Rottnest Island is one of those magical escapist destinations that most people have to travel great distances to get to. The people of Perth are a lucky bunch who happen to have one of those places just a 30 minute ferry ride away.
Rottnest (or Rotto as they affectionately call it) is a kind of rite of passage destination for Perthites, which is why if you find yourself in Perth (or even Western Australia), you should make a point of getting over to Rotto for at least a day of exploration. The island is small and easy to bike around in one day (which is the most chosen form of transport since there are no private vehicles on the island — see, I told you it was paradise!). If you’re still not convinced, here are six key reasons why you — yes, YOU! — should visit Rottnest Island.
The Quokka (and Other Wildlife)
Rotto is one of the only places in the world you can find the Quokka — a small marsupial that looks a bit like a cross between a giant rat and a miniature kangaroo. And they’re everyone, so you won’t have trouble spotting a few during your time on the island. If tiny marsupials don’t strike your fancy, there’s plenty of other wildlife to spot on and around Rottnest, including whales (in season), sea lions, dolphins, snakes (watch out!), frogs, lizards and tons of birds — there’s even a peacock wandering about!
If you’re in the mood to chase schools of fish while you snorkel through crystal clear waters that make you feel like you’re on the cover of a guidebook, then Rottnest Island is for you! One of the most popular spots for snorkeling is Little Salmon Bay, but if you want the perfect afternoon snorkel I’d recommend hitting up the calm waters of Little Armstrong Bay on the northern coast of the island.
An Abundance of Activities
There’s almost too much to do on Rottnest Island. Sure, there’s snorkeling and swimming, but there’s also surfing, diving, kayaking, bike riding (the most popular way to get around the island), fishing, hiking… Or if you’re feeling a bit on the lazy side, there are a few different tours around the island, as well as glass bottom boat tours and eco adventure tours where you can be sure to spot some fun loving dolphins and sea lions!
Beaches of Paradise
Rottnest is blessed with 63 uniquely perfect beaches to appeal to any type of person. Relax and dig your toes into the silky soft sand at Stark Bay, build sandcastles at The Basin, or stand on the edge of Cape Vlamingh and revel in the knowledge that the next thing across the sea is Madagascar (a short 6,436 kilometres away)!
If the paradisaical beaches aren’t enough to grab your interest, there are a variety of other landscapes to admire on Rottnest Island. There’s also small forests of brush trees, pine trees and other vegetation, grassy plains, rocky outcrops, and even some fantastic salt lakes! (All of which host some interesting birdlife.) You can get great views of the island by getting up anywhere high: walk or bike up to the Wadjemup Lighthouse or the Vlamingh Lookout on Lookout Hill. Or you can splurge and take a scenic flight over the island, not a bad deal at $35 for 10 minutes!
The second you get off the ferry you can feel the difference in atmosphere. This ain’t no ho-hum day in the city. On Rotto, everyone is on vacation and you can feel it. No power suits or frowns here. Everyone is comfortable and happy, laughing and excited for a fun-filled day or weekend. As the day wears on, that too-much-excitement exhaustion starts to visibly wear on some, but come evening everyone’s back to the vacation vibe again. By late afternoon the pub and alcohol-serving restaurants fill up with everyone on the island anxiously seeking out a cold one. Others make their way back to their holiday units, hotels or hostels to have a few drinks with friends and enjoy the perfect end to the day. If it’s a Sunday, you can even kill two Perthite traditions with one drink and embrace the Sunday Session — a cold beer with friends on a Sunday afternoon!