The decision to go to Rottnest Island was made kind of last minute. We knew we wanted to go there this last time we were in Perth, but only decided to plan the trip while we were already there. Because of the Christmas holidays, the city was completely packed. And – so was the island. With no accommodation available, the only option for us was to make it a day trip.
The island receives 450,000 to 500,000 visitors per day in summer and offers simple accommodation to only 5,500 people, which means that 70% of its visitors go to the island for the day only. We did and it was completely worth it.
The ferry tickets available for the day gave us a late start and we arrived on the island at 11 am, after the 30 min ferry ride from the Fremantle wharf.
Rotto, how the island is called by Australians, is 11 km long and although there is a bus available on the island, bikes are the best form of transportation available. We started our tour cycling from Thompson’s Bay towards the lighthouse.
Beautiful bays, outstanding blue waters (the ones that only Australia can offer), scenic paths, and wildlife are just some of the features you will find on Rotto. The cycling can be tempered to individual fitness levels and is accessible to everyone.
The island is home to a kind of giant rat referred to as a quokka, and you can find them pretty much everywhere around. Quokkas and humans live in complete harmony in this part of the world.
After visiting the lighthouse, Cape Vlamingh (the western point in the island), and stopping for many pictures; we decided to stop at Parakeep Bay for some swimming, silly magazines reading, and water activities.
Although the island was packed, it didn’t feel anything like being at any of the popular beaches, like Bondi or Coogee in Sydney for summer. The bay was completely empty and we could enjoy that piece of paradise all to ourselves. Next to it was George Bay, the closest place for food available, so we headed over there for lunch at the only cafe around that area.
After lunch, it was time to join the rest of the crowd. The Basin is the most popular spot on the island and a great place for snorkelling. Despite the fact that the ocean around Australia is very cold and I always struggle to hit the water, the color was so blue and the weather so hot, that even I ventured in for a swim. The snorkeling was beautiful and I could see several schools of fish and sea life. I did leave the water with a sore knee and a cut on my left-hand finger after bumping into the rocks on my way back to the shore, but it was totally worth it!
Around 5:30 pm, already hungry again after a whole day of activities, we headed to the only pub on the island for some food and drinks. The Rottness Hotel is a great place to finish the day and it is very family friendly. The house features some bands and DJs from time to time, to entertain the crowd. The music generally goes from 7 pm to 11 pm. Since the last ferry was at 8:15 pm, we had time to enjoy the music for an hour before leaving the paradise.
Kids and adults were going crazy dancing in this very scenic environment, while watching the sunset. With so much to do, it’s no wonder they call Rotto an island playground.
Sunburned, full of bruises, very tired, and trying to protect ourselves from the cold wind that hit the island at the end of the day, we took the last ferry back to Fremantle satisfied with the great summer day we had.
The island is equipped with many disability ramps, including an ocean access into the water at Thompson’s Bay.
Return ferry price from Fremantle: AU $60
Sunscreen is absolutely a must and it is never enough.
Plan in advance for a chance to get accommodation and stay on the island for a few days
Bikes: you can rent it there, or take your own for an extra AU $15. Helmets are mandatory at all times.
Snorkeling gear: I recommend taking your own equipment if you are planning to visit the island during the busy seasons. Snorkeling gear is easily available for rental on the island on less busy days.
Water: Take your own when exploring the island. There is no drinking water or shops available in certain points. Keep yourself hydrated.