Wadjemup / Rottnest Island Day Trip: How To Tackle A Day On The Island

Perched only 19 kilometres off the coast of Perth, a snappy 30 minutes by ferry to be exact, Rotto — as it’s fondly branded — is a mecca for all things swimming, surfing, and snorkelling. Flanked by shipwrecks, coral reefs, and idyllic sheltered coves, Wadjemup / Rottnest Island is synonymous with pearly white beaches and the internationally adored quokka. So, whether you’re interested in adrenalin-pumping adventure, exceptional culinary experiences, or a little rest and relaxation, there’s an abundance of ways to while away the hours in this coastal slice of paradise.

Rottnest Day Trip Itinerary

This day trip itinerary connects you with the best things to do on Rottnest Island, by bike or by bus. You’ll get off the beaten track, visit some of the island’s most exquisite beaches — both above and below the water — and explore a destination equal in natural and historical phenomenon.

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8:00 am: All aboard!

The early bird gets the worm, so with only a day to explore, set your alarm and hop on the first ferry you can. Choose between the three operators that run ferries to and from the island — Rottnest Express, Rottnest Fast Ferries, and SeaLink. Then pick the time and departure point — Hillarys, Perth City, or Fremantle — that best suits you. There’s also plenty of convenient all-day parking available near the ferry terminals.

Word to the wise: do yourself a favour and book the latest return, so you have plenty of time to soak up the Wadjemup experience. As you journey toward the island, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, seals, and, from August to December, even whales.

And for those after something a little more special, opt for a helicopter ride or seaplane flight with Swan River Seaplanes, Rottnest Air Taxi, Kookaburra Air, or Corsaire Aviation. Seated in luxury, with world-class views at the helm, you certainly won’t be disappointed. 

9:00 am: Time to explore!

When it comes to getting around on Rottnest, bikes are the most popular form of transport. If you’re not bringing your own, hiring one is a must! It’s by far the best way to get around, explore hidden beaches, and discover rich cultural heritage. Pedal & Flipper Hire is the island’s premier hire facility and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere with more than 1,890 bikes. They offer a wide array of wheels including standard step-through, electric, and cross-bar bikes, as well as options for children and babies. 

Rottnest Day Trip - The Basin on Rottnest Island
The Basin on Rottnest Island | Credit: Alexandra Casey

From wide sweeping coastlines to charming secluded coves, Rottnest is home to 63 breathtaking beaches and 20 bays, each with its own unique appeal. Once you’re all set, take the bikes for a pre-lunch spin and visit some of the state’s most celebrated beaches. Parker Point, The Basin, and Geordie Bay are crowd favourites, all easy to get to via bike, walking, or the Island Explorer Bus. Take to the tides and enjoy a refreshing dip in the calm, clear waters of The Basin or head to Little Salmon Bay for a snorkel, sheltered from the wind. To capture the quintessential Rottnest experience, sashay your way to the iconic swim, SUP, and snorkel spot, Pinky Beach and take full advantage of the postcard-perfect photo opportunity with Bathurst Lighthouse perched at the end. 

Early lunch: Island picnic edition

When it comes to iconic island dining, the Rottnest Bakery should be at the top of everyone’s list. A trip to WA’s favourite overseas destination just isn’t complete without parking up for a sausage roll or meat pie, washed down with a jam doughnut! And who doesn’t like a picnic by the sea? Stop off at the General Store and bakery to secure all the produce you need for lunch, island-style.


Luxe Island Seafood Cruise

For the ultimate foodie experience, embark on a journey of the senses with a Rottnest Cruises Luxe Island Seafood Cruise. Think four blissful hours of sightseeing, drinks and a seven-course menu of local ingredients, and fresh seafood – including the centrepiece, Western Rock Lobster – prepared by a private chef, all while soaking up the magnificent views aboard a 69-foot charter boat. You can even join in fishing for your own lobster, then watch as it’s cooked for you on the deck. There’s also time to swim, float or relax on board while anchored in a pristine opal bay!

12:30 pm (Monday to Thursday option): Beach hopping and snorkel tour 

Rottnest Island Day Trip - Beach Hopping and Snorkel Tour
Rottnest Island Beach Hopping and Snorkel Tour | Credit: Alexandra Casey

With so many glorious, sun-bathed activities on offer, it can be hard to decide how to spend your day trip. We’ve done the legwork and can confirm a three-hour Rottnest Island Snorkel & Sail Tour aboard the luxury catamaran Charter 1 is one of our absolute favourites. You’ll experience the enchanting magic of the underwater world surrounding this island paradise, including up to 400 different species of fish, coral, shells, and sea grass. Oh my!

The boat is also fitted with plenty of snorkel equipment and water toys to ensure loads of fun is had, both on and under the water. Whether you want to kick back and chill out on the comfortable trampolines up the front, settle into the journey on the large rear seated deck or take a whirl through the water on the huge cargo net at the back, you’ll get a perspective you just can’t experience on land. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the jovial dolphins, stingrays, sea birds, and sea lions who call the Class A reserve home.

12:30 pm (Seven days): Segway tour

If you’re partial to adventure without the elbow grease, a guided Segway Tour with Segway Tours WA allows you to take the path less travelled in a unique and exciting way. Think off-road exploration of Rottnest’s most spectacular beaches, secluded bays, and attractions. You’ll also dive into the island’s intriguing military history and visit the Bickley Battery gun emplacements and Jubilee lookout. 

2:30 pm: Afternoon tipples 

Rottnest Day Trip - Samphire Beach Club
Samphire Beach Club | Credit: Samphire

It’s five o’clock somewhere, right? As the afternoon drifts into the golden hours, watch the world go by with a bespoke cocktail or chilled glass of rose under the dreamy white umbrellas of The Beach Club. With the sand between your toes and expansive ocean vistas of Thomson Bay as your backdrop, the venue is Samphire’s — Rottnest’s best luxury accommodation offering — signature beach bar and the perfect place to sit back and ease into island life. It’s also conveniently located only a short saunter from the main jetty. 

4:00 pm: Sunset dinner at Isola

Rottnest Day Trip - Isola Bar e Cibo
Credit: Monique Ceccato for So Perth

What better way to salute a day well spent than with an Italian feast at Isola Bar e Cibo. Start with a glass of white wine, a selection of Affettati, and some wood-grilled whole Exmouth prawns while you get ready to watch the sun start to set over Thomson Bay. 

6:15 pm: Return ferry

All good things must come to an end, so it’s time to return the bikes to Pedal & Flipper, before making your way to the main jetty for departure. Just be sure to allow 15 minutes before your ferry, they don’t wait for stragglers! 

Things to know:

  • You can bring your own bike and snorkel gear if you don’t want to hire. Just note, some ferries have terms and conditions around bringing your own bike onboard. 
  • You can hire bikes from Pedal & Flipper Hire on the island; however, you have to get in quick if you’re after an e-bike, though, as these are in high demand. We’d recommend booking bikes in advance to ensure you don’t miss out.
  • A quokka selfie is a must, but remember to be respectful of these creatures and stay one metre away where possible.
  • In summer, the ferries start earlier and run later, allowing you to indulge in a cheeky sunset drink or morning breakfast before making the most of your day, with the last ferry heading to Fremantle departing at 7:00 pm. 
  • The Island Explorer Bus is a great way to get around the island if you don’t have a bike and don’t fancy walking.

For more Perth Day Trip itineraries to help you discover the best of Perth, visit our Destination Perth Day Trips hub.

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