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Staying cool at Wadjemup in summer 

This is your guide to navigating warm summer temperatures on Wadjemup / Rottnest Island, so you can safely bask in luxurious heat and experience ocean-based adventures.
7 minutes

When that glorious summer heat starts to hamper your adventurous energy, here are a few ways you can find some cooling relief.

At picturesque Australian destinations like Wadjemup / Rottnest Island, summer — a season that spans Birak and Bunuru in the Noongar seasons — is an experience with well-established expectations. Heady, warm air that makes the cool ocean a luxurious escape. Savouring sweet icy treats while overlooking stretches of white sand under a sky so blue the horizon line blurs where it meets the sea.

However, along with these quintessential summer experiences come a few realities of the hot weather. But with a just a few precautions and some helpful tips in mind, you can confidently settle into this languorous season on the island.

Shaded activities on the island

Although it’s easy to become mesmerised by sun-drenched activities, scheduling time to be in the shade is one of our main tips to stay cool in summer. And by knowing when to take a break from the sun, you keep energy levels high for other adventures.

Recline under a beach umbrella

Escaping the heat doesn’t mean staying inside the whole time, and a beach umbrella keeps you shaded while still enjoying views of the shimmering green-blue waters. Bays like Pinky Beach and The Basin  are only a short walk from Thomson Bay. Bring your own beach shelter or umbrella, or find one when you arrive on the island at Island Gypsy.

Dine at a restaurant or cafe

The settlement is full of venues that offer a chance to cool down while refuelling for further explorations. There are places like Frankie’s on Rotto, where you can revive tired young travellers with homemade pizzas, or Hotel Rottnest, the ideal choice for an afternoon feast accompanied by chilled wine or pints amongst friends. And for lighter, refreshingly cool treats, take your pick from a wide variety of options, like freshly churned ice cream at Simmo’s, an acai bowl from The Lane cafe next door, or a fresh juice at Geordie’s Café & Art Gallery.

Picnic under shady trees or shelters 

Wadjemup is a lush natural landscape, and with this comes plenty of trees to shelter under — perhaps with a picnic of fresh Rottnest Bakery treats or a selection of bites from the General Store. If you take a wander along Thomson Bay, or even through the settlement, you’ll find clumps of wattle and tea trees, shaped into cocoons of shady respite by the cool coastal winds. Alternatively, you can enjoy lunch at the shade shelters overlooking The Basin, North Thomson Bay, West End, or in the settlement mall.

Visit the museum 

Another way to take a break out of the sun? Enter the cool stillness of a museum. Wadjemup Museum is the place to develop a deeper understanding of the complex history of the island, where you can wander amongst 40,000-year-old artefacts as you cool off from the day. Or, if you have little ones in tow, head to the Wadjemup Museum for Children, where younger visitors can engage with stories of the island through interactive exhibits.

Head to the arcade

At Rottnest Movies & Mini Golf, there’s also an undercover playspace available in the form of pinball machines and arcade games. Engage in some good-natured competition and have a rest from the sun’s rays.

Browse the shops

Once you’ve shared sunny memories in the outdoors, venture into the shaded shops, where you can pick up some souvenirs to remind you of those moments. Island Gypsy offers gifts, mementos, and beach accessories, while Indianic Boutique has swimwear and clothing that will remind you of island life with every wear.

Join a bus tour

Avoid cycling or walking in the heat by booking a bus tour ahead of time. The two-hour Quokka Coaches Bayseeker Island Tour travels past woodland habitats, salt lakes, and beaches. Or opt for the 90-minute Discover Rottnest Bus Tour, which visits stunning locations like Wadjemup Lighthouse and West End with onboard commentary along the way.



Cooling ocean-based activities

There is one particularly obvious way to stay cool on Wadjemup: by going in the ocean! The sparkling clear waters that surround the island are fresh and soothing, the perfect antidote to the summer sun (other than hats, sunscreen and shade, of course).

Join a snorkelling tour

Rottnest Snorkel provides a tour of the best snorkelling spots around the island. They cruise the shallow, abundant waters and pause to dive below, where 400 species of fish can be observed. Alternatively, hop onboard the iconic Charter 1 snorkel and sailing tour, complete with drag net that allows you to relish in the cooling wake of the boat as you cruise along.

Head off on a self-guided snorkel

With 63 beaches and 20 bays, you’re spoiled for choice with places to snorkel. But if you’re looking to avoid the busier beaches, head straight to Little Armstrong Bay. Dive in and snorkel along the dappled aqua waters at this gem of a spot and you’ll encounter the unique underwater wildlife that call the island’s marine sanctuaries home.


Wadjemup has a rich maritime history, and evidence of this lies hidden with the wrecks of 13 unfortunate vessels. Most are located in the deep water surrounding the island, but two — Uribes and Shark — are shallow enough to explore from the sandy beaches.

Take an express boat tour

Take your pick from the Eco Express Adventure Boat or Thrill Boat tour and prepare for an awe-inspiring trip that explores parts of Wadjemup only accessible by water The best bit? You can catch a unique perspective of the island’s wild coastline all from under the shady roof of the Eco Express fast boat, with occasional cooling showers of sea spray.



How hot does it really get in summer on Rottnest Island?

Although the island meets the warm weather expectations of Australia, it also benefits from the cooling effect of the Indian Ocean breeze, so the temperatures always stay a few degrees below Perth.

On Wadjemup / Rottnest Island, the average temperatures in summer are:

  • December: 25.1°C – 17.7°C
  • January: 26.5°C – 19.1°C
  • February: 27.2°C – 19.5°C

Sun safety and staying cool

Southern hemisphere locations actually receive about 15% more UV radiation than the equivalent place in the northern hemisphere — meaning you’re much more likely to feel damage from the sun. There are a few simple preventative measures to stay sun safe:


When you're outside, cover up with breathable, lightweight clothing. Choose light-coloured items, with plenty of coverage, like long-sleeved shirts and full-length pants — and always wear a hat.


Cover any exposed skin with sunscreen that has an SPF rating of at least 50, being sure to reapply every two hours and again after swimming. A tip: always opt for a reef-safe sunscreen, and help us to protect the island’s unique marine environment.


Everyone needs to consume at least two litres of water each day, but this amount grows when you’re active and out in the sun. When you leave the settlement, bring as much water as you can comfortably carry (a litre or more is recommended), as there are limited refilling stations once you venture out.

Take a dip

An easy way to feel refreshed is to go for a swim in one of the island’s bays.This will lower your core body temperature, and is especially effective if you submerge your entire body, including your head.

Although Wadjemup / Rottnest Island is an invigorating destination all year, visiting the island during summer is an experience baked into the Perth lifestyle. And when you stay safe from the heat and sun, there’s nothing limiting you from building lifelong memories on these shores.