It’s exciting planning a trip to Rottnest Island, or Rotto, as the locals call it. You know you’re in for an amazing day! There’s no wonder it was recently voted the Top Destinations in Australia to Experience. After a short Rottnest Express ferry ride from Perth or Fremantle, pick up your bike and a sandwich and spend the day exploring. Along the way you will find the most serene, deserted beaches. Take a dip, and savour the sparkling turquoise views… all while knowing there is an ice-cold cider and some cute little quokkas waiting for you at the pub when you finish your ride.
What could be better? The views are incredible, the water perfect hues of blues, and the beaches never crowded.
You can sense the excitement when you get to the B-Shed docks at Fremantle, 30 minutes from Perth. Friends and families gather and enjoy a coffee and a pastry as they get their tickets and wait for the ferry to arrive. Those going to Rottnest for several days all have coolers full of supplies to last them while they stay in one of the cottages spotted around the island.
The ferry takes about 25 minutes and before you know it, you are pulling up to the crystal clear waters of Thompson Bay. If you have your own bike this can easily be loaded onto the ferry (for a fee). Otherwise, include a bike rental with your ferry ticket and your
rusty trusty bike will be there waiting for you on the pier when you arrive on Rottnest Island.
The biggest choice you are going to have to make all day is deciding if you want to start your ride around the island clockwise or counterclockwise. The second biggest is which of the 60+ beaches you want to stop at for a swim. With no cars on the island, a bicycle is a great way to get around. Be prepared for a few steep climbs up the rolling hills and enjoy soaring down the other side. It is all so worth it.
Rottnest has a calm and relaxed vibe to it, a place where kids can run free and time holds still. Just don’t miss the ferry back! While you are there you feel a million miles away from Perth, even though you can just see it floating on the horizon. Riding along it’s only a matter of time before you spot a Quokka. Quokkas are the cutest little marsupials, a tiny relative of the Kangaroo. They are ridiculously friendly, and will come over for a visit if you stop your bike to say hi.
The best part of Rottnest is finding your favorite beach… often you will be the only person there. The water is a hundred shades of brilliant blues and invites you in with a siren’s song. Some of our absolute favorites are Little Parakeet Bay, the Grand Basin, Parker Point, and Salmon Bay.
FOOD & DRINK
When you are completely covered in salt and sand, it’s usually just one or two more bays before you reach the Hotel Rottnest Bar & Bistro (formerly the Quokka Arms). Relaxing on the patio is the great prize for all your hard work pedalling. Here people gather to talk about their day around the island, while enjoying Australia’s great cold ciders and some fresh hot chips. Don’t be surprised if the resident peacock wanders through the pub and a cute little Quokka runs by your feet.
ISALND INTERVIEW RATING
We dream of retiring to an island paradise, and we love interviewing the candidates! As an Australian A-Class Nature Reserve, you can’t actually live on Rottnest… but you could live in Perth or Fremantle, both very close!
Island Livability Score: Not Eligible
This is a great place to visit for the day, or stay the week for a relaxing vacation in paradise.
Island Dream Vacation Score: 5 / 5
GETTING TO ROTTNEST ISLAND
- Rottnest Express Ferry Service – For quick, comfortable, and convenient access to Rottnest Island from the Perth CBD, Northport (North Fremantle) or B-Shed @ Fremantle, the Rottnest Express Ferry Service is your best bet. From transport to bike rentals and tour bookings, they have you covered. For info and bookings visit www.rottnestexpress.com.au.
- By private boat – Rent or charter a boat with friends for a unique view of Rottnest and its beaches. This is a popular option on holidays like Australia Day where you will be moored among lots of other boats also having a good time.
- By helicopter – For a special occasion, a romantic helicopter ride to Rottnest is sure to impress.
- Stay overnight – Staying overnight is a whole different experience to going for the day. When the last ferry leaves, the pace slows down (even more) and you can enjoy some wine by the beach or a live band at the pub. This is also when all the nocturnal Quokkas come out to play. You can choose to say at Hotel Rottnest in Thompson Bay, or one of the cabins or cottages around the Island. Due to demand, the cabins and cottages require advance planning and can be booked up to 18 months in advance!
SAILS & SPICES TIPS
- Tickets – Save money and time and buy your tickets online at www.rottnestexpress.com.au a couple days ahead of time to get the “Red Hot Deals”.
- Timing – Take the 9:45am ferry there and the 4:25pm ferry back for a relaxed day with lots of time to tour the island.
- Packing – Remember to pack a swim suit, water, sunscreen, hat, sandwich for lunch, beach towel, camera and some money for a cold cider and hot chips at the end of the day. A Subway sandwich and snacks can be picked up at the small shops in Thompson Bay.
- Snorkeling – Bring your mask and snorkel if you want to explore the underwater paradise. Parker Point and Little Salmon Bay have underwater snorkel trails with informative plaques along the seabed.
- Getting around – Riding your bike offers the most flexibility to explore the island, but there is also the option of a air-condition hop-on hop-off bus if this suits you better. While cycling around you will do a big loop of the island. When you get to the Western point there is the option to extend, this side is a little rougher and wilder.
- Essentials Guide – Check out the Rottnest Island website to download the latest essentials guide full of all kinds of helpful information and a map of the island.
Rottnest was one of my absolute favorite parts of Western Australia. It’s hard to believe that a little island paradise can be just 18k offshore from Perth. I can’t wait to go again soon!