Rottnest Island WA: How To Spend In One Day

Rugged landscape on Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is famous for its quokkas, the truth is I never heard of this island before, I only knew about it when preparing for my trip to Western Australia. As usual, I looked for things to do and accidentally saw a video with Quokkas, holy molly they are such adorable animals.

I became hooked on the island after watching some videos with quokkas! I surely don’t want to miss Rottnest. However, visiting on Christmas day wasn’t a good choice. The ferry was packed locals and foreign tourists flock to the island.

So I thought gee, I’m going to bump all these people? I was glad to make the road trip from Perth to Esperance before Christmas. Because at that time it wasn’t too busy yet. Anyway, once arriving on Rottnest island, everyone does their way. Surprisingly, I meet a few here and there.

Read more >> Road Trip Perth to Esperance Australia: The Best of 11-Day.

The road on Rottnest Island
The road is not quite flat as you can see

In this blog, you find out how we spend our one day in Rottnest Island. Sure, there are heaps of things to see and do and it can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. I wanted to see everything, but it was impossible to do in one day. I also share how much we spend on this trip which can be found under in this blog.

How to get to Rottnest Island from Perth

If you like a spotless trip to Rottnest Island, you can book the tour HERE, which includes pickup and drop-off from your hotel. However, you can do it online by choosing one of the ferries we went with Rottnest Express

I booked the ferry just the day before and with the QR code I received from the booking, we went straight to the embarkation area in the morning. It’s so easy no need to visit the ticket office. If you need to hire a bike, which is advisable in the island, you can add- on during the booking. 

Choose your ferry Terminals 

It depends on where you are in Perth, it doesn’t make sense to depart in Fremantle if you are staying in the city center. During the booking it will allow you to choose the terminal.

There were three departure points: Fremantle B-Shed takes about 30 – minutes to the island. And 45 – minutes from Hillarys Boat Harbor, while the longest is 90 minutes from Barrack Street Jetty in Perth. Fremantle was closer to us, and if you’d like to come with a car to the port, take the earliest ferry in the morning so you will find parking. In Fremantle B-Shed, we could park for free all day long.

Getting around the island

Rottnest island beaches
Turquoise crystal water and the rock formations

I saw a video from a young couple of backpackers who walked around the island because they found renting a bike too expensive. It is undeniably a bit too much, 36 dollars per bike. Even bringing our bikes, we still have to pay 20 dollars each to go on the ferry. 

If you’re not confident riding a bike, there are Electric Scooters for rent on the island. There’s also the bus that runs clockwise, which was my first choice when planning this trip. It costs 25 dollars for one day which allows you to hop on and off to a designated 19 stops.

But in the end, my best pick was the bike I could stop anytime, anywhere. Relying on the buses is not my cup of tea because I don’t have patience. Even during my visit to the islands in the Caribbean, I rent a car for the easy way.  

What to bring in your daypack

Bring plenty of water and some snacks because facilities are not available everywhere. If you don’t feel like dragging it all the time, there’s a supermarket in Thomson Bay. Remember that prices are a bit higher than in Perth.

Also, take your snorkeling gear. Rottnest is a perfect place to discover the underwater world to see marine life. In addition, a refillable water bottle is ideal to take in your backpack – there are some water stations where you can refill. The most important one is not to forget your sunscreen – shades did not exist on the island. In December, the temperature went up to 30 degrees.

Rottnest Island

One day on Rottnest Island isn’t enough. We took the morning ferry at 7:30 AM and caught the 6:30 PM back to the mainland. It was a long and satisfying day. If you can afford to stay in for a couple of days or even just a night, there are accommodations on Rottnest Island if you check here. It would have been great to spend the night there and just listen to the quokkas. Anyway, one day is enough to experience life on the island. I’m so glad we made it there despite the hectic schedule.

Take a selfie with the Quokkas

How cute the Quokka
They love being photograph

The quokkas are one of the tourist attractions on Rottnest Island. I had never seen quokkas before and when I saw the pictures and videos, I can’t wait to see them in real life. I didn’t have trouble spotting them within five minutes of leaving the ferry like they were waiting for me haha.

These native animals are almost everywhere on the island. They are used to humans, and although feeding and petting are not allowed, quokkas love selfies. I saw the Tasmanian devil during my trip to Tasmania, but it is impossible to get closer, and with quokkas, it certainly put a smile on your face. They are so cute!

Cycling on Rottnest Island

The west end of the island
The West End

It gives the ultimate feeling of freedom and stop whenever you want. The cycling path is suitable for every fitness level. Many paths take visitors to countless beautiful places on the island. There are different routes, but the popular one is the Lookout – Wadjemup Lighthouse and around the Settlement.

I hadn’t bike for a long time because I was lazy. My daughter warned me that some parts can be hilly. And I said, let’s see what I could do, but I made it to the West End. And don’t leave until you’ve seen the West End, in my opinion this is the best part of the island. I have this sporty road bike which was perfect, but at the end of the day, it’s killing my butt Lol.

Swimming and snorkeling

Rottnest island beaches
One of many sandy beaches

The island looks smaller on the map but larger than I thought. Rottnest is a perfect place to spend in one day regardless of your interests. The enchanting landscape and idyllic beaches are just amazing. Heaps of stairs and paths lead you to beautiful shorelines.

There are more than 60 beaches and bays to discover, but you can’t see them all in one day. You don’t even have to worry about getting lost because there are signs all over places and even not-popular beaches are pointed out.

The good thing about having a bicycle if one beach is too crowded, you can move on to the next bay. We visited on Christmas day, the only time we had left before flying home. But likely, most people just took the ferry from Perth to spend one day on the beach.

Beaches that are closest to the bus stops are crowded, like Salmon and Little Salmon Bay – these two were popular for people taking the bus.

There are also secluded places where nobody is around. You’ll find it if you check them out like the Parakeet and Little Parakeet Bay. If you don’t like them, there are heaps of beaches to choose from.

Tip: Salmon Point and Little Salmon Bay were good spots for snorkeling, but these two were busy during our visit, so we went to Little Parakeet Bay. There you could spend hours snorkeling.

Rottnest Island Salt Lakes

Salt Lakes
Stunning with the lighthouse on the background

Besides the beaches and quokkas, it is unusual and rare to see the lakes in the middle of the island. There are quite a few salt lakes around if you really are compelled to see all of them. 

I have seen the nicest ones during my trip to Curacao and Bonaire. However, these desolated salt lakes can be an intriguing part of your trip, and it’s a place for bird-watching while you are at it. It’s worth to include this in your one day to Rottnest Island.

Visit Rottnest Island lighthouses

Bathurst Lighthouse
Bathurst Lighthouse

There are two on the island, but the easiest one and closer to the jetty is the Bathurst lighthouse. I drove with my bike to Wadjemup, which sits on a rise in the middle of Rottnest Island. It was a steep drive that I had to walk, but it was worth the strive. 

If you can’t make it there, visit at least Bathurst Lighthouse it is smaller than Wadjemup and fairly achievable to walk up. Unfortunately, both of them were closed but you can walk around it. The location is breathtaking and provides excellent viewing and photography. 

How much does it cost for one day to Rottnest Island?

It is not a budget-friendly destination, but for what you spend, it is truly worth it! You should see Rottnest Island once in your life. Even though it is just a few kilometers away from Perth, the cheapest way to get there is by ferry. Moreover, you also need your transport on the island, or at least you plan on walking, which is possible. But you will miss a lot of things. If you’d like to save money, pack some food.

One day to Rottnest Island for 3 – people traveling I pay for transport.

  • Ferry returned ticket – $58 (x3)
  • Rottnest admission fee – $20 (x3)
  • Own bike – $20 (x3)
  • Public holiday surcharge – $8.70 (x3)
  • Credit card surcharge – $3.57 – additionally, for snacks and drinks on the island, I spend for 3 of us $400 – we even pack some snacks and lunch. If you’d like to visit this place, don’t go during Australian public holidays, and choose the cheapest departure terminal, Fremantle (Northport).

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