The ultimate guide for the best Rottnest Island day trip

The Basin Rottnest

Rottnest Island Day Trip

I’m a frequent visitor to Rottnest Island and I simply think it’s the best day trip from Perth. Although the ferry price can be a sting to the wallet for any budget-conscious travellers, Rottnest Island is worth a visiting, especially if you plan it right.

How to get to Rottnest Island

Rottnest is located 18 km off the coast of Perth city. You can get there by private boat, ferry or air services. Some crazy people also swim there every year but that’s another story.

Ferry services to Rottnest

There are three different companies that have ferry services to Rottnest. These leave at regular intervals throughout the year from Fremantle, Perth and Hillarys.

Although there are frequent ferry services to Rotto it’s advisable to pre-book your ticket to ensure that you get a spot on the boat.

Rottnest Ferry services:

Rottnest Ferry

Fremantle to Rottnest Island

Fremantle to Rottnest Island ferries leave from the B-Shed at Victoria Quay or Rous Heads in North Fremantle and take about 35 minutes to get to and from the island.

The B-Shed is located behind Fremantle Train Station and is the best option if you’re reliant on public transport.

Perth to Rottnest Island

From Perth, you can catch the ferry to Rottnest from Barrack Street jetty. This is a pricier option as it takes about 90 minutes to get to Rotto and there’s a transit stop in Fremantle to pick up more passengers.

The advantage is that you get a lovely cruise of the beautiful Swan River and this is well worth the extra time (and money) if you’re a first time visitor to Perth.

Hillarys to Rottnest Island

Rottnest Ferries depart from Hillarys Boat Harbour and take approximately 45 minutes. This is a good option if you’re staying in Perth’s northern suburbs.

The cheapest way to get to Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island Day Trip

Most ferry companies advertise return fares for $49. This, however, excludes the $18.50 admission fee for the island. There are also additional fees for extended stays, extra luggage, bicycles and other sports equipment.

To get the best Rottnest ferry deals, it’s worth checking the deals or special offers with each ferry company. They generally offer different perks under the deals or special offers section.

Most offer mid-week discounts and free travel for kids. I’ve also seen offers for free bike transport, discounts for afternoon departures and twilight specials.

See the special deals sections here:  Rottnest Express Rottnest Fast Ferries Sealink

You can also find discount coupons for ferry services to Rottnest in the Entertainment book.

The easiest way to get to Rottnest

If you want to make the booking process easy, grab your tickets here with Get your Guide. There are several options with good prices including bike and ferry combo as well as other tour options.

Some tours also include pick up from your accommodation, including many hotels and backpacker hostels around Perth. This means that you don’t have the hassle of having to get to the ferry terminal and it’s a stress-free way to get the most out of your Rottnest day trip.

See and book your Rottnest Island Tour options here.

The extra advantage is that you can easily cancel your tickets if the weather changes of you change your minds (Ferry companies allow you to reschedule too with some conditions).

If you’re travelling with kids, it’s best to book directly with the ferry company as kids travel free but you need to call or book direct.

Air services to Rottnest

You can get to Rottnest by air. Flights are available with Rottnest Air Taxi Ozwest Aviation Swan River Seaplanes and Rotorvation if you prefer rotary aircraft.

How to get around Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island Day Trip

There are no cars on the island and Rottnest is made for exploring on two wheels.

If you don’t want to cruise around on a bike, the Rottnest Explorer bus service is a hop on hop off service that does a circuit around the whole island.

The bus leaves every half hour from the main bus stop and stops at Rottnest’s best beaches and attractions including Wadjemup Lighthouse.

Tickets cost $20 for adults and $15 for children and concession card holders. See the details here.

Rottnest Island Restaurants and Shops

Shops, cafes and restaurants are located in the Main Settlement near the jetty. This is where you’ll find a well-stocked general store, selection of cafes, restaurants, bakery and a boutique.

The only other place with a shop and cafe is Geordie Bay. The rest of the island is pure nature and there are no options to buy water or food anywhere else.

If you’re venturing off on your bike, make sure that you have some supplies with you. There are a few water taps located around the island with drinking water but definitely take some with you.

Rottnest Island Bike Hire

Rottnest Island Bike

Rottnest Island is car-free and most of the fun is had by cruising around on two wheels. My advice is if you know how to ride a bike, get a bike for your Rotto trip.

You can either bring your own bike with you which costs about $15 to take on the ferry.  The main hassle is that you need to bring it to the ferry terminal. Once at the terminal, it’s a matter of simply dropping off the bike and it will be loaded and unloaded off the boat for you.

The second option is to hire a bike. Most ferry companies offer a ferry and bike combo. With Rottnest Express you can collect your bike as soon as you get off the boat on Rottnest. Costs for bike rentals are usually $30 per day.

You can also get bicycle rental on Rottnest Island with Rottnest Island Pedal and Flipper. This is more time consuming because you need to walk to the hire place, fill out a form, choose your bike, grab a helmet etc, all before you can set off. Details are here.

How much time do you need for Rottnest?

Rottnest Island day trip

If you’re going for a day trip it’s advisable to spend at least six hours on Rottnest Island. This will give you time to get your bearings, explore beaches or other attractions and have some downtime at a cafe or pub before you head back.

Where to see Quokkas

View this post on Instagram

 

Nice to meet you #newpal @westernaustralia #rottnestisland #happyquokka

A post shared by Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) on

The quokkas are a definite highlight for any trip to Rotto and it’s unlikely that you’ll leave without seeing this cute attraction.

The Rottnest quokkas are used to interacting with humans and turn up in all sorts of locations all around the island.

I’ve seen the little marsupials at the pub, trying to sneak into the supermarket and on the beach. I even came across a very chilled quokka peacefully snoozing under a table at the bakery during the height of the holiday season, completely unperturbed at the hustle and bustle around him.

The quokka selfie has become so famous that even the most respectable looking adults will lie on the floor of the pub to get the perfect quokka selfie. Bring the selfie stick and do like the Fed.

As outgoing and happy as they seem, please remember that they are wild animals. As such never feed or touch them. Find out some cool quokka facts here.

When is the best time to visit Rottnest Island?

The Basin Rottnest

If you’re visiting for the first time, you’ll definitely want clear, blue skies and lots of sunshine. The beaches are spectacular and you’ll want to see them at their best.

That said, any time of the year is good. Summer is perfect for swimming and snorkelling. The cooler months are excellent for cycling, hiking and the chance to see the migrating whales.

Wind is another factor that you’ll want to consider. If it’s windy in Perth, you can be sure that it will be even windier on Rottnest Island.

Consider the wind direction when you start cycling. If it is a windy day, you can find sheltered beaches on the northern side that are protected from the wind. See what the wind is doing with this fantastic website.

Rottnest gets very busy during school holiday periods. However, I’ve never found this to be a problem and if you pre-book your ferry ticket it’s unlikely that you won’t get a spot on the day that you want to travel.

Once you arrive on Rottnest Island the crowds disperse and it’s still possible to have a little beach or bay all to yourself.

What to do on Rottnest Island

Most of the island’s activities centre around bicycles, spectacular beaches and natural attractions. However, there are plenty of other activities to be enjoyed on Rotto too.

If you’re visiting for the first time make the Visitor’s Centre your first port of call to get all the information about activities. The Visitor’s Centre is located at the foot of the jetty at Thomson Bay.

The exceptionally helpful heritage guides are also an excellent source of information and you’ll see their happy faces around the Main Settlement area wearing bright yellow shirts. Say hi and learn a few historical facts about Rottnest.

Here are some ideas about things to do on Rottnest Island

  • Explore Rottnest’s 63 beaches and bays.  The best ones will depend on the time of day and weather conditions, especially the wind. Some favourites though include The Basin, Pinky Beach, Salmon Bay, Parakeet Bay and Armstrong Bay but the list goes on and on.
  • Take a quokka selfie. I haven’t succeeded in this yet but everyone from Roger Federer to Margot Robbie is doing it.
  • See the seals at Cathedral Rock. This is one of my favourite things to do and I could spend hours watching the playful seals in the waters below.
  • Go snorkelling. Rottnest has some of the best snorkelling spots in the state.  There are underwater snorkelling trails at Parker Point and Little Salmon Bay. See this amazing guide of all snorkelling spots on Rottnest here.
  • Hike the Wadjemup Bidi Trails. If you love hiking, explore the best of the island on this superb network of trails. Get the full trail details here.
  • Play golf. Rottnest Island has an 18-hole golf course and country club.
  • Underwater sub explorer. Explore what’s beneath the ocean with this glass bottom boat.
  • Kids activities include Just 4 Fun Inflatable Park, Mini Golf at the Family Fun Park and school holiday activities.
  • Go skydiving. See Rottnest from above with Skydive Geronimo. See how it’s done here.
  • Learn history. Rottnest has some interesting history that can be explored on a range of guided and self-guided tours.
  • Visit the lighthouse.
  • Catch the Rottnest Train. Trains leave from the quaint Settlement Train Station and go to Oliver Hill where you can view remnants of WWII.

What to pack for a day trip to Rottnest

If you’re planning on a day trip to Rottnest Island you probably won’t want to pack too much gear – especially if you’ll be riding a bike all day. If you have got extra stuff, you can order lockers near the Visitor’s Centre.

Here are some of the essential’s that you might want to pack:

  • Sun protection. Don’t forget to slip, slop, slap. I’ve seen many tourists on the return ferry looking like beetroots. Don’t be that person. See my sun safety tips here.
  • Food and water. Things cost more on Rottnest Island if you’re budget conscious bring a few snacks and a water bottle. Water refills and potable water fountains are located at several spots around the island.
  • Snorkelling gear. Rottnest has some incredibly accessible snorkelling spots. If you don’t have a snorkel and mask you can hire them from Pedal and Flippers.
  • Selfie stick – because no trip to Rotto is complete without a quokka selfie.
  • Beachwear in summer and an extra fleece of windcheater in winter. It does get breezy so bring a jumper.

Staying on Rottnest Island

Rottnest Accommodation

Rottnest has a range of accommodation options. This includes self-contained holiday units, cabins, hotel rooms, the new Discovery Park glamping resort as well as a campground.

Accommodation can be booked via the Rottnest Island page here. Note, that it can be hard to secure accommodation, especially during peak seasons.  Rotto is WA’s best-loved holiday spot and many people book 18 months in advance to get their holiday units.

An easy and affordable way to stay overnight on Rottnest, even during peak season is to take a tent and stay at the campground. See how it’s done here.

Have you been to Rottnest Island? Leave your tips and any questions in the comments below. 

Disclaimer – This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure policy, read my disclaimer here. 

 

7 Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    Love this, so detailed! Inspiring me to make a trip over.

  2. Wendy says:

    Great post. I think we need to return soon.

  3. […] For practical tips on how to get the most out of your day trip to Rottnest, read on here. […]

  4. […] While it’s not the most luxurious option the campground offers a convenient and relatively affordable way to stay overnight on Rottnest Island. For more tips on Rottnest Island see my Rottnest Island Guide here.  […]

  5. […] Visit the official Rottnest Island page to plan your visit, or check out this guide to Rottnest by West Australian Explorer.  Several ferry operators run the daily route to the island – try Rottnest Express or […]

  6. Jenelle says:

    We were just over for a day trip yesterday. We go with the same group each year and always just head to the Basin to swim and have lunch, then back toward the ferry at the end of the day. I’d love to explore more- so far I’ve only ever been to those spots, so I’ve not seen much of the island.
    xx Jenelle | http://www.inspiringwit.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.