The Island is less than an hour from Perth by ferry, so if you only have a few days off – you won’t waste any precious time in the car. Plus, once you get here, there’s so much to see and do, you’ll feel a world away from the city.
Here’s our ultimate guide for a three day escape on Rottnest Island.
Day 1: Cycling and beachcombing
As your ferry from the mainland heads towards Thomson Bay, you’ll be treated to incredible views of our island paradise. Your ferry provider will take your luggage directly to your accommodation, so now’s the time to explore!
Today we’re going to work our way around the whole island so you can get your bearings and adjust to the Rotto pace of life. First up, head to Thomson Bay Settlement to stock up on supplies. The Settlement is the heart of the island where you’ll find the restaurants, cafes, shops and bakery. Grab a takeaway from The General Store and pop it in your bag for later so you can enjoy a picnic enroute.
There are two ways to explore the island – by bike or by bus. If you feel like a cycle, head to Pedal and Flipper to collect your bike. They have a huge selection, plus trailers and infant seats are available, and e-bikes if you feel you might need an extra boost!
If you prefer to rest your legs and learn about Rottnest Island from the comfort of a bus, you can take the Island Explorer bus service. This service circumnavigates the Island giving you the freedom to hop on and off as you please.
Head south towards the Kingstown Barracks and enjoy those first amazing glimpses of turquoise ocean, bright green bush and white sand beaches. Your first stop will be one of the Island’s incredible beaches – so just keep your eyes peeled and when you see one you like the look of, pull over and enjoy! If you’re on the bus, check your map for the designated stops. There are 19 stopping points around the Island, showcasing some of our most popular beaches and attractions.
Take your pick between Parker Point, Little Salmon Bay, Salmon Bay, Green Cove and Mary Cove – all perfect to admire the gorgeous view, take a walk on the sand or hop in the water for a swim and a snorkel.
After enjoying your first taste of Rottnest’s beaches, it’s time to hit the road and continue along the western most part of the Island. There are viewing platforms at Cathedral Rocks and Cape Vlamingh where you can see our resident marine life including New Zealand fur seals, Australian sea lions, Bottlenose dolphins and, from August to November, migrating Humpback whales.
Now it’s time to head to the Wadjemup Lighthouse in the centre of the Island. Wadjemup Lighthouse was constructed in 1896 and stands at approximately 38 metres, making it the fourth tallest lighthouse in Australia!
Head down the hill and back towards the coast, where you’ll pop out at Little Armstrong Bay. This part of the Island is a feast for the eyes, whether seen by bike or from the comfort of the Island Explorer hop on / hop off bus. Along this spectacular stretch you’ll pass Geordie Bay and Longreach Bay – both of which are stunningly beautiful, expansive beaches and perfect spots for your picnic!
On the final stretch of stunning coast, you’ll round the corner to see the Basin. With its shallow clear waters and protective reef, the Basin is an ideal spot for a final swim or snorkel.
Arrive back at the Settlement in the early afternoon and head to your accommodation to freshen up. Once you’ve unpacked and had a bit of time to relax, it’s time to head back out for a spot of dinner. Nothing says dinner on Rottnest like classic fish and chips or some locally caught, perfectly prepared seafood. There are a number of licenced restaurants and pubs on the Island offering locally crafted beer and renowned Western Australian wine.
As the day draws to a close, settle in for an epic Rottnest Island sunset. The best place for a fantastic sunset view is right here in Thomson Bay, but if you’re up for another quick cycle or walk, head back to Pinky Beach to see the sky light up over iconic Bathurst Lighthouse. An incredible end to your first day on Rottnest!
Day 2: Relax and recharge
We covered some distance yesterday, so today it’s time to slow down, relax and really soak up those island vibes.
Head over to the Settlement this morning and treat yourself to breakfast. There are plenty of places to choose from, so you can enjoy a sit-down breakfast or grab a takeaway pastry and a coffee from The Bakery and enjoy it on the beach. Enjoy a lazy morning with a newspaper, book or just enjoying the incredible views out to the ocean.
After your tour of the Island yesterday there are bound to be spots you didn’t explore, or ones you’d love to head back to. So, pack up your stuff and head back to your favourite place for the morning and enjoy a few hours of snorkelling, swimming, playing games or just snoozing in the shade.
In the early afternoon, you’ll be starting to feel peckish again and in need of refreshments, so head to the Settlement for a sundowner and a bite to eat. If you want to eat back at your accommodation, just grab some supplies from The General Store and enjoy a low-key BBQ and an epic sunset.
Day 3: Get cultural
The history of Rottnest Island is rich and fascinating, so today it is time to do a couple of tours to find out more.
Explore Rottnest Island’s breathtaking scenery and natural beauty on your own revolutionary set of wheels with a Segway tour! Segway Tours WA will lead you on a journey of discovery and exploration into Rottnest’s most hidden treasures, taking you to places you’ve never been before. Enjoy this exciting, eco-friendly adventure on this unique mode of transport. Riding a Segway is easy to learn and you’ll quickly be on your way to experiencing the previously hard-to-reach corners of Western Australia’s iconic Island..
1-hour Settlement Tour: Various slots on Saturdays and Sundays and selected days during the school holidays
Go Cultural Aboriginal Tours offer incredible walking tours which are guaranteed to heighten your appreciation of Wadjemup, the local Aboriginal name for Rottnest Island. From a unique Aboriginal perspective, your Noongar guide explores the Island and explains the historical significance of Rottnest to the traditional owners, the Whadjuk Noongar people. This tour includes a traditional Aboriginal sand ceremony, a Dreamtime story and a traditional song in the Noongar language. There is also an extended tour, just for adults, that is more immersive and interactive, including a traditional Smoking Ceremony, extended cultural and historical content and a traditional souvenir gift.
Did you know?
The name for Rottnest Island in the Noongar language is Wadjemup, which means ‘place across the water where the spirits are’. The Island is considered to be a place of transition between the physical and spiritual world and the spirit of the deceased is believed to travel to Wadjemup during its journey towards the afterlife. When the spirit is ready to leave the physical world, it moves to the west end of the Island, where the Whale takes the spirit on to its final resting place known as Koorinup, located on the horizon in the deep ocean west of the Island.
As your day draws to a close, make sure you get a famous #QuokkaSelfie before you head home! The happiest animal on earth is sure to put a smile on your face. You’ll find these friendly animals all over the island, but The Settlement is probably their favourite place to hang out.
After three days on Rottnest we hope you’re leaving relaxed, refreshed and as happy as a Quokka!