Rottnest Island, Perth: How To Reach, Best Time & Tips
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Sightseeing Tours

Rottnest Island Tours & Activities

About Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is a popular holiday destination located in Western Australia, around 19 km away from the Perth coastline. It is believed that the island was created as an aftermath of sea-level changes. The place has become famous over the years for its pleasant weather, finest soft sand beaches, picturesque scenery and the salt lakes and this is one of the best places in Perth.

The salt lakes are an integral part of Rottnest Island and you would find a number of permanent lakes along with surrounding beaches. Pink Lake, Lake Negri and the twin Pearse Lakes, which become dry and appear similar to salt flats in summer are some of the must-visit lakes here.

Apart from the beaches and salt lakes, there is another thing that has made the place famous all over the world - the quokkas, a rat-looking animal. The island actually derives its name from these rat-like rodents that in the eighteenth century were often mistaken to be rats.

You can enjoy the mellow weather of the island while visiting during the springs or autumn. It offers a number of activities to its visitors like a bicycle tour, whale watching, snorkelling, fishing and many more. People can also enjoy capturing the beautiful daisy fields and quokkas while roaming around all through the island.

Apart from these, they can also visit the 14 Osprey nests in the Fish Hook Bay, at the western part of the island, which can be a thrilling experience for them.

How to Reach Rottnest Island

This is how we can reach Rottnest Island from Perth Airport

By Bus: Take a bus (40) from Fauntleroy Av After Dunreath Dr to Victoria Park Transfer Stn Stand E and then another (960 or 220) to Wellington St Before Forrest Pl. From there reach Perth Stn Platform 7 and take the Fremantle Line to Fremantle Stn Platform 2. A 30-minute ferry ride will take you to the island from Fremantle. The entire trip takes 2 hours and 44 minutes.

By Taxi: Get a taxi from Perth Airport (PER) to Hillarys Boat Harbour. A car ferry from the harbour, available three times a day, will take you to the island in an hour. The entire trip takes 1 hour and 27 minutes.

Best Time to Visit Rottnest Island

As Australia is situated in the southern hemisphere, you will find here a moderate Mediterranean style climate. Summer here runs from November to February and it is the best season to visit Rottnest Island.

The humidity is minimal in summer and the temperature varies between 30 and 40℃. In addition to this, Rottnest Island is a little cooler than Perth. So, visitors can easily enjoy swimming in the sea and other activities at this time.

However, visitors, who might not want to visit Rottnest Island in summer, the recommended time for them is in Autumn or Spring. In autumn or the months of October to early November, the temperature ranges between 11 and 20℃. The sea is also found calm where you can experience a lot of water sports and a swim.

Besides autumn, April to May in spring is also a preferable time to visit the beaches. The temperature starts falling from the month of April to an average low of 13℃. 

What Not to Miss at Rottnest Island

Apart from the places, you can also have some opportunities for adventures or sports around the island. You can do:

1. Surfing at the popular spots:
This island provides a suitable and perfect condition for surfing from many well-known points. For stand-up paddle boarders and surfers, Stark Bay, Salmon Bay and Strickland Bay are quite common breakpoints.

2. Cycling or biking around the island:
Discover the different nooks and corners while getting the view of the widespread water and clean beaches. With affordable hiring options, get a cycle or bike and visit the West End or see a rare osprey near Parker Point.

3. Snorkelling at Rottnest Island:
The environment around the Island is highly favourable for Snorkelling. Guided tours are offered to the people along with stunning and lifelong experiences. However, one needs to go for snorkelling a lot carefully, so that the corals do not get damaged in any way.

4. Fishing on Rottnest Island:
This island is filled with three kinds of fish categories that include reef dwellers, seagrass inhabitants and migratory species. The ample seagrass meadows all around the island attract many fish species. Due to the abundance of marine wildlife, Rottnest Island is a very familiar site for recreational fishing activities.

5. Island Daisies:
Known as the blue lace flower, Rottnest Island is filled with fields covered with daisy flowers. Originally a part of the carrot family, these sweet flowers have become quite famous as an ornamental garden plant.

6. Diving at Rottnest Island:
Rottnest Island houses many species of corals and marine life. It is well known as a dive site because of its closeness to Perth. Rottnest Island is an engaging dive site for the tourists as the coral species, diversity of fishes and other marine life and the underwater shipwrecks fascinates them to a large extent.

7. Guided walks amidst the natural beauty and rich wildlife of the Island:
Quokka, the famous marsupial of the island are mainly seen during the afternoon time. However, one can also opt for a free and guided tour to the natural habitat of these animals which will fill your mind with a lot of information about them and also you would get to see them from a very close point.

8. Explore the West End Boardwalk:
While walking along the West End Boardwalk, you could view an abundance of flora and fauna of the island. You may also witness some of the Wedge-tailed birds which are commonly known as muttonbirds. Visiting the boardwalk will give you an amazing and uncommon experience to cherish throughout your life.

9. Whale Watching:
For a particular period of time, many whales along with their newborns head towards the north. They spend most of their time in the Rottnest waters while giving the necessary life lessons to the young calves. You can catch a view of them from the West End platform which is the best place on the Island for whale watching.

10. View the Osprey nests:
The osprey is a bird that lives in the coastal islands of Australia which includes the Rotto as well.  There are more than 14 nest sites all over the island. At the West End - Fish Hook Bay, these species are living for more than seventy long years.

These birds prefer to build nests on the exposed rocks of the island and lay eggs on the same nest for years after years. You would be thrilled to get a view of the mother osprey feeding the young babies with the captured prey.

Activities to Do at Rottnest Island

1. Enjoy a bike ride by the coastline:
You can hire a bike in car-free Rottnest Island and cycle around 25 km of the shoreline. In the entire tour, you will get to visit 23 bays and over 60 beaches alongside the Rottnest Island Museum, Lomas Cottage, the Bathurst or Wadjemup lighthouses and the Pilot Boathouse.

The trip is an hour long and it is advised that you carry your own food due to the absence of shops along the way, though lunch services can be pre-booked for an extra charge.

2. Take a guided heritage tour for free:
The heritage tours can be very intriguing as they are led by knowledgeable and well-informed guides who show you in and around Rottnest Island and educate you about its rich heritage.

The island’s history can be traced back to somewhere around 65000 years ago during the aboriginal occupation to 1829 - the time of the colonial settlement.

3. A Rottnest Island Bus Tour:
Not comfortable with bikes? Get on the Island Discovery Bus which will provide you with a memorable bus tour lasting 90 minutes circling the entire island accompanied by a professional tour guide.

Alongside getting to know a lot of interesting stuff about the island the tour also gives you a detailed idea of all the landmarks so that you can make up your mind regarding what you want to explore later on your own.

4. Visit the West End:
The westernmost part of the island or the West End is considered to be the most attractive side of Rottnest due to its rugged and lively coastline, completely different from the calm and peaceful east.

It is popular with scuba divers, shore fishing and visitors in search of a stunning view of the ocean and its creatures like whales, dolphins and New Zealand fur seals. You will also get to see the picturesque Vlamingh Lighthouse.

5. Swim at the beach of your choice:
If you are on the island during summer one thing that you cannot miss is taking a swim in its many pretty beaches. To mention, almost all of the beaches are open to the general public for swimming.

You will find three types of beaches - the ones at the west end crowded with master surfers, beaches for family and kids, and some which are unimaginably secluded and void of tourist mobs. Special west end mentions include the Pink beach and Eagle beach.

6. Snorkel the clear waters:
From any of the best snorkelling sites on the island, you will get to dive in and check out sea lions or even a shipwreck. Each session allows around only 12 people, for a more personal experience, who will be led by a certified divemaster.

The weather-dependent trip also includes a visit to the village in Thomson Bay to meet the native Quokka (a domestic cat-sized marsupial) along with BBQ in the afternoon. The departure from Fremantle is at 8:00 in the morning and at around 3 pm the group prepares for its return.

Boating at Rottnest Island

Boating at Rottnest Island offers a thrilling experience to the tourists. There are plenty of packages you can choose from. While some of the packages will offer you an experience with a duration of seven hours around the island, others with the same duration allow experiencing Swan River and the island both.

Other facilities included in the packages are nurturing the cultural history of the island, exploring local wildlife, whale spotting from Wadjemup Lighthouse and West End lookout. Boating is mainly arranged for visitors who choose a one-day trip to the island. There will also be live commentary in English throughout the journey.

To mention the mooring options, well, there are many. They are all managed by the Rottnest Island Authority and bookings are available on the website to purchase a permit. For the private vessel owners, it needs to be booked in advance and public vessels are permitted to anchor at Thomson, Longreach and Geordie Bays.

-Thomson Bay:
It is the closest bay to the mainland on Rottnest Island. It also has the largest anchorage that ensures a number of mooring options for small and large crafts. The bay is northeast facing and used as a hub for the ferries that come from Perth City, Fremantle and Hillarys.

Moreover, crafts are also allowed to anchor at the south side of Kingston Reef as well as the north of Phillip Point at this bay.

-Longreach Bay:
This north-facing bay is almost landlocked and filled with mooring options. A separate anchor zone is also there at the eastern end of the bay. After reaching there you can take a cycle or bike to reach the rest of the island. The popular dive site, Roe Reef is around 1nm northeast of the bay.

-Geordie Bay:
Apart from the above-mentioned two bays, visitors can also get down to the Geordie Bay. This bay is surrounded by reef and there is no anchorage zone at this bay. However, you will find it overcrowded in the peak season. There is a café as well as several staying options you can get for relaxing, eating and drinking.

Places to Visit around Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is referred to as an adventurous site with turquoise water, several natural salt lakes, pristine beaches and picturesque sceneries. The 63 beaches and the bays of Rotto Island offer suitable conditions for various water sports. The island is famous for different attractions for different age groups. Some of them are:

1. Wadjemup Lighthouse: 
This beautiful lighthouse is located in the centre of the island. You can get there by a 15 minutes bike ride or bus ride or by opting for a long walk by the Wadjemup Walk Trail. The blue sky and crystal clear water add a breathtaking view to the lighthouse. This lighthouse is popular among the tourists as it is the first rotating-beam lighthouse of Western Australia.

2. Henrietta Rocks: 
Located beside the Porpoise Bay, Henrietta Rocks is a major interest point of the tourist and locals. You can either go for snorkelling or just sit at the beach and enjoy the soothing view over the rocks and the blue Ocean water.

3. Serpentine Lake: 
This long saltwater lake is one of the deepest lakes of the Island. However, this lake is quite different from the other ones, as in the colder months, a layer of freshwater forms above the salter layer of the lake. Most of the nearby plant life has adapted to the high salt levels of the water.

4. Porpoise Bay: 
Stretching over one km, the Porpoise Bay is circled by offshore reefs. After your boat rides or in the middle of it, you can choose to get down at the silent bay for some time. The thick carpet of the seagrass on the ocean bed makes this place suitable for walking and boating.

5. Cape Vlamingh: 
If you want to enjoy a stunning view of the dolphins and a long walk across the Cape Vlamingh Heritage Trail with excellent views of the surrounding beaches and bays, this is going to be the perfect place for you. This place is named after Dutch explorer William de Vlammingh who discovered this island and thought the quokkas to be rats.

6. Lomas Cottage: 
The cottage belongs to John Lomas and it provides various important information about his life. The 15 photographs of The Angelo Collection signifies the best portraits of life on Rottnest Island in the 19th Century.

7. Oliver Hill: 
This place witnessed many massacres during World War II and military remnants of that time can still be observed even today. If you can manage a train ride from the Settlement Railway to Olive Hill, you will love the scenic beauty of the south side.

8. Wadjemup Bidi: 
There is also a place called Wadjemup Bidi, which you must include in your itinerary. Bidi means ‘track’ or ‘trail’ in Noongar’s language, who are the aboriginal Australian owners of the island. The 45 km trail is a significant place that flaunts the blend of beautiful nature and the cultural history of Rottnest Island.

Island Tours at Rottnest Island

Visitors can tour the whole island by bus, bike, cruise and train. You can pre-book the tickets on the website of the several tour operators. However, it is worth mentioning, Rottnest Island is a car-free zone that means you cannot take your car for a tour to the place. The available options are:

1. Bus Tours: 
Take a bus ride and enjoy the scenic beauty, clean beaches and other well-known places of the island. Buy an online pass and plan your complete tour accordingly. Get down at any place you want and enjoy the views in your own way.

2. Coach and Train Tours: 
Enjoy the charming beauty of the innumerable beaches, bays and attractive salt lakes of Rottnest Island. Choose between the 4-hour duration and 1.5-hour duration all-inclusive train tour. It will include all the incredible locations and major places filled with beautiful flora and fauna.

3. Rottnest Cruise Tours: 
If you are fond of sunsets and plates of seafood, this cruise ride from Thomson Bay Fuel Jetty will serve you with all your favourite preferences. Guided by the specialists, you can try fishing while your lunch is served with tasty cider and beer. 

4. Oliver Hill Train Tours: 
Experience a train ride from Settlement railway station to Oliver Hill station on the island where you can relish the vision of the south side of the island. Travelling through rich greenery and varied scenic beauty, this train ride will give you a memory to cherish for your whole life.

5. Electric Bike Tours: 
Hire an e-bike and travel through the beaches and bays of the stunning island. Take a walk along the beach and roam around the island independently. Swim at your preferred bays and have your lunch amidst nature and ocean.

6. Snorkelling and Sailing tours: 
Go for a magical adventure ride in Capella and explore the native marine life. With kayaking equipment and snorkelling facilities, this boat will offer you a glorious ride which will energise you completely to go back to your busy work life.

7. Eco Express Marine Tours: 
Board the eco express and go for an adventure tour exploring the secluded beaches and bays. Savour the adrenaline rush experience and feel the Rottnest water sprays on your face.

8. Guided Walks: 
While visiting the island, you will be thrilled after learning the different stories and facts about this stunning island. The Rottnest Voluntary Guides Association offers many guided walking tours on the island which includes pioneers and prisoners package, reefs, wrecks and daring sailors package, West End Wanderer Walk, Quokka walk and many more.

9. Segway Tours: 
After getting training to ride your own segway, you will get the opportunity to explore the place on your own while learning about the exciting cultural and historical diversities. The picturesque views and the eco-friendly thrilling ride across the major attractions of the Rottnest Island is quite spell bounding.

Other Essential Information About Rottnest Island


Rottnest Island is located just off the coast from the city of Perth, in West Australia. It lies 18 kilometres or 12 miles to the west of Fremantle. It is 45 minutes from Hillarys Boat Harbour in northern Perth if you take a ferry or 25 minutes from Fremantle by ferry as well and is a 90-minute ferry ride from the Barrack Street Jetty.

The first ferry leaves for Rottnest at around 6:30 in the morning from Northport Fremantle and many more are available throughout the day until 5:15 in the evening. Return trips can be availed anytime between 8:30 am and 7:30 pm. It is advised that passengers reach the terminal, for the ferry to the islands, thirty minutes before the assigned time for departure.

-Entry fee:
Visitors need to pay a landing fee or Government Admission Fee which is collected as a part of their ferry fare, on behalf of the Rottnest Island Authority, by the various ferry companies of the island.

The fee for an adult is AUD $19 (during the day) and AUD $25 (overnight), for children between four and twelve AUD $7 (during the day) and AUD $8.5 (overnight) whereas groups comprising of two adults and two children are required to pay AUD $45.5 (during the day) and AUD $56 (overnight). 

-Distance from Perth Airport:
Rottnest Island is about 42 km from Perth Airport (PER).

History of Rottnest Island

About 7000 years ago, the Aboriginal people were the only inhabitants of the Rottnest and were believed to have stayed there since 30,000 years ago. During European colonisation, between the years 1838 and 1931, Rottnest was operated as an Aboriginal prison.

The prison’s abolition was announced after years of prisoner escapes, cruelty to inmates and even death due to epidemic.Under the Permanent Reserves Act, Rottnest Island became an A-class reserve (crown land with the status of most highly protected) in May 1917.

The military history also includes attempts to defend the Fremantle port, a major Allies navy base in the Indian Ocean, at the time of the Second World War by putting down two 9.2-inch guns at Oliver Hill close to the middle of the island, and two other 6-inch guns at Bickley Point. Any attacking ship could be destroyed right from Rottnest before it could reach the range of the port.

In terms of administration, after the formation and modification of several authoritative entities, finally, in 1988 the Rottnest Island Authority became the main operating body of the island.

Eat and Drink at Rottnest Island

Visitors can get several favourite eating options on the island. Most importantly, amid the beach, with beautiful scenery, these eating options will surely make them reconsider visiting the place again.

1. Kalli’ on Roto:
Located at the Wadjemup Lighthouse, this cafe is a classic caravan where you can sit and enjoy the complete view of the island while relishing mouthwatering ice cream.

2. Rottnest Bakery:
Do not forget to sneak in this popular Bakery during your visit to Rottnest Island. The freshly baked items served by using the native ingredients is a must-try for all the tourists.

3. Lexi’s on Roto:
This cafe is situated in the West End of Rottnest Island where you can sit and enjoy delicious snacks and a cup of coffee.

4. Good Cartel Coffee:
Different from all the usual cafes, this place has a lovely ambience. Far away from the hustle and commotions, the Good Cartel Coffee offers the best coffee and excellent service within an affordable rate.

5. Dome Cafe:
Just after getting off the ferry, take a short walk and visit this Cafe to savour a pancake or just to sip a warm cup of coffee. The picturesque view of Thomson Bay and the tasty snacks would not disappoint you at all.

6. Simmo’s Ice Creamery:
The ice creams being served here are a tasty dessert prepared by using the fresh local ingredients and a bit of Simmo’s secret imaginations. Serving more than 60 different ice creams, this small ice creamery has a beautiful ambience to offer you.

7. The Lane Cafe:
Satisfy your taste buds with a burger and a smoothie or choose anything from the wide range of snacks and drinks options of the Menu. The Lane Cafe will take care of all your cravings. From breakfast to lunch, this cafe is ready to serve you at any time and with any of your preferred bites.

8. Pinky’s Beach Club:
This club is quite popular because of its amazing location which offers a breathtaking view of the island. Serving plenty of dishes and snacks, Pinky’s Beach Club provides the best services to their guests.

9. Frankie’s on Rotto:
Situated amidst the busy settlement, this restaurant is a perfect place to taste the dishes while chit chatting with your friends. Flaunting a casual and family-friendly atmosphere, your kids would love the extensive range of pizza, pasta and salads.

10. Gov’s Sports Bar:
This bar is the ideal place to rest after a tiring day of the venture in the islands. It offers a wide range of beers and drinks along with live music for the entire week. Darts, pool, quizzes and comedy nights, Gov’s Sports Bar is the classic place to spend some exciting time.

11. Riva Restaurant:
The restaurant offers a variety of dishes and wines which will satisfy all the demands of the guests. From a varied range of cocktails to freshly cooked pizzas, Riva Restaurant is all set to serve your needs.

Accommodation in Rottnest Island

Most of the tourists choose Rottnest Island for a one-day trip. However, you can also make a plan for two or three days to this place. To stay, there are a number of options available on the island. Some of these are listed below.

1. Karma Rottnest:
From Rottnest ferry terminal, it will take just five minutes to Karma Rottnest. From both the long-standing Bathurst Lighthouse and Pinky Beach, the hotel is a nine minutes walk. The rooms of the hotels are decent enough to stay in.

The room services and free breakfast are also included in the package. The tourists will have a Mediterranean restaurant having a terrace to enjoy the scenic beauty of the place while having a meal at this place.

2. Hotel Rottnest:
If one lands on the Thomson Bay’s tranquil beach, the adult-only hotel is just four minutes away through walking from Rottnest Island ferry terminal. The air-conditioned rooms are provided with coffee and tea making facilities. There are flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi too.

3. Quest Fremantle:
This contemporary apartment hotel is set in the corner building having red brick facade. You have to walk for four minutes to reach from Fremantle train station, but the time increases to eight minutes if you start from the iconic Fremantle Markets. The hotel is provided with a gym, a rooftop terrace, a business centre, a courtyard, coin-operated laundry facilities and meeting space.

4. Esplanade Hotel Fremantle by Rydges:
The hotel is present on the former prison’s site. It is just 1 km away from Fremantle Prison museum and Western Australian Maritime Museum. While from Esplanade Park it is 2 km away.

There are upgraded rooms having balconies, while some of them come with whirlpool tubs and dining/entertaining areas too. Speaking of the amenities, the hotel has upscale and casual restaurants, an outdoor pool, an old-world pub and a fitness centre.

Tips for Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is a unique natural place having turquoise waters and pristine beaches that you must have in your bucket-list. The summer is the best season to visit the island. The following tips will be helpful while touring the place.

-Take plenty of drinking water as you will be very thirsty roaming around the island and there are not so many drinking stations on the island.

-Besides water, pack some light snacks as food is only available in the main village.

-Apply your sunscreen lotion on your exposed body area before touring the island.

-Last and most important tip, never try to feed or touch the quokkas.
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People Also Ask About Rottnest Island

  1. Can you take alcohol to Rottnest Island?

    Yes, you can take alcohol packed in your luggage to Rottnest Island. Although you cannot board any vessel to Rottnest in a drunkard state. Moreover, there is a general store on the island where you can find drinks as well as foods, in case you forgot to take them with your luggage.
  2. Can you take your car to Rottnest Island?

    Unfortunately, a car is not allowed on Rottnest Island. The other ways to wander around the island are either by bus or bicycle. You can find several hop-on, hop-off buses that roam around the island. The one-day adult pass for the buses is AUD $20 and for children, it costs AUD $15.

    However, if you are not comfortable with a bus and want to explore the island on your own, you can do it by bicycle. You can take one from the rental shops on the island, which costs around AUD $30 for one day.
  3. How long does the Rottnest ferry take?

    There are three ferry services operate between Perth and Rottnest Island. You can take a ferry from several places, such as Fremantle Victoria Quay, North Fremantle, Perth City, Hillary’s Boat Harbour and Barrack Street Jetty Elizabeth Quay.

    Depending on the place where you are taking the ferry, the time of the journey varies about 30 mins to one hour. The most convenient one is from Fremantle B-shed, which takes 25 mins to reach Rottnest Island.
  4. What is Rottnest Island famous for?

    The island is the best-known home to the extinct animal, quokkas. Initially, the quokkas were mistaken as big rats from which the name ‘Rottnest’ actually comes. It was ‘rotte nest’ in Dutch, which means ‘rat nest’ in English. You can see this small adorable marsupial in abundant roaming around the island freely.

    However, feeding or touching the animal is illegal. Besides, Rottnest Island is also famous for pristine beaches, stunning sceneries, swimming spots, snorkelling and fishing.
  5. How long does it take to ride a bike around Rottnest Island?

    Depending on how many places you will make for sightseeing, a bike ride takes around two to five hours to cover the whole island. Visitors can make it for a one-day trip, two days or three days. Nevertheless, it is always recommended to visit The Basin and Pinky’s Beach while taking a tour to the island.
  6. What is the best time to visit Rottnest Island?

    The best time to visit the island is from November to February. Try to avoid the island during the celebration time of “Schoolies Week” in mid-November. You should also avoid the beaches during public holidays, such as Rottnest Channel Swim in February and Port to Pub Swim in March.

    If you want to feel the tranquillity of the sea relaxing on the beach in your holidays, weekdays between November to February will be ideal. The peak season is late October or late March, as the weather becomes pleasant in these times. However, the beaches will be found crowded at these times.