Arrive on the idyllic shores of Rottnest Island to swim in the translucent waters of secluded coves, walk along white sandy beaches and dive below the surface to discover shipwrecks, tropical fish, stingrays, seals and more before meeting the resident quokkas back on dry land – and that’s just the beginning. Discover the best of “Rotto” (as the locals affectionately call it) right here.
Rottnest Island is an easy day trip from Perth. Jump on board The Rottnest Express, Rottnest Fast Ferries, or SeaLink Rottnest Island to travel the short distance from the mainland to the island. Ferries depart regularly from Fremantle, Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty and Hillarys Marina. The island is car-free, but parking is available at all ferry terminals on the mainland. It is essential to book your trip in advance – there is an admission fee to the island in addition to the ferry fare. Alternatively, you can arrive via helicopter, air taxi or your own boat.
Getting around Rottnest Island is just as easy: cycling is the most popular option with trails that wind all over the 11km length and 4.5km width of the island. You can hire a bike on arrival or bring your own on the ferry for a fee. In addition to cycling you can purchase a day pass from the Rottnest Island Visitors Centre for the hop-on/hop-off Island Explorer Bus Service which stops at all the main attractions.
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.
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The four-star restored Hotel Rottnest – once the Governor’s holiday residence – is a popular accommodation choice situated right on Thomson Bay within walking distance to Rottnest Museum and other main attractions. The rooms boast ocean views and feature a coffee machine, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, a fridge and adjoining rooms are also available to book.
Heritage hotel Karma Rottnest is located by the lake and guests can choose between four room types, from the Lakeside Premium Room to the more modest Palm Court Room. The onsite restaurant, Riva, serves up inventive Mediterranean cuisine and wood-fired pizzas.
Island Couple’s Retreat is the perfect accommodation option for a romantic getaway or a honeymoon stay. There are two private beachfront suites on Longreach Bay, both are self-contained with a fully equipped kitchen. There are also a number of luxurious additions, such as a large day-bed in the courtyard, coffee machine, audio system, and gas BBQ, wine cooler and bar fridge.
Discovery Parks Rottnest Island features 83 eco-tents with an ensuite bathroom in each tent and furnished private decks. Kitchenettes are also included in most tents. Splash out on a deluxe tent for beachfront views and a walk-in robe. The eco-sustainable resort is a luxurious option for families in search of the perfect nature getaway – and you can walk to Pinky’s Beach Club for a meal or a sundowner.
Pitch a tent under a canopy of trees on the sand behind the dunes of The Basin on one of the 43 unpowered tent sites at The Rottnest Island Camping Grounds. There are free-standing outdoor BBQ’s to use, a communal camp kitchen and an ablution block – plus you are within walking distance to the main settlement for cafes, shops and restaurants as well as in prime position to take full advantage of one of the best snorkeling spots on the island.
Head to Geordie’s Café to cool down with a milkshake or spider – made the good old-fashioned way. Get your acai bowl and caffeine fix at The Lane Café.
Treat yourself to a vanilla slice, jam donut and cream bun at Rottnest Bakery and stock up on freshly-baked bread while you’re there. Shop in person or online at the General Store for free delivery of alcohol, fresh produce, meat and more.
Enjoy waterfront views as you down a WA craft brew, dine on local seafood, juicy steaks or graze on their selection of delicious share plates at Hotel Rottnest – plus, they serve locally-sourced and sustainably-farmed produce.
Sunset is best experienced from Pinky’s Beach Club with a cocktail in hand as you sit back, take in the views of Pinky Beach and Bathurst Lighthouse, and settle in for a delicious dinner.
For a hearty meal with the family, Frankie’s on Rotto serves up pizza, pasta and salads. Alternatively, Riva Restaurant makes the most delicious wood-fired pizzas and farm to table feasts – try one of the island-inspired cocktails while you’re there.
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Make your way to the visitor centre on Rottnest Island upon arrival to book from a number of available tours. Soak up the beauty of Rottnest Island on a 90-minute segway tours, jump out of a plane for the best views of the island from above with Skydive Geronimo, hire a bike from Rottnest Island Peddle and Flipper to explore the vast number of bays and beaches and visit Rottnest Island for more.
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