Home to the happiest animals on earth - quokkas - Rottnest Island is a holiday haven of pristine beaches, aquamarine bays, bike tracks and walking trails. The best part? The car-free, conservation-minded reserve is only a 30-minute ferry ride from our capital city, Perth.
Ferries bound for Rottnest Island depart from Fremantle and Hillarys Boat Harbour, while light planes and helicopters offer scenic transits from various locations. Once you’ve crossed the 19-kilometre channel between Perth and the island, get about on foot, with a hired bicycle or e-bike, use the shuttle, or board the hop on-hop off bus, which loops around the 11 kilometre-long island.
Rottnest’s beaches are like a slice of paradise, with blindingly white sand, water so clear you can see down to your toes, and coves formed by naturally sculpted rocks. In all, there are 63 secluded, sandy havens, linked by paved riding and walking trails. The Basin, Geordie Bay and Little Parakeet Bay are favourites close to Thomson Bay settlement, while those towards West End have a raw, rugged appeal. From certain spots, you’ll see humpback whales breaching (they migrate from September to November), seals floating or dolphins bobbing. Beneath the waterline, there are 20 species of coral, 135 tropical fish species and abundant seagrasses. Both Parker Point and Little Salmon Bay have snorkel trails dotted with underwater panels. Signposted walking trails also criss-cross the island’s heart, with more than 45 kilometres of connected tracks and boardwalks to follow.
The main attraction, of course, is the highly photogenic quokka, a friendly marsupial that appears to smile. Not only the subject of countless celebrity selfies, the Western Australian icon is also responsible for the island’s name: 17th century Dutch sailors mistook the cute creatures for large rats.
Aboriginal people were familiar with Wadjemup Bidi – or Rottnest – long before this time. Join an immersive Aboriginal tour to get an insight into the cultural and spiritual significance of the island.
By night, relax in eco-glamping tents, historic cottages, comfortable hotels or, bring your camping gear to enjoy the simple life as city lights twinkle across the ocean.