Some might call it a futile quest, but it’s safe to say I am always searching for the perfect beach. Living in the southern hemisphere means Sydney’s idyllic shores are always on my doorstep, for which I am forever grateful.
Australia, the island continent, of course offers an amazing array of beaches, and since moving to Australia from the US, I’ve made it my mission to explore as many of them as I can.
I’ve been intrigued by Rottnest Island for years- this small island, off the coast of Western Australia, near Fremantle, has a range of offerings that appeal to any thalassophile. Sparkling turquoise waters, car-free cycling paths for exploring the island, and unique marsupials called quokkas who call the island home – I knew I had to visit. Rottnest’s remote location means it takes a fair effort to reach, even from within Australia, but sometimes the best things in life aren’t easy to find.
After years of wanderlusting over Rottnest’s perfect beaches, I finally had the chance to visit. As our ferry slowly approached the island, the sea literally sparkled, the sun bouncing off the hulls of the yachts in the marina, I knew right away that it had been worth the wait.
Make the Most of It
Rottnest is made for snorkelling, swimming, and cycling, three of my favourite things. I cycled all over, taking in the beauty of the island, and hopped from perfect beach to perfect beach. Little Salmon Bay, a protected alcove, offers world-class snorkelling just feet from the shore. As I stepped into the cool azure water, I felt like I was gliding into an aquarium. Crystal clear water all around me, showcasing a school of small fish, the marine life surrounding the island is diverse and intrinsically special. The waters are a marine reserve in which a marine ecosystem exists unlike any other, thanks to the island’s unique location off the coast of mainland Australia. Every beach on the island offered stunning photo ops that would make any traveller envious, and I couldn’t believe my luck to have finally found the beach of my dreams. Don’t miss Bathurst Lighthouse, a picturesque lighthouse overlooking a stunning blue beach, just a short cycle from the ferry port.
In addition to the perfect seascapes, Rottnest is inhabited by a small marsupial called a quokka, only found on Rottnest and nearby Bald Island. These friendly, inquisitive animals have the sweetest faces and invoke memories of a childhood teddy bear. However, they are protected, so do not feed or touch them, for their own protection.
How to get to Rottnest
If you don’t have your own sailboat or yacht (unfortunately, I fall into this category), then one of the Rottnest ferry services are the best way to reach the island. Departing from either Perth or Fremantle, there are frequent services each day. However, if you had a large group of friends together, chartering a boat for the day from Fremantle would be the best way to get there, offering the freedom to explore at your leisure.
The city of Fremantle is closer to Rottnest Island than Perth, so considering spending a day or two exploring the arts and culture scene in ‘Freo’, as the locals call it, before heading over to Rottnest for a day or two.
Once you’re there, the island is almost completely car-free (except for a few tourist buses and municipal vehicles), so definitely line up a bike hire. Bikes are the best way to explore the island. You can either bring your own on the ferry, or hire one from the ferry operators. It’ll be waiting for you on arrival, complete with helmet. The main beaches and sites can be visited within a day, so make sure you grab a map. For those who are less mobile, the tourist bus is a great way to see the sights.
Only 11km long at its widest point, it is small enough to explore in just a day, and truly feels like an island paradise, removed from the modern world.
Eat & Sleep
Round off your afternoon with fresh seafood, grazing platters, and a glass of bubbles at Thomsons Rottnest, overlooking the marina. After a hard day of cycling and swimming, you’ve earned it. Specialising in produce local to the area, it’s the perfect place to sample some of Western Australia’s fresh and modern cuisine as you take in the saltwater breeze off the ocean.
Accommodation is limited on the island, as it mainly attracts daytrippers from Fremantle and Perth. If you’re visiting overnight for a special occasion, the Island Couples Retreat is for you. Two exclusive beachfront suites make the ideal spot for a waterfront anniversary, but book well in advance. Their serene and luxurious design, just steps from the beach, means you’ll find it tough to tear yourself away the next day.
Is Rottnest Island the world’s most perfect beach? That I can’t say for sure, but the memories of my time there will remain one of my top travel experiences, a tiny slice of paradise perched on the edge of the world.
(Title image courtesy of Passionfruit and Prunes)