Rottnest Island offers a tranquil respite from the rat race, with stunning beaches and bays, picturesque scenery and of course, the island’s cutest inhabitants, quokkas.
WORDS: Ella Chronowski
You can access Rottnest via ferry for a day escape or opt to stay overnight — the island offers several choices of lodging, from hotel to glamping to resort.
What you do once on ‘Rotto’ depends on how busy or low-key you want to be; below are our favourite picks for a lazy escape.
Beaches and Bays
Rottnest is home to 63 beaches and 20 bays, ideal for basking in the sun or taking a leisurely stroll. Spend the day relaxing on the beach reading or hit the water for a swimming or snorkelling session. If you’re looking for solitude, venture a little further from the Settlement and you’re sure to encounter a secluded beach or bay that you can have all to yourself.
Much like the beaches and bays, you won’t be short on places to eat on Rottnest. If you’re looking for a casual dining experience, travel no further than Rottnest Bakery — known for its homemade jam donuts, or The Geordie Café & Art Gallery for seasonal southwest Aussie cuisine, including oyster po’ boy sliders. Alternatively, hit Frankie’s on Rotto for a delicious wood-fired pizza. If fine dining is on the menu, check out Lontana at Samphire Resort, where Chef Russell Blaikie creates seafood masterpieces.
Flora and Fauna
There is much to see and do on the island and that rings true for the wildlife and marine life. On land, you can’t go far without seeing the island’s most picture-friendly inhabitants, quokkas. In addition, you’re likely to encounter roaming peacocks, birds, bats, frogs and more. At the West End Boardwalk, you can find the handiwork of the Wedge-tailed Shearwaters (a.k.a. Mutton Birds); their burrows in the sand can go as deep as two metres. Over at Cathedral Rocks and Cape Vlamingh, there are viewing platforms for spotting marine life, including Australian sea lions, New Zealand fur seals, Bottlenose dolphins and migrating Humpback whales from August to November.
Walking and Cycling
The island is perfect for cyclists and pedestrians alike, with myriad cycling trails to choose from. If you’d rather follow someone else’s path, there are daily historic walking tours, including ‘meet the quokkas’, ‘pioneers and prisoners’, ‘reefs wrecks and daring sailors’, and ‘whitecaps and wilderness’. You can bring your bike with you on the ferry or rent one for the day and explore the beaches, bays, lighthouses and lakes located across the island.
Explore the numerous historic sights of Rottnest Island at a leisurely pace — from lighthouses and historic settlements to art galleries and stunning vistas. If you’re not into walking or cycling, consider taking a bus tour of the island to cover the area from the comfort of an air-conditioned coach, stopping to take in the scenery along the way. Highlights include Pinky Beach, Wadjemup Lighthouse and Museum, Thomson Bay Settlement, Pilot Boathouse, Bathurst Point Lighthouse, Pink Lake, and Oliver Hill Battery, to name a few. You can always check out the island by boat on one of the many tours available — from fast boats to whale watching, you won’t want to miss seeing the island from this vantage point.
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