Perth's island paradise...
Just 19 km off the coast of Perth, but an entire world away, lies the sunny holiday island of Rottnest. Blessed with a casual atmosphere, picturesque scenery, dazzling marine life and some of the world's finest beaches and pristine bays, Rottnest Island is Western Australia's very own island getaway.
The island earned its curious name when in 1696, Dutch explorer, William de Vlamingh, mistook the island's unusual marsupial population for common rats and named it Rottnest - literally translating to 'rats nest'. Today, having a photo taken alongside the 'rats' - known as Quokkas - is one of the main highlights for visitors to the island.
Rottnest is only a short ferry ride from Fremantle or Perth with Rottnest Express and from Hillarys Boat Harbour with Rottnest Fast Ferries. Or fly over with Kookaburra Air, Rottnest Air Taxi, Air Charter West, Rotorvation Helicopters or Ozwest Aviation.
- JOIN one of the many free guided walking tours of the Island.
- FOLLOW your own path along the new Wadjemup Trail.
- HIRE a bike and snorkel gear from Rottnest Island Pedal & Flipper
- SWIM and relax by the stunning waters - you have 63 beaches and 20 bays to choose from
- DISCOVER the underwater snorkel trails at Little Salmon Bay and Parker Point.
- LEARN about the island’s history at the Rottnest Island Museum, Lomas Cottage, Pilot Boat House, Vincent Way and Salt Store.
- ENCOUNTER a variety of wildlife including birdlife, quokkas and dolphins.
- EXPLORE the world beneath the waves on the Underwater Explorer (September – May).
- JOIN a 90 minute adventure cruise (November – April).
- CLIMB the Wadjemup Lighthouse for the ultimate views across the whole island.
- RIDE the Captain Hussey train to view the maze of tunnels beneath the WWII gun emplacement on Oliver Hill.
Getting around the Island
On Rottnest Island, bikes are the transportation of choice and can be hired or you can bring your own by ferry from the mainland for a small fee. The island is only 11km long and 4.5km wide making it easy to explore with a number of great trails to follow.
If traversing by bike doesn't appeal, you can also enjoy the journey by air-conditioned coach on the Island Explorer. This hop-on/hop-off service runs daily and with 18 stops on the agenda, takes you to many of the secluded bays and secret hideaways located around the island. Day passes for this service can be purchased from the Rottnest Island Visitors Centre.
Or combine 'Bike and Bus' – bike until you are tired and leave it at a bus stop and enjoy the bus ride back to the settlement. Ideal for families or beginner cyclists. The visitor centre is also a great place to book a number of tours. Choices range from historic train journeys, lighthouse tours, underwater explorations, segway tours and glass bottom boat rides. Download Rottnest Island's brochure for more great tours.
A water playground
Not surprisingly, water activities play a major role in island life - from snorkelling and diving to fishing, surfing, boating, kayaking, sailing and swimming!
With just over 135 species of vibrant tropical fish and 20 species of coral, heading below the surface is a truly worthwhile experience. The Island boasts the world's most southerly corals seasoned divers will be happy to know that just off the coast slumbers a vast graveyard of over 13 shipwrecks waiting to be explored. Informational plaques can be found alongside the wrecks and are complemented by onshore plaques indicating their location for those that don't want to brave the depths.
Rottnest is also renowned for surfing with some of the best breaks in the world found at Strickland Bay. Surfing season is at its best from May to October and boards are available for hire from Rottnest Island Peddle & Flipper. Also during the warmer months, families can climb, slide and jump on the inflatable, floating Just 4 Fun Aqua Park in North Thompson Bay.
Rottnest Island fun
Rottnest Island also offers endless fun on land. Kids can challenge friends and family to a round of mini golf, jump on trampolines and play arcade games at the Family Fun Park or watch the latest release blockbuster movies at the Picture Hall. Adults can play a round of lawn bowls or golf at the newly renovated Rottnest Island Country Club before relaxing at the Rottnest Island Karma Spa.
When it comes to food and drink, you'll be spoilt for choice. From sweeping ocean views and fresh seafood at Aristos Waterfront Restaurant and Hotel Rottnest; great coffee at The Lane, Dome Café and Geordie's Café; delicious pub grub at Govenor's Bar and Riva Restaurant and Courthouse Bar to casual bites from Subway, Rottnest Bakery and The General Store are more.
Walking trails and tours
Explore the island following one of the many bike and walk trails that criss-cross the island (pick up a map from the visitor centre), explore the new Wadjemup Walk Trail or join one of the free guided walking tours run by the Rottnest Island Volunteer Guides which start from the flagpole south of the Visitor Centre - look for the guide in a yellow shirt!
Bike & walk trails
- Bickley Battery Heritage Trail (Military)
- Oliver Hill Heritage Trail (Military)
- Rottnest Ship Wrecks Heritage Trail – Land and Water
- Colonial Buildings Heritage Trail
- Parker Point Loop Environmental Trail
- Signal Ridge Heritage Trail
Wadjemup Walk Trail
Leave the bitumen roads behind and experience the unique natural beauty of Rottnest Island in an environmentally sustainable way. Walk the first completed sections of the long awaited 50km Wadjemup Walk Trail:
- The Bickley Bay Walk: This section traverses the south east corner of the Island - Thomson Bay to Oliver Hill. Approximately 9.4km in distance, you'll explore the remnants of Coastal Defence systems installed during WWII.
- The Lakes Walk: Starting from Thomson Bay Settlement and heading west out of Digby Drive, this section meanders through the lake systems including a magical stroll along the Lakes Boardwalk
- Salmon Bay Walk: You can now walk from Oliver Hill to Wadjemup
Lighthouse along the newest section of trail! There is also a link from
Oliver Hill to Salmon Bay, where the Rottnest Rangers are currently
constructing a new beach access! This will be open by mid-December 2014.
The remaining section of the Lakes, Little Parakeet Bay to the Settlement, via the North Eastern corner of the Island, will be complete by June 2015. Find out more.
Accommodation ranges from camping to bungalows, and villas to comfortable serviced apartments making Rottnest the perfect place to spend a relaxed few hours or an indulgent few days.
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Cycle around the island, enjoy a drink overlooking the sparkling blue ocean, play a round of golf or mini-golf, explore the many fantastic bays and beaches or see a movie.
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Explore Rottnest Island on an underwater cruise, wildlife and adventure cruise, Segway Tour, bus discovery tour, whale watching tour, or spectacular scenic flight.
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Watch Rottnest Island
Be inspired by our latest YouTube clips from the paradise of Rottnest Island.