If you’ve looked into visiting Western Australia, I’m sure Rottnest Island is close to numero uno on your list of places to check out. Rottnest Island (or Rotto, as the Aussies call it) is a small island off the coast of Perth. It is one of the most beautiful and scenic snorkeling spots in Australia. It’s also home to the adorable little colony of quokkas – a tiny little animal that looks like a cross between a kangaroo and a mouse – and they live exclusively on the island. As if these two selling points weren’t enough, Rottnest is incredibly beautiful, AND it is only a half hour ferry ride from Perth. It can easily be done as a day trip from the city, but if you want to stay a little longer, there are also places to stay overnight on the island. Accommodation runs from camping to hotels. If you are planning to check out Rottnest Island, read on for a complete guide of a perfect day of visiting good ol Rotto.
When visiting Rottnest, you can take the ferry from a few places in Perth. The earliest ferry leaves at 7:15 AM. Rottnest is an easy day trip from the city, though it can be quite expensive. The ferry will set you back $79 AUD. The fare is usually less expensive on Tuesdays, but keep in mind that rule does not apply during holidays. I would recommend booking as far in advance as possible. The earliest ferry there and the latest ferry back will give you optimum time for completely tiring yourself out. 🙂
When you get to the island, there is a little bike shop where you can rent a bike and snorkel kit combo for a grand total of $45 AUD. Keep in mind that the shop doesn’t open until 8:30AM, so you can grab a cup of coffee from Dome (just a few doors down) beforehand. Pro tip: if you are traveling with someone, have them stand in line at the bike shop while you get coffee, so you can be in and out quickly. The bike rental line gets long.
If you would prefer to bring your own bike, you can do so, you’ll just need to pay $15 AUD to take it on the boat. You can also rent from the ferry company, which will cost $30 AUD, but you will have to wait to get the bike settled on the ferry each way. I prefer just renting the bike on the island, but if you want to get snorkeling as quickly as possible, it would make sense to rent from the ferry company. I’d recommend booking this ASAP as well, because they book out quickly.
While you are waiting for the bike shop to open, you may spot your first quokka. Make sure your camera battery is fully charged for this trip, you’ll need it!
Quokkas are commonly referred to as the friendliest animals on earth – they have no fear of humans, and will happily come up to you. They are super adorable and always look like they are smiling. They are incredibly sweet and I would definitely not mind taking care of one 😉 (fun fact: a couple days after I left Rottnest, a quokka escaped the island via a trash bin on the ferry. I swear I had nothing to do with it.)
After your quokka photoshoot, it’s time to head out on your bike! I recommend the mid-length route, which is about 10 kilometers (roughly 6 miles). This route takes you over scenic hills (it can definitely be a workout), past lots of photogenic lookouts, and to great snorkeling spots. My favorite snorkeling spot was called Salmon Point. It’s a great little cove with beautiful bright pink coral, colorful fish, and a cozy little beach. You’ll most likely stop for photos at a few places before this, but I’d recommend stopping here for a picnic lunch. Bringing your own lunch is ideal for Rottnest, because once you get away from the settlement, you’ve left civilization. Also bring lots of water.
After you’ve snorkeled, lunched, sunbathed, and caught your tan, hop back on your bike and continue the ride. Ride along the road along the coast, over hilly terrain. You’ll want to stop quite a bit for photo opportunities.
If you’re lucky, you may run into a tiny little pink lake. It’s along the path, but may not always have enough water to show it’s color. It’s a little salt lake. If you’d like some exfoliation that even the most expensive pedicure couldn’t buy you, walk in the lake up to your ankles.
Next, head back to the settlement and stop at the general store for some afternoon refreshment. The store is massive and sells anything you could want. I like to pick up rice crackers, hummus, coconut water, and a big bottle of cold water. There is also a little liquor store attached where you can buy alcohol, but keep in mind that you are not allowed to drink in public (unless you’re sneaky ;)). The store is close to the beach, so if you’d like, you can head over and chill out in the sand for a bit. There are also restaurants on the island if you’d like something a bit more filling.
After you feel refueled and alive again, trek up the short little path up to Bathhurst Lighthouse. From here, you can get a great view of the cute little beach called the Basin, which is also great for snorkeling if you feel up to it. If you don’t feel like snorkeling, the Basin is a great spot for a refreshing ocean swim.
The quokkas colonize close to the end of the path by the lighthouse. If you haven’t gotten the perfect quokka selfie yet, head back toward the settlement and find those quokkas. Pro tip: they like to be in the shade under the trees. The trees that they like to gather under are actually what they eat. Pick some leaves from these trees, and the quokkas will eat right out of your hand. Bonus points if you can lure it onto your lap.
If you rented bikes from the shop on the island, you’ll have to return it before 5 PM. I’d recommend heading over there by 4:30 PM at the latest, as everyone starts coming around to drop off their bikes later in the day. After you release your bike and snorkeling kit, head to Aristos Waterfront restaurant for a refreshing (and very well-earned) glass of wine or beer while you watch the horizon for your ferry to come in.
I cannot recommend Rottnest Island highly enough. If you make it to Western Australia you MUST go to Rotto. Show me your quokka selfies by tagging me on Instagram, or use #amandaroundtheglobe.
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