Sunset at Cable Beach — Broome, Western Australia

Sunset in Cable Beach, Broome

Regardless of whether we travel constantly or rarely, I’d imagine most of us have a place that, despite our open minds and best efforts, just didn’t “wow” us.

Somewhere we don’t hate, or associate with a terrible experience, but merely wouldn’t think to recommend to our friends while there are so many other options in the world.

For me, that place was Broome, in northern Western Australia.

Overlooking Cable Beach at low tide, just before sunset

There’s a fair bit of hype surrounding Broome in the Australian backpacking community, and they aren’t the only ones talking about it. Broome’s population increases threefold every June, when tourists both domestic and international flock to northern Australia’s tropical climate.

At a time when southern cities like Melbourne and Sydney are experiencing wintry weather, Broome offers sunny days and temperatures in the mid-30s (though before you get too excited, I should also mention the languid air and sky-high humidity). It’s a hot destination (pun totally intended) for many — and considering how far out of the way it is, that’s really saying something.

Golden sun setting over the Indian Ocean beyond a wooden rail in Broome, Western Australia

And you know what? I’m not going to argue about that. There’s a reason this post isn’t titled “A Comphrensive List of Everything I Hate About Broome.” It’s not like I have a problem complaining about shit (you probably know that if you’ve ever read this blog before), but here’s the thing: my experience there wasn’t particularly dramatic or horrifying. It was merely lackluster — and I’m guessing you don’t want to hear about that any more than I want to write about it.

Instead, I’m going to tell you about the highlight of my time there. A few moments when, “meh” or not in other ways, Broome became downright magical.

But first: meet Cable Beach.

People gathering on the grass near Cable Beach at sunset

Setting sun glinting off exposed rocks on the beach at low tide -- Broome, northern Australia

Cable Beach is actually located about seven kilometers from Broome’s CBD. It’s a long, beautiful stretch of fine pale sand on the edge of the Indian Ocean, named for the underwater telegraph cable that was laid from there to Java in the nineteenth century.

We stayed at Cable Beach Backpackers, a hostel just a short walk away (and a quick bus ride into Broome itself). It was 35 degrees C out the whole week, so naturally, we spent a lot of time at the beach, re-applying sunscreen 700 times and generally trying not to fry to a total crisp. (Mission: kinda accomplished.)

But my favorite time at the beach was this sunset.

People walking along Cable Beach as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean

The tide was low, exposing glistening rocks and a wide, flat expanse of sand that seemed to never end; and even as the lawn on which we were sprawled filled with people, there to talk and party and drink and play music, the openness of it all seemed to dull the frenzy. It was somehow bold and colorful and alive, but peaceful and calming, all at the same time.

I kind of wouldn’t believe it was real if I didn’t have the photos to prove it. (Yes, this entire post is basically just a thinly-veiled excuse to post these photos, and no, I don’t really care what you think about it.)

Onlooker perches on the railing to watch the sunset by the beach in Broome, WA

People walking along the beach in Broome as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean

Just after sunset in Broome; wooden sign reads Area Under Rehabilitation, Please Keep Off

Looking out over Cable Beach at low tide, just after sunset

Looking up at palm trees as night descends on Broome, Western Australia

Maybe we didn’t give Broome enough of a chance. Maybe you’d love it there. I can’t say either way.

What I can say is, even the most average of places still have their moments. You never really know what’s going to blow you away next.

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