I’ve been to Greek, Thai and Indonesian islands, but Rottnest may be a serious contender for my favourite island in the world. Rottnest Island, affectionately named “Rotto” by locals, is home to beautiful bays, lakes and the elusive quokka (which I will get onto in a minute)… Ellie and I were staying with my aunt and uncle in Perth, and given that Rottnest is only about 18km off the Perth coastline, it made sense to go and visit for the day. So, we caught the ferry early in the morning from Fremantle B Shed terminal, and made the 45 minute boat journey to the island. I hadn’t read a huge amount about Rottnest Island, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, nor did I anticipate that it was going to be so beautiful.
Hiring a Bicycle
Arriving at the port on Rottnest, we walked a few metres to a little village type set up, where there were shops, cafes and a bar or two. From here, you can also rent a bicycle for the day, which I highly recommend as its simply the best way to explore the island. Rottnest only covers an area of 19km² and its very well set up for cyclists, so its definitely feasible to cover the whole island in a day. There are no cars, except for a limited amount of commercial vehicles and a bus that takes tourists round, so cycling is the mode of transport that most people opt for. The bike rental was $30 for the day, including a helmet and chain to lock it up with- a little pricey in my opinion, but it was definitely worth it.
Beaches and Bays
The cycling routes pretty much stick to the coastline, and this coastline is pretty spectacular. Every few miles we would come across another beautiful bay. This makes Rottnest the perfect place for swimming, sunbathing and snorkelling so be sure to bring beach and snorkel gear with you. You can hire snorkel masks at the village if you don’t own one! The Basin was probably the nicest bay, but it was also the most crowded.
Now, the main draw to Rottnest for me was the quokka. If you don’t know what a quokka is, its a rodent-like marsupial native to the island. They’re absolutely everywhere (you’re guaranteed to see them) and are the reason the island has its name- a Dutch explorer thought they were giant rats and named the island “Rotte Nest”, which translates to Rat Nest. A craze has started in recent years whereby tourists strive to get a “quokka selfie;” if you can get a photo with a quokka at the right angle, it looks like he’s smiling into the camera! Getting a quokka selfie turned out to be pretty difficult- you can google “quokka selfie” to see some great ones, but here are my poor attempts…
The quokkas were all over the island, and they were very inquisitive, so would happily come up to you (probably hoping for food). It is illegal to touch or feed a quokka as they are a protected species, but you can still sit and watch them wonder at you.
A large feature of Rottnest is Wadjemup Lighthouse; a 66 metre lighthouse built in 1849. You can see the lighthouse from many points on the island, and we cycled to the top of the hill where it was sat, which provided some great views. You can pay to go on a tour of the inside of the lighthouse, but this costed more than my interest in touring a lighthouse so we gave this a miss.
On our way back to the port, we stumbled across a pink lake. Yes, that’s right, a pink lake. I didn’t know this was on the island, but I’m so glad we came upon it. The lake is pink due to a high salt content, and apparently you will float perfectly on the surface if you lay in it. These photos do not do it justice… it was absolutely mesmerising.
Rottnest Island was the absolute highlight of my two weeks in Western Australia. I would have loved to have spent another day here, but accommodation on the island isn’t cheap. Have you ever been, and what were your highlights from the island? Comment below!