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If someone told you Australia was home to thousands of Penguins, would you laugh it off as a joke, thinking “how could cute little Penguins live in the hot Australian desert-like climate?” Well they do, and some even live right here in Western Australia! The easiest place to see them is Penguin Island, Perth!
The “Blue Penguin” or “Little Penguin” as they are called, are the smallest Penguins in the world and for that reason could not survive in the cold climates like their larger cousins. After the West Australian coastline developed, the area in which the Little Penguins could live safely shrunk dramatically, and for that reason, Penguin Island has become a sanctuary for them. Now over 1200 Penguins call the island home – that’s a lot considering Penguin Island, Perth is only 12.5 hectares!
Spotting the Penguins on Penguin Island during the day is rare as they are usually out swimming. Luckily enough, the island is also home to 10 rescued Penguins who without human care could not survive in the wild. This means that every visitor to Penguin Island gets the chance to see the Penguins up close in the Discovery Center throughout the day or during feeding times!
A trip to Penguin Island is one of the best things to do in Perth. This island is beautiful, unique, and affordable to get to! Below is all of the info anyone planning on seeing the cutest Penguins on earth could need!
When to go to Penguin Island, Perth
Unfortunately, Penguin Island is not open to visitors all year around. From the first Monday in June until the 14th of September it is nesting season and visiting the island is prohibited (however the island’s Wildlife Cruise still operates depending on weather conditions!) Any other time of the year (except Christmas day) the island is open between the hours of 9am to 4pm.
Getting to Penguin Island
The Ferry Terminal
Getting to Penguin Island from Perth is a 45 – 60 minute drive. The address to the ferry terminal is 153 Arcadia drive Shoalwater WA 6169. However, if you’re like many tourists and don’t have a vehicle getting there is easy via public transport (directions below.)
From Perth – Head to the train station and head south on the Mandurah Line until Rockingham Station. From there you will need to catch bus number 551, 552 or 553 from outside the station at stands 9 or 10. Ask the driver to let you off at Penguin and Watts Road or just tell him you’re heading to Penguin Island. Penguin Road runs towards the ocean, just ask the driver which way is the beach and walk in that direction. Once you hit the main road along the beach you will see the café and ticket office on the other side of the road!
From Fremantle – There are many ways to do this, however, the easiest is to take bus number 548 from outside the South Terrace Markets to Rockingham Station then take the 551, 552 or 553 to Penguin road as mentioned above.
*Please be aware bus times on weekends change and on Sundays are very irregular/sometimes hourly! For the current bus times check the website here!
Getting on to the Island
From the ticket office it is only a 5 minute ferry ride to the island, a round trip will cost $18. Ferry departures are hourly from 9am to 3pm and return hourly from 10:10am until 4pm sharp!
It is possible to walk across the sandbar that connects the island to the mainland, however, I cannot recommend this to anyone! Unfortunately, people have lost their lives attempting the walk and with the dangers of currents and sharks the $18 ferry ride could save your life!
It is possible to do Kayak tours to and around the island. This is a unique way to see parts of the island not accessible by foot. A good reputable company is Rivergods Kayak Adventures.
What to do on Penguin Island, Perth
When visiting the island a visit to the Discovery Center to watch one of the feeding shows is a must! Three times a day one of the rangers on the island will put on a show with the 10 rescued penguins. The shows run for around 30 minutes and it’s a great way to learn about the Penguins and the Island as well as get up and close with a few of the gang.
Cost – The feeding show is $9 and includes entrance to the nesting area at any time of the day.
Take a Walk
Penguin Island in Perth features a 2km trail that leads you to some interesting points including the Pelican nesting area and a fantastic lookout that gives a 360-degree view of the Island! Also along the walk are many plaques that give insight and facts into the history of the island and its inhabitants. The walk is suitable for all ages and takes around 30 – 60 minutes to complete.
Relax at the Beach
Penguin Island, Perth is home to some stunning beaches and bays that offer amazing places to relax and cool off. The nicest beaches are located on the east side of the island as these areas are protected from the ocean swells that hit the west side. And remember to keep your eye out for Penguins!
Related Read: For other amazing beaches, head to the nearby town of Busselton – so beautiful!
Have a Picnic
Located near the Discovery Center there is a great little grass area with tables and chairs that overlooks the beach. This area is great for enjoying a bite to eat during your visit. Unfortunately, you are unable to buy food or drinks on the island so it’s necessary to bring your own. Toilets are available though.
Budget Saving Tips
Unfortunately, other than risking your life by crossing the sandbar there aren’t many other ways to cut costs. Of course bring your own lunch, snacks, and water is recommended as it’s not possible to buy on the island.
*There are no bins on the island and all food scraps and rubbish must return with you to the mainland.
What to Bring
Water – Walking the island during the summer months requires lots of water as temperatures push towards 40 degrees Celsius. I recommend 1 litre per person minimum.
Sunscreen and Hat – As mentioned above, Perth summers can be brutal and being sun smart during the day, especially during the hours of 10am to 3pm, is important.
Snorkel gear – If you have snorkeling gear Penguin Island is a great place to use it. Snorkeling is a great way to catch a glimpse of a wild Penguin.
Lunch – As I said, you aren’t able to buy any food or drink on the island so bringing your own is necessary.
Penguin Island, Perth is a real hidden gem. For me this was my second visit but my first visit as an adult, and I loved it just as much as I remembered as a child. The Penguins in the Discovery Center really put on a great show and it’s impossible not to fall in love with them. If animal conservation is your thing, then seeing all the efforts put in by the conservationists that dedicate their lives to protecting this unique Australian island is sure to leave you loving this beautiful country even more!
Have you been to Penguin Island in Perth before? If so, let us know what you thought below!
Planning to explore more in Perth? Be sure to check out our other guides to Rottnest Island and the Secret Garden!