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After dark guide: island activities when the sun goes down

4 minutes
Sunset at Bathurst Lighthouse
Sunset at Bathurst Lighthouse

Everyone can picture a day on Wadjemup / Rottnest Island. A day spent close to nature, exploring the diverse landscape, interacting with unique wildlife, and admiring the striking coastline. However, the island’s tranquillity and restorative activities aren’t limited to daytime.

Nights on Wadjemup are made for resting worn-out legs, clearing your mind, and really settling into your island getaway — but that doesn’t mean you’re restricted to your accommodation. There are enough after-dark options to fill every night of a long weekend or midweek trip away.

Three evenings on Rottnest Island

The first night

Dinner: Lontara

After a late-afternoon arrival on Wadjemup, you’ll need an indulgent dinner to begin the relaxation process. Lontara is a modern restaurant in the earthy-toned Samphire Rottnest hotel, where cafe blinds keep the outdoor seating cosy, allowing expansive Thomson Bay views. Their ‘feast’ menu of inventive South-East Asian dishes includes options like spiced coconut duck curry and Ajwani fish tikka marinated in yoghurt, all ready to be paired with a local Denmark pinot noir. Make an early booking to give yourself time for an appreciatively slow dinner before moving on to your next stop.

Activity: Stargazing

Wadjemup is separated from the city light haze by 19 km of Indian Ocean, so the island’s night skies offer a star display like no other. Begin your getaway with a unique nighttime exploration.

A 15-minute walk will take you inland to Vlamingh Lookout, where you can experience an uninterrupted upward view. Spot constellations like Orion and the Three Sisters, and watch orbiting man-made objects, while the calls of white-striped free-tailed bats sound from nearby tree canopies. After soaking in the peace of the clear night sky, head back to the warm cocoon of your accommodation for a well-deserved sleep. 


The second night 

Dinner: Hotel Rottnest

The first full day is usually the ambitious part of any three-day trip or long weekend, where visitors aim for multiple outdoor explorations. You’ll probably plan to have an early morning swim, circumnavigate the island on a bike, and take a cultural tour. So, when the afternoon fades, Hotel Rottnest is the place to rest your tired muscles and sun-warmed faces. 

With a spacious beer garden and a lively, social restaurant, sheltered behind large windows, you can share adventure stories and sip the pint you’ve been thinking about since lunch, no matter the season. Satisfy your hard-earned hunger with comforting pub classics like beer-battered fish and chips or freshly baked pizza with Shark Bay prawns, and watch the sun set over Thomson Bay.

Activity: Rottnest Movies

The Rottnest Movies is a cosy, pleasantly nostalgic experience, with retro deck chairs lining the old Picture Hall and homemade choc bombs on offer at the candy bar. There are two movies shown on a Saturday night, so families can get a late-afternoon dinner and watch the earlier, PG-rated film, while friend groups can stroll over after a glass of wine to watch the latest blockbuster. During the week, film ratings alternate depending on the day, so check the guide before settling on your chosen movie night.



The third night

Activity: Sunset-watching and fishing

After an energetic couple of days, your last evening is best spent winding down and soaking up every peaceful holiday moment. There’s something truly indulgent about settling in to watch a sunset — it’s a very different feeling to spotting one in the distance on your commute home — and the picturesque landscapes of Wadjemup make these sunsets even more breathtaking. 

For a seaside vista, make the short walk from Thomson Bay to Pinky Beach and watch the sun sink into the horizon from the vantage point of Bathurst Lighthouse. A more unique sunset view is from Vlamingh Lookout, where the sun sets behind the rolling island landscape and dyes the salt lakes a deeper pink. If you want to pair your sunset-watching with another activity, head down to Hotel Jetty in Thomson Bay for a fish. A vibrant peach and gold sky can be your backdrop as you rest on the edge of the jetty, spray touching your feet, surrounded by the sounds of the sea.

Dinner: Isola Bar E Cibo

When you don’t want an island getaway to end, a late-night restaurant is the perfect place to while away your last long evening. Isola Bar E Cibo is open until late and offers a bright, open space, right on the beach at Thomson Bay. With its glass walls, the restaurant gives the illusion of floating in the bay at night, as the staircased light from moored boats almost reaches its doors. This restaurant offers a taste of the Italian coastal lifestyle, with simple dishes like seafood cooked over a charcoal grill elevated by fresh local produce and sophisticated Italian cocktails. 



Wadjemup is a peaceful place at night so it’s especially important to respect the activities of native wildlife and other visitors who may be enjoying quiet, mindful getaways. Early nights allow for early rising to catch that all-important dawn surf or a chance to watch the sunrise as you start a Wadjemup Bidi hike.