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Man tourist riding a bike on Rottnest Island, Western Australia.

Rottnest Island: Explore Australia’s Hidden Gem

November 21, 2022

Western Australia is the largest state in Australia, making up one-third of the country, and within it are some of the most stunning places on earth—one being Rottnest Island. This beautiful escape is famously known for its happy little inhabitants, the quokkas. But it is so much more. Today we want to explore this hidden gem and tell you a little bit about one of our favorite destinations.

What Is Rottnest Island?

Rottnest Island, Australia (or ‘Rotto’) is a 7.3 square mile island located about 20 miles from Perth. It is an absolute paradise lined with 63 beaches, 20 bays, several bike trails, and nearly zero vehicles (which we will get into later). But this island has a storied history. Rising sea levels separated Rotto from mainland Western Australia nearly 7,000 years ago. Before then, it was inhabited by aboriginal peoples, the Noongar.  

After the island separated from the land, it has had several different uses. And now sits as a reserve of one of the most spectacular diving and snorkeling destinations on earth. 

How Do You Get To Rottnest Island?

If you are visiting Western Australia, you can hop on a ferry from Perth (90 minutes) or Fremantle (25 minutes), fly, or take a boat. When you arrive, you will notice an abundance of bikes, hop-on-hop-off buses, and emergency vehicles. That’s because no cars are allowed on the island besides those designated for tourists. The island is walkable, though you will need more than a day to take it all in. But, with your ferry ticket, you can add on a bike rental for a nominal fee which is most adventurers’ preferred method of transportation.

Things To Do On Rottnest

While most travelers spend one day on Rottnest Island, our Western Australia expert, Lindsay Santoro, could have spent an entire week. There are tons of things to do. Places you can explore in 24 hours or intentionally plan over a longer period for a more laid-back week. With a permanent population of just 300 people and around 750,000 annual visitors, this truly is a less-explored paradise with tons to enjoy. Here are just a few of the many things to do:

1 | Meet The Famous Quokka

Oh yes, number one on our list has to be the infamous quokka spotting. The “happiest animal on earth” inhabits this island as the only native mammal, and though you may be able to find one during the day, they are most active at night. We love to see these interesting animals right after their mating season when they are holding joeys in their pouches and smiling for the world to see. These wallabies are not afraid of humans either, they may get a little close to try and figure you out, and selfies are okay. But we ask that you never touch or feed a quokka and always be respectful of the wildlife in any destination. Though cute and a little funny, they are still creatures with their own minds, wants, and needs. 

A Quokka on Western Australia's Rottnest Island smiling at a camera while holding a leaf

2 | Bike Around The Island 

For the adventurer at heart, biking on this island is a given. With around 14 miles of bike trails and almost no vehicles, this is the perfect way to explore at your leisure, sip in the fresh air, and take moments to relish in all you see. Plus, some areas are only accessible via bike, so you will be able to encounter areas rarely explored.

3 | Dive With Sea Life

Scuba diving is one of the most stunning things you can do on Rottnest. These turquoise waters allow divers to explore shipwrecks, limestone reefs, a shark cave, and more, depending on experience. Divers will see a wide array of wildlife with over 400 fish species, including butterfly fish, blue devil, and around 135 tropical fish species. You may even encounter long-nosed fur seals, humpback whales, grey nurse sharks, and bottlenose dolphins. 

4 | Snorkel In One Of Many Pristine Beaches Or Bays

If a snorkel aligns better with your day, you will be anything but disappointed. Rottnest Island has put together the best snorkeling spots around the island for you, where you will have a chance to see all of the marine life from above, plus green turtles, sea grass, and even the opportunity to hop from one spot to the next at your leisure. 

5 | Take A Free Walking Tour

All around the world, across big cities and tourist destinations, you will find free walking tours led by local experts—Rotto is no different. This island offers tours for everyone, including aboriginal history, WWII tours, wilderness and shipwreck tours, and more. Walking tours are a fabulous way to gain your bearing and learn where you want to take your adventure next. 

6 | Hang Out At The Beach

With so many destinations to choose from in seven square miles, Rotto is perfect for one or several beach adventures. You can lounge, frolic, paddleboard (SUP), and much more. Just be sure to pack your swimsuit and sun lotion because you will want to stay all day.

Rottnest Island beach, Western Australia

7 | Visit The Wadjemup Museum

All destinations have a history to reflect on as we adventure. The Wadjemup Museum holds 40,000-year-old artifacts, information about the aboriginal Noongar people who lived on this land, and its story of aboriginal incarceration. For entry, they ask that you donate to the museum. This place will inspire you to learn and reflect on all that the island was and leave with a feeling of all that it is and can be.

From what’s listed above, boating to skydiving, spearfishing, and more, there is much to discover on this island. Our team is here to design the perfect itinerary for you. Western Australia is a once-in-a-lifetime destination for adventurers. Contact us today to help you book your vacation. 

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