Discover the best attractions and activities Rottnest Island (Wadjemup) has to offer.
Just 19 km off the coast of Perth City, but an entire world away, lies the sunny holiday island of Rottnest, blessed with a casual atmosphere, picturesque scenery, dazzling marine life and some of the world's finest beaches and pristine bays.
Rottnest Island (Wadjemup) earned its curious name when in 1696, Dutch explorer, Willem de Vlamingh, mistook the island's unusual marsupial population for common rats and named it Rottnest - literally translating to 'rats’ nest'. Today, having a photo taken alongside the 'rats', known as Quokkas, is one of the main attractions for visitors to the island.
The name for Rottnest Island in the Noongar language is Wadjemup, which means 'place across the water where the spirits are'.
Things to do on Rottnest Island (Wadjemup)
- Join one of the many free guided walking tours of the Island.
- Follow your own path along the Wadjemup Bidi.
- Hire a bike and snorkel gear from Rottnest Island Pedal & Flipper
- Swim and relax by the stunning waters - you have 63 beaches and 20 bays to choose from
- Discover the underwater snorkel trails at Little Salmon Bay and Parker Point.
- Learn about the island's history at the Rottnest Island Museum, Lomas Cottage, Pilot Boat House, Vincent Way and Salt Store.
- Encounter a variety of wildlife including birdlife, quokkas and dolphins.
- Explore the world beneath the waves on the Underwater Explorer (September – May).
- Join a 90-minute adventure cruise (November – April).
- Climb the Wadjemup Lighthouse for the ultimate views across the whole island.
- Ride the train to view the maze of tunnels beneath the WWII gun emplacement on Oliver Hill.
Getting to and around Rottnest Island
If you're wondering what to do to get around Rottnest Island (Wadjemup), bikes are the transport of choice and can be hired or brought along with you by ferry for a small fee. The island is only 11km long and 4.5km wide making it easy to explore with a number of great trails to follow.
If traversing by bike doesn't appeal, you can also enjoy the journey by air-conditioned coach on the Island Explorer. This hop-on/hop-off service runs daily with 18 stops on the agenda. The tour takes you to many of the secluded bays and secret hideaways located around the island. Day passes for this service can be purchased from the Rottnest Island Visitors Centre.
You can also explore the island by bike and bus. Simply ride your bike until you are tired and then leave it at a bus stop and enjoy the bus ride back to the settlement. This is ideal for families or beginner cyclists.
The visitor centre is also a great place to book a number of tours. Choices range from historic train journeys, lighthouse tours, underwater explorations, segway tours, skydiving, and glass bottom boat rides. Visit rottnestisland.com for more.
A water playground
Are you still considering what to do on Rottnest Island (Wadjemup)? Not surprisingly, water activities play a major role in island life - from snorkelling and diving to fishing, surfing, boating, kayaking, sailing and swimming!
With just over 135 species of vibrant tropical fish and 20 species of coral, heading below the surface is a truly worthwhile experience. Rottnest Island (Wadjemup) boasts the world's most southerly corals and seasoned divers will be happy to know that just off the coast slumbers a vast graveyard of over 13 shipwrecks waiting to be explored. Informational plaques can be found alongside the wrecks and are complemented by onshore plaques indicating their location for those that don't want to brave the depths.
Rottnest Island (Wadjemup) is also renowned for surfing with some of the best breaks in the world found at Strickland Bay. Surfing season is at its best from May to October and boards are available for hire from Rottnest Island Peddle & Flipper.
Rottnest Island fun activities & attractions
Rottnest Island (Wadjemup) also offers endless things to do for fun on land. Kids can challenge friends and family to a round of mini golf, jump on trampolines and play arcade games at the Family Fun Park or watch the latest release blockbuster movies at the Picture Hall.
Adults can play a round of lawn bowls or golf at the newly renovated Rottnest Island Country Club before relaxing at the Rottnest Island Karma Spa. You can also skydive onto the beach from an airplane or helicopter!
What to eat & drink at Rottnest Island
When it comes to food and drink, you'll be spoilt for choice. Enjoy sweeping ocean views and fresh seafood at Aristos Waterfront Restaurant and Hotel Rottnest or indulge in great coffee at The Lane, Dome Café and Geordie's Café. If you’re after some delicious pub grub, visit Gov’s Sports Bar, Riva Restaurant and Courthouse Bar or grab a casual bite from Subway, Rottnest Bakery and The General Store.
Walking trails and tours to do on Rottnest Island
Explore Rottnest Island (Wadjemup) following one of the many bike and walk trails that criss-cross the island (pick up a map from the visitor centre). Explore the Wadjemup Bidi or join one of the free guided walking tours. These are run by the Rottnest Island Volunteer Guides and start from the flagpole south of the Visitor Centre. Just look for the guide in a yellow shirt!
The Wadjemup Bidi will take you across spectacular coastal headlands, past stunning lakes and natural and man-made attractions. Wadjemup Bidi is 45 kilometres of trails made up of 5 sections, each boasting culturally and environmentally significant landmarks to appreciate and experience.
Plan your trip to Rottnest Island
Find the top accommodation, attractions, tours and things to do on Rottnest Island to help plan your trip.
What's on at Rottnest Island
Check out some of the upcoming events and festivals taking place on Rottnest Island
Best of Perth Blog
View the latest stories and news from Rottnest Island
Need more information?
Contact the Rottnest Island Authority, or visit the Rottnest Island Visitor Centre, located at the end of the main jetty, for more travel information
Winter in Perth
Winter in Perth means clear skies, cooler days and plenty of things to see and do.