Although Rottnest may be best known for its summer vibe and endless beaches, there is a definitive charm to the island in winter. Think rugged-up hikes, cycling in beautiful cool conditions, whale watching, surfing, diving and baby quokkas.
We’ve rounded up our favourite things to do on Rottnest Island in winter. So, grab your beanie, sense of adventure and experience the wilder side of Rotto, or if you’re lucky – enjoy those milder winter days with clear blue skies and sunshine.
Rottnest is free from private cars, so it’s an absolute paradise for cyclists. You can explore at your leisure, meandering around the island along 22 kilometres of quiet open road. Choose to do the whole island or just smaller sections, whatever takes your fancy! Winter is the perfect time to ride as the temperature is that little bit lower – meaning you’re not struggling against the Perth summer heat. On a clear day, you’ll be treated to crisp air, bright blue sky, incredible ocean views, and beautiful green bushland as you circumnavigate the island. If it’s a bit cloudy and drizzly, you’ll experience some unique rugged views, complete with wild, crashing waves as your soundtrack.
Every year the majestic humpback whales make their annual migration along the Western Australian coastline. You can view these gentle giants on a number of whale-watching tours around Rottnest from September to November, or spot them from the island’s vantage points – from August to November. For the best view, head to Cape Vlamingh (the western most point of the Island), and head along the West End Boardwalk to Cathedral Rocks. You might also spot New Zealand fur seals, Australian sea lions, and bottlenose dolphins!
Keen to see Rottnest Island’s unique landscapes, wildlife, historic attractions, and geological sites? Winter is the perfect time to lace up your boots and set off on some of the self-guided Wadjemup Bidi walking trails. Wadjemup Bidi consists of 45 kilometres of walk trails that take you across spectacular coastal headlands and past stunning inland lakes.
There are two lighthouses situated on Rottnest Island – Wadjemup and Bathurst Lighthouses. Starting at the settlement – head north along the coast and climb the hill up to Bathurst Lighthouse for incredible views of Pinky Beach and back out to the mainland. Or, if you are looking for a reason to explore the centre of the island, head to Wadjemup Lighthouse. Constructed in 1896 and standing at approximately 38 metres tall, it is the fourth tallest lighthouse in Australia! There are also three other buildings to explore in the Wadjemup precinct – the Signal Station, the Battery Observation Post, and the Women’s Royal Australian Navy Service House, all of which are linked by self-guided interpretive signage. Admire the breathtaking views of sparkling water and Perth city in the distance – on a clear day you can even make out the pine trees that line the coast at Cottesloe!
Yes, even in winter! The Leeuwin Current runs around Rottnest Island, bringing the warm, tropical waters down from the Kimberley region. So even in winter, the water is only a couple of degrees cooler than in summer. If you get a clear warm day, you will find conditions are just right for a quick snorkel or a refreshing swim. Check out our favourite snorkelling spots on the island.
If you’re a fan of diving, Rottnest Island is one of the most amazing places in Australia. Slip into your wetsuit and explore the crystal clear water, abundance of fish (including a stunning array of tropical fish), coral gardens and shipwrecks! You’ll find healthy corals in shades of purple, pink and brown, meadows of seagrass, schooling butterfly fish, and huge colourful lobsters scuttling past. You can hire dive tanks and wetsuits from Pedal & Flipper.
After a day exploring Rottnest, you’ve earnt a treat. Head to Karma Rottnest Day Spa in The Settlement for an incredible massage or treatment. This beautiful spa is warm, comforting, and relaxing. From the moment you choose your essential oil for your treatment and slip on that robe, you’ll be snug as a bug! Finish your treatment with a warming cup of delicious herbal tea in the relaxation area. Note that you will need to book in advance.
There are so many places to enjoy a warming meal or drink on Rottnest Island. From coffee and desserts to fresh seafood; you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to delicious dining options to warm you up!
Winter is one of the best times to hit the surf on Rottnest Island if you love those big swells. You can hire surfboards and wetsuits from Pedal and Flipper or bring them across on the ferry with you. Our favourite surf breaks are Salmon Bay, Strickland Bay, Stark Bay and Ricey Beach. In fact, Strickland Bay has been ranked as one of the top 50 surf breaks in the world! Rottnest also has various reef breaks on both sides of the island including Radar Reef, Cathedral Rocks and Chicken Reef.
What’s cuter than a quokka? A baby quokka of course! In winter you’ll see the mother quokkas carrying their joeys in their pouches. If you’re lucky, you’ll see one of the infants pop their face out to give you a quick smile! Always observe quokkas, especially ones with joeys, from a reasonable distance for ther safety, and yours.