From two-day hikes that skirt Rottnest Island, to climbing the Wadjemup Lighthouse and surfing Strickland Bay, here are the top 10 things to do on Rottnest Island.
Rottnest Island (Wadjemup) is only 11 kilometres long and 4.5 kilometres at its widest, making it easy to explore with a number of great walking and cycling trails, museums and attractions as well as opportunities to encounter a variety of wildlife, including quokkas.
1. Follow the Wadjemup Bidi trail
Loop around the island with the Hike Collective on one of the Wadjemup Bidi walk trails that veers across coastal headlands, past stunning inland lakes and man-made attractions. Bidi means ‘trail’ in the Noongar language spoken by the Whadjuk Noongar First Nations people, who are the traditional owners of Rottnest Island (Wadjemup). The 45-kilometre trail can be carved up into five bite-sized sections, and Hike Collective’s 12-kilometre guided hike includes a loop around the salt lakes, which make up 10 per cent of the island.
The Wadjemup Bidi walk veers across the coastal headland.
2. Snorkel or dive at Little Salmon Bay and Parker Point
Head to Pedal & Flipper to hire electric bikes or those that require pedal power as well as snorkels and masks so you can loop around the island at your own pace. The reef surrounding Rottnest is said to have formed some 100,000 years ago when sea levels were thought to be three metres higher than they are today. Little Salmon Bay is one of the most popular spots on the island for first-time snorkellers as it’s calm and sheltered and has a trail that skirts along the limestone reef.
Little Salmon Bay is a slice of paradise.
3. Join an Indigenous cultural tour
Enhance your appreciation of Noongar language and knowledge with Go Cultural Aboriginal Tours & Experiences, which offers a window into an ancient world. The tour starts with a traditional Aboriginal sand ceremony and includes Dreamtime stories, traditional songs and dances that nod to the Noongar First Nations people’s connection to country.
Learn about Wadjemup (Rottenest Island) on a tour with Go Cultural Aboriginal Tours & Experiences.
4. Relax on some of Rotto’s world-famous beaches
There are more than 63 secluded beaches and 20 bays to choose from on Rottnest Island, which means you can choose your own adventure. The island, referred to as Rotto by WA locals, is a haven for swimming, fishing, surfing, hiking and diving. Hop on and off the Island Explorer bus and do a hot lap of the island to find your patch of paradise.
Life is beautiful on Pinky Beach.
5. Brush up on the island’s history
Visitors can come away with insights into Rotto’s rich history after wandering around the Wadjemup Museum, Lomas Cottage and Pilot Boat House for starters. The newly renovated museum houses everything from 40,000-year-old artefacts to outdoor sculptures and is located inside the ‘Old Mill and Hay Store’. Learn about ex-convict John Lomas at Lomas Cottage, and visit the 1859 Pilot Boat House, which nods to Rotto’s maritime history.
Built with Nyoongar labour in 1857, today Wadjemup Museum displays a comprehensive exhibition of island life.
6. Visit Oliver Hill Guns & Tunnels
There is a maze of underground tunnels beneath the Second World War gun emplacement on Oliver Hill. History boffins should join a guided walking tour with one of Rottnest Island’s enthusiastic voluntary guides to learn about the nationally significant defence heritage site located in the centre of the island. Get onboard the Captain Hussey trolley train, which will transport you from Settlement Railway Station to Oliver Hill.
7. Snap an (ethical) selfie with a quokka
Snapping a selfie with a quokka, often described as the ‘happiest animal in the world’ is regarded as a brag-worthy big deal with everyone from actors Hugh Jackman and Margo Robbie to tennis star Roger Federer uploading selfies alongside the cute marsupial. But when it comes to capturing the money shot of the island’s star attraction, there are some dos and don’ts with the No. 1 rule being: let the quokka come to you.
Meet the worlds happiest animal.
8. Visit the Wadjemup Lighthouse precinct
To gain the ultimate views across the whole island, head to Wadjemup Lighthouse, located at the highest rise on Rottnest Island. In addition to admiring the 38-metre-high lighthouse, which was constructed in 1896 and is the fourth tallest in Australia, visitors can use the interpretative signage to learn about the other buildings in the heritage precinct: the Signal Station, Battery Observation Post and Women’s Royal Australian Navy Service.
Admire the 38-metre-high lighthouse.
9. Join a 90-minute adventure cruise
The high-powered Eco Express Adventure Boat Tour gives passengers an unforgettable encounter with the island’s birdlife, dolphins and whales. The eco-certified tour skirts the island between November and April and carves through the Indian Ocean looking for seals, ospreys and whales (when in season). It also presents a unique perspective of the mosaic of rolling Rottnest Island countryside.
Create some unforgettable memories.
10. Catch a wave at Strickland Bay
Strickland Bay is a world-class surf break located at Rotto. Scan the QR code pinned to the signage at the surf hut to view a short documentary film that celebrates the island’s early surfing pioneers such as Al Bean and Mike “Stomper” McAuliffe who used to paddle two hours from City Beach to Rotto to surf. Strickos is a high-performance wave for experienced surfers only.