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Published September 12th 2017
Explore Paradise Without Leaving WA
The rocky skyline of Rottnest is visible from Perth's mainland, and it's just a short boat trip from Fremantle. The holiday island features world class beaches and unique wildlife, including the 'happiest animal on earth'!
This article will guide you through how to spend a day or a weekend on Rottnest, including the main attractions, and how to prepare, whether you've been to Rottnest before, or you've never heard of it.
The first thing we can't avoid is the cost- this is not a cheap day out, though it is possible to do it on a range of budgets. As of November 2017 (in time for summer Rottnest season) another ferry company will be servicing Rottnest, which will hopefully bring the cost down. Currently, it costs around $80 to access Rottnest, including a round trip ferry ticket, and island admission costs. For groups it can be surprisingly economical to fly across, with companies offering plane flight across the water. To keep costs to a minimum for overnight visits, visitors can camp on Rottnest, and/or visit in winter when there are often great deals on accommodation. There are many options for accommodation, from camping to dormitories, self contained cabin, or the Lodge or Hotel. Prices range from $40 to over $300, in peak season. Many Perth locals visit just for a day trip come Summer and the Christmas holidays, as it's only half an hour on the ferry from Fremantle.
So now it's time to talk about why the island is worth every penny- and how to get your money's worth out of your trip.
Image Courtesy of @thattravellingteacher IG, Via Rottnest Island FB
Visiting Rottnest largely centres around plenty of time exploring the amazing coral reefs and azure waters. (If you want a snorkelling experience without the price tag, consider exploring Perth's mainland reefs here).
Rottnest is a protected nature reserve, home to the incredibly cute quokka, which are in abundance all over the island, and very friendly. The shallow and pristine Basin offers an accessible and family friendly beach, possibly the most well known in Rottnest. There are rock pools and plenty to explore here. Thompson Bay forms the main hub and ferry port, and is a beautiful spot to lounge, with food and amenities close by. There are also surf and snorkelling opportunities at many other less crowded beaches.
With over 60 beaches and 20 bays it will be an endless exercise to map them all out. Many visitors choose the option to cycle around Rottnest, soaking up the scenery and crisp air, and getting some good exercise. With so many places to stop along the way you can map your route to suit your needs: from family friendly ride to epic beach marathon. Travellers can bring their own bike across, or there is bike hire on the island, where you can also hire other snorkelling and sports equipment.
For those who are fond of history or education, there are relics from WWII to visit on the island. There is also a small 'town' area, with several cafes and restaurants, a bakery and several gift shops. The town maintains the laid back coastal vibe, and offers a relaxing space to recoup.
Rottnest is the ultimate getaway, being so close to Perth, but feeling so far away. Get ready for snorkeling shipwrecks, exploring the reef, enjoying the shallows or surf breaks, and cycling your way through its iconic scenery. Peak season is November to January, with the hot weather bringing many visitors, however there are many advantages to going in winter such as discount offers, fewer crowds, and winter currents bringing tropical fish and whales to the area.
Don't forget to pack your beach gear, sun protection, and bike to enjoy a day or weekend away!