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A perfect three-day escape to Rottnest Island

After three days of exploring the island, you will leave with a fresh perspective and energy that comes from time well spent.
6 minutes
Parker Point
Parker Point
After an a few days  on Wadjemup / Rottnest Island, you’re sure to leave with a fresh perspective and energy that comes from time well spent. Here’s our ultimate guide for a three day escape that invites adventure and inspires connection.
 

Day 1: Glorious beaches

Wadjemup is less than an hour from Fremantle and Hillarys by ferry, but once you arrive, you’ll feel a world away from the mainland. As your ferry pulls into Thomson Bay, you’re welcomed by the picturesque coastline, dotted with boats bobbing on the blue water. 

Today you’re going to see the whole island, but there’s no need to rush. Take a moment to pause at the commanding sculpture, Koora-Yeye-Boordawan-Kalyakoorl (Past-Present-Future-Forever), and reflect on the significance of the island to the Whadjuk Noongar people before continuing your journey. 

With a deeper understanding of the island’s history, move into the settlement, where you’ll find the restaurants, shops and transport options. Grab some takeaway lunch from the General Store, Rottnest Bakery or The Lane Cafe and pop it in your bag for later so you can enjoy a picnic enroute.

 

There are two ways to explore the island if not by foot — by bike or by bus. If you feel like cycling, head to Pedal & Flipper Hire to hire your bike or collect your pre-booked equipment. They have a huge selection of bikes, plus trailers, and mobility assistance options as well as e-bikes if you want an extra boost.

If you’d prefer to tour the island from the comfort of a bus, take the Quokka Coaches Island Explorer bus service. This service circumnavigates the island giving you the freedom to hop on and off as you please. You can book tickets online or visit the ticket booth at the main bus stop to purchase a day pass. 

Head south towards the Kingstown Barracks and enjoy those first amazing glimpses of turquoise ocean, bright green bush and white sandy beaches. Take your pick between Parker Point, Little Salmon Bay, Salmon Bay, Green Island and Mary Cove — all perfect options to admire the gorgeous views, take a walk on the sand or hop in the water for a swim and a snorkel. 

Next, you’ll visit Wadjemup Lighthouse in the centre of the island. Constructed in 1896 and standing at approximately 38 metres, this island landmark is the fourth tallest lighthouse in Australia. Take a tour to the top of the lighthouse and soak up the panoramic views across the island and out to sea; on a clear day, you’ll be able to spot the Perth skyline or the Fremantle ports. 

 

Head down the hill and back towards the coast, continuing to the westernmost part of the island. The West End is a special place on Wadjemup, where you can feel the expanse of ocean that stretches out to Madagascar. 

Enjoy the views at Cathedral Rocks where you can spot resident marine life including long-nosed fur seals, Australian sea lions, bottlenose dolphins and, from August to December, migrating humpback whales.

Now it’s time to explore the northern side of the island - a feast for the eyes. Along this spectacular stretch you’ll pass Stark Bay, Parakeet Bay, Geordie Bay and Longreach Bay. Take your pick of these expansive beaches and find an idyllic spot for the afternoon. 

The bus will head back to Thomson Bay, but those on bikes can round the corner to The Basin. With its shallow clear waters and protective reef, The Basin is an ideal spot for a final swim or snorkel.

Arrive back at the settlement and head to your accommodation to freshen up. Once you’ve unpacked, it’s time to relax over a culinary feast and refreshing drink. Enjoy classic fish and chips or some locally caught seafood at one of the nearby restaurants, paired with a craft beer or renowned Western Australian wine.

Day 2:  Relax and recharge

We covered some distance yesterday, so today it’s time to slow down, recharge and connect to all that is here.

Treat yourself to a lazy breakfast, reading a book or just enjoying the incredible views out to the ocean. There are plenty of places to choose from, so you can enjoy a sit-down breakfast or grab a takeaway pastry and a coffee from the Rottnest Bakery

There are bound to be spots you didn’t explore yesterday, or ones you’d love to head back to. Enjoy a few hours of snorkelling, swimming, playing games or just snoozing in the sunshine. 

In the afternoon, explore more history of Rottnest Island at the Wadjemup Museum or Oliver Hill. Wadjemup Museum houses a number of fascinating exhibits that tell the island’s story from its beginnings more than 40,000 years ago right up to its role in 2020’s global pandemic. 

Oliver Hill is a significant World War II heritage site, built to defend Fremantle port from warships. Enjoy the panoramic island views from the site, and then take a tour to discover the military remnants hidden within, including a maze of underground tunnels. 

As the day draws to a close, settle in for an iconic Rottnest Island sunset. Pinky Beach offers an unbeatable view where you can see the skyshow over iconic Bathurst Lighthouse. Enjoy a sundowner and a bite to eat at Pinky’s Rottnest Island. Alternatively, grab some supplies from the General Store and enjoy a relaxed beachside barbecue feast.

 

Day 3: Get cultural

So far you’ve soaked up the island scenery, and touched on the history of Wadjemup. But there is still so much more to immerse yourself in, and these tours will give you the full experience. 

In the morning, explore Rottnest Island’s natural scenery and historic stories on your own revolutionary set of wheels. Segway Tours WA will lead you on a journey of discovery and exploration, taking you to parts of the island you’ve never been before. Riding a segway is easy to learn and you’ll quickly be on your way to experiencing the previously hard-to-reach corners of Wadjemup.

In the afternoon, heighten your appreciation for Wadjemup from an Aboriginal perspective. Go Cultural Tours offers unique walking tours where your Noongar guide explains the historical significance of the island to the Traditional Owners, the Whadjuk Noongar people. Tours include a traditional Aboriginal sand ceremony, Dreamtime stories and a traditional song in the Noongar language. 

As your time on Wadjemup draws to a close, spend some time with the island’s famous residents - the quokkas. Just remember that quokkas are wild animals and you are visiting their home, so rather than approach, simply observe them from a respectable distance. On your journey back to the mainland, reflect on your newfound connection and appreciation of the island, to be renewed on your next visit.

 

Quokkas
Remember quokkas are wild animals and you are visiting their home, so rather than approach, simply observe them from a respectable distance.