Everybody’s favourite place to escape, the sandy, car-free isle of Rotto, has been winning the hearts of visitors for more than a century. Take a short boat trip across the turquoise waters and pick up your hire bike to explore the island at your own pace.
Known to the local Noongar people as Wadjemup, Rottnest is believed to have separated from the mainland about 7000 years ago, and now lies a tantalising 19km off the Perth coastline – just a short ferry ride away.
The coral reefs surrounding Rottnest are fed by the warm Leeuwin current, meaning the waters are populated by a teeming array of colourful marine life – boasting a diversity second only to that found in Shark Bay in the state’s far north.
Rottnest’s popularity is as enormous as the island is small, yet you can always find a secluded stretch of white sand. There are 63 beaches and 20 bays crammed into an area just 11km long and 4.5km at its widest point. Most people are drawn to the sheltered swimming holes near Thomson Bay, where the ferries arrive and depart, or Geordie Bay, a secondary hub 2km away.
But there are more treasures to be found by those who are willing to pedal their bikes a little further afield – from historical monuments, inland salt lakes and secret fishing spots, to mysterious diving wrecks and coral playgrounds.
Visitors are guaranteed to fall in love with the island’s famous and friendly quokkas. They inspired the name ‘Rottnest’, which translates to ‘rat’s nest’ in Dutch.
Rottnest is a place where families and friends can stay in neighbouring cabins and share barbecues on the verandah after long days of swimming and snorkelling in the sun. Book self-catered accommodation through the Rottnest Island Authority, from modern units to north-facing heritage cottages at Geordie Bay, or a 50-bed hostel and a camping ground near The Basin. Serviced rooms are available at the Rottnest Hotel. Rottnest Lodge offers a pool, bars and a variety of comfy rooms.
If you are travelling light with a party of five or six, arrive by air taxi, charter plane, private boat or helicopter. Otherwise, take a ferry from Perth, Hillarys Boat Harbour or Fremantle.
Rottnest Fast Ferries are wheelchair-accessible, and the island has wide paths, ramps, and toilet facilities. The visitor centre has a complimentary buggy, adult tricycles, electric scooters and beach wheelchairs. The Rottnest Island Authority and Rottnest Lodge offer accommodation with wheelchair access.
Rottnest travel tips
- If you’re visiting Rottnest with a family in tow a great beach to head to is The Basin. It’s safe and it’s beautiful with calm, shallow waters. Perfect for young children.
- Only came for the day, but packed for a week? No worries – there are coin-operated lockers available so you can explore the island unencumbered.