Beaches & Wildlife
Rottnest Island has 63 pristine beaches to choose from and 20 secluded bays with coral reefs and 13 shipwrecks to explore just off the coast. Little Parakeet Bay, Little Salmon Bay and Geordie Bay are some of the prettiest and most popular beaches. Thomson Bay has a roped off area for swimming that is perfect for families, while The Basin offers one of the best snorkelling spots. Rottnest is also renowned as one of the top surfing destinations in the world, with Strickland Bay delivering the best breaks on the island from May through to October.
There is an abundance of wildlife on the island but it is the quokkas – the ever-smiling, adorable mini marsupials famed for their photogenic abilities – that steal the show. Mid to late afternoon is the best time of day to spot the curious quokkas (they’re likely to wander right up to you for a closer look – just don’t touch or feed them) around the island.
Quokkas aside, dive underwater to spot over 135 species of vibrant tropical fish, 20 coral species, and the occasional green turtle. Stingrays can often be seen in the shallows of Thomson Bay, pods of bottlenose dolphins frequent Salmon Bay and if you make a trip to the island in April or September to December and you’ll see around 35,000 migrating humpback and southern right whales. And for a read treat, visit The Cathedral Rocks viewing platform to see the island’s New Zealand fur seals colony at play in the bay.
Rottnest Island Museum was originally built by Aboriginal prisoners in 1857 as a hay shed and granary. The museum now provides informative exhibits on the natural history of the island, the vast graveyard of marine wrecks, European settlement, the stories of Aboriginal prisoners and many historical photographs.
Visit Lomas Cottage, Pilot Boat House, Vincent Way and Salt Store and ride the train through the maze of underground tunnels beneath the World War II gun emplacement on Oliver Hill for more fascinating Rottnest Island history.
Walk, cycle or ride the bus to the Wadjemup Lighthouse which stands proudly in the centre of the island. Take a tour to get a glimpse behind the scenes of the working lighthouse and make the climb to the top for a picturesque views of the island and Indian Ocean.
Rottnest Island is a water-lovers paradise – snorkelling, swimming and surfing are high on the list of activities to enjoy on the island but if you’d rather be on the water than in it head to Aquaplay Rottnest in North Thomson Bay to hire a seabike, pedal board, stand-up paddle board or kid-sized jet ski.
Still too wet for your liking? There are plenty of activities to enjoy on dry ground. Wear your walking shoes, pack plenty of water and hike one of the 5 sections that make up the 45 km of trails of the Wadjemup Bidi. Prepare yourself for some spectacular coastal views as you traverse headlands, meander past lakes and stop to admire the many culturally-significant attractions along the way.
Arguably the most adventurous way to see the island is 15,000 feet above it – as you leap from a plane. Skydive Geronimo is one of the best skydiving experiences in Australia thanks to the unbeatable views of Rottnest Island and Western Australia’s coastline – plus you’ll land on the beach and then throw back a complimentary beer or wine to celebrate.