On a regular day, a 30-minute journey might take you to work, or if you’re lucky, from Perth to Fremantle or to the end of the freeway. Alternatively, you could throw caution to the wind and choose Rottnest Island instead. The quick half-hour ferry ride makes it a great choice for a daytrip exploring the wonders of this magical island just off our coast. Here are our top tips for the perfect Rottnest daytrip this long weekend.

Little Salmon Bay Rottnest

Image credit: Aquabumps

Start your day early

Catch either the 7am or 7.30am ferry from B Shed which gets you onto the island before most of the other daytrippers have even got out of bed. Read our specialist ferry guide here to find out more tips. There are early ferry services available at 4.30am and 5am from Fremantle this Sunday enabling people to attend the special Anzac Ceremony at Thomson Bay, a truly memorable event.

To save time, take your own bike or book one in advance with one of the ferry companies. If you need to hire a bike while on the island, bike hire company, Pedal and Flipper has plenty of options, plus electric scooters, baby seats, trolleys and snorkels, but they don’t open until 8.30am. The hop-on, hop-off Rottnest Explorer bus is also another great way to see the island.

Consider a bike trailer

Bike trailers are great for taking kids around the island and even better for carrying your towels, backpacks, water, snorkelling and other gear. You only need one between friends and they are surprisingly easy to pull around.

bikes at Rottnest

Make use of the lockers

These can be found at the Visitor’s Centre at the end of the ferry jetty or at Pedal and Flipper. Perfects for storing all the stuff that’s not in your backpack.

Forget Google, talk to the volunteers

This army of volunteers are an invaluable source of local knowledge on the island, its people, animals and history. You can find them around the jetty, visitor centre (at the end of the jetty) and the Settlement area. Look for the yellow shirts. The team at the Visitor Centre are also lovely and have a collection of useful maps and brochures.

Enjoy an Island breakfast

Hungry? Hit the Thomson Bay Settlement shops and fuel up with coffee and breaky at The Lane (opens 6.30am), carb loading at The Bakery (opens 8am) or Frankies (opens 8am).

snorkel trail Rottnest

Experience the Rottnest underworld with the snorkel trail

Explore the underworld

Many of Rottnest’s charms are beneath the surface. With five marine sanctuaries and the benefits of the warm Leeuwin current, the island is a giant natural aquarium with the most incredible array of fish, corals, limestone caves and reefs to explore. Morning is a great time to snorkel before the wind picks up and the crowds arrive. Parker Point and Little Salmon Bay are popular snorkelling choices, and home to the Snorkel Trail, a series of underwater interpretative plaques that give more information about the island’s marine life. Or you could just sit under an umbrella.

Head inland to Wadjemup Lighthouse and WWII guns at Oliver’s Hill

If you’ve got the energy, another fun thing to do is to climb Wadjemup Lighthouse in the centre of the island for breathtaking coastal views, or visit Oliver’s Hill for a fascinating account of the role that Rottnest played in the strategic defence of the WA coast during WW II. Again, the trusty Rottnest volunteers do an amazing job of bringing these stories to life. Both are a beautiful one hour walk or a 30-minute bike ride away from the Settlement. Please note, the lighthouse is currently closed due to renovations, but you can still climb the hill or do a tour of the guns at Oliver’s Hill.

osprey and osprey nests

Image: Rottnest Island Authority

Hit the West End

If you feel like some exercise, there is nothing stopping you riding to the West End – the far side of the island. At a steady pace it’s a stunning 1.5 hour return trip and a chance to see all the amazing bays, the seal colony and some giant osprey nests. It’s a rite-of-passage for all kids and a great Rottnest experience.

Lunch at The Pub

By now, you’re probably hungry again so head back to the Settlement via the salt lakes and settle in for a long lunch at Hotel Rottnest, arguably, one of WA’s most iconic pubs on the shores of Thomson Bay. If you want something a little fancier, stroll next door to Hotel Samphire and its Bali-style beach club. There’s also plenty of choice back at the Settlement.

Rottnest Pinky's Beach at sunset

Pinky’s Beach at sunset

The Basin or Pinky’s Beach

Dust off the post-lunch lethargy for a final swim at the beautiful Basin, with its rockpools and channels, or nip around the corner to Pinky’s Beach, framed by Bathurst Lighthouse. Take some quokka selfies as a souvenir.

Sunset Drinks at Pinky’s

The sun is sinking beneath the horizon and there’s no better place to watch the show than at Pinky’s Beachclub at Discovery Rottnest. Squeeze in a final mimosa under the lighthouse….it’s the encore to your perfect day at Rottnest before the late ferry beckons.


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