This Christmas we ventured across our vast continent for a family holiday in south-west Western Australia (WA). WA is a fabulous holiday destination with something to offer everyone. From spectacular scenery to beautiful wineries to unique wildlife there really is so much to discover but without a doubt Rottnest Island tops my list of highlights.
The crystal blue bays of Rottnest island are breathtakingly beautiful with their powdery white sand and clear, calm waters. Big call, but I think Rottnest has some of the finest beaches I have ever seen – and I’ve seen a few! I think it is the vibrant shades of blue contrasting with the pure white sand (and the lack of cars) that really set this island apart.
There are 63 beaches on Rottnest Island, so it is a great destination for water sports. If you want to step foot on your very own private beach, get out your surfboard, fish, dive or snorkel you will find the perfect spot. The island also boasts a rich history, an abundant marine life and is home to our happiest little marsupial, the Quokka.
Rottnest Island is a 30-minute ferry ride from Fremantle. We took the Rottnest Express from Shed B (1 Peter Hughes Dr, Freemantle). Tip: There are two ferry terminals in different locations so make sure you key the exact address into google maps for your particular ferry terminal or you may never find it (ie. Finding ours may have aged my Tiger prematurely!). You will also need to book parking if you are leaving a car. We booked Victoria Quay Car Park which was located adjacent Shed B.
Rottnest is a car free zone which adds to its overall charm and helps make the entire experience a real adventure. The best way to get around – by bicycle. This beautiful place forces you to slow down to fit into its laid back, casual vibe but if you aren’t up to biking, you can jump on the local islander explorer bus service. The Island Explorer circumnavigates the island regularly and provides a convenient hop on / hop off service.
You can take your own bicycle on the ferry, hire bicycles through the ferry company or hire them direct from Pedal & Flipper once you arrive on the island. Peddle & Flipper only allow you to book a bike for one day, but you can extend the booking when you get there. They actually had no record of our booking when we arrived, so it pays to take your paperwork with you.
I would recommend staying for a minimum of 3 nights on Rottnest Island to give yourself time to explore and soak in this amazing place. For accommodation you can’t beat the newest option on the island – glamping tents at Discovery.
Discovery eco-sustainable resort is the first development on the island in over 30 years. It is nestled in the dunes behind Pinky’s Beach and in the shadow of Bathurst Lighthouse which stands majestically on the headland – the perfect spot to watch the sunset. The resort consists of 83 contemporary tents set amongst natural bushland, but with all the creature comforts of home. You can also enjoy a cocktail or dine at Pinky’s Beach Club and go for a dip in the pool.
Rottnest Island is the official home of the quokka. As far as native wildlife goes, these guys are seriously cute – they have a cheeky grin, friendly personality and resemble a small wallaby. Apart from a few small colonies dotted around WA, Quokkas are found nowhere else on earth. With snakes their only predator, Rottnest Island has a healthy population of around 10,000 of these furry little creatures so you’re sure to bump into a few.
The quokkas roam the island freely and will approach you on the deck of your tent at Discovery Resort. We also received a midnight wake-up call when an inquisitive, furry intruder managed to somehow break into our tent causing quite the racket, hopping about. All part of the adventure!
If you can’t resist a selfie, try to keep a respectful distance but the quokkas have no fear and will often come right up to visitors.
ACTIVITIES & TIPS
After you’ve exhausted yourself of quokka selfies there are plenty of other activities to do on the island. In fact, you could probably explore this place for weeks. My highlights were as follows:
Exploring the Island
Cycle the island and experience the spectacular panoramic views at every turn.
Tip: If you are there in summer like us, you might just need to watch out for the flies! I was cycling with my 8-year-old daughter who hadn’t ridden a lot before and let’s just say, our speed was not quite what it needed to be. I accidentally swallowed two flies on one journey! Remember, more speed = less flies.
Snorkelling Little Salmon Bay
Little Salmon Bay is a beautiful 5-6km bike ride from Thompson Bay Settlement with some decent hills. Protected by an outer reef, this is a beautiful, sheltered spot allowing for a crystal-clear view of the coral, rock platforms and sea life below.
Little Salmon Bay is very popular so if you want somewhere all to yourself, I’ve heard that Little Armstrong Bay has some amazing snorkelling spots, rock pools and you will most likely have it all to yourself.
Swimming at The Basin
Nature has really sculptured out a calm bowl of limestone with a sandy floor here just ideal for safe swimming or snorkelling in your very own natural pool.
Swimming at Little Parakeet Bay
Another favourite swimming spot further to the west of The Basin. It is a tiny, secluded bay, protected from most winds and backed with some beautiful sand dunes.
The Rottnest Bakery
Thompson Bay Settlement has its own unique character and cycling into town for morning tea from The Rottnest Bakery is a must. The donuts and other delights are fantastic. This is a gem of a bakery and very popular, so get in quick.
A Drink with Friends as the Sun Goes Down
We enjoyed simple BBQ cooking at our glamping tents for most meals, but on our last night we headed to Hotel Rottnest for happy hour. There is nothing quite like relaxing beachfront with a simple, locally sourced meal and a chilled glass of WA wine while the children play on the sand in front of you and the sun goes down.
Visit Spectacular Cape Vlamingh
At the south-western tip of the island, Cape Vlamingh provides a board walk and stunning views of the cliffs and rugged coastline.
Experience Cinema Rottnest Style
The kids will love cycling into town for an evening at the ‘cinema’ complete with deck chairs and popcorn. The ride back to Discovery on dimly lit roads with quokkas left right and centre is interesting, but again, all part of the adventure.
If you want a simple, laid-back holiday that will allow you to reconnect with nature and experience one of the most stunning island locations in Australia, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Rottnest Island.
This article is not sponsored. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
We left our camera batteries on the mainland (whoops), so all images in this post were taken by mobile phone.