Visit Rottnest Island in Australia For An Awesome Day Trip

by Jackie
Published: Last Updated on
Visit Rottnest Island - Beach

Rottnest Island, located off of Perth, Australia needs to be on your travel bucket list. As one of the best places to visit in Australia, Rottnest Island is the perfect place for a day trip if you’re visiting Perth on vacation or Western Australia on a road trip. 

You can’t go wrong with pristine beaches, turquoise ocean waters, smooth roads for cycling, and lots of outdoor adventures. Plus, one of the main attractions is seeing the adorable quokkas and taking selfies with them! You’ll fall in love with them. We’re still OBSESSED with this Australian animal even after we’ve returned home.

We highly recommend a day trip to Rottnest Island. Below is our detailed Rottnest Island travel guide on how to spend one day (or even longer!) when visiting Rottnest Island. If you have extra time, it’s worth it to stay for two days which is what we did. You’ll love how beautiful and peaceful everything is and won’t want to leave!


How to Get to Rottnest Island

The best way to get to the island is by ferry. There are three companies to choose from: Rottnest Express, Rottnest Fast Ferries, and SeaLink Rottnest Island. Each of the companies has different routes and times on where they depart or arrive from Perth (Elizabeth Quay or North Perth) and Fremantle (Victoria Quay or North Fremantle).

Visit the companies’ website for scheduling and pricing information. Some of the ferry companies have discounted tickets prices depending on departure times (ie: late afternoon) or low season. The companies also have add-ons packages such as bike or scuba equipment rentals, day tours, etc.

We took Rottnest Express and had a great time. Our ferry departed on Sunday at 8:15am from Fremantle B-Shed and returned at Monday at 5:30pm to Perth. From Fremantle, the ride was 30 minutes. From Perth, the ride was 1.5 hours. If you get seasick, don’t sit in the front of the boat as the waters are choppier. Seasick bags are available at the snack bar.

Cost was $72 AUD /$56 USD per person (includes a credit card transaction fee).

Helpful Tips:

  • If you have only one day on Rottnest Island, it’s best to leave Perth or Fremantle early in the morning (7-8am) and depart Rottnest Island in the late afternoon (4-5pm) to maximize your time.
  • Pre-book tickets online since ferries can get booked up, especially during the summertime.
  • Ensure that you have either a print out of your ticket or your cell phone has enough battery to scan the QR code to board the ferry.
  • If you stay overnight on Rottnest Island, collect your luggage tags at the ferry’s front desk. Rottnest Express’s online ticket purchasing confirmation page asks you for a mailing address to deliver the tags, however, this is only if you live in Australia. At the front desk, you’ll need to know the accommodation location and room number provided by the Rottnest Island Authority confirmation email for the luggage delivery.
Visit Rottnest Island Rottnest Express Ferry

Taking the ferry is the fastest way to enjoy your day trip to Rottnest Island


How to Get Around Rottnest Island for the Day

Bus

One of the popular ways is to take the Island Explorer Bus. It’s easy to get on the bus and get off at various bus stops. More information about transportation and purchasing tickets is here. We also saw several buses organized through Rottnest Express that traveled to popular destinations.

Bicycle

The best way to travel on Rottnest Island for one day is by bicycle. The roads are smooth and clear as cars aren’t allowed on the island. Plus, everyone has more freedom and fun on a bicycle. Just note that the island is a lot hillier than expected.

Many of the ferry companies have their own bicycle rentals, such as Rottnest Express, and you’ll need to reserve during the ticket purchasing process.

We opted to go with Pedal and Flipper which is less than a 10-minute walk from the Visitor Center. Just follow the signs from the Visitor Center to the bike rental. There are a variety of bikes such as the commuter bikes to mountain bikes and sizes to choose from (small, medium, large).

  • Cost is $30 AUD /$23 USD per person for a 1 day/24 hour rental for the commuter bike.
  • If doing a 2-day rental, the cost is $45 AUD /$34.60 USD.
  • A $50 AUD /$38 USD per bicycle security deposit is charged and gets refunded back once the bicycle is returned.

Helpful Tips:

  • Don’t forget to wear your helmet and lock up your bicycle. The chances of your bike getting stolen are slim, but you never know!
  • Pre-booking for Pedal and Flipper is not necessary but can speed up your process for getting a bicycle. Online reservation is for one day only. You can extend your reservation to two days or more by paying the difference at the check-out area.
  • Tools are available at the exit area to adjust the seat height. Old tubes are available to tie things to the rear rack.
Visit Rottnest Island - Pedal and Flipper Bicycle Rental

Riding a bicycle is the best way to travel around Rottnest Island in a day.

 

Justin Huynh, Life Of Doing, is on a bicycle and wears a helmet. At Pedal and Flipper Bicycle Rental on Rottnest Island.

Safety first when cycling on Rottnest Island. Wear your helmet at all times!


Things To Do in Rottnest Island on Your Day Trip

Now, we’re on the fun part of things to do on the island.

1. See the Adorable Quokkas

Our main reason to visit the island was to see quokkas. Quokkas are one of the happiest, cutest, and most curious creatures in the world! They are marsupials that are the size of a housecat.

Once you’ve seen one, you’ll be in awe of their adorableness and smiles. Plus, they are so cute when they look up at you with sand on their noses and show their teeth. Quokkas are everywhere on the island as they lack predators and love to hop towards people. If you see them hop away, they hop just like kangaroos.

If you want to maximize your quokka sightings, there are a few places to consider:

  • Near the Thomson Bay (#1 Island Explorer Bus Stop) and Kingston Barracks (#2 Island Explorer Bus Stop)
  • Near Nancy Cove area (#10 Island Explorer Bus Stop) and Stark Bay (#14 Island Explorer Bus Stop)
  • Around the picnic tables at the Settlement Shops

Check out this map for further information.

Don’t forget to take hundreds of selfies with them for social media. We’re still obsessed with them even after our trip!

Helpful Tips:

  • As with any wildlife, please don’t feed or touch them. Speak up when you see someone doing this.
  • Quokkas will approach you if you stay still.
  • Many of the quokkas live under bushes and trees along with annoying flies. The flies bite with a vengeance and it stings. You may consider wearing insect repellent.

Visit Rottnest Island - Quokka

Justin Huynh, Life Of Doing, stands next to a quokka at Rottnest Island, Australia

Seeing quokkas is a must-do when visiting Rottnest Island in one day.

Jackie Szeto, Life Of Doing, poses next to a quokka on Rottnest Island, Australia

Visit Rottnest Island - Quokka

One more smiling quokka!

2. Bike Around Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is absolutely beautiful to bike around. It’s very safe to bike around the island. The roads are wide, nicely paved, and there are no cars to worry about. The bus drivers are courteous to the riders. It is a great workout due to the rolling hills on the island!

Don’t worry about getting lost as there are plenty of signs around the island to direct you to a location. Or, you can pick up a map from your ferry operator which highlights various cycling routes or refer to the online map. According to the map, there are routes that can be 4km/2.4 miles (30 minutes), 10km/6.2 miles (1.5-3 hours), and up to 22km/13.7 miles (3-5 hours). Plus, biking allows you to be flexible with your schedule.

Jackie Szeto, Life Of Doing, cycles around Rottnest Island, Australia

Cars are not allowed on Rottnest Island, so enjoy your bike ride!

We recommend a ride to the Cape Vlamingh in the West End to see the waves and also the arch in the rocks.

Visit Rottnest Island - Cape Vlamingh Rock

Visit Rottnest Island - Cape Vlamingh

If you’re passing Wadjemup Lighthouse, consider riding through the pink lakes. The lakes are pink due to the high salt content and algae that have beta-carotene. Some of the lakes have a lighter pink hue compared to others.

Jackie Szeto, Life Of Doing, points to the Pink Lake at Rottnest Island, Australia.

The pink lake is an interesting place to visit at Rottnest Island.

Visit Rottnest Island - Pink Lake

3. Swim or snorkel in the clear blue waters.

The waters are spectacular and sparkling blue. You won’t go wrong with stopping by any place for a swim. If the waters are good, you could swim out to the shipwrecks between Bickley Bay and Porpoise Bay. Although we didn’t snorkel, some of the recommended places are Porpoise Bay, Parker Point, and Little Salmon Bay.

4. Relax on the beach.

We loved the clean beaches. Parakeet Bay is an awesome place to relax, take a nap, and hang out. Some of the other recommended beaches are in Thomson Bay (which is crowded due to the proximity to accommodations), The Basin, and Little Armstrong Bay.

Visit Rottnest Island - Parakeet Bay Beach

5. Visit historic places and take tours.

Want to learn more about historic places? Consider taking a tour at Oliver’s Hill Lookout or Wadjemup Lighthouse. Tours are $9 AUD /$6.90 USD each. Although we didn’t join the tours, we browsed through the Oliver’s Hill Lookout and the saw the artillery used during World War II. Views are amazing at both locations.

As a heads up, biking to Oliver’s Hill Lookout is steep! It took some effort and standing up on the bicycle to get up the hill. If the road is too steep, you can easily dismount the bicycle and walk up.

Visit Rottnest Island - Wadjemp Lighthouse

6. Other things to see 

Other recommendations include seeing peacocks walk around in the Settlement Shops area and seeing fur seals on Cathedral Rocks. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see them this time so we’ll save these for the next opportunity.


Places to Eat in Rottnest Island

Most of the restaurants are in the Settlement Shops area which is behind the Visitor Center. There is the Rottnest Bakery, Rottnest General Store, Simmo’s ice cream, Subway, and Frankie’s On Rotto. We had our fair share of baked goods from Rottnest Bakery (meat pies and other baked goods). The pizzas at Frankie’s On Rotto are delicious with the sourdough crust. There are other sit down restaurants nearby Hotel Rottnest as well.

Visit Rottnest Island - Rottnest Bakery

Plenty of baked goods to consider at Rottnest Bakery. The “Beware of Birds” sign is no joke. The birds love bread!

 

Visit Rottnest Island - Frankie's On Rotto Pizza

We enjoyed the sourdough crust pizzas. Top is the margherita pizza. Bottom is the beet and squash pizza.

 


Accommodations/Hotels in Rottnest Island

If you have the opportunity to stay overnight or longer, here are the accommodations available on the island. Guests have their choice of hostels at the Rottnest Hostel, camping, budget accommodations at the Caroline Thomson Cabins, or higher-end hotels at Hotel Rottnest or Karma Rottnest. More information about availability and prices is here. Due to the island’s exclusiveness, there aren’t any Airbnbs listed.

We stayed at the Caroline Thomson cabin and had an awesome time! The individual cabins (or “glamping”) had 2 bunk beds and 1 double bed. It was enough room for up to 6 people. Each cabin had a private bathroom, shower, cooking appliances, fridge, and microwave. This place was clean. There is a communal BBQ area too. Beds came with a wool blanket and pillow provided, but no linens. Linens available for rent prior to arrival or bring your own sleeping bags/linen. The area also had fast and free wifi connection. Room doesn’t have air conditioning though. 

Cost of the Caroline Thomson Cabin for one night: $114 AUD /$87 USD

Helpful Hints:

  • Depending on the time of the visit, it’s recommended to book accommodations in advance. By the time we looked for places to stay, we only had the Caroline Thomson cabins available. We booked two months prior to our arrival.
  • Feel free to bring your own food or purchase food at the Rottnest General Store (in Settlement Shop).
  • For the Caroline Thomson cabins, check in is at 2pm and check out is at 9am the following morning at the Visitor Center.
  • Luggage must be placed in the designated luggage area for the departing ferry from Rottnest Island to Perth or Fremantle either by 7:30am or 8am depending on your ferry time.
Visit Rottnest Island - Caroline Thomson Cabin Outside

Welcome to the Caroline Thomson Cabins

Visit Rottnest Island - Caroline Thomson Cabin

Visit Rottnest Island - Caroline Thomson Cabin


Final Thoughts About Rottnest Island

We hope you consider a day trip to Rottnest Island. It’s an absolutely incredible place to visit if traveling in Western Australia and close by Perth and Fremantle. You won’t be disappointed with this beautiful island.

For more information, check out the Rottnest Island website.

Check out our other posts about Australia to help with your planning:

Excited to visit Rottnest Island, Australia? Tell us what you would like to do or see in the comments below.

Save the post to your Australia Pinterest board.

Spend the day at Rottnest Island, Western Australia. It's the perfect spot to swim, snorkel, or hang out at the beaches.A seagull sits on top of a rock in the ocean waters off of Rottnest Island, West Australia

Pin #1 & Pin #2 photo credit: Jade Dilnot via Scopio Photos

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20 comments

Jane April 14, 2018 - 10:20 am

This is one of my favorite places in the world!!! Great article! You do it justice. =)

Reply
Jackie April 14, 2018 - 1:32 pm

Thank you Jane! We love Rottnest Island too and would love to stay there longer. Appreciate the nice comment!

Reply
Amy Alton April 14, 2018 - 11:49 am

I just did this two weeks ago! It’s so amazing, cause those guys are stinking cute. And very photogenic.

Reply
Jackie April 14, 2018 - 1:32 pm

Yay! Rottnest Island is such a beautiful place. <3 the quokka love.

Reply
Delphine April 14, 2018 - 2:19 pm

Very good photography! I really appreciate your comprehensive post, Rottnest is a beautiful place.

Reply
Jackie April 14, 2018 - 8:39 pm

Thanks Delphine! Appreciate your kind words! We loved our visit to Rottnest Island and wouldn’t hesitate to go back again.

Reply
Sandy April 14, 2018 - 4:19 pm

Eeek! This is definitely on my bucket-list for next time I visit Perth. Thanks for sharing such a detailed post 🙂

Reply
Jackie April 14, 2018 - 8:40 pm

Thanks Sandy. We hope you enjoy your future visit to Perth and Rotto! Let us know when you see quokkas. We love them!

Reply
Mina April 14, 2018 - 5:41 pm

Amazing! So many great tips and this place looks so chill and beautiful – real paradise. And how cute are the quokkas?

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Jackie April 14, 2018 - 8:41 pm

Mina – Thank you! It is an absolutely stunning place. You’ll love the quokkas too. Please send us some quokkas photos 🙂

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Samantha O'Brochta April 14, 2018 - 9:46 pm

This looks lovely! I’ll be in Australia in October, so I’ll have to check it out!

Reply
Jackie April 21, 2018 - 10:55 am

HI Samantha – Have an awesome time in Australia! Let us know where you’ll visit so we can read about your adventures 🙂

Reply
Aarti April 15, 2018 - 1:14 am

This is really good info but I must tell you that your pictures indeed are very helpful. Love the way those cabins look and the insides of it! .. Did you enjoy those baked goodies? Do you also think I could get something vegan here?…

Reply
Jackie April 16, 2018 - 4:11 pm

Hi Aarti. Unfortunately, the bakery doesn’t have a lot of vegan options. There were baguettes and artisan breads that may be vegan.

Reply
Carmelatte April 15, 2018 - 11:43 pm

Absolutely love this guide! I heard it is quite a lot of crocs in there?

Reply
Jackie April 21, 2018 - 10:53 am

Hi Carmelatte – Thank you for the nice comment! We didn’t see any crocodiles in Rottnest Island or Perth. I would be too afraid to see one in person.

Reply
Jen Ambrose April 16, 2018 - 10:50 am

I’ve never been to Australia, but I’m overwhelmed by the number of beautiful places there! If/when we do make it there, we’ll definitely head for WA. 🙂

Reply
Jackie April 21, 2018 - 10:56 am

Jen – You’ll love your visit in Australia! I agree, Australia is a huge place to cover and has activities for everyone. We’re happy to answer questions about Western Australia.

Reply
Khadija June 23, 2020 - 2:52 pm

Love the views and the food looks amazing! Can’t wait to visit Rottnest Island, Australia some day!

Reply
Jackie July 1, 2020 - 3:47 pm

Thank you Kadija. Hope you enjoy Rottnest Island’s beauty on a future trip.

Reply

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