Rottnest Island, just off the coast of Perth, Western Australia, is one of the most amazing islands I have ever been too in my life! With it’s raw and rough beauty and home to unique animals that only live on this island, a one day trip is an absolute must when visiting Western Australia.
The island has been one of the most popular ‘holiday at home’ destinations for Western Australians. With its many charms and attractions, this island attracts a whole variety of people and therefore it is immensely popular. Whether you stay for one day or five, Rottnest will enchant, inspire and recharge your batteries for weeks to come.
In the post, I will show you where to go, what to see and how to make sure you can get the elusive selfie with the world’s happiest animal when you are traveling to this island for one day!
Rottnest day trip | Basic Information
Underneath I will show you all the information you need to know about Rottnest Island. How to get there, when is the best time to go, what to see and do on the island, where you can find the quokkas and more.
How to get to Rottnest island
The easiest way to get to Rottnest Island is to take one of the many ferries. The ferries book up fast in high seasons so be sure to book well in advance!
For my trip, I used the Rottnest Express. There are several pick-up points for the ferries:
- Perth City (Barrack Street Jetty) – a 90-minute journey
- Hillarys Boat Harbour – a 45-minute journey
- Fremantle (Victoria Quay) – a 25-minute journey
- Northport Rous Head Harbour, North Fremantle – a 25-minute journey
Rottnest Express currently departs from three conveniently located ferry terminals. Each has different benefits to offer – making it easier to select a departure point that suits your needs. When you depart from Perth city you also get a ‘tour’ of the scenery, which is very informative and fun to listen too whilst traveling. It would be quite a long boat trip otherwise. You will pass some very expensive mansions and some other interesting sights along the way.
How to get around Rottnest Island
With no cars allowed, the island enjoys tranquility like no other. But what are the best ways of getting around on your one day Rottnest island trip?
Rottnest Island Bike Hire
Exploring Rottnest by bike is probably the most popular option. You can rent a bike when you book your ferry ticket, or you can get one on the island itself.
When you rent a bike from Rotness Express, a bike costs as follows:
|Model||Wheel Size||Suit Age||1 day||2 days||3 days||4 days||5 days||6 days||7 days||8 days||9 days||10 days|
|Child Bike||20″||4 to 7||$15||$20||$30||$40||$50||$60||$60||$60||$60||$70|
|Adult Bike (inc baby seats )||26″||14+||$30||$43||$58||$68||$78||$88||$88||$88||$88||$103|
Rottnest Island Bus
Rottnest is a pretty petite island, but it’s a long way if you’re planning to walk or bike it. You will see most of the island by bike, cause you can stop whenever and wherever you would like.
But if you are not well enough or would prefer not to use a bike along the island, or you have children then I would advise catching a bus.
Island Explorer Service bus | This bus makes continuous circuits of the entire island so you can jump off at each point if you like to take a quick look.
The buses run every 30 minutes and cost $50 for a family of two adults and one child.
Tickets for the bus can be booked online, from the Visitor Centre or Main Bus Stop vending machines.
Rottnest Island Restaurants and Shops
A couple of shops, cafes, and restaurants are located in Thompson Bay just a couple of minutes from the Jetty wharf. Thompson Bay is the main settlement of the island.
There is only one other shop on the entire island, a little shop, and a cafe at Geordie Bay. So if you are planning to cycle around the island, make sure you buy supplies! The island is quite challenging, so you will need the fuel to keep you going. There are a couple of water taps located around the island, so you can refill your bottles of water! But it will be quite hard to find food along the way, so definitely bring some if you can.
How much time do you need for Rottnest?
All in all, I would say that you should calculate about 6 hours of exploration time on the island for your one-day Rottnest island trip!
To bike around the island can take between 2 to 5 hours, depending on how often you stop, if you swim somewhere or just take a million photos! Planning for a 6 hour trip with your ferry should allow you plenty of time to see everything and to not to be rushed, because that would be a shame!
When is the best time to visit Rottnest Island?
I would say the best time to visit Rottnest is in summer. The beaches and snorkeling opportunities on this island are incredible, and you don’t want to miss out due to bad weather. In summer (December /January /February) it is nice and warm but do keep in mind that school holidays are on in summer, meaning it will be pretty busy on the island.
You can visit the island year-round do to it enjoys a Mediterranean-style climate. Being an island, it is generally a few degrees cooler in the height of summer and enjoys warmer winters with less rainfall compared to the mainland.
SOUVENIRS TO BUY ON ROTTNEST ISLAND
Don’t forget to pack these goodies from the island
- A cute stuffed toy of a Quokka
- Artwork of the island
- Swim suite
SAFETY ON ROTTNEST ISLAND
I found Rottnest to be very safe and welcoming. Even though it was not busy on the island, I found it very safe to walk and bike around. I personally have not experienced any theft or tourist ‘troubles’ on the island, so I can say it was safe. I was traveling solo, and think it would be perfectly safe as a solo destination for backpackers.
What to bring and wear
Firstly, and super important, make sure you bring a printout of your ferry ticket! Secondly, getting over to the island, you have to cross some open ocean, so rough waves can be present. I therefore also advise you to bring some motion sickness tablets and take some when you reach Fremantle.
Underneath are a couple more handy things to bring:
- Sunscreen | If you are going for a swim try to use one that is reef-safe. You wouldn’t want to damage the reef by with chemicals.
- Cap and sunglasses
- Selfy stick | To get the best pics with the quokka’s
- Food and a refillable water bottle
Where to see Quokkas?
For most people (especially tourists) meeting and taking pictures with the quokka is the main reason they want to go to Rottnest Island.
The Quokka is the only mammal which is native to Rottnest Island and can be found almost everywhere on the Island. It is mainly nocturnal, meaning that it is most active at night, preferring to rest or sleep in the shade during the day. However, don’t you worry, you will see plenty active during the day as well.
The Island habitat supports the largest known Quokka population and is essential for the survival of species. There are around 10,000-12,000 of these animals living on Rottnest – WOW! see what I mean, you will definitely see one.
The Quokka is a marsupial the size of a hare or domestic cat and is the sole representative of the genus Setonix. As with other marsupials, such as the kangaroo and wallaby the females suckle their young in a pouch.
Because these animals look like they are smiling constantly, they are called the happiest animals in the world.
While quokkas are incredibly cute, it’s important to remember that all plants and animals on Rottnest Island are protected by law. Wildlife should not be disturbed, rather observed from a reasonable distance. So when taking a selfie, please respect the animals. Please also keep in mind that it is illegal to touch them! These lovely animals are a vulnerable species, and if not protected could become extinct.
When I was taking the picture I used a selfie-stick and I made sure I moved slowly. If the animals did not want to be near me, I left them alone. I honestly got very lucky and some of the first pictures I took, the Quokka looked straight into the camera and ‘smiled’ (gush) YAY!
The quokkas are incredibly used to tourists and are very curious little critters. You will find them coming up close to you, to take a better look at what you’ve got in your bag so keep your bag zipped shut and any food sealed because just like us all they love their tucker! Once again please be mindful and show respect for these gorgeous creatures at all times.
TOP TIP: If your main goal is to get a selfie with these animals then I suggest your first stop on the island should be near the restaurants and bakery.
A large group of quokkas hangs out in that area (They know where it’s at ). That is where I took my selfies as well. I found that these are the most relaxed and not bothered by humans. The quokkas that I saw during my bicycle ride on the island seemed a lot timider.
It took me quite some shots to get a decent picture of them, especially the selfies where one looks at the camera. I think I did get quite luck there, but here are just a couple of simple tips to help you achieve the same.
- You will definitely need a long selfie stick. It allows you to keep some distance from the animals and maneuver yourself in such a way that you are in the same shot (trust me, it is not as simple as it sounds)
I used a long selfy stick and my mobile phone for these photos and they turned out ok.
- Use burst mode to take a million photos. You should have 1 or 2 decent ones amongst those.
- Make sure you turn off the flash on your camera or phone. You don’t want to blind the poor buggers.
- Find a quokka that is calm, mostly when they are eating they are pretty chill, these ones are easier to photograph as they are too busy eating to be moving around too much.
- The best time to try to spot a quokka is in the early evening or when it’s cooler. They are nocturnal but you will find a few wandering around the island during the day as well.
What else to do on Rottnest Island?
If you’re visiting for the first time make the Visitor’s Centre (can be found just off the ferry wharf) your first stop. Staff, there are incredibly helpful and full of knowledge about the island. They will also give you a map, which is very hand when touring the island on the bike.
Believe it or not but there is a lot more to see and do on the islands besides stalking the quokkas. Underneath are just a couple of things that you could check-out during your one day trip:
Cathedral Rocks is home to a group of New Zealand fur seals. From the viewing platform, they can be seen chilling and playing around, so cute. Cathedral Rocks can be accessed by bike or by jumping off the Island Explorer bus at Cathedral Rocks.
CHECK OUT A LIGHTHOUSE
Of the two lighthouses on the island, only the Wadjemup Hill lighthouses are open to the public. The Lighthouse tour commences daily at 10 am and runs every half hour until the last tour at 2.30 pm.
Lighthouse tour prices:
|Extra Child||$ 2.00|
Go beach hopping
With 63 beaches, Rottnest Island is a great destination for water sports, including swimming, diving, surfing, fishing, and snorkeling. It is home to some amazing beaches, which are a must-see in summer.
The best beach, in my opinion, is Salmon Bay. You can find this beach at about a 5-6km bike ride from The Settlement. If you are taking the bus, get off at stop number 7. This beautiful protected bay has a long white sandy beach, shallow waters, and is home to some spectacular snorkeling opportunities. Straight out in front of the stairs, you will find a multitude of different fish, most of which are accustomed to swimmers and will happily swim around you without darting off.
The basin is also a great spot for some snorkeling. Since this beach is close to the ferry, this spot will be a lot busier.
Not only is the island home to some of the cutest creatures in the world, but it is also a perfect location to see humpback and southern right whales as they make their annual migration along the Western Australian coastline.
They can be spotted in April on their way to the feeding grounds and from late August to November when they return with their newborn calves.
One of the best places to view the whales is from the newly constructed West End Boardwalk, which is accessible by bike or the Island Explorer bus.
A Rottnest Island day trip is an easy way to see a bit of everything the island has to offer. While there is most definitely enough to see and do for a few days (especially in summer) if you’re time poor like me, then a one day Rottnest island trip is still plenty of time to see a bit of everything, of this amazing island.
Don’t just travel to Perth in Western Australia to check out Rottnest Island though, as there is plenty to see and do around the city.
The city is not the most hustling and bustling town center you will visit, but the surroundings around the city are some of the most breathtaking you will ever encounter.
From the Pinnacles to White sand beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see, Perth is the pinnacle of it all.
I have compiled an extensive itinerary for 4 days for you. So, you won’t miss out on any of the other must-see attractions.
I stayed in this hotel for 4 nights in total. I spent quite a bit of time in the room because the weather was unfortunately quite dreadful when I was there.
The room itself was fine, cleaned daily and reasonably modern. It is, however, a pretty noisy hotel because they are right underneath an Irish Pub. I had some noise issues, but nothing too horrible. The location is very good, walking distance from the boat terminal and train station. Additionally, they are reasonably priced, which is a plus in Perth. All in all, I do recommend this hotel.
|221 Adelaide Terrace, Perth WA 6000|
|Phone: (08) 9221 1200|
Cost $147 AUD avg./night
Breakfast Not included
Wifi Included because I am a Novotel member
Looking for a backpacker’s hostel?
Accommodation in Perth is unfortunately not cheap. Underneath are some recommended hostels with decent ratings which doesn’t cost too much.
- Kangaroo Inn | Budget Accommodation located at a 5-minute walk from Perth train station and 10 minutes away by foot from the entertainment complex at Elizabeth Quay.
- Perth City YHA | Western Australia’s first 5 star rated hostel! Located in the heart of Perth City and even had a swimming pool!
- The Emperor’s Crown Hostel | Just 5 minutes walk from Perth CBD and the nightlife of Northbridge and The Emperors Crown.
- Billabong Backpackers Resort | Billabong Resort is the best in budget traveler accommodation in Perth. It’s perfect for backpackers, families or anyone visiting Perth on holidays or business and looking for a budget option.
Looking for a hotel or apartment?
Here are some helpful sites:
- Perth top 10 accommodation – Tripadvisor
- 30 best Perth hotels – Booking.com
- Top 20 places to stay in Perth – Airbnb
Have you ever done a day trip to Rottnest Island or stayed overnight? What was your favorite thing about this destination? Let me know in the comments below.
Additional Western Australia Resources
- Things to do in Perth – An extensive 4-day travel itinerary
PLANNING TO GO TO AUSTRALIA? THEN CHECK OUT SOME MORE TRAVEL TIPS HERE:
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