Rottnest is 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 Catalina Adventures, 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 or follow your own path along Wadjemup Trail.
- Hire a bike to and find the 63 stunning beaches and 20 bays where you can swim, catch a wave or enjoy some windsurfing action.
- Discover the underwater snorkel trails at Little Salmon Bay and Parker Point. Hire your snorkel gear from Rottnest Island Pedal & Flipper.
- 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, whales on their annual migration (September – December), fur seals and sea lions, dolphins and tropical fish.
- Head to the skies on a scenic flight, explore the world beneath the waves on the Underwater Explorer (September – May) or 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 impressive WWII gun emplacement on Oliver Hill.
Check out some of the great events coming up on Rottnest Island.
Explore the island
There are virtually no cars on the island and bikes are the transportation of choice. Covering an area only 11km long and 4.5km wide, the island is easy to explore and bikes can be hired, or you can bring your own by ferry from the mainland for a small fee.
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.
Learn about the island's aboriginal and colonial heritage on free guided walking tours or pick up maps marking the many locations of the excellent bike and walk trails that criss-cross the island.
Rottnest Island heritage trails
Walk one of the heritage trails on Rottnest and learn about the island's rich cultural history. Find information and maps about these trails at the Rottnest Island Visitor Centre.
- 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
Rottnest Island free guided walking tours
Learn about the island's aboriginal and colonial heritage on free guided walking tours by the Rottnest Voluntary Guides. All tours start from the flagpole just up the hill (50m) south of the Visitor Centre. Look for the guide in a yellow shirt!
Reefs, Wrecks and Daring Sailors Tour
Departs Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday at 1pm | Duration: 1 hour
Hear alluring tales of shipwrecks and sailors on this scenic walk to Bathurst Lighthouse. See the boathouse and replica pilot boat along the way.
Vlaming Lookout and Salt Lakes
Departs Wednesday & Sunday at 11am | Duration: 1 hour
Enjoy stunning views from lookouts and lakes at the heart of the island and learn about the remarkable agriculture carried out by Rottnest's early inhabitants.
Departs daily at 1pm | Duration: 45 minutes
Discover the marsupial that gave Rottnest its name. Learn about the iconic and mysterious animal and watch them in their natural habitat.
History of the Settlement
Departs daily at 2pm | Duration: 1 hour
Learn about the Island's rich history. See where the gaolers lived and worked and how Rottnest became an Aboriginal prison in 1838.
Bickley Battery Walk
Departs Monday & Thursday at 10.15am | 1.5 hours
Visit the Kingstown Barracks and walk to the Bickley Battery site. The Battery was an integral part of the defence of Fremantle port during WWII. See the barrel of a 6-inch gun outside the Kingstown Barracks.
Rottnest Island Wadjemup Walk Trail
A class 3 walking trail of approximately 9.4km in distance. This first section of the Rottnest Island Walk Trail starts at the Fuel Jetty in the Thomson Bay settlement. You can explore the remnants of Coastal Defence systems installed during WWII. A self-guided walking tour of approximately 9.4 km. Duration 3 to 4 hours.
A water playground
Not surprisingly, water activities play a major role in island life and 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 also boasts the world’s most southerly corals and a water temperature at least 6 degrees warmer than on the mainland.
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 – October and boards are available for hire from Rottnest Island Peddle & Flipper.
Families can climb, slide and jump on the inflatable, floating Just 4 Fun Aqua Park in North Thompson Bay featuring climbing walls, water see-saws, trampoline with slides, knee-deep park for kids under 7, stand-up paddle boards, beach water balls and paddle boats. Open November - April.
There are also plenty of other activities such as fishing, surfing and boating - the opportunities are endless.
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 and adults enjoy a round of lawn bowls or golf at the newly renovated Rottnest Island Country Club.
For something a little more relaxing head to the Rottnest Island Karma Spa for a menu of traditional head-to-toe treatments and bespoke treatments, manicures, facials and sensual massages or watch the latest release blockbuster movies at the Picture Hall
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.
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. Find out more
Cycle around the island, enjoy a drink overlooking the sparkling blue ocean and explore the many fantastic bays and beaches.. Find out more
Cruise to Rottnest Island, hire bikes, explore the island on the Then, jump on board a cruise to Rottnest and explore the island on a Discovery Tour.. Find out more
Watch Rottnest Island
Be inspired by our latest YouTube clips from the paradise of Rottnest Island.