Western AustraliaPerth $$$$$ All Year Mostly Outdoor

Rottnest Island

Relaxing by secluded bays with turquoise waves gently lapping at white sandy beaches epitomises the Rottnest Island experience. Even bike riding and water sports adopt a laid-back, take-it-easy approach here.

The 12-kilometer-long island located 20km west of Fremantle is only accessible by ferry or air. Only government cars are allowed on Rottnest so visitors get around by walking, hiring a bicycle or Segway, or taking a shuttle bus from scenic bay to scenic bay.

Rottnest is a popular spot for snorkeling and is home to several well-known creatures like fur seals, but its most famous inhabitant is the quokka, a furry marsupial made famous by tennis star Roger Federer’s Facebook selfie that went viral.

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Price

Adult: $19 (USD$13.56), Child: $7 (admission fee included in ferry tickets) ($4.99)

Time Spent

5-7hours

Fitness level: Some effort

Hours

24 hours7 days

Look Around

Who Will Like Rottnest Island

Culture Buff

Learn about the island's indigenous and colonial history at the Rottnest Island Museum before joining a free guided walking tour which depart regularly from outside Salt Store.

Relaxation Guru

Book a beach resort or secluded cabin for a night or two to rest and restore. Spend your days reading a book at the beach and your evenings strolling through the bush or watching colorful sunsets sink into the rocky coastline.

Nature Lover

Explore 5 different walking trails through rugged bushlands to reach the white sandy coastline. See if you can spot seals, whales or dolphins in the ocean or an iconic quokka on land.

Recreational Athlete

Burn off those calories by cycling or hiking along Rottnest’s scenic walking trails. Alternatively, head to the beach to spend a day surfing, swimming, or snorkeling in the sparkling turquoise water.

Photography Whiz

Spend a day cycling around the island to capture unique rock formations, untouched beaches, and friendly quokkas. Don’t miss Bathurst Lighthouse around sunset for an iconic Rottnest Island landscape.

Fun Expert

Spend a day at Rottnest Island with your family to swim, snorkel and sunbake on the beaches. To escape the sun, play a round of mini-golf, grab an ice-cream, or track down a friendly quokka to pose with for a photograph.

Insider Tips For Rottnest Island

No private cars or taxis are available on Rottnest Island. Bicycles can be hired through ferry companies when booking tickets, or on the island at Rottnest Island Pedal and Flipper ($30-$50 (USD$21.40 - $35.67) per day). Bike hire prices tend to drop after lunch.

Several confusing bus options are available with the best being a hop-on hop-off bus, the Rottnest Island Explorer Bus (day pass: $20 (USD$14.27) per adult, $15 (USD$10.70) per child). Make your first stop the Visitor Information Centre to pick up a map and book a free guided walking tour. Toilets, storage lockers ($6-$8 (USD$4.28 - $5.71) for 12 hours) and free water refill stations are available.

Accommodation must be booked in advance (by up to several months) during peak season for overnight stays. Prices range from $39 (USD$27.82)/night for a campsite to $530 (USD$378.12)/night for a simple 3-4-star hotel. Other accommodation options include bungalows, dormitories, and cabins.

Whale watching cruises are available during September-November through local ferry companies.

Very limited (if any) shade is available on beaches, so if you need protection from the sun bring your own umbrella or collapsible shelter.

Video

Where Is It

Rottnest Island, Western Australia, 6161, Australia

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How To Get There

Ferry (Fremantle)

25-minute journey from Victoria Quay or Rous Head North Fremantle.

Driving directions to ferry...

Ferry (Hillarys Boat Harbour)

45-minute journey from Hillarys Boat Harbour.

Driving directions to ferry...

Ferry (Perth City)

90-minute journey from Barrack Street Jetty.

Driving directions to ferry...

Plane (Rottnest Air Taxi)

15-minute flight from Perth to Rottnest Island. Private planes leave from Jandakot Airport and cost $164 (USD$117.00) per person for up to 3 people and $119 (USD$84.90) per person for 4-6 people. Rottnest Island landing and entry fees are included.

Driving directions to plane...

Plane (Ozwest Aviation)

Chartered flights are also available on demand for 1-14 people. Flights leave from Jandakot Airport, Mandurah, or Perth Airport.

Driving directions to plane...

Helicopter (Rotorvation Helicopters)

Private flights available for 2-4 people. This is the fastest way to reach Rottnest Island from Jandakot Airport or Hillarys Boat Harbour. Prices start at $349 (USD$248.99) per person one way.

Driving directions to helicopter...

Boat

Private boat moorings at Thomson Bay can be either rented or licenced. All visitors must pay a Landing Fee to enter the Island.

The most popular way for tourists to reach Rottnest Island is by ferry, with a choice of 3 operators: 

Parking is free at Hillarys Boat Harbour but paid at North Fremantle, Fremantle, and Perth City. Ferry tickets include admission to Rottnest Island. Bike and snorkel hire are available through the ferry companies. Additional freight fees are charged for items such as bikes, surfboards, dive tanks, and kayaks.

The pier in Thomson Bay is the only location where public ferries embark and disembark on the island.

What To Bring

Do:
  • Sun protection - hat and sunscreen. 
  • Swimwear - bathers, towel, and snorkel. 
  • Bicycle or scooter with helmets.
  • Comfortable shoes for walking. 
  • Fly repellant or net. 
Don't:
  • Heavy bags or luggage that will be difficult to carry (unless staying overnight).
  • Pets. The fauna on the island is protected.

Tech & Photography

Wifi

Public wifi access: Free (works poorly)

Photography

Photography allowed: Yes

Tripod allowed: Yes

Selfie sticks allowed: Yes

Best time to shoot: Midday

Tips: The most iconic shots of Rottnest Island are of Longreach Bay with blue skies and crystal turquoise waters. Use a circular polarizing filter to reduce glare from the ocean.

Drones

Drones allowed: No

Bags

Backpacks allowed: Yes

Secured bag lockers available: Yes (paid, required)

Food & Drink

Pinky’s Beach Club - Beachside restaurant with views over Pinky’s Beach and Bathurst Lighthouse. Lead by revered chef Karl Wulf, the restaurant uses regional ingredients and specializes in seafood and cocktails.

Thomsons Rottnest - Beachside restaurant located in Thomson Bay utilizing regional produce. This sister restaurant to Pinky’s Beach Club specializes in seafood and wine.

Simmo’s Icecreamery - Iconic Western Australian ice-cream brand with over 60 flavors.

Rottnest Bakery - Fresh breads, pastries, donuts, and meat pies baked on-site each day. Cold drinks, coffee and gelato are also available.

Dome Cafe - Popular Australian café franchise serving several varieties of barista coffee as well as breakfast and lunch items.

Over 15 places to eat and drink ranging from small bakeries and ice-creameries, to pubs and cafes, to beach clubs. Most restaurants are located around Thomson Bay Settlement with others scattered across the island. A coffee ‘caravan’ is located at the far western end of the island near Cape Vlamingh.

Backstory

Aboriginal people refer to Rottnest Island as Wadjemup, meaning place across the water or place of the spirits. Its western name was given by 17th century Dutch explorers who saw quokkas and, thinking they were large rats (rotts), named it Rottnest. 150 years later, the British arrived and realized the ‘rats’ were actually marsupials like small wallabies or kangaroos.

Since European settlement, the island has served as a pilot station to prevent ship wrecks, an Aboriginal prison, a salt mine and a WWII military base. Today it is a protected nature reserve attracting over 1 million tourists per year.

Etiquette

Do:
  • Stay hydrated. Bring plenty of drinking water on cycling or walking trails.
  • Wear helmets when riding bikes or scooters.
  • Keep to the left on roads or paths.
  • Beware of snakes when walking along bush trails. 
  • Leave bikes in designated bike racks when visiting restaurants, shops, or beaches. 
  • Be patient and flexible with bus timetables. Bus drivers are also unofficial tour guides who will often stop for quokka photographs.
Don't:
  • Touch or feed quokkas or any other wildlife. A $150 (USD$107.01) on-the-spot fine applies. 
  • Wander off designated walking paths. 
  • Leave rubbish behind you.
  • Consume too much alcohol.
  • Start a fire even in campgrounds.

Scorecard

Best Parts:
  • Pristine beaches for swimming, snorkeling or surfing.
  • Vibrant sunsets.
  • Free guided walking tours to learn about the island’s fascinating history. 
  • Nature trails to explore.
  • Peaceful atmosphere and limited traffic.
  • Furry, cute quokkas.
Could Be Better:
  • Limited transport options. Getting around the island may be difficult for people with mobility challenges.
  • Expensive food and drink options.
  • Expensive ferry tickets.
  • Expensive accommodation options.
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