Western Australia (WA) is huge, over three and a half times the size of Texas, but it has areas of true wilderness, some of the world's best beaches, spectacular spring wildflowers, some of Australia's best snorkeling and diving, magical places where the Outback meets the Indian Ocean, great wines, historic towns, and, Perth, one of the world's most livable cities.

The capital, Perth, may be the most remote large city on earth, but it's also a great place to visit. Alongside the broad Swan River and with the Indian Ocean on its western flank, it has a fabulous outdoor lifestyle with parks, rivers and beaches, a network of walking and biking trails, excellent food, and the beautiful historic port of Fremantle.

The Southwest corner of the state, below Perth, is the prettiest part. Vineyards and pastures sit between stands of hardwood forest, the climate is kind, and the surf is world-class. Margaret River has some of Australia's most acclaimed wines, and many top-notch eateries. The nearby South Coast has some of the tallest trees on earth, superb coastal scenery, more vineyards, and WA's oldest town, Albany, sitting beside a wonderful natural harbor.

596km (372 miles) inland from Perth is the mining town of Kalgoorlie, a repository of ornate 19th-century architecture, and still a major gold producer.

North from Perth is the Outback. Red sand, scrubby trees, and spinifex grass are all you'll see for hundreds of miles. About 855km (534 miles) north of Perth, wild dolphins make daily visits to the shores of Monkey Mia in World Heritage-listed Shark Bay. Even farther north is Exmouth, entry point to one of Australia's best-kept secrets, the 300km (187-mile) fringing Ningaloo coral reef, where you can swim with enormous whale sharks.

The rugged northern portion of Western Australia is known as The Kimberley. It's Australia's last frontier, a vast area of cattle ranches, Aboriginal settlements, and the exotic coastal town of Broome.