Rottnest Island lies 19 kilometres off the coast of Perth in Western Australia with ferries leaving from both Perth and Fremantle. Whadjuk Noongar people are the Traditional Custodians of ‘Wadjemup’ which holds historical, cultural, and spiritual significance for Aboriginal people across WA. The island was documented in 1696 by Willem de Vlamingh who named it 't Eylandt 't Rottenest’ translated as ‘Rats' Nest Island.’
Locals refer to their favourite weekend getaway spot simply as ‘Rotto.’ Along with visitors, they flock to this pristine paradise all year ‘round to swim, surf, snorkel, sunbake, dive, or just relax. Of course, a trip to the island wouldn’t be complete without saying hi to the happiest little marsupial on earth – the friendly quokka – for which Rottnest has become world famous.
Boasting 63 beaches and 20 bays, the stunningly beautiful Rottnest Island / ‘Wadjemup’ is an A-class nature reserve, which is the highest level of protection given to public land.
The island is surrounded by coral reefs and shipwrecks, providing ideal diving and snorkelling conditions. There are walking trails and bike tracks and plenty of places of interest to fill in a whole day. Visit Cathedral Rocks, ride the historic train and enjoy a meal at the Rottnest Quokka Arms Pub.
September to November brings the migration of the magnificent humpback whales which can be spotted from certain vantage points on the island. Closer to shore throughout the year, it’s easy to see seals and dolphins playing.
By far, the main attraction of Rottnest Island is the quokka. These cute marsupials were mistaken for large rats by early explorers; hence the name ‘Rats Nest Island.’ The friendly quokkas were always popular but gained international attention with the advent of the ‘selfie.’ People (and celebrities) from across the globe now visit Rottnest Island to have their photo taken beside these lovable, ‘always smiling’ little creatures.
Take an unforgettable Rottnest Island tour and meet the friendly quokkas on one of our WA adventures.
Rottnest Island is just 11 km in length and 4.5 km wide.
The holiday haven is extremely accessible, and although it attracts over 500,000 visitors a year, you can still find a quiet spot on a pristine white beach, explore the many caves, or cool off in an uncrowded turquoise bay. With few cars permitted on the island, you can explore Rotto on foot, hire a bike or catch one of the local buses.
On guided Rottnest Island tours, visitors hear the sad history of the island as a former ‘Establishment for the Aborigines’ and an Aboriginal prison and how it played an important part in Australia’s World War II military defence. Visitors can also explore underground tunnels and visit the historic Wadjemup Lighthouse and other colonial buildings.
The best time to visit Rottnest Island is during the spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) months. These periods offer the most pleasant weather and optimal conditions for outdoor activities and enjoying the island's natural beauty.
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