Why a Trip to Rottnest Island is Worth the Splurge

Why a Trip to Rottnest Island is Worth the Splurge


Can I just start here by asking a question …. Does everyone know what a “splurge” is?

I want to check this isn’t just some British colloquialism no one else will understand, or worse still, a term that maybe only my mum uses and that over the 32 years I’ve heard her say it, I’ve somehow been misled into believing it is a real word.

Hold on … I’m going to google it …

Ok, no, perfect, google has confirmed “splurge” is a real term and defined as…

“an act of spending money freely or extravagantly”

Wonderful, still only on the introduction and we’ve already cleared up one thing!

Ok, so where was I … oh yes, the splurge that is Rottnest Island.

Right folks, let’s get one thing straight here and that’s that a trip to Rottnest Island certainly isn’t going to be the cheapest thing you do while you’re in Perth.

And given Western Australia’s general high costs across the board, this really is saying something.

Bit of a nightmare for a budget travel writer to say the least!

That said, however, can I spell out first, right here, right now that Rottnest Island really is wonderful.

A veritable pearl of beauty in the Indian Ocean, hopping across to see her really is worth every cent of the expense. I actually can’t encourage you enough to make sure your budget has the room to stretch, just this once!

And not only is Rottnest Island definitely worth the splurge, but there are some definite ways you can see her more cheaply than others too.

So why is a trip to Rottnest worth the splurge (and how can you make the splurge a small splurge), well that’s just what I’m going to share with you now …

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My trip to Rottnest Island was kindly sponsored by Rottnest Fast Ferries, but, as always, all views are my own.

This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.

Day Trip

One of the best ways to see Rottnest Island cheaply is to just enjoy a day trip there.

Situated only 19km from the Perth coastline, the island is totally reachable and explorable in a day.

What this means, is that you don’t have to fork out for accommodation while you’re there – being an island, prices for rooms tend to be even higher than the mainland – and can simply soak up the best of Rotto (as she is locally known) during a blissful morning and afternoon.


Rottnest Fast Ferries

This is exactly what I did as I made my way over to the Island with Rottnest Fast Ferries.

Departing from Hilarys Boat Harbour, just north of Perth, these guys whisked me comfortably across to the island in only 45minutes, meaning there was still plenty of the day left to explore when we arrived at around 11am.

What I also liked about Rottnest Fast Ferries was the free shuttle pickup service they offered passengers from the centre of Perth.

If you’re like me, aka on a tight budget, then this free shuttle is a great way to effortlessly make your way to the ferry terminal at Hilarys without having to pay for public transport or fuel.

For any backpackers staying in the centre of Perth, this service is a godsend, as indeed it proved to be for the German, French and Japanese travellers that hopped on the shuttle with me.

And what’s more, it was Tuesday and that meant backpacker special day with Rottnest Fast Ferries, which explains a lot!

* Budget Tip: So folks, if you’re looking to get to Rottnest as cheaply as possible, aim to visit on a Tuesday when you can pick up an awesome bargain! *


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Bike Hire

Rottnest Fast Ferries also organised bike hire for me too, because – just an early heads up – the best way to explore Rottnest is definitely on 2 wheels!

Rather than paying more and then waiting longer to organise hire bike when you reach Rottnest, I’d definitely recommend doing the whole thing together.

Not only is this cheaper – you can generally get a better package deal if you book the ferry and the bike at the same time – but all you need do when you collect your ferry boarding pass at the ticket office, is simply walk to the depot next door and pick up your fantastic bike.

This was such a smooth process and my lovely little green and blue bike, which I named Doris, came complete with a helmet and a lock. It was all I needed to enjoy a delightful day on Rottnest.

* Budget Tip: Book a ferry / bike package deal to get the best rate *



#1 Good Camera – You will be pretty much snapping non-stop in Australia and will need a good camera to do this gorgeous country justice. I highly recommend the Sony A6000, which I use for all my travels and love, not least because it’s light, compact and robust!

#2 Good Walking Shoes – There will be a lot of walking in Australia – from cities to national park! Make sure your feet are comfortable therefore with a pair of New Balance Trainers. Perfect for stylish strollling, I love mine

#3 Good Guidebook – I’m still a massive fan of the Lonely Planet Guidebooks and do think their Australia edition is well put together

#4 Good Water Bottle – Travelling in hot old Australia can be thirsty work, so make sure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because tap water is drinkable… and free!

#5 Good Sun Hat – And there’s no denying you’ll need a good sun hat for protection in Australia too. In my opinion, you can’t go past this Hello Sunshine one, which is both gorgeous and ideal for keeping the rays off your face.


Cycling Rottnest

Because a huge part of why Rottnest Island is worth the splurge is because of the joyful and relaxed time you can have exploring this tiny island on 2 wheels.

Even if you’re not a frequent cyclist like me, that sense of the wind in your hair and the sun on your face as you pedal freely around a cute little island in the Indian Ocean is hard to beat.

There are hardly any motorised vehicles on Rotto, which means cyclists largely rule the roads and the freedom a bicycle gives you to head off and explore all the different directions and attractions of this island, is wonderful.

Be warned, there are a few hills, but it’s always worth it for the views and the freewheeling you get on the other side!

(She says that now of course, sat down with a cup of tea!)

* Budget Tip: Take everything you need for the day, including food, water and suncream in a backpack so you don’t have to pay island prices and can just cycle off and get lost for hours! *

When you get on the ferry, you’ll get a little map which outlines some of the best cycle routes and gives you rough times and kms, so you can plan the best Rottnest Island day according to your fitness and energy.

I easily managed cover well over half the island in a day and that included getting lost, munching a lot of snacks and taking a heap, and I mean a heap, of photographs.


Wanna Splurge?

And if you are looking to enjoy a splurge, then there are definitely some great places to stay  on Rottnest Island. Here’s my pick of the bunch:

Caroline Thomson Cabins is run by the Fremantle Island Authority. These wooden cabins are centrally located near the main settlement and great for groups and self-caterers.

Kingston Barracks is Rottnest’s only hostel and the best budget place to stay if you want to enjoy overnight in Rotto.

Hotel Rottnest was once the summer residence of the Governor of WA. Recently restored, this historic hotel provides great views in an iconic location


Beaches and Beauty

Because let’s be honest people, Rottnest is a real beauty.

Largely uninhabited, except by tourists and a small community that essentially work there to support this industry, almost the whole of Rottnest is given over to nature and her beauty.

I read there are over 63 bays and beaches on Rottnest Island and I can believe it!

I lost count after about 15 – I think that was round about when I started to get lost – and instead stopped looking at the map and just enjoyed one after another after another of largely deserted and tranquil sandy havens.

And what sand!

If you haven’t been to Western Australia yet then I can happily report it is the whitest sand I have ever seen …

… And I’ve seen some sand in my time!

Sadly it was a little overcast when I went, but a sunny day on Rottnest also provides the perfect opportunity for snorkelling with crystal clear waters giving views of the fabulous reef, fish, turtles and I’m sure a playful dolphin or 2.

I’m told the best spots for snorkelling are The Basin and Parker Point.

* Budget Tip: Get a snorkel and flippers thrown in with you ferry and bike deal if you don’t have a set of your own *



But unbelievably it may not be the beaches with their white sand and turquoise lapping waters that Rottnest is actually most famous, and most worth the splurge, for.

No, this paradise island’s landscape is generally trumped in the tourist stakes by her most famous residents.

Yep, if you didn’t know already, Rottnest is home a unique colony of marsupials known as Quokkas.

Uh huh, Quokkas.

And no, I’d never heard of them either!

But it turns out these furry fellas, really are the star of the show and it’s easy to see why.

Renowned as the happiest creatures on earth, these tame, and very smiley balls of fluff just love having their photo taken!

As such, Quokka selfies have been a huge Instagram sensation in these here parts and propelled these little guys to world stardom.

Yep, welcome to the party!

But honestly, even the most hardened cynic would struggle to deny these guys are seriously cute and very friendly.

Quokkas can be found all over the island and without cars to fear, or any real predators, you can quite easily bump into a whole family unit of them just ambling across the road.

A warning however, when this happens, you will spend the next 45 minutes just hanging out with them and trying to take their photo!

* Budget Tip: Quokkas don’t charge for their photo being taken!  … Also, there is a FREE daily walking tour on Rotto, given by local volunteers, dedicated to teaching you more about this iconic animal. *


History & Heritage

Rottnest also has a unique heritage, from the story of the indigenous community here to the arrival of the European settlers, you can discover a range of fascinating histories mapped and layered right across the island.

One of the best places to visit in this regard is the Wadjemup Lighthouse, which sits almost in the centre of the island and provides stunning 360 degree views.

Wonderful storyboards at its base depict the tale of how this lifesaving monument was built, maintained, used and looked after.

You can also get some great pictures of her too.

* Budget Tip: If you want to learn more about Rottnest’s fascinating past, several FREE walking tours are conducted daily by trained volunteers. Just pick up a brochure at the Island’s Visitor Centre to learn more. *




And so you can see that Rottnest Island provides a serious jam-packed punch of a day trip well worth the splurge.

From cute quokkas to beautiful beaches, history, heritage and a good work out on 2 wheels this is a day you’ll never forget and for that, it’s worth every cent! 🙂


10 thoughts on “Why a Trip to Rottnest Island is Worth the Splurge

  1. Mark-Anthony says:

    Hey Steph,
    Thanks for this post. I’ve never heard of Rottnest Island and am not very familiar with Australia as a continent (newbie on the blog here). I’ve also never heard of Quokkas but they look like interesting animals and I’m always game to have a safari for some interesting creatures. Thanks for the introduction and the interesting post!

    • Steph says:

      Hi Mark-Anthony, thanks for your comments and so delighted to have brought Quokkas to a new audience! They are the cutest! Glad you enjoyed the read and definitely check out more of my posts if you keen to get acquainted with Australia. It’s my speciality right now 🙂

  2. Suzy says:

    This is SO helpful!! I’m planning a visit to Perth in November and was keen to see the island but wasn’t sure if it would be worth it – this has totally confirmed my decision to go. It’s got me so excited!

    • Steph says:

      Hey Suzy that’s so great!! As you can tell, I’m a big fan of Rotto and by November the weather will be lovely again! Just make sure you take a selfie stick to grab that Quokka shot!

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