Rottnest Island is a beautiful island paradise in the Indian Ocean that can be easily reached as a day trip from Perth, Western Australia. Less than 20km from Perth’s coastline, Rottnest boasts 63 brilliant white sand beaches, clear blue waters, bays and secluded coves, however it is most famous for the quokka! The quokka, which can be resembled to a small kangaroo, can be found only on Rottnest Island, or “Rotto” as it is known to the locals. Read on to find out more about these curious animals, as well as how to get to Rottnest Island and a couple of itineraries to follow for a fun day on the island!
The quokka has been described as the world’s happiest animal, and looking at this little fella’s smile it’s easy to see why!! They are very friendly animals and it is common for them to approach humans closely as they are curious about human interaction. They usually stay in the shade during the day but they are very easy to spot under the trees and they come out more during the afternoon. Whilst I’m sure you’ll want a quokka selfie, don’t touch them: it’s actually illegal as it could make them very ill and you could be fined. Do not tempt them with food as this could make them sick too. Wait for them to come to you, have your camera ready and shoot! They are found everywhere on the island so it won’t be long before you see one: there are over 11,000 quokkas on the island and in 5 hours my friend and I must have seen at least 60 quokkas!
How to get to Rottnest:
To get to Rottnest, take the ferry from Barrack Street Jetty in Perth at 08.30am – this is the fast ferry and gets into Rottnest at 10.45. Otherwise you will need to take the slow ferry, departing at 09.25 and arriving at 12.30, as you need to change ferry at Fremantle. Get the 16.25 ferry back, getting into Perth at 18.00. You will need to transfer at Fremantle B-Shed, so you may even want to get off there and spend the evening in Freo (Freo is amazing – click here to read my Perth & Fremantle itinerary)! The ferry is $99AUD return, which includes the admission fee to the island. Rottnest is only a small island, 11km x 4.5km and so there are only a few restaurants and shops. Consider bringing a picnic if you are fussy, although we ate a delicious lunch in one of the restaurant cafes by the jetty, taking in the view of the Perth skyline. There is accomodation to stay overnight on Rottnest Island, however most people, like ourselves, do it as a day trip from Perth.
Cycle: The most popular way to discover Rottnest is by bicycle! This is how we explored the island and I highly rcommend it! You can hire bikes from the jetty once you get to Rottnest, hire for the day is $30. Stop off at the Rottnest Visitor Centre just past the jetty to grab yourself a map of the island with several cycling routes marked out, of varying lengths. It is relatively easy to navigate yourself around the island. You can cycle past the salt lakes and WWII guns and underground tunnels and the view from the Wadjemup lighthouse is amazing, with views of the whole island. As we only had the day there, we didn’t cycle round the whole island: we could have – it would have been possible time-wise to ensure we got the ferry back, but we wanted to cycle leisurely and stop at the beaches and look at the quokkas, so we missed the Cathedral Rocks viewing platform where you can see New Zealand seals. Be sure to check it out if you have time and let me know how it is!
Other than cycling there are several great alternative options to explore Rottnest, including the hop on/hop off bus and the adventure boat tour (operates summer only). We chose to spend the day cycling round the island as we felt cycling would make best use of our time so we wouldn’t be waiting around or relying on the bus, and there was more freedom hiring bicycles and stopping anywhere we wanted (or whenever we saw some quokkas!). Plus, who doesn’t love cycling and feeling the wind blow through your hair?! It always takes me back to my childhood!
Bus: A hop on- hop off bus (The Island Explorer bus) for $20 takes you to the popular beaches and secluded bays and it is a great option if you don’t fancy cycling. Tickets can be purchased from the Rottnest Visitor Centre next to the pier.
Boat tour: If you are in Rottnest in the summertime, between December – April, you can do the 90 minute Adventure Boat Tour round the island. It is a high speed boat and so it sure is a great way to see the best of the island in a fun, exciting way! Unfortunately we went during September (technically wintertime in Australia), so boat tours were not an option when we were there, but we were more than satisfied with cycling around the island and stopping off at the beautiful secluded beaches as we cycled past them!
It is said here at Rottnest there are some of the best swimming and snorkelling beaches in the world, so I guess I’ll just have to come back in the summer when the sea is warmer so I can try it out! Dolphins, humpbacks, sealions and tropical fish are known to make an appearance here! A good snorkelling spot (and photo spot!) is Little Parakeet Bay, and Little Salmon Bay and The Basin are great spots for swimming. The surfing at Strickland Bay is also supposed to be amazing, with some of the best breaks in the world! Surfboards and snorkel gear can be hired on the island.
The weather in Rottnest is usually always sunny – even in winter you can still have sunny weather and 20degrees! However depending on the season you visit, it will determine the range of activities available. For example although it is very pleasant and sunny weather in the winter, boat tours around the island only run in the summer, and it will probably be a little too cold to go swimming. Luckily there are many options whilst on the island, and whatever you choose to do and whenever you choose to go to Rottnest, you’ll have a fabulous time!
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