Rottnest Island

A Guide to Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is Perth's version of paradise. Only a 30–45 minute ferry away from the mainland and you will arrive on a tiny island filled with the most incredible beaches you'll ever see. On top of that, it's home to one of the world's cutest animals - the quokka! It makes for a great day trip or weekend away.

Whether you are wanting an action-packed day full of cliff jumping, swimming and exploring or you are after a more relaxed vibe with laying in the sun and eating your body weight in good food - Rottnest has it all.

It is also important to note that although Rottnest is stunning, it has a very dark history that often doesn't get spoken about. For 40 years it was a prison for Aboriginal men and boys and it's also a burial ground for them. There is a lot of information on the island about this and you should always educate yourself before you go to pay respects to the Whadjuk Noongar people. You can learn about it here.

Pinky's beach Rottnest Island

When is the best time of year to visit?
Because of all of the incredible beaches to explore, I recommend going in the hotter summer months to be able to make the most of it. The ocean water is often pretty chilly in Western Australia, especially Rottnest, so I'd say you would have a better time between November - April! 

How to get there?
The best way to get over to Rottnest is via ferry. Ferry's depart daily and there is a range of times you can pick from depending which operator you choose. Prices vary throughout the year, however you can expect to pay about $120 for a return trip including the admission fee and bike hire/bus pass.

You can take a ferry from any of these ports:
The other options are either from your own boat, or if you want to arrive in style, you can fly over.

How to get around?
Again, there are a couple of options to get around the island.
  • Bikes - for $30 you can hire a bike for the day. You can hire a bike either directly from the ferry company, you can bring your own bike over, or you can hire a bike from 'Pedal and Flipper' which is located close to the main settlement. Riding a bike around is a great way to see the island and you have the freedom to go anywhere, whenever you want. I will add that if you do choose to bike around, you probably won't be able to see all of the island in one day; the roads can be pretty hilly so it does get tiring. It also takes quite a while to get around the entire island, so I would say pick a couple of beaches you want to visit beforehand and go straight there in order to make it back to the ferry in time! 
  • Bus - for $25 there is the 'Island Explorer bus' which is essentially a hop-on-hop-off bus that takes you around the island. I highly recommend taking the bus, especially in summer when it is boiling hot! I opt for the bus because it means I will be able to go to way more beaches and I won't be absolutely exhausted by the end of the day. The busses come every 20 minutes and you can hail one down from anywhere on the island (it doesn't have to be an official stop). 
  • Electric scooters/bikes - if you still wanted to take the scenic route and opt for a bike, there are options for electric scooters, segways and bikes.
What is there to see and do?
Rottnest Island is home to some of the most beautiful beaches you will find anywhere in Australia, probably the world. 

Ideas on what to do:
  • Go swimming in all of the beautiful bays
  • Snorkel in some of the clearest water in WA - visit the shipwreck off of Henrietta rocks!
  • Go surfing at Stickland bay - one of the most consistent surf breaks and popular beaches for surfing in the world
  • Snorkel and sailing tours
  • Skydiving over the island
  • Cycle around the island stopping off at all of the sights
  • Say hi to the New Zealand fur seals frolicking near the West End
  • Get a quokka selfie (obviously)
  • Go whale watching during whale migration season
  • Have some lunch at one of the many restaurants on the island 

You can find a complete list here.

Where to eat?
  • Isola - Italian food, beach front, cocktails
  • Pinky's Rottnest Island - beach front, cocktails, pub food
  • Frankie's - pizzas and Italian food
  • The Mezz - alfresco, quokka central, tapas
  • Rottnest Bakery - this bakery is a must!
  • Dome - close to the port
  • Simmo's - the best ice cream on the island
You can find a full list of all the restaurants, pubs and cafes here.

Best beaches?
  • The Basin; great for swimming and snorkelling. This beach is pretty close to the port so it's often a bit busier.

  • Parakeet Bay; picture crystal clear blue water surrounded by sand dunes. Definitely my favourite beach!

  • Little Parakeet Bay; over the hill from Parakeet Bay is Little Parakeet Bay. Another one of my favourites

Little Parakeet Bay

  • Parker Point; an amazing beach for snorkelling!

  • Eagle Bay; this beach is often empty and a great spot for cliff jumping (be careful though!)

  • Little Salmon Bay; another amazing beach for snorkelling and another one of my favourites.

Where to stay?
If you are wanting more than a day trip, there are plenty of options for accommodation on the island. 
  • Camping - bring your camping gear and set up in a great camp ground situated close to some beautiful beaches. The camp ground has a communal camp kitchen, shared BBQ's and toilets.
  • Glamping - Discovery Rottnest Island is one of the best places I have stayed on the island. Each glamping style eco-tent has a bathroom and some have kitchens. It is situated on Pinky's beach so you have a beautiful view of the Lighthouse and sunset. A buffet breakfast is included in this too. There is also a pool (just in case the array of beaches wasn't enough).
  • Samphire Rottnest - if you are feeling like splurging a little, this is the place to do it!
  • Units - there are an array of unites, cottages, bungalows and cabins scattered throughout the island. They are a little dated but have everything you need!

A complete list of the accomodation available can be found here.

My tips:

  • Bring your own food/drinks - the shops on the island are VERY expensive (once I paid $9 for a nectarine lol).
  • Bring a lot of sunscreen and wear a hat. Rottnest often feels cooler than Perth so it can be easy to forget to be sun smart.
  • Bring a lot of water as once you leave the settlement there aren't many places to fill up.
  • Make sure you are on time for the ferry's as they leave on the dot and will not wait for you. 
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