The warm Indian Ocean around Rottnest Island is an underwater playground, with the Leeuwin Current bringing tropical visitors like the green turtle to the marine reserve. You’ll find healthy corals in shades of purple, pink and brown, meadows of seagrass, schooling butterfly fish, and huge colourful lobsters scuttling past.
Swimming and snorkelling here is easy, with so many sheltered and protected bays to explore, and coral reefs creating a natural barrier from the swell. Bring your snorkel and mask when you visit, or hire a set from Pedal and Flipper when you arrive. You won’t believe your eyes as you dive into the turquoise water to explore this dazzling underwater paradise!
We’d recommend exploring the island in a clockwise direction as the southern beaches are best and most sheltered from the breeze (aka the Freo Doctor) in the morning. This is also the way the Island Explorer Bus travels, so you can hop on and off whenever you see somewhere that takes your fancy!
Here are some of our favourite places to snorkel on Rottnest Island.
As you arrive at the beach you can see the ghostly wreck of ‘The Shark’ ship, now laying just 50 metres from the shore beneath the water in the shallows. The shipwreck makes for an interesting and historic snorkelling experience, with the ship acting as a home to many sea creatures. Just check the conditions first as snorkelling here is safest and most enjoyable when conditions are calm and flat.
The waters around Parker Point are protected by a sanctuary zone as this reef habitat supports an array of marine plants and animals including seagrass, algae, corals, molluscs, sponges and fish. Hop into the water and snorkel along the Parker Point Snorkel Trail, marked by 12 plaques along the seabed. This 2 kilometre long snorkel trail offers a view of an underwater playground with a variety of fish, pink coral and limestone rocks.
Welcome to the nursery! Salmon Bay is rich with seagrass which form a vital habitat for juvenile marine life. As such, this area acts as a nursery for young marine creatures looking to rest, play and explore. If you continue around the coastline to Little Salmon Bay and head into the water, you’ll find a marine snorkel trail made up of 10 plaques that can be found and followed underwater. Look out for starfish, tropical fish and crayfish.
Mary Cove is further around the island, so normally quieter than the beaches closer to Thomson Bay Settlement. But if you’re a keen snorkeller, the journey is worth it! Here you’ll find heaps of corals around the reef, which are home to schools of tropical fish.
This is one of the more remote spots and is only accessible by boat. Fish Hook Bay is a great place to see a large variety of diverse fish species, and maybe even the neighbouring sea lions and seals! Just be sure to keep a reasonable distance if you spot them, for your wellbeing and theirs. The bay gets its name from its iconic shape and is sheltered by surrounding limestone – perfect for snorkelling away from the swell.
This gorgeous little bay is a bit of a hidden gem, so if you’re looking for a quieter spot to snorkel or relax in solitude, head here. The surrounding marine sanctuary zone and rocky outcrops are home to some species of marine life that you won’t find anywhere else along the island’s coastline – think large schooling fish, a maze of reefs and seagrasses.
Little Parakeet Bay is a great option for younger children with its shallow water and calm conditions. This bay is home to a plethora of marine life, including cute-as-a-button little blue-scaled fish, starfish and the occasional friendly stingray.