Things to do on Rottnest island: 1 day complete travel guide

Rottnest Island is a small island located on Australia’s west coast, a 25 minutes ferry ride from Fremantle, Perth. The island is famous for its pristine beaches and the small charming animal Quokka. Quokka selfies have become a thing, trying to get a picture with the animal with it’s smiling face. Pack your picnic bag and get ready for a day at Rottnest Island and explore some of the 63+ beaches. This Rottnest Island 1 day travel guide helps you to plan your next trip including things to do on Rottnest Island.

Getting to Rottnest island

There are 3 different ferry operators going from Perth to Rottnest island daily. You can also take your own boat to the island or going by plane. The ferries operate from different places in Perth and some of them include a rental-bike in the price.

The different ferries are:
Rottnest Express
SeaLink Rottnest Island 
Rottnest Fast Ferries

Cost: Approximately 70 AUD ferry + admission fee (bike additional 30 AUD)

Best time to visit Rottnest Island

The best months to visit Rottnest Island are October and November with the calmest waters perfect for water sports, which Rottnest is much about. The high season extends between October and April, though you can go all year round.

What to bring to Rottnest Island

  • Sunscreen
  • Swimwear
  • Snorkel gear
  • Your camera
  • Picnic bag with snacks (You can buy food on the island)

Do you have a Drone? You need to get a permit which can take you a couple of weeks to get!

Get around

Rottnest is a car-free island so your choices are either to rent a bike or take the bus.

Bus – The express bus is a hop-on/hop-off service going clockwise around the island. The bus operates every 30 minutes from 9 am-3 pm.
Cost: 20 AUD Day pass

Rent a bike – This is the option we opted for and you can hire a bike from the ferry company. Keep in mind that the island is very hilly, our leg (and butts) was really sore after a day of biking. Don’t forget to wear a helmet!
Cost: 30 AUD


Rottnest island is Quokka heaven with over 10.000 of those little furry creatures living on the island. #quokkaselfie has become a things and if you take one, you haven’t really been on Rottnest island. Keep in mind that these are wild animals even if they are not afraid of humans. Don’t feed them human food and don’t touch them. Respect wildlife!

Staying at Rottnest Island for the night

You can stay at the island overnight or a few nights, however day trips are the most common way of doing Rottnest.

  • Discovery Rottnest Island – Eco-sustainable resort with 83 tents nestled behind the and dunes, located on Pinky beach.
  • Hotel Rottnest – Currently closed for refurbishment, 80 new rooms will be opened in the near future.
  • Karma Rottnest – Heritage style accommodation.
  • Camping – 43 non-powered camping sites located close to the main settlement.
  • Budget accommodation – Basic accommodation located at Thompson bay and Kingstown.
  • Premium Accommodation – Located around Gordie bay, Longreach bay, Thomson bay.

Things to do at Rottnest Island

You are arriving at Thomson Bay at Rottnest Island. We strongly suggest you pre-book your bikes when you book the ferry ticket and you don’t need to wait in the queue. If you haven’t already stocked up on snacks and drinks, this is the place to shop. There won’t be anything to purchase until you arrive at Gordie Bay, which is pretty much at the end.

1. Snorkel at Parker Point

Bus stop number 5 – 5 km from Thomson bay

Parker point is a sheltered bay with turquoise water and a little beach. During high season you will see a lot of private boats anchored here. This bay is perfect for snorkeling and they also have a designated snorkel trail under water. Take your time to find the underwater signs learning about the big beautiful ocean. The signs are identified with buoys and equipped with handles to hold on to.

Parker point

2. Salmon Bay

Bus stop number 7 – 1 km from Parkers point

Relax and sun bathe at Salmon bay. Have your picnic before heading into the water and have a little fun swimming through under water rock holes. Salmon Bay is also great for snorkelling.

Salmon Bay

3. Wadjemup Lighthouse

Bus stop 8 – 3.2 km from Salmon bay

Have your camera ready, you will most likely find some quokkas on the hill leading up to the lighthouse. There are lighthouse tours which allow you to enter the lighthouse and check out the 360-degree view of the island. There is also a small vintage caravan serving hot drinks, cold beverages, delicious ice cream. Well deserved snack time after tackling the hills.

Cost: 9 AUD

4. Strickland bay

Bus stop 10 – 3.3 km from Wadjemup lighthouse

Watch the surfers catching the waves and enjoy a calmer place on the island with fewer tourists. There is also a cool rock pool located at this place. One of the rock pools in our guide “Our favourite rock pool in Australia” can be found here.

Rock pool at Strickland bay

5. West end

Bus stop 11 – 2.9 km from Strickland bay

This is the most western end of Rottnest Island. It is still a long way back to the ferry so make sure you have enough time to go here. This rugged coastline is marine wildlife heaven and you can spot New Zeeland fur seals from the lookout deck at cathedral rocks and dolphins at. the West End boardwalk.

6. Gordie bay

Bus stop number 19 – 10.3 km from west end (7.4 km from Strickland bay)

Make a stop at Gordie general store to have a ice cream or fill up on drinks. We found really some interesting ice creams made of charcoal.

7. The Basin

Bus stop (jump of at Gordie Bay 11 or main bus stop) – 1.8 km from Gordie Bay

This is one of the most popular spots on Rottnest Island. It is a perfect spot for swimming, snorkeling and relaxing before it’s time to head to the pier and take the ferry back to Perth. The ferry is not that far away but make sure that you leave in time not to miss the boat. If you haven’t seen any Quokkas yet, you will definitely find them here.

If you budget allows

There are plenty of things to do on Rottnest island and this guide is helps you explore the island by yourself. If your budget allows there are plenty of more things to do as well, such as:

  • Skydiving
  • Hire a stand-up paddle board
  • Go on a sea-bike tour
  • Watch a movie at Rottnest Movies
  • Play golf
  • Spa treatment at Karma spa
  • Segway tours
  • Sailing tours

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