Day trip to Penguin Island in Perth (2024 Updated)

Day trip to Penguin Island in Perth (2024 Updated)

Penguin Island Perth

Perth and Western Australia provide easy access to a number of great outdoor adventures, day trips and getaways. Whether you are just visiting WA on holiday or you live in the Perth area, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to steal away for the day to Penguin Island WA.

Where is Penguin Island in Perth?

Located in Shoalwater Bay near Rockingham, Penguin Island is a mere 45-minute drive south of Perth and makes for an ideal Perth day trip.

From there, a 5-minute ferry will take you to Penguin Island Perth – home to a host of wildlife, including the world’s smallest penguins!

Penguin Island Western Australia

Arriving on Perth’s Penguin Island, where you can easily while away a few hours or a whole day.

If you prefer public transport, you can take a bus or train to Rockingham Station-Shoalwater. To get to the Rockingham Penguin Island ferry terminal, you can take advantage of a shuttle offered by some of the day tours or make your own way there.

Penguin Island Ferry

Penguin Island Australia

Penguin Island ferry times are hourly. Ferries depart on the hour from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Ferries returning to the mainland depart at fifteen minutes past the hour until 3.15 PM. The last ferry departing is at 4 PM.

The Penguin Island ferry price is $25 for adults and $20 for children. There’s also an option for ferry tickets that include a guided wildlife walk of the island.

To purchase your Penguin Island ferry tickets click here.

To avoid disappointment it’s best to book your ferry tickets a day in advance in busy school holiday times.

It’s also possible to walk to Penguin Island from the beach at Shoalwater Bay along the sandbank. While many people do this, it’s not recommended due to quick changing tide and ocean conditions.

There have been fatalities walking to Penguin Island, so take a cautious approach before doing this.

Things to do on Penguin Island, Perth

Once on the island, there are plenty of options to while away a few hours. On a warm summer’s day, the sheltered beaches are ideal for a swim or snorkel in the crystal clear waters of Shoalwater Marine Park. For a picnic or a rest, there’s a shady park with green lawn and picnic tables.

Amenities on the island are very limited. This is to conserve the natural environment. There’s no shop or cafe, so you need to bring all food and drinks yourself. There are no rubbish bins on the island in order to deter animals from feeding from the bins. Eco-toilets and change rooms are available and there’s one tap in the picnic area with potable water.

If you have a ferry ticket, you can return to the mainland to stock up on supplies or get a coffee from Pengos Cafe and catch the ferry back to the island.

Penguin Island Discovery Centre

Fairy Penguins

The cutest attraction in Perth. Penguin Island is the only place in WA where you can get up close to these adorable fairy penguins.

The fairy penguins are the star attraction of Penguin Island, and many visitors expect to see them freely roam around the island. Howeve, to avoid disappointment, please note that it’s very unlikely to see the ferry penguins in the wild. These tiny penguins are extremely shy and spend most 80% of their time in the waters around Shoalwater Island Marine Park and return to the island at dark.

The Penguin Island Discovery Centre provides the only opportunity to see these inquisitive birds and you can watch them interact with the rangers. Visitors can watch them be fed and swim in their enclosure, as well as learn more about this smallest breed of penguins. All of the fairy penguins at the Discovery Centre are rescued penguins and were either orphaned, abandoned or injured.

Sadly, the penguin numbers are in severe decline due to a number of environmental factors and are extremely vulnerable. Measures are in place to protect the penguin island population.

The Penguin Island Discovery Centre is open from 10 am to 3 pm and once you’ve paid the entry fee you’re free to visit as many times as you like during the day. There are daily feeding times at 10.30pm, 12.30pm and 2.30pm. There are three feeding sessions each day at 10:30 AM, 12:30 PM and 2:30 PM. Find out more about the fairy penguins here.

If you do see them in the wild, keep at a reasonable distance. The penguins molt in the summer months and lose all their features. This is a particularly stressful time for these little creatures as they’re very forced to stay on land and are very vulnerable to predators during this time.

Other wildlife to see

Penguin Island Rockingham

Penguin Island Perth

The waters surrounding Penguin Island are home not only to the world’s smallest penguins but also to a variety of other wildlife, including wild dolphins, rare Australian sea lions, pelicans, ospreys, king skinks and over fifty other species of seabirds that nest on Penguin Island and the nearby islands.

There are some excellent wildlife tours with Rockingham Wildlife Encounters that offer close up views of many of these animals, including the dolphin swim cruise where you can swim with wild dolphins.

Penguin Island Walk Trail

For the best views, there’s a 1.5 km Penguin Island walk trail that loops around the island. You’ll be guaranteed to see plenty of birdlife, including large colonies of Pelicans and keep an eye out for dolphins and large manta rays.

Penguin Island Perth

Penguin Island Perth

Perth Penguin Island

Shoalwater Islands Marine Park

What is the best time to visit Penguin Island?

Penguin Island WA is open daily from September 15 to early June, except for Christmas Day. From early June until mid-September, the island is closed for the nesting season.

At that time, the only way to visit the island is by taking the Shoalwater Islands Marine Area cruise. On this cruise, expect to see wild dolphins, ospreys, pelicans and sea lions. See tour options here.

If you have never been to the island, we strongly recommend that you make your first visit between late September and early June. That way, you can meet the resident penguins and explore the natural beauty and other wildlife of the Shoalwater Islands.

We recommend that you allow two to three hours to explore Penguin Island and view the penguins at its Discovery Centre.

Other attractions near Penguin Island include Shoalwater Island Marine Park, Point Peron and Rockingham foreshore.

Book a Penguin Island Tour

There are several great Penguin Island tour options.

Rockingham Shoalwater Island and Penguin Island Tour – This is a 60 minute cruise on a glass bottom boat with the chance to see wild dolphins, seals and other marine life around the pristine Shoalwater Marine Park. The tour also includes a guided walk on Penguin Island.

Rockingham Snorkel Adventure Sightseeing Tour with Lunch – This tour explores some of the best snorkelling spots around Shoalwater Marine Park and wildlife encounters with dolphins, seals and other marine life.

Swim with Wild Dolphins Tour – This tour lets you swim with wild dolphins inside the sheltered waters of Shoalwater Marine Park.

Book your tickets here.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for further information.

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13 Comments

  1. Anne says:

    Penguin Island is a great day out, I enjoyed my trip to the island

  2. Red Nomad OZ says:

    Wow! How cool is that?? It sounds a little bit like Granite Island in South Australia right down to the rugged coastline and penguins!! Will look it up next time I’m in WA!

    • Nina B says:

      Somehow penguins and Australia doesn’t sound quite right, but sounds like there’s a few other places around the country with fairy penguins. I’ll have to check out Granite Island next time I’m in SA.

  3. Julie says:

    Well… There was no penguin on the island, except for the ones in the discovery centre. Which you can’t feed, but you can watch them being feed by the staff. There is no cafe nor gift shop on the island aswell. I am glad that you are saying that the best time to go there is during the opening time. Really helpful.

    • Nina B says:

      Hi Julie, sorry if your trip to Penguin Island left you disappointed. I can understand that the name can give the misperception that the island is full of penguins, when in fact they can only be seen within the confines of the Discovery Centre. The little penguins on the island are the smallest species of penguins in the world, due to their shy nature they are very difficult to see in the wild, that is why they are only fed by the rangers. I suggested that you visit the island during opening times as it’s possible to get to the island on your own at any time, either on your own boat, paddling, swimming or even walking along the sand bank at low tide.

    • Emma Kelly says:

      Wildlife encounters are one of my favourite things about travelling around Australia. I had no idea there were penguins so close to Perth. Very helpful article, Penguin Island is now on my to do list for when we get to Perth.

      • WA Explorer says:

        Thanks so much for the kind words and totally agree that this is one of the best things about Australia. Hope that you get to spend a day on Penguin Island soon.

  4. […] day trips close to  Perth  A day trip to Penguin Island A local’s guide on things to do in […]

  5. […] business. Along with the Dolphin Swim Cruise, the company also operates cruises and ferries to Penguin Island and Wildlife Tours of the Shoalwater Marine […]

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