Eat, Stay, Play: The best of Rottnest Island

You may know it as the home to the quokka, but there is a lot more to Rottnest Island than the world’s most photogenic marsupial.

Rottnest is in fact named after those adorable fluffballs. European explorer Willem de Vlamingh, a Dutch sea captain, spent six days on the island and thought they were giant rats, hence the name Rottnest, or rat’s nest in English. Not so cute now, is it?

For a relatively small island there is a lot to do, so here’s a best of the way out west.


Well, I don’t know if it’s the best, but certainly the most expensive traditional accommodation offering is Hotel Rottnest. The design incorporates the best of the old and the new and the white design theme perfectly reflects the surrounding white sand beaches.

You can spend more on private rentals if that’s your bag.

For something a bit more authentic why not try a heritage cottage? These original structures were built in the 19th century and you can wake up to ocean views from your very own balcony.  

They are operated by the Rottnest Island Authority and were once workers’ cottages, which now provide some of the best sea views in the west.

Where to eat

If you want to throw money around, one of the most popular locations to eat on Rottnest is Isola Bar e Cibo. As the name would suggest it has a heavy Italian influence structured around quality Western Australian produce.

For an Asian influence try Lontara, which dips into many South-East Asian cuisines, to spice up your culinary journey.

If you want a more basic pub-style meal there are a few options to choose from, including Hotel Rottnest and Pinky’s Beach Club. Hotel Rottnest has a robust wine list while Pinky’s is a bit fancier but the spectacular sunset views are free, so that kind of cancels it out.

The Rottnest Island Golf Course doesn’t really serve meals unless a packet of chips is in your personal five food groups, but it is a chill place to grab a few drinks and try some barefoot bowls, or as the name would suggest, a round of golf. 

Things to do

Your priority on Rottnest should be enjoying the island at its best and that means revelling in nature. 

There are plenty of ways to get your fix. It could be as simple as enjoying a surf or a swim, but there are also organised tours including snorkelling, helicopter rides, skydiving, hiking or even getting around a bit on a Segway. 

If you want to see one of those charming quokkas you need to get out at the right time. They are nocturnal, but the best time to see them is early morning or late at night although apparently you can see them napping during the day in shady spots. Napping quokkas, could that be any more adorable?

Here’s a guide to spotting a quokka.

Getting around

I am primarily adding this in for the name alone, but why not try the Quokka Hopper?

Thankfully, there’s no real quokka hopping involved, it’s actually a seven-seater electric cart transport service to get you around the island. It’s designed to connect some of the more popular spots on the island, and you can pay a standard fee or organise a private chauffeur service. 

You’d better like bike riding if you are spending any amount of time on Rottnest – it’s the most popular mode of transport. Thankfully, there is a massive facility called Pedal and Flipper Hire offering a vast array of hire choices from standard bikes through to electric and a large selection of kids’ bikes. 

The bikes are expertly maintained and baby seats and child trailers are also available. 

Getting there

At just 19km from Fremantle, Rottnest Island is easily accessible by ferry, plane or boat.

Ferries operate out of North Fremantle, Fremantle and Hilarys Boat Harbour in Perth’s north.

If you want to fly, you can take a small plane, sea plane or helicopter, all of which have the added bonus of seeing Rottnest from the air.

For private boat owners or private chartered boats there are some rules to follow. Make sure you check them out here before you travel.

Have you been to Rottnest Island? What was your favourite part of your holiday? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Where can you go nude in Australia?

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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