How to spend a dreamy day at Rottnest Island

The first leg of The South West Edge road trip is the iconic Rottnest Island; a tranquil getaway with beautiful beaches and bays, picturesque scenery and of course, the infamous Quokkas.

You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do on the island – with so many activities, tours, places to stay, restaurants and cafes to enjoy. We thought we’d share our favourite ways to while away a day or a weekend on Rottnest whilst making the most of your time on the island before you embark on the rest of your journey along The Edge.

Relax at the many bays and beaches

Did you know Rottnest has 63 beaches and 20 bays to choose from? When it comes to swimming and snorkelling, you really are spoilt for choice. If you want some solitude, head a little further away from the Settlement and you’re sure to find a secluded beach or bay all to yourself. Bliss! If you want to get out onto the water, the island offers a wide variety of activities to choose from including diving, fishing, surfing, and boating. If you want to relax, pack up a picnic, beach games, your bathers and a towel and sit back, relax, and take in your island surroundings from the white beach sands on your first stop along The Edge.

An image of a woman riding a bike with white sand and beach in the background to show outdoor attractions on The South West Edge road trip
Cycling around Rottnest Island

You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do on the island – with so many activities, tours, places to stay, restaurants and cafes to enjoy.

Bike around the island

One of the best ways to explore Rottnest is by bike. If you’re heading to Rottnest on the ferry, you can bring your own bike from home or you can hire one for the day. Stock up on water and food and head out on two wheels to explore the beaches, lighthouses and lakes of Rottnest. You’ll be sure to share the cycle path with many riders, as apart from the Island Explorer Bus that shuttles people around the island, Rottnest is car free. This makes for a relaxing ride, even for those who aren’t confident cyclists or may be travelling with younger kids.

Top tip: If you like the idea of cycling but don’t want to commit, ask the team at Pedal and Flipper about their bike and bus package. You can cycle as far as you like and once you’ve had enough, just leave your bike in one of the racks around the Island and jump on the bus back to the Thomson Bay Settlement!

Snorkel the reef and underwater trail

The ocean waters are incredibly beautiful when viewed from the Rottnest coastline, but beneath the surface you’ll find an underwater paradise! If you’re looking to don your mask and flippers and explore Rottnest underwater, you can expect to see crystal clear water, more than 400 species of fish – including 135 species of tropical fish – 20 types of coral and even a shipwreck.

The warm Indian Ocean around Rottnest Island is an underwater playground, with the Leeuwin Current bringing tropical visitors like the green turtle to the marine reserve. Explore the many reefs and abundant marine life and marvel at the diversity of fish, coral and shipwrecks – there’s something different to see during every snorkel! Some of the most popular snorkelling locations around the island are The Basin, Parakeet Bay, Little Salmon Bay, and Little Armstrong Bay. We recommend the Parker Point Marine Snorkel Trail located on the southern side of the island!

Join a free walking tour of the island

If you want to learn more about the fascinating history of the island while taking a leisurely stroll, join in on one of the free daily walking tours. Hear stories of the past and discover the island on these tours lead by volunteer guides. Choose between ‘Meet the quokkas’, ‘pioneers and prisoners’, ‘reefs, wrecks & daring sailors’, ‘whitecaps & wilderness’, ‘west end wanderer’ and ‘guns & tunnels of WW2’.  To learn more, make sure you stop into the new Wadjemup Museum where you will find a number of displays and exhibits documenting the history of Rottnest Island.

See the wildlife and marine life

You can’t go to Rottnest without seeing a Quokka! These cheerful cuties are all over the island, and are known locally as the happiest animal on earth. But they aren’t the only animal the island is home to, with roaming peacocks, birds, bats, frogs and more. Head to the West End Boardwalk to see the handiwork of the Wedge-tailed shearwaters commonly known as ‘mutton birds’, their burrows in the sand can be up to 2 metres deep!

There are viewing platforms at Cathedral Rocks and Cape Vlamingh where you can spot resident marine life including New Zealand fur seals, Australian sea lions, Bottlenose dolphins and from August to November, migrating Humpback whales.

Watch the sunset with a drink

After a day of exploring and before you jump on your ferry ride home, stop at one of the beachside locations for a refreshing cocktail and a bite to eat while the sun goes down. You can expect to see some incredible sunsets over the Island, as the sun starts to dip and the sky turns beautiful shades of orange, pink and purple. The perfect way to finish day 1 of your journey along The Edge and prepare you for an epic 11 days ahead of you!


A landscape image of a calm bay with turquoise water a lighthouse and accommodation park to show attractions on Rottnest Island on The South West Edge road trip
Bathurst Lighthouse, Rottnest Island


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