Rottnest Date-cation Itinerary For Off Season
Winter is in the air and love should be too, and what better place to set off to for a date-cation than the one and only Rottnest Island.
While peak season is during the warmer months, easily explained by the destination’s endless summer allure, if you’re keen to beat the crowds, the island provides the perfect romantic winter escape!
The cooler months allow an opportunity to relax and unwind, cosy up with your lover and wrap yourself in the wonder of nature. Think breathtaking coastlines all to yourself, exceptional culinary experiences that don’t require booking and crisp morning air best enjoyed with a warm cuppa and a leisurely peddle around the mainland.
Located only 19 kilometres off the coast of Perth, 30-minutes by ferry to be exact, Rotto - as it’s fondly branded – is a mecca for all things swimming, surfing and snorkelling. You don’t need to be Shakespeare to confirm the island is a romantic’s dream, flanked by shipwrecks and coral reefs, home to the notorious quokka and dotted with idyllic sheltered coves and sparkling turquoise waters. So, whether you’re interested in heart-pumping adventure, a little rest and relaxation or something in between, there’s an abundance of ways to while away the hours and reignite the spark in this coastal slice of paradise.
This two-day itinerary connects you with the best of Wadjemup / Rottnest Island, by bike or by bus. You and your twin flame will visit some of the island’s most exquisite beaches, dine at a collection of WA’s best restaurants and explore a destination equal in its natural and historical phenomenon.
7am: All Aboard the Ferry
With only two days to explore, set your alarm early and hop on the first ferry you can. There are three operators running ferries to and from the island – including Rottnest Express, Rottnest Fast Ferries and SeaLink, and departing from Hillarys, Perth and Fremantle – so pick the time and departure point that best suits you. Do yourself a favour and book the latest return too, so you have plenty of time to soak up the Wadjemup experience. As you journey toward the island, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, seals and even whales from August to December.
8.30am: Collect Hire Bikes
Bikes are by far the best way to get around on the island, explore hidden beaches and discover rich cultural heritage. Pedal & Flipper Hire is the island’s premier hire facility and with more than 1890 bikes, it’s the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. They offer a wide array of wheels including standard step-through, electric and cross-bar bikes.
9am: Grab a Breakfast Bite
Meander away from the main settlement and take the 10-minute ride to Geordie’s Café and Art Gallery for breakfast. Enveloped by the work of local artists, Geordie’s serve everything from fresh juice and salads to old school shakes and burgers. In terms of brekkie, expect pancake stacks, avocado toast, croissants and gourmet breaky burgers, these guys do it all.
10am: Beach Hopping
From wide sweeping coastlines to charming secluded coves, Wadjemup is home to 63 remarkable beaches and 20 bays, each with its own unique appeal. Take the bikes for a pre-lunch spin and visit some of the state’s most celebrated beaches. If you’re game enough, enjoy a refreshing dip in the calm, clear waters of The Basin or head to Little Salmon Bay for a snorkel, sheltered from the wind. Or if you’d prefer to stay dry, check out the sensational vistas from the boardwalk at West End, the island’s western-most point. And to capture the quintessential Rottnest experience, make your way to the iconic swim, SUP and snorkel spot, Pinky Beach. Don’t miss the postcard-perfect photo opportunity with Bathurst Lighthouse perched at the end. If you’re feeling fruity, you could even head to Pinky’s Beach Club for a pre-lunch cocktail!
12.30pm: Lunch at Hotel Rottnest
Pull in for your midday sustenance at Hotel Rottnest, your one stop shop for a casual beachside beer and a bite. The seasonally inspired menu is packed with hearty pub classics and crowd pleasers like the woodfired pizza, angus burger and fish and chips.
2pm: Discover Aboriginal History & Cultural Experiences
Tens of thousands of years ago, the Noongar people occupied the land now known as Wadjemup, which translates to “place across the water where the spirits go”. Rich culture, ancient artefacts and Aboriginal history is ingrained deep in the roots of this tiny island which was once used as a prison for Aboriginal men and boys. While many of their bodies still lay beneath the sand, the structures they built still stand today and are well-worth exploring, especially during rainy intermissions.
- Wadjemup Museum: The Old Mill (where the prisoners who would grind wheat into flour) and Hay Store, now house the Wadjemup Museum which exhibits 40,000-year-old artefacts, immersive audio experiences and museum displays that weave through military, maritime and Aboriginal history.
- Oliver Hill: is one of three Wadjemup locations that showcase wartime history. Constructed in 1937 to defend Fremantle Port from potential enemy attacks, the battery of two 11-metre 9.2-inch naval guns at Oliver Hill is a significant heritage icon and the only intact emplacement of its type remaining in Australia. The site was chosen to take advantage of panoramic views, as the guns were capable of firing an armour-piercing shell up to 28 kilometres away. While they were decommissioned in the 1960s, the guns and infrastructure still remain.
- Underground Tunnel Tour: take a guided underground tour to explore the tunnels that once housed the gun’s engine room and ammunition supply. These tours are run by volunteer guides, and conducted daily between 10am and 2pm. Tickets can be purchased at the Visitor Centre, through Quokka Coaches or upon arrival.
- Wadjemup Lighthouse: was first constructed in 1849 to ensure the safety of sailors in the surrounding seas. It offers a 38-metre ascent where you can absorb a unique perspective of the Perth skyline.
- Welcome Sculpture: a nine-metre-high sculpture created by two WA artists, depicting a Noongar warrior and breaching whale was unveiled at the close of 2021 to commemorate the island’s Indigenous heritage. Titled Koora-Yeye-Boordawan-Kalyakoorl, meaning Past-Present-Future-Forever, the sculpture was constructed in limestone, concrete and aluminium, and resides at the end of the main ferry jetty.
5pm: Slow Down & Watch the Sunset
The best way to reflect on a day of discovery with your lover is to watch golden sunset over the glittering Indian Ocean. There’s an endless selection of scenic spots to perch (you really can’t go wrong), but a few crowd favourites include: Pinky Beach, Bathurst Lighthouse, Geordie Bay and Oliver Hill. But if you want to get a little fancy and really impress that special someone, book in for a glorious Sunset Sail Tour on the iconic yellow catamaran, Charter 1.
Golden hour works a treat when it comes to photography, so don’t forget to snap your quintessential quokka selfie – an undeniable staple of the Rottnest experience. Be sure to use a wide-angle camera to capture all the cuteness, without getting too close!
7pm: Dinner at Isola Bar E Cibo
For a taste of the boot-shaped country with a side of ocean breeze, dinner at Isola is a must. The beachside bar boasts dreamy vistas of the famed Thomson Bay and serves authentic Italian cuisine with a simple yet sophisticated menu built from local produce. Think fresh pasta dishes, sliced meats and WA seafood cooked over a charcoal-fired grill – divine.
9.30pm: Settle in for Stargazing
Grab a blanket and settle in for some beachside stargazing. Wadjemup’s isolation and 19-kilometre separation from the city lights, make it the ideal night sky viewing location – it’s also one of the most romantic ways to end an evening on the island. You can also try the inland option, Vlamingh Lookout, where you’ll experience an uninterrupted upward view of constellations like Orion, the Three Sisters and maybe even a shooting star or two! After soaking up all the diamond sky goodness, head back to the warmth of your accommodation for a well-deserved rest.
8am: Breakfast at Rottnest Bakery
When it comes to iconic island dining, the Rottnest Bakery should be on everyone’s list. A trip to WA’s favourite overseas destination just isn’t complete without a parking up for a sausage roll or meat pie, washed down with a jam doughnut.
9am: Skydive Geronimo OR Segway Tour
Skydive Geronimo: For those seeking the ultimate thrill, test your courage with an island skydiving experience. You’ll begin with a 20-minute scenic flight over Rottnest, before jumping out of a perfectly good plane and plummeting toward the earth at 200 kilometres per hour, with one of Skydive Geronimo’s experienced instructors. You’ll feel the rush of a free fall, before landing on the beach in one of Australia’s most spectacular locations – a must for any island loving, adrenaline junkie.
Segway Tour: If you’re partial to adventure without the elbow grease, a guided Segway tour allows you to take the path less travelled. Think off road exploration of Rottnest’s most spectacular beaches, secluded bays and attractions. You’ll also plunge into the island’s intriguing military history and visit the Bickley Battery gun emplacements and Jubilee lookout.
11am: Lace Up for a Hike of the Wadjemup Bidi Trails
Rottnest is threaded with a 45-kilometre network of hiking trails, termed the Wadjemup Bidi, which provide you with a range of scenic loops to explore. The tracks are split into five distinct adventures featuring different things to see and view (be it ocean or lakeside vistas), depending on the route you take. The mild off-season temperatures mean you can take advantage of the climate and completely immerse yourself in nature without the sun slowing you down. The Hike Collective offer guided tours of the Wadjemup Bidi and their Lakes and Bays hike takes you on a trek past pink-tinted salt lakes, historic landmarks and windblown coastal headlands. Alternatively, set your own pace on a self-guided walk, allowing you to choose your own adventure, whether you’re intent on wandering mindfully through bushland or testing your endurance with the full 45-kilometre stretch.
1pm: Lunch at Lontara
Lontara is Samphire’s signature restaurant, offering a share-style menu inspired by the flavours of Asia’s south east archipelagos. If you’re a dumpling enthusiast, you’re in the right place. Not to mention the curries and Asian rolls! If you’re around on a Sunday, be sure to opt in for the $65 two-hour bottomless feast overlooking Thomson Bay – it might just be the best thing you do! And if you’re feeling fruity, for $130 per person, enjoy bottomless food and free flowing rosé, Prosecco, beer and wine!
4pm: Return Hire Bikes
All good things have to come to an end. It’s time to return the bikes to Pedal and Flipper, before making your way to the main jetty for departure. Just be sure to allow 15 minutes before your ferry!
4.30pm: Depart Rottnest Island
Goodbyes are not always forever. The island will be waiting patiently for you until you return again for another adventure.
WHERE TO STAY:
From camping and glamping, to self-contained accommodation and boutique resort-style offerings, Rottnest is home to a diverse variety of stay options for every kind of traveller. Whether you’re intent on sharing stories over barbeques, quiet nights in nature or a romantic and rejuvenating island escape, there’s something to suit all tastes and preferences.
- Samphire: if you’re willing to foot the bill, Samphire is Rottnest’s best luxury accommodation, offering dreamy ocean vistas of Thomson Bay and only a short walk from the main jetty. And for a little treat, say yes to in-room massage and beauty treatments.
- Discovery Rottnest: nestled behind the white sand dunes of the opalescent Pinky Beach, Discovery Resorts Rottnest Island comprises of 83 eco-tents ranging in price, comfort and size. The glamping resort is suited to those who appreciate proximity to nature, coupled with the creature comforts of a hotel. For the ultimate loved-up experience, book a Deluxe Oceanside Tent for a premium beachfront experience.
- Self-contained accommodation: from beachfront units to bungalows and heritage cottages to cabins, Wadjemup offers a range of self-contained accommodation for those seeking the privacy of their own space. These charming coastal bases are dotted around the island, with many boasting million-dollar views of Geordie and Longreach Bays, North and South Thomson and Bathurst. Rottnest’s self-contained accommodation offering is perfect for couples desiring a home away from home experience.
Whether it’s stunning scenery you’re seeking, peaceful hiking and biking trails or just a little R&R with your lover. With less crowds and more available accommodation, Rottnest Island might just be the most romantic winter getaway destination going.