Rottnest Island has been on my list of places to visit for a while now. The problem with going here is that it’s a hassle and a half to get to the island. First you have to get a flight to Perth. Flying cross-country in Australia is typically more expensive than flying international like say to Fiji or Bali. Therefore it’s understandable why so many Aussies vacation out of the country. So the first step in getting to Rottnest is getting to Perth. You’ll most likely fly, but you could also take the train from Adelaide. Once in Perth you’ll have to ferry over to Rotto either from Barrack Street, in downtown Perth, or Fremantle. I used Rottnest Express and they also arrange shuttle pick up and drop off from hotels.
Many people choose just to do a day trip, but I think it’s totally worth staying on the island a couple of nights. There’s actually a lot of ground to cover and doing it all in a day would be rushed.
Things to Do
Whether you’re visiting just for a day or spending a bit of time here there’s a lot to do on the island.
Rent a bike
This is the most popular mode of transportation around the island. Daily hires with a basket are $35 AUD and additional days decrease in price per day. I only had a bike the last day and it was my favorite overall day on the island – I loved cruising around. The terrain can be a bit rough and it’s not fully a leisurely ride – lots of up and downs so consider yourself warned. The whole island is 19km and they say leave around 4-5 hours to just bike along the entirety of the island if that is your cup of tea. That’s of course is not including stops, which are the best part. When cruising around you’re pretty much on your own schedule to do whatever you want and there are so many beautiful beaches and snorkeling stops you’ll want to give yourself extra time. If you are leaving the island the same day just make sure you leave enough time to get back to the ferry and/or return the bike.
There are 63 beaches and 15 bays around Rottnest Island so you’re guaranteed to find one you like. The water all around the island is absolutely spectacular. My favorite spots were:
- Parakeet Bay
- Salmon Bay
- The Basin
- Little Armstrong Bay
- Gordie Bay
- Pinky Beach
- Henrietta Rocks
- Little Salmon Bay
Hang out with the quokkas
The happiest animals in the world, quokkas, are permanent residents of Rottnest Island these little creatures are wonderful. They really are everywhere and you’re sure to capture some amazing shots. Some tips while encounter the quokkas:
- Remember they are wild animals and although friendly you shouldn’t do anything to disturb them.
- Don’t feed or give them water. They can’t digest food that has been processed so it’s very harmful to them. If they are use to getting water from humans they won’t go out for it themselves when they need it.
- A selfie stick would be super handy. That’s really how you get the best angles and can capture them smiling. I’ve never been a selfie stick user myself, but someone let me borrow there’s.
- Don’t pet them. This one is hard because they just are so so lovable. Again they are wild so they could bite, but the bigger warning is that some of them carry salmonella so yeah that should be warning enough. I would wash or sanitize your hands after every encounter even if you didn’t touch them, but touched the ground around them.
- Speak up. If you see anyone not following these rules say something. Although the ferries, accommodation, and all over town they have the rules posted and there’s a $300 fine for feeding or petting, people still don’t follow them. If you see someone feeding a quokka fries definitely call them out on it (speaking from personal experience).
- Quality time. It’s suggested to spend some time with the quokkas just observing them. So try not to click a photo and leave.
There are a couple of tours you can take ranging from 1-5 hours. I actually wouldn’t recommend one of the tours if you’re only on the island for one day. If you have a couple of days on the island then I would recommend it. We did a long tour that started with a train ride, tour of the massive guns from WWII, and then a bus tour that gave us a view most of the island without making many stops. Also note, buses and service vehicles are the only cars permitted on the island.
- Ice Cream – There’s one ice cream parlor in town so you can’t miss it. There are so many flavors to choose from. You can’t sample so you’ll have to go multiple times. Tip the honeycomb is fantastic.
- Pinky’s Beach Club – They close the kitchen pretty early so make sure you get there before 8pm for dinner. You will not be disappointed. Their chef is doing something right because all the meals were packed with flavor.
- Hotel Rottnest – Come here for sunset drinks and nibbles. The view is incredible even if the food is just okay. There’s also live entertainment on the weekends. Rottnest Hotel is located right on the water and close to ferry so it’s easy to get to.
We went the Glamping route for our stay, which I absolutely loved. There are also houses/apartments to rent, but I think they go pretty quickly in the season if workers aren’t assigned to them.
Karma Hotel is also on the island and has a spa. Hotel Rottnest’s rooms are currently being redone and are expected to open in September 2020. I really think this will be the premium/hot spot to stay once open.
Rottnest Island is very special. I highly recommend this spot for anybody looking for a true getaway. I loved my stay there and would go back in a heartbeat.