Nestled just off the coast of Perth, Rottnest Island is Western Australia’s little slice of paradise. Overtaken by quokkas, peacocks, 63 different beaches and 20 stunning bays, it’s been tourists’ and local’s go-to spot for decades. And with good reason too. Its home away from home for many; and the ultimate getaway for others. Regardless of whether you venture over for the day or experience its magic for a full week of bliss, a Rottnest Island escape can open up a world of fun and relaxation for everyone.
From underwater escapes to epic bike trails and thrill-seeking adventures, Rottnest has a little something for all tastes. And whilst there’s definitely more than 6 reasons to experience it all – here’s a few to get you started:
1. Paradise Beaches and Brilliant Snorkelling Spots
One of the best things about Rottnest Island is its unique natural attractions. Renowned for being a very pristine island, the beaches, bays and snorkelling spots are simply stunning – and perfect for exploring during those hot summer days. The island is filled with oodles of great spots and depending on how adventurous you feel or whether you’re taking the kids or not, there’s protected bays of more challenging locations for all ages to enjoy.
Most of the bays are easy to venture by bus or bike and they tend to get better the further south and west you go. Snorkelling spots are ideal around the Parker Point promontory on the south coast of the island and include Little Salmon Bay (great for the younger ones or beginner snorkelers), Parker Point and the eastern corner of Salmon Bay. Salmon Point is home to a stunning lagoon which is perfect when the water is calm and clear. The reefs and lagoons around the Kitson Point area is better for tropical species and corals and aren’t as busy as the more popular spots. Check out Mary Cove, Nancy Cove and the western end of Salmon Bay in particular.
2. Adrenalin Fuelled Adventures
If you have a thirst for adrenalin fuelled adventures, Rottnest Island is now home to an epic skydiving experience. Whilst you can see the island at a stunning 360-degree view from Wadjemup Lighthouse, there’s nothing like the breathtaking views you get from ‘flying’ over the island, its beaches and bays in all its glory.
Believe it not skydiving has a range of health benefits, that combined with the serenity of Rottnest Island, can be the ultimate stress release. It’s also a massive confidence boost, helps to conquer any fears you have of heights and gives you a beautiful (and completely different view) of life. Whether you’ve experienced the skydiving rush before or you’re looking for a new and exciting adventure, taking the plunge over the island will really get all sensors going and make for a thrilling trip away.
3. Experience Rottofest, Castaway or Other Live Music Action
Aside from all the sporty and water adventures renowned to Rotto, the island is home to some great live music and comedy festivals. Summer is the peak time for all the entertainment action but the two main pubs on the island will showcase local and international talent during the cooler months too.
Rottofest – an annual comedy and music festival draws locals and tourists to the island for some of the hottest comedian and entertainment acts, with bands like Art vs Science, Our Man in Berlin and Coin Acts previously making an appearance. Castaway festival is held on the island’s famous Thompson Bay in February each year to draw in music enthusiasts too.
4. Whale Watching
Although Rottnest Island is most popular in the summer months, heading over in winter has its advantages too. Not only is it less chaotic without the holiday rush in winter, but the surf is better, the prices are lower and accommodation is much easier to obtain. The cooler months also bring in whales – so booking a whale watching tour around this time can bear witness to some truly spectacular sights.
The best times to go are between April and October. Whale watching tours will allow you to get up close with humpback whales and southern right whales. The best place on the island to watch out for whales is Cape Vlamingh but designated tours will take you to a few different locations to boost the chances of seeing them.
5. Wildlife and Walking Trials
For those that prefer to turn the pace down a notch, Rottnest Island is a beautiful spot for getting close to wildlife and sightseeing down the walking trials. As an A class nature reserve, Rottnest Island has flora, marine life and wildlife to encounter. Home to some of the most unique species that you won’t find anywhere else, like the famous marsupial Quokka, you can venture around the island in your own time or take part of some of the free guided walks for the full experience.
Along the West End Boardwalk, you’ll get to see large amounts of flora and Fauna or check out the New Zealand fur seals from the Cathedral Rocks viewing platform. There’s some free guided walks along the salt lakes too with an educational spin to them or continue on the underwater snorkelling adventures to spot the green turtles, pods of dolphins and 135 different species of tropical fish.
6. Sporty Thrills
If you have a sportier streak in you, the island has some great surfing and fishing spots to check out. The best surfing breaks are The Rotto Box, Strickland Bay, Chicken Reef (Salmon Bay), Transits (Thomson Bay) and The Basins Ledge, just to name a few. Strickland Bay has been ranked in the top 50 surfing breaks in the world and perfect for surfers, stand-up paddle boarders and body boarders. Check out the surfing competitions during the cooler months for the big enthusiasts.
Rotto is also popular for fishing and biking trials with all equipment hire available on the island. There’s also golfing on offer, challenging hiking tracks for the real adventure and archery tag at the local Country Club.
7. A Change of Atmosphere
Any getaway is a good getaway and trekking to the island certainly offers a great change of atmosphere – regardless of where you live of what you’re used to. A full day on the island will give you a good taste of its beauty and diversity on the land and underwater – but for the ultimate experience definitely opt for a few days at minimum.
This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Skydive Geronimo – Perth’s premium skydiving company with Drop Zones on Rottnest Island and in Busselton. When she’s not writing about travel and adventure, Jayde also runs a dedicated music blog – Toward Music. You can catch her on Google+.