A Complete Guide to Rottnest Island

By the time we arrived to Bambu Backpackers, we had heard from at least five different people that we couldn’t miss out on visiting Rottnest Island. Then we were hit with it again as we were checking in. In no uncertain terms were we to miss exploring this particular gem.

Rottnest Island is a tiny little island located a short ferry ride away from either Perth or Fremantle. Famous for its white beaches, legendary self-guided bike tour, and the adorable friendly quokkas, it makes for the perfect day or overnight trip out of Perth. 

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What to Bring

You’re essentially in for a day at the beach on Rottnest and it will be a glorious one. However, bear in mind that there is next to no shade/cover on the island once you leave town and it can get unbearably hot. Always remember to have water with you, we watched someone have a heatstroke on the bus when we were there and it’s no joke - take care of yourself!

  • Sunblock

  • Loose fitting clothing

  • Snorkel gear (you can rent some if you don’t have any!)

  • Swimsuit

  • Hat/Sunglasses

  • Extra Sunblock (seriously)

  • Change of clothes (if you plan on eating at one of the restaurants)

  • Beach blanket or beach umbrella

 

Getting Around Rottnest

Many people opt for a tour that provides transport to and from the island, a rental bike, and snorkel gear to explore the pristine shoreline. If you’re interested in biking around the island this is definitely the way to go. 

I can’t ride a bike (yes, I’ve tried. Yes, it’s embarrassing. Yes, I even tried on this trip and BROKE MY TOE.) so MJ reluctantly gave up on the idea of a solo bike tour and we bought ferry passes and brought our own snorkel gear. 

Once on the island we purchased a hop-on hop-off bus ticket to do our own exploring. This is a great alternative if it’s a scorching hot day like the one we had or you aren’t a great cyclist. MANY people get into accidents biking around this island and you will be sharing the road with the buses that constantly circle the island, so be alert if you choose this option.

There's plenty to see no matter how you choose to do it. Check out the lighthouse at sunset and make a stop at the seal lookout to catch a glimpse of some wildlife. We only stopped for 10-15 minutes and managed to see seals, dolphins, and even a whale off in the distance!

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The Beaches & Snorkeling

There are amazing beaches all over this island. You absolutely can't go wrong if you're looking to camp out all day on the sand. We picked a perfect little beach called Little Salmon Bay because we were looking to snorkel and it's one of the best places on the island to do so. Some others include Parakeet Bay, The Basin, and Nancy Cove.

The water is clear, calm and beautiful, making it ideal for a short little underwater adventure. If you're looking to snorkel you can either bring your own gear or rent some on the island. There's some really nice coral formations and plenty of fish around - so suit up and dive in!

 

Wildlife

It’s no exaggeration to say that the main attraction of the island is the quokkas. When we first got off the ferry, we asked the lady selling us our bus passes where we should go to see one and she just laughed and told us we couldn’t avoid them if we tried. She was right.

These friendly marsupials run this island. They are all over town, underneath your chair at cafes, waiting at your bus stop, haunting the bike stands, they are EVERYWHERE. They’re also incredibly desensitized to humans, making it super easy to coax one up to you to take a quokka selfie (we were told it was a thing and didn’t believe it, but it really is). 

I won’t say you shouldn’t feed the quokkas because everyone does (including us). But as always when you’re feeding a wild animal, be careful what you feed them! 

To learn more about Rottnest's wildlife, check this out.

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Eating & Staying on Rottnest Island

You have quite a few options when it comes to eating and staying on Rottnest Island. You can stay at a hotel, like the beautiful Hotel Rottnest or Karma Rottnest, or opt for something cheaper, like Rottnest Hostel or one of the island's campgrounds! We didn't stay overnight on the island, but we heard that it's a popular thing to do, especially over the weekends. If you're interested, here's a good link to check out.

When it comes to food, you've got plenty of options. You can opt for something easy and cheap at one of the island's cafes (we personally loved the Rottnest Bakery in the morning) or something a little more upscale. We grabbed dinner and some seriously delicious mojitos at Riva Restaurant after touring the island all day, but there is also Thompsons Rottnest and a restaurant at Hotel Rottnest.

 

We loved exploring Rottnest - if you find yourself in Perth definitely don't miss out on this particular gem!