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Rottnest Island, or ‘Rotto’ as locals like to call it, is 18km off the coast of Perth in Western Australia.
With over 60 scenic beaches and coves offering top spots for snorkeling, diving, kayaking, swimming and fishing, Rotto is a true island paradise.
At only 15 miles by road round trip, Rottnest Island is small but packs a punch. You’ll find that there are lots of great things to do on this tiny island on Rottnest Island, and it’s not just about beaches either.
If you’re not sure what to do while visiting Rottnest Island, don’t worry as we’ve listed the top attractions for you below.
The best things to do on Rottnest Island
Perth locals are incredibly lucky to have this island getaway on their doorstep. Seriously, if I lived nearby I would take the 25 minute ferry more often.
Here are some of the top things to do on the island.
1. Explore by bike
As a car-free zone, Rottnest Island is best explored by bike, and as the island is mostly flat, it’s a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
Cycling around the island is also a great way to get from attraction to attraction. As you pedal, you’ll be blessed with panoramic ocean views from every angle.
You can also take a Segway tour if you’d rather not use your legs.
2. Say hello to the quokkas
During your trip to Rottnest Island you are sure to meet many true locals including Quokka, a small macropod about the size of a domestic cat.
These cute animals can be found all over the island, but some of the best places to see them are:
The settlement near The Rottnest Bakery near Porpoise Bay where you park the bikes around Garden Lake Wadjemup Road near Wadjemup Lighthouse
3. Sunbathe on the breathtaking beaches
The main reason to visit Rottnest Island is for the beaches – I mean come on just look at this photo:
Despite being a small island, you will never run out of fantastic beaches with pure white sand and refreshing turquoise waters.
The coves are often sheltered, making them a great place for swimming with children, and the coral reef often comes close to shore, allowing you to snorkel right off the beach.
Some of our favorite beaches on the island are:
Thomsons Bay Parakeet Bay Strickland Bay (great for surfing) Little Salmon Bay Little Armstrong Bay Pinky Beach
4. Go snorkeling
A trip to Rottnest Island would not be complete without visiting one of the many snorkeling trails.
Pack your snorkel gear and swim with the tropical fish right off shore.
Little Salmon Bay, The Basin and Parker Point are some great snorkeling spots and have lots of thriving marine life and gentle waves.
5. Take the kids to the aqua park (seasonal)
A floating water park opens on Rottnest Island during the summer months and is one of the best things to do on Rottnest Island with kids.
It offers a range of family-friendly floats and inflatable obstacle courses, as well as water equipment for kids.
If you’re traveling with toddlers, there’s even a knee-deep zone for little ones to splash around.
You can rent pedal boats, stand up paddle boards, kayaks and much more. Or enjoy the sea catapult, sea saws and slides into the sea!
6. Dinner with a view
There are many cafes on Rottnest Island that offer good views, but one that comes highly recommended is Pinky’s Beach Club.
Grab a table by the sea and watch whales while indulging in delicious seafood.
If you’re short on time and don’t want to stop at a coffee shop, you can grab a quick bite at the general store.
7. Visit the visitor center
If you are looking for information about the attractions on Rottnest Island other than the simple board with a few sentences telling you what they are, then you should head to the Visitor Center.
To really learn more about the island’s history and use, the Visitor Center offers several free walking tours to many of Rottnest Island’s top attractions
The Go Cultural Aboriginal tour is a popular favorite as it gives visitors the chance to learn all about the Noongar people, who are the traditional owners of the island.
The Visitor Center is also a great place to book accommodation, ferry tickets and boat tours, and buy maps of the island.
8. Take a Rottnest Island Cruise
A Rottnest cruise is a great way to look out for native marine life.
The boat trip takes you away from the island’s coast and if you’re lucky you might see some whales breaking into the water.
If you are very lucky you can also see dolphins offshore or even New Zealand fur seals.
As you sail through the crystal clear waters, sit back and relax in style as you sail on a luxurious catamaran.
9. Visit the Rottnest Bakery
For a bite to eat or a little pick-me-up, visit Rottnest Bakery. Here you will find delicious homemade cakes and sweet treats as well as savory cakes, sandwiches and pastries.
But the food is not the only reason to visit the bakery. Even the local quokkas know this bakery is good as they often hang around outside.
10. Hike the Wadjemup Bidi Trail
If you fancy a hike, be sure to go up the Wagjemup trail. The trail is 45 km long and stretches across the entire island.
Most people don’t do the whole trail as it takes a few days to complete, but it has been broken down into five sections so you can easily walk one section in a day.
The Wadjemup Bidi hiking trails pass spectacular promontories, inland lakes and many of Rottnest Island’s top attractions.
Here is each section of the trail and its distances. Most trails last between 2 and 4 hours:
Ngank Yira Bidi – Explore Bickley Battery (9.4km one way) Gabbi Karniny Bidi – Explore the Salt Flats (9.7km loop) Wardan Nara Bidi – Relax at Salmon Bay (10km one way) Karlinyah Bidi – Experience the Northern Beaches (5.9 km one way). way) Ngank Wen Bidi – Explore West End (7.6km loop)
11. Check out Bathurst Lighthouse and Wadjemup Lighthouse
There are two lighthouses on the island, Bathurst and Wadjemup. Wadjemup is the oldest lighthouse on the island and was built in 1849.
At the time it was Western Australia’s first stone lighthouse and was used to provide ships with a safer route to Fremantle Harbour.
The original lighthouse was replaced on the same site in 1896.
You cannot enter this lighthouse, but the view from where it stands is incredible.
Also go down the wooden stairs to the beach and enjoy the view.
12. Visit Oliver Hill Guns & Tunnels
Oliver Hill is close to the center of Rottnest Island and is where you will find military remains from WWII.
Learn all about the island’s defensive history with a free Rottnest Island Guide organized by the Visitor Centre.
See one of the restored 9.2-inch WWII guns and explore the underground tunnels.
Overnight on Rottnest Island, Perth
Rottnest Island is very small and has very few hotels. If you plan to stay on the island, I recommend camping at Rottnest Island Campground.
Just pitch a tent, park your bikes and enjoy sleeping to the sound of the waves lulling you to sleep.
If camping isn’t your thing, try glamping at Discovery Rottnest Island, which offers eco-friendly tents with private bathrooms, kitchenettes, and patios. It’s like a combination of resort and campground.
Check out our accommodation partners Booking.com and VRBO for more accommodation options on Rottnest Island
You can use the list view below to see what’s available in nearby Perth.
Getting to Rottnest Island?
To get to Rottnest Island you must first get to Perth, Western Australia. Rottnest is 18 kilometers offshore.
You can catch a ferry from Perth or North Fremantle which runs every 30 minutes or so. The ferry drops you off at Barrack Street Jetty on Rottnest Island.
Ferry tickets can be purchased at the ticket office on the pier or ordered online in advance. Make sure you arrive at the pier at least 30 minutes before boarding time.
Photo inspiration from Rottnest Island
If you need more convincing to visit Rottnest Island I leave you with a collection of stunning photos from our trip there. Hopefully this is all the inspiration you need to make it a part of your Australian bucket list!
More travel tips for South West Australia
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