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A Quick Guide to Rottnest Island

21 Sep 2021

Aquamarine sea, the world’s happiest marsupial and a diverse cultural heritage are just a few of the things that await you on Western Australia’s Rottnest Island.

Located just 19 kilometres off the coast of Perth, the tranquility of Rottnest Island will make you feel a world away.

Rottnest Island   Credit   Tourism Western AustraliaRottnest Island is a perfect family escape. Photo Credit: Tourism Western Australia

Thinking of making a trip soon? Here’s a quick guide on how to get to ‘Rotto’, and our top picks of what to see and do on the island. 

Getting to Rottnest Island

Getting around Rottnest Island

Things to See and Do

 

Getting to Rottnest Island

WA Rottnest Island Snorkel   Tourism Western Australia 081621 jaRottnest has swimmable reefs that are perfect for snorkelling. Photo Credit: Tourism Western Australia

There are two ways to get to Rottnest Island - by sea or by air. The ferry is by far the most popular and affordable option and there are three different companies offering daily ferry services from Fremantle, Perth and Hillarys.

By sea

Ferry services are available seven days a week throughout the year, with additional services usually added during the peak summer months, but we highly recommend pre-booking your ticket in advance to secure a good seat on the boat. Check out the three different schedules below:

By air

Another way of travelling to Rottnest Island is by air. Although pricier than the ferry, there’s no better way to ‘pimp’ your trip by getting a life-changing aerial view of the island before you land. Expect to spend anywhere from $70 to $250 per person on any of the below services:

Getting around Rottnest

By bike

Getting around Rotto is as simple as riding a bike (literally!). Pedal & Flipper is the largest bike hire facility on the island and provides a wide range of two and three-wheeled options to choose from. Mobility-assisted bikes (adult tricycles, beach wheelchairs, electric gophers), baby seats, bike cargos, and even surfboard carriers are available. Prices start from $20 for a full days hire.

 Discoveryparks rottnest island cycling thomsons bay

Photo Credit: Tourism Western Australia

By bus


If pedalling isn’t your idea of fun, the hop on/hop off Island Explorer bus might be the way to go. Enjoy the island at your own pace with 19 different stops to choose from including Rotto’s famous beaches, bays, and all of its main attractions.

Discovery Tour 02 10Photo Credit: Tourism Western Australia

 

The Island Explorer runs daily from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at 45-minute intervals (30-minute intervals during school holidays). Tickets are available in advance online, or from the Rottnest Island Visitor Centre in Thomson Bay near the Main Jetty, and from the main bus stop ticket kiosk from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm daily. 

Joining an organised bus tour is also another great way to get around the island. These organised tours take you directly to the island’s main attractions. Tours run anywhere from 90 minutes to 3.5 hours. Some of the available tours are:

Things to see and do on Rottnest Island

Learn about the island’s history at Wadjemup Museum

Recently refurbished and renamed, Wadjemup Museum is a must-see when visiting Rottnest Island. Explore the island’s unique and diverse history through themes that include cultural connection, early settlement, Aboriginal incarceration, volunteering, tourism and holidays. 

The museum includes a range of exhibits and artefacts that are up to 40,000 years-old. Vintage postcards, contemporary artworks, and incredible outdoor sculptures are also on display. To keep the little ones engaged there are interactive learning experiences and audio touch screens that tell the island’s story.

Visit Wadjemup Museum

Soak it up at The Basin

Discoveryparks rottnest island the basin coupleThe Basin is a popular swimming spot. Photo Credit: Tourism Western Australia

Recognised by The Telegraph as one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches, The Basin forms a natural aquatic amphitheatre with shallow water and kid-friendly waves. For this reason and many others, The Basin is one of the most popular swimming destinations on Rottnest Island and features some of the bluest, most crystal clear waters you’ll ever see. Take a moment to breathe in the freshest of sea breezes before jumping in for a well earned soak in the sea. First-timers here will quickly understand why WA locals return time and again to this picture-perfect postcard location.

Hike the Wadjemup Bidi Trails

Discoveryparks rottnest island wadjemup trailThe boardwalk at the Salt Lakes on the Wadjemup Walking Trail is easy and popular / Credit: Rottnest Island Authority

Up for a hike? The Wadjemup Bidi is a collection of walking trails that take you through the island’s diverse landscape. Be prepared for spectacular coastal views and a potential wildlife encounter! (Don’t worry though, there are no sharknado’s here) Each trail can take up to four hours to complete so be prepared to carry sufficient water, snacks and sunscreen. 

View the trails

Wadjemup Lighthouse

Discoveryparks rottnest island wadjemup lighthouse seniorsCredit: Rottnest Island Authority

Constructed in 1896, Wadjemup Lighthouse stands at the highest point of Rottnest Island. A visit here is well worth the effort as you’ll be rewarded with uninterrupted views of the city of Perth, which by now will be feeling like a faraway distant memory. At approximately 38 metres high, the lighthouse is the fourth tallest in Australia and replaced the original 20-metre structure that was built in 1849.

Let your hair down at Pinky’s Beach Club

Discoveryparks rottnest island pinkys beach club 2Photo Credit: @exploreshaw on social media

Don’t forget to refuel after a day of exploring the island! Overlooking Pinky Beach, Pinky's Beach Club is a contemporary beachside restaurant and bar offering a range of dining options and refreshments. Relax while you dig into the a la carte menu, or sit back and enjoy your favourite cocktail! 

View Pinky’s Beach Club menu

Hang with the Quokkas

WA Quokka   Tourism Western Australia 081621 jaPhoto Credit: Tourism Western Australia

Native to Rottnest Island, the mostly nocturnal quokkas can be found almost everywhere on the island. While these adorably cute marsupials are friendly, touching or petting them is not permitted for the safety and protection of both your and the animals themsleves. You’ll find quokkas a-plenty around the Thomsons Bay Settlement area (just 5 minutes from the ferry jetty) especially in the early evening.

Ready to visit Rottnest? Book a stay at Discovery - Rottnest Island and experience the best that Rotto has to offer!

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