Where to stay, play and eat on Rottnest Island

This tiny island off the coast of Western Australia is the perfect destination for families, with hotel, restaurant and activity options to suit everyone.

People swimming and snorkelling in the clear aqua waters at the rocky cove of Little Salmon Bay, Rottnest Island. Image credit: Benny Marty.
  • Fiona Adolph
  • February 2019
  • Updated March 2021

Just offshore from Perth, the historic Rottnest Island has received a lot of attention in recent years, with big name celebs like Roger Federer and Margot Robbie posting selfies alongside the island’s most famous residents: the quokkas. But the local wildlife is just one of the reasons this picture-perfect island is ideal for family holidays. Here is your essential guide to a family holiday in Rotto.

How to get to Rottnest Island

There are regular ferries to Rottnest Island’s Thomson Bay from ports around Perth, taking between 25 and 90 minutes to reach the island. Ferries depart from Barrack Street Jetty on Swan River in the CBD, Northport and B-Shed in Fremantle, and Hillarys Boat Harbour about 20 minutes north of the city centre. Check Rottnest Express, Sealink and Rottnest Fast Ferries for the latest service and timetable info.

 Two quokkas standing together on a sandy track on Rottnest Island, with one quokka looking at the camera inquisitively.
Seeing incredibly cute quokkas is not the only reason to visit Rottnest Island.

Rottnest Island activities

With cycle paths around the entire island, fun parks, a cinema, museum, golf course and good cafés, there is plenty to keep you occupied beyond the obvious swimming, snorkelling and fishing. Cycling is the best way to get around – you can bring your own bikes, or arrange rentals either through Pedal & Flipper or one of the ferry operators.

Whatever else you plan, a dip with a snorkel in one of the sheltered lagoons (Little Salmon Bay is always good for skin diving) is a must-do. Equipment hire is available through the ferry services or you can pick up a cheap mask and snorkel at the Rottnest General Store.

A woman cycling along the waterfront on a bright sunny day on Rottnest Island.
Cycling is a scenic and fun way to get around Rottnest Island.

Eating out on Rottnest Island

Enjoy dinner with a view at The Hotel Rottnest, which has one of the most spectacular water outlooks on the island. Good times are guaranteed at the restaurant and bar, with live music, and dishes featuring Western Australian produce, such as tagliatelle with Exmouth prawns or Stirling Ranges Black Angus porterhouse.

Rottnest Island accommodation

There is a range of accommodation on Rottnest Island, with budget and premium options and plenty in between, including campgrounds, basic units, bungalows and oceanfront heritage cottages. Or check out Discovery Rottnest eco-resort for a low-impact glamping experience. Whether you stay in central Thomson Bay or a quick shuttle bus (or bike) ride away at Longreach, Fays or Geordie bays, each area has its charm.

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