The beauty of Western Australia’s south-west is not easily forgotten. However, it has been 25 years between dips in these turquoise waters and it’s often a mistake to revisit places that burn so brightly. But I’m relieved to find the pristine wildness of the area is still intact. Yallingup is 3½ hours south of Perth, and this hideaway resort-spa is off well-known Caves Road, which is dotted with wineries and, of course, caves. We are in the Margaret River region and while the wine, the food, the bush and the scenery are unforgettable, the beaches are what we are here for. White-white sand, clear water in all shades of blue-green, pounding surf on jagged cliffs, and smaller tranquil pockets that are a snorkeller’s paradise. And then there’s that sunset over the ocean which makes every dusk a showstopper. If you haven’t yet seen the sun throw its best at a violet sky just before it sinks into the water – book your ticket now.
The directions say that when you come over the crest of the hill and see the ocean, turn left. Easier said than done. You will want to keep heading towards that water, but we control ourselves and turn, and it’s not long before a sign tells us we are here. But where exactly? This retreat nestles low into silver-green dune vegetation high above the Indian Ocean, so you tend to come across each of the 10 ocean-facing villas rather than walk to them. To the right of the villas is a reception area and day spa. It’s quiet, save for the pounding of the ocean and the screech of black cockatoos. This resort is very private and no children are allowed. We’re not sure why, but we find ourselves whispering as we are led to our villa and the door opens.
Nothing can prepare you for the jaw and bag-dropping 180-degree ocean view through full-length glass doors. We open them straight away and quickly take in our private patio with deck chairs, a plunge pool for when only a dip will do, and a barbecue bench. Back inside and the surprises (of the good variety) keep coming. While the villas look snug from the outside, inside they are light, spacious. The lounge which runs parallel to the view is beachy yet sophisticated, with light, leather sofas and bleached wood. There’s a large-screen TV and a limestone open gas fireplace for cooler weather. The adjoining kitchen has a fridge, microwave, dishwasher, coffee maker, and a dining table with a hamper on top of it (more on this later.) Through to the bedroom, where a king-sized bed should dominate the room. Instead, there’s plenty of space to move about in, with another TV for a bed’s eye-view, and walk-in robes. The bathroom, filled with natural light, is also on steroids, with an oversized egg-shaped bath dominating one end of the long room, a rainshower at the other. There is a music system, DVD player and movies at reception.
We are starving on arrival but the last thing we feel like doing is jumping back in the car. The room comes with a breakfast hamper which has more than enough provisions (bread, pate, olives, prosciutto, crackers, milk, wine, cheese, juice, chocolate, yoghurt, jams, eggs, hollandaise sauce, muesli) for at least two breakfasts and a lunch, so we dig in.
That night we face a dilemma: we know there are excellent places to eat nearby but we can’t take that view with us and we don’t want to miss sunset. But Injidup is way ahead of us. You can have a chef-produced seasonal meal from Lamont’s winery at Smith’s Beach delivered to your door. We dine on pumpkin risotto, beef stroganoff, salad greens and roasted garlic mash. There’s also caramel and macadamia slice and a chocolate and walnut brownie with Margaret River ice-cream, washed down with a Lamont’s cab sav. The flavoursome food is enjoyed by candlelight as we sprawl on deckchairs under the stars.
The next day, we head to Bunkers Beach House near Dunsborough for lunch. Fresh oysters and an Asian-inspired menu work well with the salty breeze. On our second night the view again proves too alluring so we cook a barbecue but if you did choose to eat out there are plenty of options, including the Swings & Roundabouts winery just down the road, and Lamont’s. Then there’s the beautifully restored Caves House for a good pub meal or pizza from its outdoor oven.
This is a place for all seasons: swimming, snorkelling, surfing, diving, open fires and whale watching when it’s cooler. And then, of course, there’s incredible food and wine all year round.
Injidup Beach below the resort is a 15-minute walk away on a scrubby bush track. We are warned to watch for snakes (it’s the season and there have been sightings.) The surf is massive and it’s too risky to go in, so we drive to nearby Dunsborough. The water is astonishingly clear, but while our focus is the beach, there are plenty of other diversions. Explore the stunning limestone caves nearby or head to Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin lighthouses. Wineries now offer so much more than wine and food: James Taylor is playing at Leeuwin Estate while we are here; there are movies at Cape Mentelle winery and Caves House also offers outdoor movies and markets.
If you’d rather venture inward, treat yourself to one of the resort’s spa treatments. Couples can have a massage or facial in a double room with an ocean view. I’m apprehensive as it’s explained that during my treatment a thick mask will be set on my face and then lifted off at the end of my 90 minutes. Happily, I am so blissed out it is not a problem. I emerge refreshed, my face plumped.
This is isolated bliss – a place to recharge while watching one of the greatest shows on Earth each night: that dazzling sunset opener to the just as captivating night sky. A key to this resort’s success is its staff. On arrival, I mutter that I have forgotten sunscreen, and before I know it a pump pack is delivered to the door.
Injidup Spa Retreat, 32 Cape Clairault Road Yallingup (08 9750 1300) injidupsparetreat.com.au
A two-course dinner, including wine, for two costs $99 if you pick it up, or have it delivered for $110.
Injidup Spa Retreat.
Wi-Fi is free but can be tricky so we are pleased to be handed a portable landline.
Honeymoon villa $850 a night, minimum two-night stay; ocean view villa for two from $650 a night; ocean view villa for four from $900 a night. Packages available.
Our rating: ★★★★★