A day trip to Rottnest Island is the perfect addition to a Western Australia road trip! If you live in Perth, then it’s a great way to escape the city and head to some of the most beautiful beaches in Western Australia. Not to forget the famous quokka! Rottnest Island is where you will meet these adorable animals. There are some on the mainland too, but 15,000 of them live on little Rottnest Island so you are guaranteed to see one! The beaches here are absolutely stunning, with perfect white sand and some of the bluest water I’ve seen. I’ll be telling you all the best places to add to your itinerary as you cycle around this little island for the day! I’ll also be telling you where you can stay if you have extra time.

Quokka sat under the bushes at Rottnest Island by Wadjemup Lighthouse

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Where is Rottnest Island?

Rottnest Island is a small island off the Western Coast of Australia. The closest town is Fremantle in Perth.

How long to spend on Rottnest Island?

A day trip to Rottnest Island from Perth is perfect but you will need the whole day for sure! I would recommend getting the ferry as early as you can and getting the last ferry back. We made the mistake of getting a 4:30pm ferry back and wished we had more time. Also you don’t want to feel rushed on a bike, as we cycled back pretty fast to make sure we didn’t miss the ferry. Not ideal in the heat. The longest cycling route takes 3-5 hours so bear that in mind too. I would love to go back and spend the night so you can see the sunset too.

Girl walking down the beach at Salmon Bay on a day trip to Rottnest Island

How to get to Rottnest Island from Perth?

The journey from Perth to Rottnest takes around 30 minutes from Fremantle. The harbour here has different ‘sheds’ where boats can leave from and the Rottnest Express leaves from ‘Shed B’. However, there are two other places where you can get the boat from to Rottnest, but it will take a bit longer to get there. The best option for a day trip to Rottnest is from Fremantle.

There is a big car park at the harbour where you can pay $10 to leave you car all day. You have to arrive 30 minutes before the ferry departs.

We got the 9:30 ferry as we were tired after driving the whole way form Esperance the day before but get there as early as you can so you have more time on this amazing island! The latest ferry was at 6pm when we left. However, I’ve been told that the sunsets here are beautiful, so I’ll be telling you about overnight options on Rottnest later on in this post.

How much does a day trip to Rottnest Island cost?

The ferry together with bike hire for two people cost us $200. The boat was $70 each return. It isn’t the cheapest day out but I think it was well worth it. This is also why it may be worth staying for longer than one day once you’ve paid for the ferry! I think they have some special offers on Tuesdays someone told me so it’s worth checking. They also sometimes have special offers on children’s fares so always double check. However, I wouldn’t hire the bike from Rottnest Express – read on to see why! We booked at 10pm the night before in February, and the ferry was full when we arrived. I would recommend booking a bit more in advance as I think we were lucky to get seats.

A quokka on a day trip to Rottnest Island in the shade near Wadjemup Lighthouse

How to get around Rottnest Island?

The only way is by bike or walking! (Or the shuttle bus!) I wouldn’t recommend walking as it is a small island but the trails are quite long. We hired bikes from the Rottnest Express directly and they were awful. Every hill (and there are a lot of ups and downs) I had to walk the bike! The gears were awful and you can’t speed up properly to go up a hill. The seat was also loose and moved from side to side while I was cycling. There are lots of places that you can rent bikes on the island so I would recommend finding somewhere else to hire a bike. Once you get off the ferry there will be lots of bike rentals in the area called the Settlement where you will find lots of shops and restaurants.

The shuttle bus is also a good option, but I don’t like being limited by time constraints! 

Cost: $30 per person

Rottnest Express bikes at Rottnest Island just parked up by Salmon Bay

Best place to find quokkas on Rottnest?

The Bakery! We were hungry when we first arrived so first stop was the bakery. I can highly recommend it everything was delicious! The best part was all the quokkas wandering around, they are so sweet and not afraid of humans at all. Be sure not to feed them though! It may be tempting but you’re really not allowed to.

Wadjemup Lighthouse! We found so many quokkas here hiding in the bushes in the shade. As you cycle up the hill to the lighthouse, have a look under the trees here and I can guarantee you will see one! We saw so many here we had to keep stopping. They really look like they are smiling ad are quite inquisitive so they will come right up to you.

Under a lot of bushes! Rottnest is boiling when the sun is out and the quokkas seem to love the shade. There were a lot of places we cycled past where there were some feet poking out from under a tree or bush where someone was obviously trying to get the perfect quokka selfie.

Do quokkas bite?

They are like any other animal or human – peaceful until irritated! They seem like very calm animals but I’m sure if you annoy them while they are eating or if you get too close they might bite. I’ve heard of one person before getting bitten so it can happen! We got very close and they were very calm so don’t be too worried.

Me sat with a quokka stroking it on Rottnest Island near Wadjemup lighthouse - my attempt at a quokka selfie!

When is the best time of year to visit Rottnest Island?

During Australian summer is the best time, so December to February. We went in February and I would say this is also a great time although the weather is a bit more hit and miss. We had a few days during out road trip that it was bad weather so head to Rottnest in summer to be guaranteed a sunny day out.

What to see on Rottnest Island?

You could really stop at each beach they all looked amazing but I promise you won’t have enough time to see it all! Here are my top places to see on your day trip to Rottnest Island that are not to be missed! Basically once you reach the port and you have hired your bike, head south and start your cycle ride.

Salmon Beach

This is around 20 minutes cycle ride from where the ferry will drop you off. There are plenty of spots to leave your bicycle and no one locks them. There is also a small seating area where you can have a bit to eat in the shade as there is no shade on the beach at all. The water is cystic clear and the sea is a beautiful colour. You won’t be bale to stop taking photos. We absolutely loved it and the water was also a lot warmer than the whole two weeks we spent on beaches on the West Coast south from Perth. It got busier later in the morning, so I would say make this your first beach and go as early as you can.

Me sat on the edge of the steps at Salmon Bay overlooking the blue water of Rottnest Island

Little Salmon Beach

Right by Salmon Beach! Just a smaller version and slightly less busy so a good option if you don’t like busy places and you want some space.

Wadjemup Lighthouse

This is a lovely lighthouse right in the centre of the island. As I said earlier it’s also a great place to see quokkas hiding in the bushes! For me it was a great spot for lunch as they have some deck chairs in the shade and a small food truck. Here you can grab a cold drink after a hot cycle from Salmon Beach. They also do a great cheese and ham toastie. The place is called Kalli’s on Rotto. You can also do a tour of the lighthouse.

Wadjemup Lighthouse with me walking down the hill in front of it.

City of Yorke Bay

Another gorgeous white sand beach. This one was totally empty when we arrived! A good next stop after Salmon Beach.

One of the many beaches on Rottnest Island! City of York Bay

Pinky Beach

The perfect sunset spot! They have a few bars here and you can chill with a drink while you watch the sunset. If you can’t stay until sunset, then it may be a great place to grab some food before you catch the ferry home and relax for a bit after a day cycling around.

The Settlement

This where you will find all the shops and restaurants, we went here at the start of our trip as we were hungry but you can also stop by at the end to grab something to eat. There are some lovely shops here too if you have time for some shopping. I walked into one shop just to have a look and walked out with an amazing straw hat so be warned! They have some lovely clothes and hats.

Quokkas!

These cuties deserve one more mention!

A little quokka looking up at the camera - looks like it is smiling!

What do you need to pack for a day on Rottnest Island?

– SUNCREAM! Lots of it

  • A hat
  • A snorkel (or you can hire them)
  • Plenty of drinks
  • A towel
  • A swimsuit
  • A camera
  • Don’t bother with a drone I’ll tell you why later!

Where to eat on Rottnest Island?

The Bakery

Delicious sandwiches, doughnuts, croissants and pecan plaits.

Pinky’s

Perfect for a sea view dinner and a drink.

Kalli’s on Rottnest

Great for a quick light lunch – loved the toastie!

If you have more days you can also stay the night on Rottnest Island!

Where to stay on Rottnest?

Karma Rottnest

You will find Karma Rottnest just behind the bakery. It is an old prison so has unique architecture. 

Discovery Rottnest

Discovery Rottnest is another lovely option just behind Pinky Beach.

Can you fly a drone here?

You will have to apply for a permit to fly a drone here. The entire island is pretty much a No Flight Zone (NFZ) due to the small airport. I have seen a few drone shots from here but I think unless you are an Australian licensed drone pilot it is a long process! You have to be fully licensed and also get some kind of registration in Australia from what the online form requires. I would leave the drone at home for sure!

Me stood in the bright blue sea at Salmon Bay!

From Perth it’s under 4 hours flight to Bali! Why not check out:

Ubud: The Rice Terrace Heaven!

Canggu: Ideal for Digital Nomads and Foodies

North Bali: Home to the BEST waterfalls in Bali!

I hope you enjoyed this post on the perfect Day trip to Rottnest Island! It really is a beautiful little island and you just HAVE to see the quokkas! They really look as though they are smiling and are adorable animals. The beaches are all pristine, I wanted to stop at each one. Salmon Bay definitely is one of the most beautiful ones but also the most popular so venture out and try one of the other beaches too! Enjoy cycling around here but make sure you have plenty of water as it’s a hot ride but such a fun day trip to Rottnest from Perth. Also make sure to stay longer if you can, one day really isn’t enough, but a lovely day out for sure.

Why not Pin this post on One Day on Rottnest Island for later?!

Image of a girl on a bike at the beach in Rottnest - with a pinterest graphic overlay