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Rottnest Island or “Rotto” as the locals like to call, it is located 18 kilometres off the coast of Perth in Western Australia.
With over 60 picturesque beaches and bays that offer up as top spots for snorkeling, diving, kayaking, swimming, and fishing – Rotto is a true island paradise.
Measuring just 24 kilometres round trip by road, Rottnest Island is small but it packs a punch. You’ll find that on this tiny island, there are many great things to do on Rottnest Island, and it’s not just about beaches, either.
If you’re not sure what to do on Rottnest Island during your visit, then don’t worry, because we’ve listed the best attractions for you below.
Best Things to Do on Rottnest Island
The locals of Perth are incredibly lucky to have this island getaway at their doorstep. Seriously, if I lived locally I’d be catching the 25-minute ferry over more often than not.
Here are some of the top things to do on the island.
1. Explore by Bicycle
As it’s a car-free zone, Rottnest Island is best explored by bicycle, and because the island is mostly flat, it’s a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
Cycling around the island is also a great way to get from attraction to attraction. As you pedal, you are blessed with panoramic views of the ocean from every angle.
You can also take a segway tour if you prefer not to use your legs.
2. Say Hello to the Quokkas
During your trip to Rottnest Island, you’ll be sure to meet lots of the true locals getting around, including the Quokka, a small macropod about the size of a domestic cat.
These cute animals can be found all over the island, but some of the best places to see them are:
- The Settlement near The Rottnest Bakery
- Near Porpoise Bay where you park the bikes
- Around Garden Lake
- Wadjemup Road near the Wadjemup Lighthouse
3. Sunbathe on the Stunning Beaches
The main reason to visit Rottnest Island is for the beaches – I mean, come on, just look at this photo:
Despite being a small island, you’ll never run out of amazing beaches with pure white sand and refreshing turquoise waters.
The bays are often sheltered making them a great place to swim with children, plus the coral reef often comes up close to the shore so you can snorkel right from the beach.
Some of our favourite beaches on the island are:
- Thomsons Bay
- Parakeet Bay
- Strickland Bay (great for surfing)
- Little Salmon Bay
- Little Armstrong Bay
- Pinky Beach
4. Go Snorkelling
A trip to Rottnest Island would not be complete without visiting one of the many snorkel trails.
Pack your snorkelling gear and swim with the tropical fish right from the shoreline.
Little Salmon Bay, The Basin, and Parker Point are some great spots for snorkelling and have lots of thriving marine life and gentle waves.
5. Take the Kids to the Aquapark (seasonal)
During the summer months, a floating water park opens up at Rottnest Island and is one of the best things to do on Rottnest Island with kids.
It offers a range of family-friendly floaties and inflatable obstacle courses, as well as offers water equipment for kids.
If you’re traveling with toddlers, there’s even a Knee Deep Zone for little ones to splash around in.
You can rent paddle boats, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, and much more. Or enjoy the sea catapult, sea saws, and slides into the ocean!
6. Have Dinner With A View
There are plenty of cafes on Rottnest Island that come with a good view, but one that comes highly recommended is Pinky’s Beach Club.
Grab a table by the ocean and do some whale watching whilst you gorge yourself on some delicious seafood.
If you are short on time and don’t want to stop at a café, you can get quick bites to eat from the general store.
7. Check Out The Visitor Centre
If you’re looking for information about the attractions on Rottnest Island, aside from the simple plaque with a few sentences telling you about it, then you’ll want to head to the Visitor Centre.
To really learn more about the island’s history and uses, the Visitors Centre offers several free walking tours of many of the top landmarks on Rottnest Island
The “Go Cultural Aboriginal” tour is a popular favourite, as it gives visitors a chance to learn all about the Noongar people, who are the island’s traditional owners.
The visitor centre is also a great place to book accommodation, ferry tickets, boat tours and pick up maps of the island.
8. Take A Rottnest Island Cruise
A Rottnest cruise is a great way to look for some local marine life.
The boat journey takes you off the shores of the island, and if you’re lucky, you might spot some whales breaching in the water.
If you’re very lucky, you may also see dolphins or even New Zealand fur seals off the shores.
As you sail the crystal clear waters, you can kick back and relax in style as you sail on a luxury catamaran boat.
9. Visit the Rottnest Bakery
For a bite to eat or a little pick-me-up, check out the Rottnest Bakery. Here you will find delicious homemade cakes and sweet treats, as well as savoury pies, sandwiches, and pastries.
But the food is not the only reason to visit the bakery. Even the local resident quokkas know this bakery is good, as they can often be found hanging around outside.
10. Walk the Wadjemup Bidi Trail
If you’re up for a hike, then be sure to hit up the Wagjemup trail. The trail is 45 km and spans the entire island.
Most people don’t take the whole trail as it takes a few days to complete, but it has been divided up into five sections so you can easily walk one section in a day.
The Wadjemup Bidi trails pass by spectacular coastal headlands, inland lakes, and many of the top attractions on Rottnest Island.
Here is each section of the trail and its distances. Most trails take between 2-4 hours to complete:
- Ngank Yira Bidi – Uncover Bickley Battery (9.4km one way)
- Gabbi Karniny Bidi – Discover the Salt Lakes (9.7km loop)
- Wardan Nara Bidi – Relax on Salmon Bay (10km one way)
- Karlinyah Bidi – Experience the Northern Beaches (5.9km one way)
- Ngank Wen Bidi – Explore West End (7.6km loop)
11. Check Out The Bathurst Lighthouse & Wadjemup Lighthouse
There are two lighthouses on the island, Bathurst and Wadjemup. Wadjemup is the oldest lighthouse on the island and was built in 1849.
At the time, it was Western Australia’s first stone lighthouse and was used to provide a safer sailing route for ships to Fremantle Port.
The original lighthouse was replaced in 1896 on the same site.
You cannot enter this lighthouse, but the views from where it stands are incredible.
Also, make sure to wander down the wooden steps to the beach and enjoy the vistas.
12. Visit Oliver Hill Guns & Tunnels
Oliver Hill is near the centre of Rottnest Island and is where you will find the military remnants from World War II.
You can learn all about the island’s defence history on a free Rottnest Island Guide organized by the visitor’s centre.
Check out one of the restored World War II 9.2 inch guns and explore the underground tunnels.
Where to stay on Rottnest Island, Perth
Rottnest Island is very small and has very few hotels. If you want to stay on the island, I recommend camping at Rottnest Island campground.
Simply pitch a tent, park your bikes, and enjoy sleeping to the sound of the waves lulling you to sleep.
If you don’t like camping, try glamping at Discovery Rottnest Island, which features eco-friendly tents with private bathrooms, kitchenettes, and terraces. It is like a resort and campsite combined.
You can use the list view below to see what’s available in nearby Perth.
Getting to Rottnest Island?
To get to Rottnest Island you first need to get to Perth, Western Australia. Rottnest is located 18 kilometres off the coast.
You can catch a ferry from Perth or North Fremantle, and they operate every 30 minutes or so. The ferry drops you off at Barrack Street Jetty on Rottnest Island.
Ferry tickets can be purchased from the ticket counter at the pier or get them online in advance. Make sure you arrive at the pier at least 30 minutes before the boarding time.
Photo Inspiration of Rottnest Island
If you need any more convincing to visit Rottnest Island, I leave you with a collection of stunning photos from our trip there. Hopefully, these are all the inspirations you need to make it part of your Australian bucket list!
More South Western Australia Travel Tips
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