Rottnest Island is a little gem sitting just off the coast of Perth, Western Australia. At just 19km² it is only tiny in size, but it punches well above its weight with so much to see and do. And who would have thought there would be so many ways to explore its highlights?
Grab your walking shoes, cycling shoes, paddles, lifejacket, swimmers and camera, we’re off to see Rottnest Island.
People travel to Rottnest Island to:
- Enjoy the sparkling and pristine waters surrounding the island, and
- Search for elusive quokkas. Perhaps the quokkas are of more interest to visitors like us although I am convinced the locals have access to much more accurate intel and know where to look for the little buggers.
Regardless of your reason for heading to Rotto, you are spoiled for choice with every imaginable mode of transport encouraging exploration…
Sorry, this is a little deceptive as no cars are actually allowed to travel to the Island. You will see a small handful driving slowly about and these are for the exclusive use of National Parks and other maintenance-related workers. This means the Island’s roads are blissfully open, quiet and safe. Just perfect for…
This is by far the most popular form of transport with savvy locals and others in the know, bringing their own bikes on the ferry from the mainland.
You can hire your bike as part of your ferry ticket or hire them once you get to the island. If you bring your own bike on the ferry you are looking at an additional $15 on top of your ferry ticket vs $30 to hire outright. May I suggest that your own trusty pushbike may be of far superior quality and comfort than anything you can hire? Just a little warning…
From all the red faces I saw, including our own, e-bikes are a good option. Don’t let anyone tell you that Rottnest Island is flat! The official 22km loop around the island (more like 30km on an old rusty, rattly bike) is full of undulations and sneaky hills. E-bikes can be hired from Paul’s Eco E-bikes.
For those interested in a more relaxed visit, there are a number of bus options.
Discover Rottnest provide guided bus tours and you can enjoy the Island’s beauty in air-conditioned comfort.
Adams Bus Tours also provide guided tours as well as a hop on/hop off service so you can walk a little and ride a little.
Rottnest Island would be a joy to explore on foot. In addition to all the beautiful bays, beaches and coves, the island is full to the brim with military and indigenous history. When you get off the ferry, pop into the Visitor Centre, right at the end of the jetty, and grab a range of brochures and maps describing the different historic sites. I recommend you take water, a hat and sunscreen, and snacks as there are few services and facilities outside the Settlement.
If you don’t want to wander too far, you can explore the historic buildings in and around the main settlement at Thomson Bay. Alternatively, go cultural and join a guided Aboriginal tour to learn about the history of the Island’s Noongar people.
This may be an expensive option for some or just the ticket for aviation enthusiasts. You can take a scenic flight around the Island with Rottnest Air Taxi or skip the ferry ride completely and fly from the mainland.
Not quite bike, not quite scooter and I have never given this beast a try. Maybe I will have to return to Rotto to see what all the fuss is about? Join a guided segway tour and explore the settlement and military installations on two fast and smooth wheels.
Now, this is a mode of transport I would definitely like to try. As we cycled around the island, I spotted small groups of kayaks bobbing on the aquamarine water. I was so envious. Bring your own kayak or join a tour to paddle into the many different secluded coves and bays, and enjoy a truly stunning water and nature experience. Rottnest Kayak has glass bottom sea kayaks. That sounds simply amazing.
Believe it or not, there is an old railway line connecting a couple of old military installations on the island. Rottnest Island was a key defence site in WW2. I did some checking and I couldn’t find if there is a train that runs on the old line, even for one-off special events. Maybe contact the Visitor Centre if you are a real train buff.
ELECTRIC GOLF CART
As the day got hotter and my bike got slower I stared at these carts with my jealous green eyes. Many of the Island’s accommodation facilities use these vehicles to provide a people and luggage shuttle service.
The golf carts meet the ferries, collect you and your gear, and then purr their way straight to your door. Now that is service! I understand the various ferry companies will also arrange delivery of your luggage while you explore the Settlement or head straight to the pub!
You have the choice of observing Rottnest from your chartered sailing boat or with a bit more speed on board an Eco Express boat tour. Either would be a good option to learn more about the sea life and natural history of this tiny jewel.
I have run out of space and time, and have failed to mention the skydiving, helicopter, fishing tours and snorkelling (Yes, you could swim around the Island if you were game), the water bikes and SUP tours, and perhaps there are even more.
Regardless of your energy levels or the way you like to travel, Rottnest Island is the place to be for sunshine, fresh air, beautiful beaches, history and perhaps even a quokka!
What is your favourite mode of transport when you visit a new place?
* Please Note: I do not receive any financial return from the companies I have mentioned above. I just wanted to give you a small taste of what is on offer. There are many other tour businesses operating and servicing the Island. Have a look at Rottnest Island Tourism for a more comprehensive list.
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