Post by Conrad Kenyon
Much has been written about the different beaches that help make Denmark such a special part of the world. From the much photographed Greens Pool to the patrolled Ocean Beach, there really is a beach for everyone.
This post isn’t about the individual beaches but more a field guide to help you understand what to look for depending on the conditions and your preferences.
Which way is the wind blowing?
Apart from the obvious beach going factors of temperature and sunshine, wind is probably the next deciding factor on whether or not you are going to the beach. Preferably the wind will be coming over your shoulder when you are looking out to sea. This is called ‘off shore’ and makes for a pleasant beach excursion. The less pleasant wind that blows in your face when you are looking to the sea is known as ‘on shore’.
As Denmark is on the south coast, an ‘off shore’ wind will be anything from the North.
Now, unlike Perth, there are many bays, points and long curving beaches, which give you options depending on what the wind is doing. Mainly you want to ask, which way is wind coming from?
If the wind is coming strongly from the west, finding a beach that is east facing means you will have protection from the land and it will effectively be an ‘off shore’ wind. This can be the difference between chasing your sun shelter down the end of a beach with sand whipping at your legs or eating your nut butter wrap, nestled against a sand dune, watching the kids play in the waves.
When you do get to know the spots a little better you will start to notice cliffs and large sand dunes that offer protection on different winds.
Here is a quick and easy guide to which beach to chose for each wind direction:
Check wind direction on – http://www.seabreeze.com.au/graphs/wa2.asp#F0ALBA
Northerly Wind – Go anywhere. Conditions perfect. Make the most of it!
Southerly Wind – Stick to the right hand corner of Ocean Beach
Westerly Wind – Right hand corner of Ocean Beach or Campsite end of Parry’s
Easterly Wind – Chose Lights Beach or Anvils Beach (expect big swell)
How do you like your swell?
The south coast is often host to significant swell and while this is a great resource for surfers it means that kids and swimmers can be rightly intimidated when entering the water. When there is a large swell, Greens Pool is always calm and Ocean Beach is a good option as it is the only patrolled beach in Denmark. However, Ocean Beach is only patrolled during summer, and only at the weekends.
The predominate direction the swell comes from is the south west. This means any beach facing this direction, for example Lights Beach and Anvils Beach, will pick up more of this wave energy and be rougher for swimming. These beaches are best visited when the swell is forecast to be less that 1.5m.
Try to get the timing right.
As most West Australian’s know, a stiff sea breeze can drive even the most salty sea dog from the beach. Although not as predictable as the Freo Dr. the sea breeze on the south coast can be relied on to roll in most days. If you are heading to the beach in the afternoon, pick a spot not facing directly south. Ocean Beach is great on a southerly or westerly wind.
If it is a hot sunny day with a howling south easterly wind you are going to struggle to find a picture perfect beach to sit and read your book so on these days, I suggest exploring the numerous inland waterways. There are numerous beautiful rivers and inlets that are easily accessible on the south coast. With sheltered sandy beaches and shady, grassy edges there is a perfect spot for any weather.
Prawn Channel is fairly protected from prevailing the wind. You may want to check what the tide is doing if you are looking for the crystal blue experience. An incoming tide will tend to bring in the fresh clear sea water and the outgoing a mix of sea water and the brackish inlet water.
To time your swim with the incoming tide, check – Seabreeze
Before making a decision on which beach to chose, you may want to consult a couple of weather resources that give forecast and live weather info.
* Wind above 15 knots is starting to get unpleasant, over 20 knots and the sand on the beach will start whipping up.
Bureau of Meterology Albany Costal Forecast
Live wind direction and speed
Happy exploring and consider picking up any plastic you may encounter, even if it’s not yours.