Vivid blue waters, adorable wildlife, a never-ending choice of stunning views, the freedom to cycle across an entire island. Does this sound like your ideal day out? Then Rottnest Island is the place for you. Just a short ferry ride away from the Western Australian capital is a paradise island just waiting for you to come and explore.
When I first booked to visit Perth, I knew that visiting Rottnest Island was up there on my to-do list and, as one of the most popular Perth boat trips to take, it most certainly does not disappoint. Here’s how the day trip went and what to do on Rottnest Island!
8.15am – Catch the Rottnest Island ferry from Fremantle with Rottnest Express
Up bright and early to catch good seats on the second ferry out of the day, we headed over to the port at Fremantle. The ferry journey from Fremantle is the shortest available out of the departure locations available and is scheduled to take around 45 minutes. It’s a generally smooth and easy ride over with great views across the ocean and of Perth from afar.
For the best Rottnest Island ferry deals it’s worth booking a visit on a Tuesday, where there is a great offer on prices with 1/3 off, taking our total to $78AUD for 2 tickets. This fee includes your return trip by boat, plus the island admission fee which contributes to the island’s maintenance and care.
9.30am – Breakfast at Thomson Bay & Rottnest Island Bike Hire
To gather our bearings and look over the various free maps available to decide our next steps, we stopped by the Dome cafe for breakfast. There are plenty of organised tours to take you around the island, but where’s the fun in that?! We opted for following our adventurous (and stingy) spirit by winging it, and after realising it might take a rather long time to walk everywhere, decided to follow suit of most visitors in hiring bikes for the day.
Our Rottnest Island bike hire was from Pedal and Flipper – a service right on the waterfront of Thomson Bay and just a couple of minutes walk from the ferry terminal. The service provided by Pedal and Flipper is exceptional, even at busy times the staff are friendly and polite, and you’re soon whizzing off with your chosen bicycle.
10.30am – Reaching Parker Point via Henrietta Rocks & Porpoise Bay
After figuring out a route along Parker Point Road and tackling a few hills, we reached Henrietta Rocks for our first stop. Beautiful blue waters and dramatic coastal rocks set the scene to spot the shipwreck of the Shark – where for those who enjoy snorkelling can take a swim alongside the many fish around the wreckage.
Feeling spurred on to continue discovering the beautiful surroundings, we eventually came to a loop track towards Porpoise Bay and Parker Point as we were told there were some special little marsupials to be seen up ahead. It turned out to be a great decision, with incredible coastal views and the adorable and world-famous quokkas playfully hopping nearby.
The friendly inhabitants of Rottnest Island are a joy to stumble upon at the most unexpected times. Eager to explore and get a good sniff of visitors, the temptation to touch or feed these furry guys should be resisted (duh), despite some rather silly tourists doing so anyway. Earlier in the day we saw one lone sleepy quokka, and I thought that would be it. Boy was I wrong! By late morning we saw our first of many larger groups of quokkas happily wandering, while onlookers (alas, in vain) tried to get the coveted #quokkaselfie with them – if only they kept still long enough!
With plenty of viewpoints and paths to the sea, you are spoilt for choice with beaches on Rottnest Island, and Parker Point is a prime example of the views on offer. The coral around the bay gives the water a unique turquoise, making the reef a perfect place for snorkelling and swimming. If you’re lucky enough to get on a private boat around Rottnest, this would be your place to stop and see stingrays and enjoy calmer waters with protection from the wind! Just along the coast is Porpoise Bay, the perfect place for swimming and a quiet walk along the beach without too many other visits around.
12pm – Stop for Smiling Quokkas
Having taken a break from, we found the tracks a little quieter and free of other cyclists, that is until we found ourselves coming across a large family of smiling quokkas right in the middle of the road! Of course, I couldn’t resist stopping for more photos and watching in quiet excitement as they patiently soak up the attention from overjoyed tourists.
12.30pm – Oliver Hill Battery
Taking the inland route we decided to head for a more historical but no less scenic attraction. Leaving our bikes at the bottom of a steep hill, we headed up alongside the tourist train tracks to reach Oliver Hill Battery, where the impressive gun still stands. With 360 views around the island and looking towards Wadjemup Lighthouse, we were glad to gain this new vantage point to appreciate the distance cycled, and a different view that the island offers.
1pm – Pink Lake & Rottnest Island Quokkas (again!)
Although Rottnest Island beaches are renowned and often considered the main attraction for a visit, our excursion up to the battery was a welcome change of scenery and prompted us to explore more around the area. Aiming for the many lakes that make up the central landscape of the island, I knew of one spot I was keen to visit.
Pink Lake can be easily missed if you’re not careful. Not shown on all the maps, you’re either looking for it or come across it by chance. As the former, I was chuffed to find it a quiet and peaceful rest place compared to some of the beach spots. While it had not quite retained its maximum pigmented colour yet (the best time to see the full effect is in the height of summer), it was still an other-worldly sight!
And of course, no stop is complete without more quokkas. We spotted a few quiet quokkas enjoying some time in the shade, being just as friendly to passersby. It’s easy to see why the happiest animal in the world is so loved. Their adorable smiles and crouching stance make them great models for a photo!
1.30pm – Paddle at Little Parakeet Bay
I must admit, my many (and equally stunning) pictures taken of the bays around Rottnest Island have all started to look the same. I wish I knew which each and every one was called, but unfortunately in my excitement at each new perspective I failed to even look at what they might be called. We stopped for a paddle break at what I think was Little Parakeet Bay, and enjoyed the cooling feeling of sand and sea to soothe our tired toes.
2.30pm – Swim at The Basin
Aware of the afternoon slipping away from us, we carried on our route along the coast. The beauty of Rottnest Island is unbeatable, and made even getting lost a pleasure as it allowed us to discover more bays!
Determined to have a swim before the day was out, we aimed for Geordie Bay to help us find our way to The Basin. However, even in this more residential area, the signs to our end point were few and far between, meaning our instinct and sense of direction guided our way.
Once we arrived, The Basin is quite simply the perfect beach spot. The white sands and shades of blue are irresistible and so inviting after a day of cycling! We enjoyed a dip in Mother Nature’s swimming pool, walking along the sands and clambering over rocks to tucked away pools.
3.30pm – Walk Around Thomson Bay
Cycling back to the main settlement at Thomson Bay, we returned our bikes, grabbed a late lunch at Thomson’s Rottnest cafe, and enjoyed the clear sky over the beach. Feeling satisfied we wandered around the souvenir shops, and enjoyed a last walk along the beach before (you guessed it) bumping into yet more quokkas!
4.15pm Board the Rottnest Island Ferry
As the sun began to lower itself towards to ocean our Rottnest Island day trip had come to an end! We boarded our boat back to Fremantle, feeling sad to leave such a gorgeous afternoon of sunshine and beaches. I hope we can get the chance to revisit one day, and would certainly hope to stay for longer to really explore all the hidden gems that we missed this time around!
Have you visited Rottnest Island? What was your favourite spot? Let me know if there’s anything we missed!
Top Tips for Visiting Rottnest Island:
- Bring suncream – cycling all day can be deceptively cooling but the sun is still there
- Prepare for water activities – swimming and snorkelling are highly recommended
- Bring water – buying supplies is limited to the settlement at Thomson Bay
- Hire a bike – if you’re able to it really is the best way to see as much as possible
- Plan out your day – although it’s not a big island a wrong turn might lead you astray
- Choose your routes – there’s several options and each have their own highlights
- Don’t touch the quokkas – this really is just common sense. Respect the wildlife!