocking treatment of Aboriginal people during the colonial years.
The European settlers eventually realized that it was impossible to go deeper without the correct equipment and thus, the Aboriginal slavery (in this respect, at least) was stopped.
In 1889 the third submarine telegraph cable connecting Australia and Asia was laid – this one linked Java and Australia through Broome, via what is now Cable Beach. It ceased operations in 1914 due to a cable station’s erection near Perth, and reopened as the Broome Court House – which it still stands as today.
With new equipment available, people from all over Asia came to work on the pearling boats, which saw the establishment of Chinatown. Before World War One Broome supplied more than 80% of the world’s mother of pearl. Yet it could be fatal for many divers – which the Japanese cemetery demonstrates. And during WWII, many Japanese residents – even those who had lived in Broome for years – were interned.
Broome was subject to Australia’s second worst WWII air raid on the third March 1942, where 70 people died. The pearl industry was affected by the losses and fighting of WWII and the invention on the plastic button in the 1950s made the pearl shell worthless.
However, cultured pearls for jewellery were on the rise and the post war years saw a kind of renaissance for the pearl – although they were never as much in demand as they were prior to the war. By the 1980s, Broome was focusing on a different industry – tourism. People started to visit during the dry season for its scorching weathers, cloudless sky and the beautiful Cable Beach.
Broome as, at times, a harrowing history, and it’s important to consider this when visiting the town and remember to pay everyone in this multicultural society equal respect, whether they be Aboriginal, Asian or Western.
Luckily these days are long behind us, but incidents like the horrors of the pearling industry and the trauma that it caused for Aboriginal and Asian people should not be forgotten, so when you’re laying on Cable Beach, spare a thought for the first townspeople of Broome and appreciate the society that we live in today.
How to get around Broome
If you’re staying at Cable Beach – which is the best part of Broome, really – a car is kind of necessary to get into town and to all of the surrounding areas. This is another reason not to visit Broome during the wet season – a lot of roads are flooded at this time! It’s a 5km walk across the outback to from Cable Beach to town, which isn’t too fun! (I’ve been there…)
Otherwise, there is a bus, albeit infrequently. Taxis are generally pretty expensive at $20 for a ride. If you’re staying in Broome town, everything (apart from Cable Beach!) is walking distance.
Accomodation in Broome
Here are some of the best hostels, guesthouses and hotels in Broome and the surrounding areas.
Cable Beach Backpackers
This hostel is the place to go if you want to meet people. It’s got a great social scene, a fairly cheap bar and pool, and all dorms are 4 bed. It’s especially good if you’re thinking of working and living in Broome – there’s a separate long termers house with cheaper rates and lots of people use it as a working hostel. Check here for rates and to book.
A good option for backpackers wanting to stay in town, the Kimberley Klub is part of the nation-wide YHA brand. It has a good pool and facilities that are constantly rated as excellent. I stayed here for a month and had a great time. Check here for rates and to book.
Beaches of Broome
Known as a ‘budget resort’, Beaches of Broome offers some affordable luxury, with both dorm and private rooms available just 250 meters from Cable Beach. Check here for rates and to book.
Ramada Eco Beach Resort
130 kilometers south of Broome, this Eco Resort is tranquil and peaceful. There’s daily yoga, uninterrupted coastal views and a peaceful atmosphere; it’s a fantastic spot to ‘get away from it all’. Check here for rates and to book.
Have I inspired you to visit Broome? Do you have any more questions about this town? Let me know in the comments below!
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