With COVID-19 putting a serious dampener on most international and domestic travel, venturing out locally seems to be all we can work with at the moment. The good news for us though, is that not only are we able to move freely with no restrictions but our state boasts some pretty phenomenal natural landscapes to visit. One phenomenal landscape just a short hop, skip and jump across the ocean is Rottnest Island. Our hidden gem, Rottnest Island offers some of the best-protected coves in WA, the famous quokka, a bicycle only policy, outstanding coral reefs and now some seriously good eating options. If Rotto is on your list this year, we wanted to help with a suggested itinerary for your day on the island.
9 am – Rottnest Island Bakery & bike hire
When you arrive on Rotto, if you haven’t got yourself a bike, the first step is typically the hire store to get yourself sorted with some wheels for the day. You can also secure some snorkel sets too if you are aiming to get up close with the local wildlife. Post bike pick up, we really recommend a quick visit to Rottnest Bakery to load up on pastries for the day plus a coffee to kickstart the cycle.
10 am – first stop: The Basin
A very short ride out of the main area will bring you to the Basin. This is the spot to get those snorkels out. Here, you can meander out to the edge of the basin to meet some of the best aquatic animals on the island. This is pretty popular so we recommend a visit earlier in the day before the crowds come in to secure a spot on the small area of sand.
11 am – cycle through Longreach Bay to Little Parakeet Beach
Another small cove definitely worth your attention is Little Parakeet Bay. But before getting to the beach, you’ll need to ride through Longreach Bay which also showcases a stunning row of quintessential Rottnest shacks. Once at Little Parakeet Bay, you won’t be disappointed with a pristine lining of sand, protected from all the elements and crystal clear water. Little Parakeet Bay is where we recommend you spend a couple of hours. The best part? It’s a challenge for boats to moor close to the shore, meaning the water is only for you. Here is where you can capitalise on those pastries from the bakery that you strategically stored in your backpack.
1 pm – burn off lunch and ride through the salt flats to Salmon Bay
One of the best-kept secrets of Rottnest Island is the salt flats in the centre of the island. It’s a very different contrast to the turquoise bays that surround it. If you happen to see a few quokkas on the route, they are pretty friendly, but just remember to respect them if you are trying to get a close-up photo. As you move through the salt flats you’ll eventually hit Wadjemup Lighthouse. Climbing up the stairs here will offer a 360-degree view of the island!
Once back on the bike for a few more minutes, you’ll land at Salmon Bay – our pick of the best beach on the island. Salmon Bay is perfect for the afternoon when the sea breeze hits as it’s so protected that you won’t have any problems fighting the wind to put your towel down. It’s a nice long stretch of white sand so we recommend taking a stroll to the far end where you won’t have too many people around!
3 pm – ride back to Thomson Bay
Once you’ve officially had enough sun for the day, the next step is riding alongside the cliff faces back to Thomson Bay. Along this well-paved road, you’ll be able to get uninterrupted views of the WA coastline. Once back in Tomson Bay, you’ll most likely be in need of an arvo snack and beverage. For this, the Rottnest pub is your best bet. Here, there is generally live music (especially on a Sunday), a large beer garden and views straight onto the water.
5 pm – dinner reservations at Lontara
After a break from the rays and a few drinks, next on the agenda is dinner. The team at Samphire have you covered. In 2020 they released a boutique accommodation option on the island plus a top-notch restaurant – Lontara. This new eatery manages to strike the perfect balance with fresh South-East Asian cuisine using fresh and locally sourced ingredients from the island. When we visited, we couldn’t get enough of the crispy whole fish with wild ginger, Thai basil and three flavour sauce.
8 pm – ferry back to the mainland
Full, tired and potentially slightly tipsy, it might be time to head back to Perth. Rottnest Island ferries have later departures most days, especially in summer so all that’s left to do is board the boat back to the mainland. Hot tip: buying a return ticket will always cost less in one transaction so aim to plan your return time to save money.
How to Get to Rottnest Island
To start with, you have a few options. If you are lucky enough to have friends in high places that own a boat, you could hit them up. Otherwise, Rottnest Express is your go-to. Ohh and us to help get you from a joint pickup location to either Fremantle or Hillary’s Boat Harbour to board your ferry. If you are on the hunt for joint transport for a large group heading across to Rottnest Island, touch base with our reservations team who can help you out!