Western Australia is packed with family-friendly attractions. And perhaps one of the most popular day trip destinations in the region is Rottnest Island. Located about 11 miles off the coast of Western Australia, the island is easily accessible from either Perth or Fremantle. The ferry ride from Fremantle to the island takes less than 30 minutes while a one-way trip from the Barrack Street Jetty in Perth is about 1.5 hours.
Fondly called Rotto by the locals, the island boasts pristine beaches and bays, exotic plant and wildlife, and a relaxing vibe. It is a favourite weekend getaway for those who want to step away from the hustle and bustle of the city especially during the summer. The whole island is a car-free zone and highly popular among families who want to take advantage of the safe and pollution-free environment it provides.
Day-trippers visiting Rottnest Island will find that it offers a diverse range of water and land-based activities, from sightseeing to snorkelling and discovering shipwrecks. Here are the best things to do in Rottnest Island.
Get your dose of sand, sea, and sand
One of the greatest things about Rottnest island is its sandy beaches. Home to 63 beaches, Rottnest Island is a great destination for people who can’t get enough of the beach. It is easy to find your own sandy beach or secluded bay. Its snorkelling spots are undeniably breathtaking and provides for plenty of opportunities to swim amongst stunning marine life the likes of green turtles, tropical fishes, and exquisite corals.
Go whale watching
If you’re visiting Rottnest Island in the cooler months, it is very likely that you will spot Southern right and Humpback whales. These fascinating creatures pass by Rottnest Island’s protected waters as they travel between the Antarctic and the Indian Ocean during their annual migration. Embark on whale watching tours to have close encounters with the whales.
Meet the smiling quokka
Not only is Rottnest Island famous for its glorious beaches, it is also famous for being the home of the world’s most adorable and photogenic animals, the quokka. Cousins of kangaroos and wallabies, the cute, cheerful-looking furry creatures are plentiful on the island and would often approach visitors.
Enjoy great views from Rottnest Island’s lighthouses
There are two lighthouses in the Island – Wadjemup and Bathurst. The Wadjemup Lighthouse is a 38.7-metre-tall lighthouse on Wadjemup Hill. Easily reachable by bike or on foot, the towering structure offers uninterrupted views of the island, its beaches and bays and the sparkling ocean. Bathurst Lighthouse, on the other hand, offers great views of Pinky Beach.
Take advantage of the walking and biking trails
There’s a wide range of experiences to be had in Rottnest Island and the best way to with its offerings is to take a stroll or bike around it. Rotto is a Class A nature reserve so you are bound to encounter amazing wildlife and animal life.
Engage in exciting water sports
If you are craving for something more exciting, the island offers some great spots for surfing, paddle boarding, and body boarding. If you are an avid surfer, check out Strickland Bay, considered one of the world’s top 50 surfing breaks.
Rottnest also has many noteworthy dive sites that allow you to admire a mesmerizing underwater world consisting of corals reefs, tunnels, and caverns.
Rottnest Island’s bays have claimed more than 13 ships and what could be better than swimming in the sparkling bays amongst shipwrecks? Some of these abandoned ships –Shark and Uribes – are partially mmersed in shallow, still waters making it great even for newbie snorkellers. Other shipwrecks, like the Kiryo Maru are located in deep waters and not so easy to swim out from the beach, making them more popular with experienced snorkelers.
Discover the island’s historical heritage
Rottnest Island played an important role in WWII. To discover the island’s rich war history and heritage, start with Oliver Hill Battery, the last surviving WWII battery left in Australia. Built in the 1930s, the emplacement features 9.2-inch guns used to defend the Australian ports during the war. Spanning 32 hectares, Oliver Hill also has a maze of tunnels underneath.
To soak up more of Western Australia’s fascinating history, you can also visit and explore Rottnest Museum, Pilot Boathouse, Lomas Cottage, and the Salt Store Gallery and Exhibition Centre.
Travelling to Western Australia? Enjoy an activity-packed day trip to Rottnest Island from Perth with these tours.
By: Brendelyn Balaga