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15 Things you NEED to Know Before Visiting Rottnest Island, Perth

15 Things you NEED to Know Before Visiting Rottnest Island, Perth

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Rottnest Island – or Rotto, as the locals affectionately call it – is a stunning island just off the coast of Perth, but there’s more to this place than its gorgeous beaches and bays. It’s also one of the few places in the world where you can see quokkas!

Quokkas are incredibly cute marsupials that look like smiling miniature kangaroos. These adorable little guys are native to Western Australia and are super friendly. You’re not allowed to touch them, but one of my favorite things to do is get up close and take some selfies!

Previously a prison and a World War II internment camp, Rottnest Island is now a hugely popular tourist destination. The beaches are perfect for swimming and snorkeling, and you can explore the island’s lighthouses, military bunkers, and other historical sites.

There are hardly any cars on Rottnest Island since you need a special permit to drive a vehicle here. This makes it a truly calm and idyllic place that makes a perfect day trip from Perth. It’s one of those spots we love when we want to really get away from it all.

As you can probably tell from the way I’m going on about this place, a visit here is an absolute must while you’re in Perth. Trust us, we’ve been countless times (thanks to Perth being Dan’s hometown), and we make a point to visit Rottnest at least once a year. We never get sick of it!

So on that note, here’s a list of 15 things that you need to know before visiting Rottnest Island so that you’re prepared for an awesome day out.

1. About Rottnest Island

Bailey walks down some stairs to a stunning beach on Rottnest Island
What a stunning place!
Bailey in the water on Rottnest Island, Perth
The water is crystal clear!

The name Rottnest Island comes from the Dutch word for ‘rats nest’, which was given to it by Willem de Vlamingh in 1696 because he thought the quokkas living on the island were rats. (Don’t worry, they’re actually nothing like rats!).

Rottnest Island was inhabited by Noongar people until around 7,000 years ago, when the sea levels rose, separating the island from the mainland. It consequently became known as “Wadjemup”, which means “the place across the water where the spirits are” in the Noongar language.

The island was uninhabited for thousands of years until Europeans began to arrive in Australia. The island was visited several times throughout the 1600s and in 1831, Robert Thomson and his family took up residence there. Thomson Settlement Bay was the first permanent settlement on the island, and it is now a popular tourist destination.

Today, Thomson Bay is no longer the only settlement on the island, but it’s still where you’ll find most of Rottnest’s hotels, shops, and restaurants, as well as a visitor center to help you plan your day.

In 1838, an Aboriginal prison was established on Rottnest Island, where around 3,600 people were subjected to cruel conditions and forced labor. The abolition of the prison was announced in 1902, but it stayed in use until 1931, before becoming a military base in WWII. 

Despite its past, today, Rottnest Island is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Western Australia, and once you go there, you’ll understand why. For one thing, there are 63 beaches on this small island alone! 

2. Where is Rottnest Island?

A catamaran on Rottnest Island Perth
Those with boats love Rottnest!
Daniel and Bailey at one of the beautiful bays on Rottnest Island
It’s hard not to smile on Rottnest!

Rottnest Island is in Western Australia, off the coast of Perth. It is about 23 kilometers (14.3 miles) from Fremantle and 33 kilometers (20.5 miles) from Perth City Centre.

The island is accessible by ferry from both Perth City or Fremantle, or scenic flight. It takes around 30 minutes to reach the island by ferry or around 10 minutes by small plane.

With such close proximity to Perth, it is the ideal island getaway and a stunning place to explore.

3. What are quokkas?

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie with a quokka on Rottnest Island, Perth
This little guy was hungry!
A cute Quokka on Rottnest Island
Seriously, how cute are they?

Quokkas are small, super-friendly marsupials that are native to Western Australia. They look like miniature kangaroos, with their short snouts and long tails, but they have unique features like round ears and fuzzy fur. They also look like they’re always smiling, which is just so cute it makes your heart burst!

Quokkas are protected animals, so you’re not allowed to touch them or feed them, but you can take photos with them. Quokkas are usually friendly and will often come right up to you to say hello!

Quokkas are herbivores, and they store fat in their tails for energy. The best time to spot them is in the early morning or early evening, but they can be seen on the island throughout the day. It’s best not to chase them – just stay calm and let them come to you to say hi.

Like kangaroos, baby quokkas stay in their mother’s pouch for six months after they are born. They can also go for up to a month without drinking any water! If you visit Rottnest Island in the spring, you might see quokkas in their mom’s puch, or even see a baby hopping around – so cute!

4. How do you get to Rottnest Island?

Getting to Rottnest Island is pretty easy.

You’ve got two options. You can either take the ferry or enjoy a scenic flight, which is an amazing experience in itself.

By ferry

Rottnest express Ferry docked at Rottnest Island, Perth
The ferry at Rottnest!
Bailey on the Rottnest Island Ferry
Off we go!

There are two main ferry companies that can take you to Rottnest Island. You can travel from either Fremantle, North Fremantle, or Perth.

On top of the price of your journey, you’ll also be charged an admission fee to the island. This is $20 AUD for adults or $7 AUD for children aged 4-12. This admission fee is added to your ferry ticket automatically, so you don’t have to worry about it.

If you’re staying overnight at Rottnest and want to bring checked luggage, then there’s a fairly easy system in place. Just like when you check onto a flight, you’ll get a luggage label to attach to your checked bags. However, unlike with a flight, you don’t have to worry about grabbing your bags on the other side – the ferry company will deliver them to your accommodation!

You also usually get one piece of hand luggage for free. Make sure to pack securely and keep any valuables in your hand luggage – just as you would when you’re flying!

You can take the Rottnest Express ferry from the B Shed or North Port terminals in Fremantle, which takes 25-30 minutes and costs $59 AUD per adult and $32 per child for a same-day return. The ride from North Port is around 5 minutes longer, but the terminal tends to be quieter.

Rottnest Express feryy docked at Rottnest Island
The ferry isn’t fun for everyone but I don’t get seasick on it!

You can also take the Rottnest Express from the Barrack Street Jetty in the Elizabeth Quay, which is in Perth’s CBD (city center). The crossing takes around 90 minutes and costs $93 AUD for adults or $52 AUD for children under 12.

Luggage labels are free on the Rottnest Express unless you lose them and need to replace them. You can also bring a bicycle with you for an additional $20 AUD, a paddleboard for $22 AUD, or a surfboard or your own golf clubs for $11 AUD.

SeaLink also operates ferries to Rottnest Island from Fremantle or Perth. A same-day return from Fremantle usually costs $31.20 AUD when booked in advance, or it’s $99 AUD from Perth. Children under 13 go for free, although the island entry fee still applies.

As is the case with the Rottnest Express, you get one free piece of carry-on luggage. There’s a $3 AUD delivery charge for each luggage label, while most additional items like bikes, surfboards, and beach trolleys cost $15 AUD to transport.

Parking

If you are driving yourself or have a rental car, there are no cars allowed on Rottnest Island. It’s considered a “car-free” island and the only cars allowed need special permits which are usually work-related. Plus, the ferries don’t take cars, so it’s impossible to get one over!

This means you’ll need to park your car at whichever ferry terminal you’re at. If you’re leaving from the B Shed or North Port terminals in Fremantle, there is parking available at both.

The B Shed terminal tends to be busier, so parking fills up quickly. It is close to the Fremantle train station, so you could take public transport here and avoid parking completely. There’s also a small number of long-term parking spaces available for $10 AUD daily (24 hours).

The North Port terminal is ideal if you’re looking for parking. There are over 400 spots available for daily and overnight parking. You don’t need to pre-book parking either, just show up and grab a ticket from a parking machine. There isn’t any public transport available here, so you’ll a car to get to this terminal.

If you’re leaving from Elizabeth Quay in Perth’s CBD, I recommend not bringing a car at all! Parking can be a nightmare in downtown Perth and public transport is way easier. There’s the Elizabeth Quay train station or the Barrack Street Jetty – both are stops on the free Blue CAT buses. Ferries like Rottnest Express also offer free hotel pickup options when booking.

Scenic flight

View of the coastline of Perth from a flight from Perth to Rottnest
Flying out of Perth!
People in a small plane on their way to Rottnest Island from Perth
On the plane!

You can also take a scenic flight from the Swan River in Perth to Rottnest Island. You’ll have beautiful views of Perth and Fremantle from the air, as well as the island itself.

You can book a one-way scenic flight from Perth and arrange your own way back for $292 AUD, or you can choose this package which includes a flight to the island and a ferry ride back for $346 AUD. For the latter option, you can choose to return to Perth on the same day or a later date if you want to stay on Rottnest.

Alternatively, you can go all in and opt for a full-day Rottnest excursion, which includes the seaplane flight to the island, free time to explore the island, and then a boat cruise for your return trip back and on the way you will get to catch lobsters before enjoying a 5-course dinner.

All of the options we’ve listed include the island admission fee as well as hotel pickup and drop-off, so there’s no need to worry about how you’re getting to the departure point.

5. How do you get around Rottnest Island?

Bailey on a rental bike on Rottnest Island, WA
It’s great exercise!
Daniel and Bailey on a bus tour on Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Off we go!

Remember, you can’t drive on Rottnest, but there are tons of other ways to get around! We like doing a combination of biking and walking along with catching the bus.

Rottnest Island Explorer

The Rottnest Island Explorer is the island’s hop-on, hop-off bus. It’s an easy and convenient way to get around for people who can’t (or don’t want to) cycle around the island, as it gives you the same flexibility to explore at your own pace.

There are 19 stops around the island, which include beaches, bays, lighthouses, and the Thomson Bay Settlement. Basically, all of the major points of interest are covered.

Buses run every 30 minutes from 8:30 am until 3 pm, seven days a week. Tickets start from $25 AUD per day, and the buses take up to 27 passengers at a time.

Bike

Cycling is the most popular way to get around Rottnest Island, as it allows you to take in stunning views while exploring independently. It’s also pretty easy to cycle on Rottnest Island and there are very few cars on the road. 

Do bear in mind, though, that it does take a full day to cycle around the island if you want to keep stopping off to enjoy the beaches, lookout points, and attractions. It’s also not exactly easy, especially in the summer heat. I only recommend cycling around the entire island if you have a decent fitness level. We normally just cycle to one or two beaches and then cycle back the same way.

As we mentioned earlier, you can bring your own bike on the ferry from Perth or Fremantle for an extra charge, or you can rent bikes once you arrive on the island. Pedal & Flipper is the most popular rental place, and a bike rental costs $30 AUD per day for adults, and then $15 AUD for each additional day. If you’re only renting for the afternoon, then adult bikes cost $16 AUD after 1 pm. A helmet and lock are included in the price.

If you’re coming from Fremantle, you can also book this bike and ferry package and have everything handled for you – including assistance if your bike has any problems, which is very useful.

Walking

Rottnest Island has 24 kilometers (15 miles) of coastline, so it’s definitely too far to do on foot, but you can walk to several points of interest from Thomson Bay Settlement, aka the island’s main town.

This includes the Basin, which is one of the island’s most popular bays because it’s absolutely beautiful and ideal for swimming. However, if you really want to explore the island fully, you’re going to need another mode of transport.

Bailey walks along a path on Rottnest Island
Get those steps in for cocktails later!
segway tours on Rottnest
Photo credit: Segway Tours WA

Shuttle bus

There’s this shuttle bus that can take you from the Thomson Bay Settlement to other places around Rottnest Island. It travels between Thomson Bay, Geordie Bay, and Kingstown, so you can’t see the whole island via the shuttle bus, but it might come in handy.

Tickets cost $3 AUD per day or $5 AUD for the whole week.

Tour

Guided tours are a great way to explore Rottnest Island and ensure that you tick off all of the highlights in a single day.

This half-day luxury seafood cruise is a sea-to-plate experience during which you will catch lobsters and enjoy them as part of a delicious seven-course meal, featuring plenty of other local delicacies and wines. You’ll also be able to go snorkeling and swimming during the cruise if you feel like it. This unique dining experience lets you enjoy the sights and tastes of Rottnest Island for $319 AUD per person.

If you prefer an overview of all the island has to offer, we love this sightseeing tour. It allows you to explore the island by bus and historical train while you spot wildlife, gaze at the beautiful beaches, and learn more about the Aboriginal history of the island. You’ll also visit the Kingstown Barracks and Oliver Hill Battery to discover Rottnest’s interesting military history. Tickets are available here for $86 AUD.

Or if you want a faster tour to get more time to explore the island by yourself (or just chill on the beach), then this Bayseeker bus tour is the perfect option. It’s an affordable whistle-stop tour at $45 AUD that will take you to all of the island’s highlights, from quokkas to Cape Vlamingh and the Henrietta Rocks. You’ll get a real feel for the island and learn more about it – plus, you can even go whale-watching if you’re visiting during the winter!

6. What are the best places to visit on Rottnest island?

SO MANY.

Honestly, if I listed all the amazing places on Rottnest Island, we’d be here all day. I mean, there are 63 beaches alone on the island! However, I’ve narrowed it down to a handful of my favorites that I really think you shouldn’t miss.

The Basin

The Basin on Rottnest Island
The Basin is a top choice!

The Basin is one of Rottnest Island’s most popular spots to picnic, sunbathe, and swim. It’s a swimming hole with a white sand beach, crystal-clear water, and plenty of fish to spot in the shallows. It’s within easy reach of Thomson Bay Settlement (the main town), and you can travel there either on foot or by bike.

There are toilets at the Basin, as well as a grassy picnic area, and a couple of food trucks. There is also a platform for sitting on and even some shade. For us, the Basin is our go-to spot if we want a relaxing beach day close to the ferry dock.

Parakeet Bay and Little Parakeet Bay

Just a 15-minute bike ride from Geordie Bay, Parakeet Bay is a secluded spot where you can relax and enjoy the pristine beaches and bright blue waters. There are no toilets or shops around, and the beach is accessed via wooden stairs.

Little Parakeet Bay is about 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) from Thomson Bay. It’s easy to cycle there, or it’s also on the bus route. This is a great swimming beach because the water is shallow and the surrounding reef provides a buffer against strong waves. Dramatic rock formations provide a stunning backdrop, and there are plenty of secluded spots to sunbathe.

A stunning bay on Rottnest Island
Just stunning!

Salmon Bay

Salmon Bay can be found at the southernmost point of Rottnest Island, a few kilometers from Thomson Bay Settlement. Its waters are home to brightly colored Pocillopora coral, as well as a huge variety of fish, making it one of the best places on the island to snorkel. There are no facilities or lifeguards around, so it’s another of the island’s beaches with a more “wild” feel.

Cathedral Rocks

Cathedral Rocks is the best place on the island to spot NZ fur seals, which are so cute that they might just give the quokkas a run for their money! There’s a viewing platform and free binoculars here so that you can get a great view of the seals basking in the sun below.

Oliver Hill Battery

The Oliver Hill Battery was built in the late 1930s to defend Western Australian ports during the Second World War, and it’s the last remaining WWII battery in the country. Interestingly, however, the guns here were never actually used, although they had the ability to fire shells up to 28 kilometers (17.3 miles) away.

You can ride your bike up the hill to the battery or, if that sounds like too much work, you can also take the Settlement Railway here, too. There are self-guided tours around the battery or you can also opt for a volunteer-run guided tour if you want to go even deeper into the island’s military history.

Catherine Beach on Rottnest Island
Just explore!

Thomson Bay Settlement

Thomson Bay was the first colonial settlement on Rottnest Island. It was named after Robert Thomson, who moved to the island in 1831 when it was still part of the Swan River colony.

This is the island’s main hub, where ferries arrive from Perth, and there’s a lot going on, with chic cafes, restaurants, and beach bars to visit, as well as charming colonial buildings to explore.

Parker Point

Parker Point is another incredible spot to enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and even scuba diving on Rottnest Island. There’s a snorkeling trail that takes you out to plaques sunk in the sand with some interesting facts, and you can spot a variety of fish and corals here.

There are public toilets here, and you can travel by bike or take the hop-on, hop-off bus.

7. What are the best tours on Rottnest Island?

Bailey on a cruise at Rottnest Island, Perth Western Australia
Going on a cruise is a top choice!
Bailey on a snorkeling cruise at Rottnest Island, Perth
A cruise is one of the best ways to explore the island!

Rottnest Island segway tour

Segway tours are always fun, and they allow you to cover a lot of ground in relatively little time. This 1.5-hour tour will take you along the coast to military sites like the Kingstown Barracks, as well as Jubilee Hill Observation Coast and Paterson Beach. You’ll communicate with your guide via a walkie-talkie and learn all about the island’s history and landscape as you zoom around. This tour comes in at around $130 AUD.

Luxe Island seafood cruise

This luxury tour takes you out on the open water to catch your own lobster (with the help of the crew, of course), which you’ll later eat as part of a 7-course seafood meal with wine pairings from Margaret River. There’s a swanky upper deck where you can relax while you cruise through the island’s turquoise water and giant float mats that you can use, too. With tickets around $300 AUD, this tour is a great way to see Rottnest Island from a different perspective, and enjoy some amazing food while you’re at it!

Rottnest Island grand tour

This half-day tour takes you to the island’s military sites so that you can learn more about its wartime history. Your guide will also help you to spot wildlife and tell you about the history of the Noongar people and their relationship with Rottnest Island. A packed lunch and a guided tour of Oliver Hill Battery are also included with the $86 AUD price tag.

Rottnest Island guided snorkel

This snorkeling tour takes you out on a boat to experience Rottnest’s amazing marine life up close. You’ll be guided by an experienced marine biologist who will help you identify the different fish and corals as you swim (or float!) around. You’ll also snorkel around shipwrecks and enjoy some sightseeing as you cruise around the island. This is a must-do tour to see the island’s underwater beauty and costs $169 AUD.

Rottnest Island twilight sail

Set sail at sunset and watch the sky change with a glass of champagne in hand as you cruise along in a luxury catamaran on this twilight tour. There are 360° views both inside and outside of the cabin, and you might even see dolphins swimming alongside you if you’re lucky! This is affordable as far as cruises go too with tickets under $100 AUD.

Go Cultural Aboriginal Tours on Rottnest Island
Photo credit: Go Cultural

Rottnest Island Oliver Hill train and tunnel tour

The Oliver Hill Barracks are an important part of Rottnest Island’s military history, and this tour takes you right inside the tunnels so that you can explore them, with the help of a knowledgeable guide.

You’ll then take a ride on the history Captain Hussey trolley train and see some of the island’s most important historic landmarks while you learn more about the role Rottnest played in Australia’s war effort. This is a great experience for families with online tickets costing only $33 AUD for adults and $16 AUD for kids.

Rottnest Island e-bike tour

An e-bike allows you to explore Rottnest with ease while enjoying being out in the open air as you take in the beauty of the island. This tour takes you all around to look for quokkas, marvel at the gorgeous beaches, and enjoy historic highlights, with a guide to explain all about the island’s history and culture. This tour is around $100 AUD per person.

Rottnest Island lakes and bays guided hike

If you love hiking, then this tour is perfect for you. It’s a 12-kilometer (7.5-mile) hike that will take you to some of the island’s best bays, including Little Parakeet Bay and the Basin, as well as lighthouses, shipwreck sites, and more. It’s a really fun and active way to see the island while learning more about its history. Spots on this tour are $79 AUD.

Rottnest Island Aboriginal tour

Rottnest Island is known to the Noongar people as Wadjemup (or “the place across the water where the spirits are”). They used to inhabit the island before sea levels rose and separated it from the mainland, and it still holds great spiritual significance in Noongar culture.

On this Aboriginal walking tour, you’ll dive deep into what the island means for the Noongar people, and discover more about its shocking history as an Aboriginal prison. Prices start at $65 AUD per person, but there are family, child, and student rates available.

Related read: Another must-do tour in WA is one of the legendary Margaret River wine tours!

8. What are the best things to do on Rottnest Island?

1. Get a selfie with a quokka

Bailey with a Quokka on Rottnest Island
Our first-ever selfie with a Quokka!
Three people take a selfie with a quokka on Rottnest Island, Perth, WA
How cute!

Rottnest Island has the largest quokka population in the world, with around 10,000 of these smiling little guys running around the place. They have no natural predators, so they’re naturally very friendly and curious, and will often come right up to you to say hello. You’re not allowed to touch these guys, but you can certainly take a selfie with them!

Even celebrities like Hugh Jackman, Margot Robbie, and Chris Hemsworth have all taken selfies with quokkas on Rottnest island – they’re THAT popular!

Related read: For more adorable animals, see the smallest penguins in the world on Penguin Island, Perth!

2. Go Snorkelling

Rottnest Island has plenty of vibrant marine life to explore beneath the surface, so it’s the perfect destination for snorkeling. Its waters are home to 135 varieties of tropical fish, as well as brightly colored coral beds, and even a few shipwrecks!

Some of the best snorkel spots on the island include Little Salmon Bay at the southernmost tip of the island, and the Basin, which is within walking distance of Thomson Bay, the main town. Parker Point is also excellent and even has a snorkeling trail where you can learn more about local marine life from the plaques which are dotted around the water.

You can bring your own snorkel gear to the island or rent it from Pedal & Flipper, a bike and snorkel rental company. It costs $20 AUD to hire an adult snorkel set for the day or $15 AUD for a child’s set.

3. Ride around the island

Cycling is the most popular way to get around Rottnest Island and enjoy its 24 kilometers (15 miles) of coastline. It’s pretty easy to ride around, but if you go all around the island your legs might be a bit tired by the end of the day!

There are hardly any cars on Rottnest Island, so cycling here is an amazing experience, and it’s easier too since there’s no traffic to worry about. It’s so peaceful and quiet, not to mention eco-friendly!

It’s possible to bring your own bike with you on the ferry for around $15-$20 AUD, or you can rent one when you get to the island. 

4. Go hiking

The Pink Lake as seen on the Gabbi Karniny Bidi hike on Rottnest Island
The Pink Lake as seen on the Gabbi Karniny Bidi hike on Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is incredibly beautiful, so you’d better believe that it has some great hiking trails to explore. Most of the hikes here are easy to moderate. This means you can take them at a leisurely pace as you stop off and enjoy Rottnest’s amazing natural attractions and say hi to quokkas.

Some of the best trails include Wardan Nara Bidi, Gabbi Karniny Bidi, and Karlinyah Bidi.

5. Play golf

If you’re a fan of golf, then Rottnest is the perfect place to practice your swing. The 18-hole course here is beautiful, peaceful, and just a little challenging! 

It’s a friendly, informal golf club and you can either rent clubs and carts from them directly, or arrange for their team to pick your equipment up from the ferry jetty if you’d prefer to bring your own.

Rottnest Golf Course is open from 8.30 am – 4.30 pm daily, and an 18-hole game costs $45 AUD for adults or $25 AUD for under-16s. It’s $15 AUD to hire clubs and $40 AUD per cart.

6. Go fishing

There are a ton of fishing spots around Rottnest Island. The ocean around Rottnest Island is teeming with tailor, herring, bream, skippy, and flathead, to name but few.

If you want to fish, you can bring your own gear with you on the ferry or rent some locally at the Rottnest General Store and Geordie Bay General Store.

There are a few sanctuary zones on the island where fishing is prohibited, but it’s not difficult to find a place to cast your line. The jetties in Thomson Bay and Geordie Bay are great spots, but if you want to catch salmon, head to Fish Hook Bay.

7. Visit the Wadjemup Museum

Bailey at the Wadjemup Museum
Checking out the artwork!
Wadjemup Museum on Rottnest Island
Wadjemup Museum

The Wadjemup Museum is the perfect place to take a break from all the physical activities on Rottnest and learn a little about the island. Not only can you dive into the history of Rottnest, but there is also some fantastic art on display.

The museum is completely free to visit although they do accept donations. It only takes 20 minutes to check out although I could have stayed much longer if I had the time. On top of that, the lovely volunteers are happy to answer any questions you may have about the museum or places to visit on Rottnest Island.

The Wadjemup Museum is open every day from 10 am to 3:30 pm.

8. Cocktails by the water

No island visit would be complete without a cocktail (or two… or three) on the water, and Hotel Rottnest is one of my favorite places for a beachfront drink. 

Whether you want slushie cocktails, sharing jugs, or a great selection of French, Italian, and Australian wines, you’ll definitely find your beverage of choice here – and be able to enjoy it with a great view. In fact, the bar literally touches the sand and the water is almost within arm’s reach. Better yet, if you stay at the Samphire Resort, you can actually sit in the sand.

Related read: If craft beers are more your speed, when you’re back from Rottnest, these are our top breweries to visit in Perth!

9. Relax at a pristine beach

Rottnest is home to 63 gorgeous beaches, so relaxing on at least one of them is a must when you come to visit.

The Basin is one of my favorites. It’s a beautiful swimming hole just a short walk from Thomson Bay, so it’s the perfect place to take a dip and then relax on the sandy beach. It also has lifeguards, benches, showers, and toilets, so you can wash all the sand off you before leaving the beach.

Little Parakeet Bay is another great spot to swim and snorkel, and its waters are super calm because they’re protected by the coral reef. This is a more wild beach with few facilities, but it’s still within easy reach of Geordie Bay. If you’re looking for a quiet and secluded spot, then definitely check this one out.

Geordie Bay is one of the largest beaches on the island. It’s a long stretch of white sand that looks out onto the deep blue horizon. There are also plenty of cafes and beach bars nearby, plus heated showers, which is definitely a bonus!

10. Go skydiving

Skydive Geronimo Rottnest
What a view! Photo credit: Skydive Geronimo Rottnest

Skydiving is a must when you’re in Australia and there’s no better place to freefall than over the stunning landscapes of Rottnest Island.

Geronimo Skydiving is the only company in Western Australia that offers island skydiving, and you can jump from heights of up to 15,000 feet (4.5 kilometers), which gives you 66 seconds of freefall before your parachute is deployed.

Prices range between $399 – $549 AUD, depending on the height you choose, and photo and video packages are available for purchase afterward if you want footage of your experience to show your friends and family. There are also packages available that include a ferry or scenic plane ride to the island.

9. Can you stay overnight on Rottnest Island?

Pool at Discovery Rottnest Island
The pool at Discovery Rottnest Island
Inside of the The Caroline Thomson Cabins
Inside the Caroline Thomson Cabins

Yep, if you want to stay a little longer to enjoy Rottnest’s many beaches and attractions, then there are a few options to spend the night on the island.

Camping and cabins

Whether you’re on a budget or looking for a nice spot to spend the night, Rottnest has campsites, cabins, and dormitories to choose from, including:

  • Camping – tenting sites are available for $40 AUD per night.
  • Caroline Thomson Cabins – cedar cabins just outside of Thomson Bay that sleep up to 6 people with a communal kitchenette, a barbecue area, and separate showers and toilets.
  • Governors Circle – bunks and cottages that were built during WWII near the Kingston Barracks.
  • Kingstown Hostel – 17 dorm rooms with communal bathrooms, located 1 kilometer south of Thomson Bay
  • North Heritage Bungalows – simple bungalows with separate communal bathrooms, plus a full kitchen and barbecue area. These bungalows are also within walking distance of Thomson Bay.

All of the above options can be booked through the Stay Rottnest website.

Holiday units

There are some standard holiday units on Rottnest that also have to be booked directly through the official website. There are basic units located in either Thomson Bay or Bathurst, which is around 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) north. Each unit sleeps up to 4 people and has its own TV, lounge, cutlery, and barbecue.

Discovery Rottnest Island

For a true glamping experience, Discovery Rottnest Island is an amazing choice, with beach and ocean views, an outdoor pool, WiFi, and it’s right next to Pinky’s Bar. The tents are super comfortable and come with their own private bathrooms, so you feel more like you’re in a hotel than a campsite.

What we really love about this eco-village, though, is its amazing location. It’s right near Pinky Beach, the Bathurst lighthouse, and the Basin, so you’ve got some of the island’s best attractions right on your doorstep. You can even enjoy your breakfast (or a sunset barbecue) as you gaze out at the amazing views.

These can book up quickly, so reserve your spot here now!

Samphire Resort Rottnest room
Photo credit: Samphire Resort Rottnest

Samphire Rottnest

If you’re looking for a more luxurious getaway, the Samphire Rottnest is an incredible property located just 200 meters away from Thomson Bay beach. It’s right near one of my favorite restaurants, Isola, too!

The rooms are spacious, light-filled, and have a modern coastal feel. There’s also an outdoor pool, a restaurant, and a bar, all of which are decorated in a chic and elegant fashion. Best of all, the staff are incredibly helpful and attentive, which will make you feel right at home.

10. Where are the best places to eat on Rottnest Island?

Tiger Prawns at Isola Bar e Cibo on Rottnest
Isola Bar e Cibo
Cocktails at Isola Bar e Cibo on Rottnest Island
Isola Bar e Cibo

Isola Bar e Cibo

I have to start out with one of my personal favorites! Isola is this sophisticated spot in Thomson Bay that’s without a doubt one of the best places to wine and dine on the island. With amazing fresh pasta, great cocktails, and a selection of Italian and Australian wines, you really can’t go wrong here. It’s a little pricey, but well worth it.

Hotel Rottnest

Hotel Rottnest is a pub-style bar that has an amazing location right on the water. You’ll find traditional Aussie pub favorites on the menu, like fish and chips, burgers, and pizzas, all made with the best local ingredients. Again, this one’s on the pricier side, but it’s a great spot if you’re looking to treat yourself and enjoy some great cocktails.

Pinky’s Rottnest Island

With beautiful views and a fun atmosphere, Pinky’s is a great spot to enjoy a drink with a view – but to be honest, I don’t particularly like the food. They have live music and DJ sets on weekends, so this is a great place to end a fun-filled day on the island. It’s a bit expensive, so I say go and enjoy their excellent cocktails but eat somewhere else.

Frankie’s on Rotto

Frankie’s is a cozy spot that serves yummy breakfasts, great pizzas, and locally-caught seafood in the heart of Thomson Bay. It’s not super cheap but for how great the food is, it’s pretty good value for money.

Hotel Rottnest pizza
Hotel Rottnest pizza
Donut from the Rottnest Bakery
Donut from the Rottnest Bakery

Rottnest Bakery

Located in the Thomsons Bay Mall, Rottnest Bakery is the perfect place to grab your morning coffee (and maybe a sweet treat or two). You can even pick up a sandwich to take with you and eat on the beach later. It’s great for a cheap bite and the pies are amazing!

Lane Cafe Rottnest

The small Lane Cafe serves up great coffee, freshly squeezed juices, and a great range of light bites for breakfast and lunch, all for really reasonable prices. We love their lobster rolls (which are actually crayfish rolls – don’t ask, it’s an Australian thing!).

Lontara

Lontara is part of the Samphire Rottnest, and it serves up amazing Asian-Australian fusion, as well as a bottomless Sunday lunch every week. Their lunchtime sharing plates are delicious, and the breakfast is great too. Plus, you get an amazing view of Thomson Bay, which you do pay a bit of a premium for, but it’s worth it.

Dome Cafe

The Rottnest branch of Dome Cafe is right near the ferry jetty. It’s a European-style chain offering great food and coffee at decent prices, but it’s not that special since Dome is all over Perth. Still, if you want somewhere reliable for a good bite and hot drink, you can’t go wrong.

Geordie’s Cafe & Art Gallery

Geordie’s is a fully licensed cafe, bar, and restaurant where you can enjoy a drink and a meal while perusing through local art. They also serve takeaway fish and chips every Wednesday night, which is perfect for taking to one of the nearby beaches to enjoy. I haven’t been here myself, but it’s a popular spot, although a little expensive for what it is.

11. What are the facilities on Rottnest Island?

The inside of the visitor center on Rottnest Island
The inside of the visitor center on Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island Public BBQ
Honestly, these are in a great spot!

There are two ATMs on Rottnest Island: one on the Geordie Bay jetty and another at the Hotel Rottnest in Thomson Bay. Since ATMs are pretty limited, it’s a good idea to bring some cash with you, just in case.

For cooking, there are some public BBQs. These are near the visitor center and right on the beach. I’ve never used them but they sure are handy!

There’s also a visitor center at Thomson Bay Settlement, where you can grab maps, find information, and join tours. There’s also public WiFi here.

A few drink bottle fill stations can be found on the island, in Thomson Bay, Kingstown Barracks, the Basin, Geordie Bay, and Vlamingh Lookout. However, since they’re quite few and far between, it’s a good idea to fill up your bottle before you head out on a bike, especially if you’re exploring the island during the summer.

Since cycling is the most popular way to get around the island, you’ll find plenty of bike racks close to beaches and top attractions, where you can safely lock up your bike while you take a break.

Rottnest General Store is open from 8 am until 6 pm every day, and you can find all of your essential groceries here. There are also two malls and several boutique stores selling clothing, swimwear, jewelry, and souvenirs.

You can find public WiFi around the island, including around most of the Thomson Bay Settlement area. There’s also WiFi at the Thomson Bay and Geordie Bay malls, around much of Bathurst and Geordie Bay, as well as in Fays Bay and Longreach Bay. So basically, you’re pretty well covered!

12. Can you drink the water from the tap on Rottnest Island?

Water station on Rottnest Island
Water station on Rottnest Island

Yes, you can. It’s all desalinated ocean water, so drinking it is totally safe!

This includes water from drink bottle stations as well as taps in your accommodation. It is best to avoid using taps not labeled around the island as these could be for irrigation which is underground water and not safe to drink.

13. What to bring to Rottnest Island?

Bailey at City of York Bay beach, Rottnest Island
Bring a smile and a sense of adventure!

Make sure to bring swimwear, a towel, and some dry clothes to change into for the ferry home.

A hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are all essential as you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors and in the sun.

There are a few good places to rent snorkel equipment on the island, such as Pedal & Flipper, but if you have your own, then by all means bring it with you!

A camera or GoPro is a must because you’ll definitely want to capture the beautiful scenery of Rottnest Island, and all of its amazing marine life!

You should also bring a battery pack for your phone because unless you’re staying the night, there aren’t many places to charge up.

As you might have guessed from our earlier list of places to eat, there aren’t loads of cheap places to grab a bite on the island, so bringing a packed lunch and some snacks is a great way to save money on your trip.

Related read: For more budget-friendly travel ideas, check out all the free and cheap things to do in Sydney!

14. What can you rent on Rottnest Island?

Prices at Pedal & Flipper on Rottnest Island
They rent a ton more stuff than this!
SUP from Pedal & Flipper on Rottnest Island
The SUPs!

You can rent a ton of outdoor equipment on Rottnest Island, including bikes, snorkel gear, surf boardings, stand-up paddleboards, and baby carts for bikes. 

Pedal & Flipper is a popular shop to rent bikes and snorkel equipment. It costs around $30 AUD for a bicycle or $20 AUD for an adult snorkel set. 

You can see their entire rental list on their website before you go.

15. Is Rottnest Island worth visiting?

Bailey relaxes on a beach on Rottnest Island
Rottnest is such a relaxing place!
Bailey on the rocks at Parakeet Bay on Rottnest Island
Explore, explore, explore!

Yes, absolutely!

Rottnest is honestly one of the most beautiful places in Australia. There’s so much unspoiled scenery to enjoy, and the quokkas are beyond adorable. Planning a Rottnest Island day trip is one of those experiences you won’t regret.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey on a viewing platform with a beautiful ocean view on Rottnest Island, Perth
Thanks for reading!

There you have it, everything you need to know before taking a trip to one of our fav spots near Perth. Rottnest Island is like this little escape from the world and it’s SO close to Perth, it’s totally worth catching the ferry (or seaplane!) over. You’ll have your own selfie with a quokka in no time!

If you’re heading to this part of the world, make sure to check out our other guides to popular destinations in Australia. We have tons of insider tips and ideas to make sure your vacation or day trip is extra special.

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