The Ultimate Guide to a Family Weekend Away on Rottnest IslandBack

If you’ve never been to Rottnest Island, now is the perfect time to go. Sitting a mere 18km off the coast of Perth, it’s the ideal option for a weekend family getaway. And getting there couldn’t be easier when you make the trip with Rottnest Fast Ferries.

Best of all, there’s truly something for everyone on Rottnest Island. While the area is most known for its beautiful beaches and iconic wildlife, it offers so much more. Here are just a few ideas for how you and the family can spend a weekend on Rottnest Island.



Ideas for the adventurous family

Perth’s island paradise is an absolute playground for families that like to get out and get the blood pumping. Whether you’re in the mood for an adrenaline rush or something a little more serene, you’ll have options on Rottnest Island.

Most obviously, you can make the most of the idyllic seaside setting by getting out on – or in – the water. Aquaplay Rottnest is located just off the main ferry jetty and can hook you up with all the gear you need. Hire yourself some waterbikes, pedal boards, or stand-up paddleboards and spend the day exploring the island’s surrounds.

Looking for something to keep the kids happy? Aquaplay has you covered! From kids jet ski hire to their kids club holiday program, they’re sure to have something to keep the little ones entertained.

Or, if you’d prefer to see more of the area, there is no shortage of Rottnest Island tours. For something a little different, we recommend Segway Tours as a unique (and fun!) way to see the sights. Similarly, the glass bottom sea kayaking tours are a great way to experience the island’s pristine waters. And, if you want to make your own way, Rottnest Fast Ferries also does bike and snorkel gear hire.

Finally, make sure you check out the family entertainment centre, Rottnest Island Movies & Mini Golf. As the name suggests, here you’ll be able to enjoy a round of mini golf or catch one of the latest releases. There’s also an old school arcade with a wide range of games for the whole family to enjoy.


Ideas for the history buffs

In addition to its stunning natural beauty, Rottnest Island is steeped in history. Also known as “Wadjemup”, Rottnest Island is a significant site for the local Noongar People. To learn more about this, we recommend booking a walking tour with the award-winning Go Cultural Aboriginal Tours & Experiences.

Other significant heritage sites on the island include:

  • Oliver Hill Gun & Tunnel: For anyone with a keen interest in Australia’s military history, this nationally significant site is a must. Located in the centre of the island, these military remnants were key to the country’s defence plans in WWII. To learn more about the site and how it was used, guided tours are run multiple times most days.
  • Pilot Boathouse: Built in 1859, this striking display is a celebration of the island’s important maritime history. For 57 years, pilot boats played a key role in helping ships safely navigate through the surrounding reefs. Here you will find a replica of the boats used and a collection of historical photos of Rottnest Island’s critical pilot service.
  • Wadjemup Museum: A partnership with the local Aboriginal Reference Group, this recently renovated museum is a great record of the island’s history. Through its over 17 displays it tells stories of the island, its visitors, and its many uses over the years. Exhibits range from 40,000-year-old artefacts to modern artworks and there’s even an outdoor sculpture display featuring some of WA’s leading artists.
  • Lomas Cottage: Now a dedicated exhibition space, this small cottage was originally built to house ex-convict and “Imperial Pauper”, John Lomas. Lomas’s story is a rather unusual one and the topic of much debate and speculation, particularly regarding his true identity. This is a unique and intriguing historic site that now plays host to a rotating calendar of moving artistic exhibitions.


Ideas for the nature lovers

No visit to Rottnest Island is complete without a few wild encounters. And few experiences are more sought-after than an interaction with the island’s most famous inhabitant – the Quokka. To maximise your chances of scoring your own #QuokkaSelfie, sign up for one of the daily Quokka Walks.

Rottnest Island is also the site of some of the world’s best bays and beaches. In fact, there’s a total of 63 beaches and 20 bays for you to explore, each with its own appeal.

If snorkelling is your thing, check out Little Salmon Bay, Parakeet Bay, or the clear, shallow waters of The Basin. Pinky Beach, Fays Bay, and Parker Point are also must-see spots thanks to their stunning views and top-notch swimming and snorkelling.

If you prefer to relax and take in the scenery, the rugged West End offers some of the best views on the island. If you’re lucky, you may even spot the pod of around 50 New Zealand fur seals that live in the area. Between August and the start of December you could also get to see humpback whales frolicking just offshore.

Surfers are also well catered for, with some of WA’s most consistent breaks found around the island. Strickland Bay is a particular highlight and has been named one of the world’s 50 best breaks. Salmon Bay and Shark Bay are also popular, as are Radar Reef and Chicken Reef (both reef breaks).

If you enjoy throwing a line in, you’ll love Rottnest Island for its abundant marine life and ample fishing spots. Ricey Beach, Radar Reef, and Cathedral Rocks are all popular fishing spots, as is West End during the annual salmon run. For more information on some of the best fishing spots, check out this free Rottnest Island Fishing Guide.


Getting the family to Rottnest Island

There are a few different ways to get to Rottnest Island, with regular ferry, plane, and helicopter services. But the most convenient and affordable is unquestionably by booking with Rottnest Fast Ferries.

Our ferries depart multiple times a day, 7 days a week, from Hillarys Boat Harbour. We also offer free parking and a complimentary courtesy coach that picks up and drops off all around Perth CBD. And did we mention that kids under 12 travel free? Simply sign up now to secure this great offer!

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