Rottnest Island (also known as Rotto) is 18 kilometres from the mainland of Western Australia near Perth. It has some great beaches, natural environment and wildlife. The best thing: Motor vehicles are prohibited so prepare for a bikeride around the island! Or if you feeling lazy, take the Island Explorer bus….
The first people on this island were the Aboriginals when Rottnest was still connected to the mainland. After it became an island, it was uninhabited. When a Dutch sailor arrived, he named the island Rat’s Nest because he tought the Quokka (native animal) was a rat. Rottnest Island is also used as a prison for Aboriginals. Nowadays the island is very populair by tourists, especially during the summer holidays.
Exploring the island by bike
We are a huge fan of exploring an area by bike because there is no noise, it’s eco-friendly and you can stop whenever en wherever you want. You want to be sure to have a bike if you arrive from the ferry, so book this in advance. Upon arrival you get your bike an you are ready to go!
Note: You have to wear a helmet. For us Europeans this was a bit unusual but we didn’t mind. The roads are in great condition but there are some hills so you have to be physically fit if you want to visit the further parts of the island.
It’s nice to make a stop in the small town centre for information/maps, coffee or lunch. Depending on what you want to see, it will take some time to go around the whole island. We didn’t made it in one day as we wanted to snorkel and relax as well (we skipped West End). The loop is around 18 km and we stopped many times along the way.
Snorkelling at Rottnest island
If you visit the island for a day, you should only take a small backpack with your swimwear, camera, sunscreen, beachtowel and snorkelgear. You can snorkel at almost any beach but there are some real gems like The Basin, Parakeet Bay, Little Salmon Bay, Parker Point and Little Armstrong Bay. Visit the information centre for more information about the island and snorkelling.
The island is a Marine Reserve with approximately 400 species of fish and twenty species of coral. It’s also a popular area for migrating bottle-nose dolphins humpback whales, New Zealand Fur Seals and Australian sea lions. We saw lot’s of fish, corals. octopus and a huge crayfish.
Meet a curious quokka
Rottnest Island is mostly known as the home of the cutest and most photogenic animal in the world, the quokka. And they are special animals, as they are only found on Rottnest Island. Quokka’s are related to wallabies and have no fear of humans. They usually hop out of the bushes to check if they can get some food from you (please don’t feed them). The internet was spammed for a while with hilarious selfies with quokka’s. Ofcourse we tried this ourselves as well.
The only way to get to Rottnest Island is by boat (or if you are rich by helicopter). From Fremantle it’s a 25 minute ferry ride and from Hillarys Boat Harbour in the northern suburbs of Perth a 45 minute ferry ride. If you take the ferry from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty it will take around 90 minutes. Via Rottnest Express it costs around 60 AUD for a return ticket. Depending on the weather, there can be some high waves so if you get seasick you better take some medication before the trip.
Where to stay:
In general it’s not very cheap to stay on Rottnest Island which is why a lot of people choose a daytrip. The cheapest option is to stay at the campsite close to town. There is also a hostel although quite expensive for 45 AUD per night for a bunkbed. If you want a bit more comfort, no worries because there are plenty cabins and cottages to sleep in. If you want a different experience, try glamping the new Discovery Rottnest Island Eco Resort. Because Rottnest Island is small, it’s best to book ahead.
Best time to visit:
The Australian summer season runs from approximately November to February. It does get very cold during winter and autumn, so don’t expect to chill in your swimsuit on the beach during those months… The best weather according to statistics are from October till end of April.
July is the coolest month with an average daytime temperature of 15 degrees Celsius. Rottnest winters are a lot more quiet than the busy summer months. If you’re looking for a peaceful escape or a romantic getaway, this may be the best time of year for you.
Rottnest is really busy during the warmer months. It starts in late September, when school is out for 2 weeks. From there, it’s usually busy until end of April. If crowds aren’t your thing (like us), Rotto winters are perfect. There are less people and often great deals on accommodation, activities and ferry services.