Both Miami and Cottesloe Beach experienced a renaissance in the 1980s after years of fading from fashion. Miami’s popularity grew from being the setting of the hit TV show Miami Vice; Cottesloe’s from Australia playing host to America’s Cup international yacht race. However, their respective redevelopments took quite different paths and while Miami Beach is overshadowed by a high-rise city, Cottesloe has never lost its low-rise charm. In the 1920s Miami Beach became a magnet for millions of Americans heading south for winter.
The building boom that resulted has left a legacy in the now-restored Art Deco District. Then, as now, the beautiful and fashionable set flocked to its pastel palaces. With its British Raj-style Indiana Tea House, pine-fringed Cottesloe also has its share of celebrity fans (it was Heath Ledger’s favorite beach and, sadly, the scene of his wake), but it retains a low-key, family feel. And while its popularity is clear from the crowds that flock here to soak up the sun, it is also quietly relaxed and exudes that laid-back atmosphere for which Australia is known.
Professional lifeguards patrol both beaches but Cottesloe has the iconic and much-photographed volunteer Surf Life Savers, founded in 1919, to keep an eye on things, too. Their newest members can be found on the beach on Sunday mornings when local children participate in the “Nippers’ program.”
Miami Beach, with its vast stretch of white sand, dotted with colorful lifeguard towers and scattered with bronzed bodies, is deemed one of the wealthiest beach resorts in America. The streets that border the beach include the famous and fabulous Art Deco Historic District, its chic boutiques, restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs filled with the beautiful, rich, and famous.
The place is fast-paced and expensive. Hotel prices have skyrocketed in recent years, as have the high-rises that loom over the beach. If you want to venture far from your base you will need to rent a car. And, because it’s such a popular beach, there are crowds wherever you go; there’s no point searching for a secluded spot of sand here.
Start at “SoBe” (South Beach) for a swim and, while in that area, take a look inside Art Deco hotels such as The Delano – the lobbies are simply stunning. Head to Lincoln Road for dinner and peopleLOCATION Cottesloe Beach watching in the evening
Getting There and Around
Perth International Airport is 7 miles (12 km) northeast of the city and is linked by bus or taxi. Cottesloe Beach is 7 miles (12 km) southwest of Perth, 20 mins by train from Perth Station.
Where to Eat
With so many open-air cafés, bars with spectacular views, and restaurant-lined Marine Parade, it is easy to see why so many people head to ‘“Cott” to dine. Try the Blue Duck Café for stunning views and great seafood.
When to Go
In March, the beach becomes an outdoor gallery for the international art show Sculpture by the Sea.
By mid-afternoon the beach and its trendy bars are being colonized by the party crowd, a mixture of locals and tourists, enjoying a cold beer and light snacks at the end of another hot, sunny day. Later, the gourmet restaurants that fringe the beach begin to fill with appreciative diners savoring the fresh local produce and the spectacular views as the setting sun makes the world glow orange. Once again, numbers on west-facing Cottesloe Beach begin to swell, as everyone gathers to watch the sunset silhouette of the surfers, the late swimmers, and lovely Rottnest Island in the distance – a visual treat that the beachgoers of eastward-facing Miami can only dream about.