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Perth shares Sydney's good luck in having beaches in the metropolitan area -- in an almost continuous line from Fremantle's Port Beach in the south to Quinns Rocks in the north. Mornings are often best, because the sea breeze can make the afternoons unpleasant in summer. Evenings and sunsets are lovely on quiet days (remember, Perth faces west over the Indian Ocean). Always swim between the red and yellow safety flags.

Bus no. 400 runs to Scarborough Beach every 15 minutes weekdays, half-hourly on Saturdays and hourly on Sundays, while 102 goes to Cottesloe every 30 minutes. Bus no. 458 operates a summer timetable along the northern beaches from Scarborough to Hillarys, half-hourly on weekends and public holidays and hourly on weekdays, in both directions. Surfboards of 2m (6 ft. 7 in.) can be carried on the 400 and 458 provided they do not affect safety.

The three most popular beaches are Cottesloe, Scarborough, and Trigg.

Cottesloe -- This pretty crescent, graced by the Edwardian-style Indiana Tea House, is Perth's most fashionable beach. It has grassed slopes overlooking the beach, safe swimming, and a small surf break. Some good cafes and hotels are nearby. Every March the beach is taken over by an eye-popping exhibition of Sculpture by the Sea (www.sculpturebythesea.com). Train: Cottesloe, and then walk several hundred meters (btw. a quarter and a half mile). Bus: 102.

Scarborough -- Scarborough's white sands stretch for miles from the base of the Hotel Rendezvous Observation City. Swimming is generally safe, and surfers are always guaranteed a wave, although inexperienced swimmers should take a rain check when the surf is rough. The busy shopping precinct across the road means there's always somewhere to buy lunch and drinks. Bus: 400.

Trigg -- Surfers like Trigg best for its consistent swells, but it can have dangerous rips. Stay within the flags. Bus: 400 to Scarborough, and then walk, or bus no. 458 (summer only).

A Pesky Sea Breeze

In the summer, Perth gets an easterly offshore breeze in the morning; then, as the land heats up, it switches to a southwesterly on-shore wind. This is called the "Fremantle Doctor," because it blows up the river from Fremantle and provides relief on hot summer days. The timing and strength of the breeze varies and it can be almost gale force, whipping up the sand on exposed beaches. Check the daily weather forecast for likely wind strength.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.