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“A great day out for the family” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Penguin Island

Penguin Island
Corner Arcadia Drive and Penguin Road | Rockingham/Shoalwater Bay area, Perth, Western Australia 6169, Australia
(08) 9591 1333
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Ranked #14 of 79 Attractions in Perth
Type: Islands, Nature/ Wildlife Areas, Outdoors
Activities: Viewing wildlife
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Attraction details
Owner description: Located in the spectacular Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, just 45 minutes south of Perth is Penguin Island- a beautiful, unspoilt nature reserve home to WA's largest colony of little penguin as well as dolphins, sea lions, stingrays, pelicans, ospreys and more. Visitors can see the penguins being fed by rangers at the Discovery Centre. It's also fantastic for swimming, snorkelling, having a picnic or just enjoying some of the best coastal scenery in Perth. Rockingham Wild Encounters operate an hourly ferry service to Penguin Island (it's only a 5 minute ride), glass bottom boat cruises of Shoalwater Bay and adventure style cruises to watch the local dolphins and explore more of the marine park. Sea Kayak Tours and Kite boarding Lessons are also available.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children
Perth
Top Contributor
470 reviews 470 reviews
363 attraction reviews
Reviews in 86 cities Reviews in 86 cities
281 helpful votes 281 helpful votes
“A great day out for the family”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 4, 2012

We visit the island once a year. Our children are already asking when we are going again. We have crossed the sandbar on many occasions and you do have to be very careful to choose a calm day, morning is usually great and if you return early afternoon it's fine too. I wouldn't try to cross when the sea is choppy. I know two people have died few years ago while crossing but they couldn't swim at all and this is sea even when you can walk the water is still quite deep.
You can take the ferry of course which we do sometimes if we are taking an esky with food as there is no food on the island at all (there are some drink fountains there). If you buy a ticket for the ferry this gives you a free entry to the Penguin Enclosure on the island. If you don't have a ticket you can still buy an entry one on the island. You can also spot the penguins around the island if you go for a walk which I would recommend unless it is 40 degrees.
The water is quite warm close to the island and very shallow at the two beaches overlooking Rockingham.
There are toilets at the island but unless you are desperate I would give them a miss as they are ecological friendly ones.
Overall one of the best spots to visit if you find yourself in Perth.

Visited January 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PenguinIslandLocal, General Manager at Penguin Island, responded to this review, December 19, 2012
Thank you for your great rating and review of Penguin Island- lots of great info for fellow travellers.

Just a word of advice for others who are reading this review in regards to 'walking to the island'. Although there is a history of people wading across the sandbar, you should be aware that there are inherent risks involved with this. Every year our company rescues hundreds of people attempting to make the crossing. In Dec 2011, 2 brothers from an Indian family drowned after walking off the edge of the sandbar. This tragedy was widely covered in the media and prior to this we have had several close calls where our staff have had to perform CPR.

We are often asked by visitors if they can walk to Penguin Island, or, if it's safe to cross the sandbar? Risk management of the sandbar is the responsibility of the Department of Environment & Conservation (DEC), their advice is that crossing the sandbar is hazardous and recommend that visitors catch the ferry and our staff are obligated to reinforce this message. No other advice can be offered for liability reasons.

Unfortunately, there are several reviews on Trip Advisor which promote 'walking to the island' and are counter productive to the safety message that DEC promotes. These reviews are often written by locals who have adequate swimming skills and a good understanding of our local weather and ocean conditions and how they can affect the sandbar. Many visitors we rescue are interstate and international visitors who don't have the local knowledge or swimming skills required to safely cross the sandbar. If you are considering this, some factors you should think about include:

1. The depth of water over the sandbar varies according to tide and weather conditions which can change quickly. On average the depth is around waist deep and there are some sections which can be chest deep or more, so, although people describe 'walking' it is more accurate to describe it as 'wading'.
2. The length of the sandbar is 850 metres. It's a long way to swim if you get into trouble, especially when it's windy and rough.
3. Many visitors get into difficulty attempting the return crossing to the mainland. We get a regular sea breeze in summer which makes the water very choppy. In the afternoon when the sun is lower it also increases the glare which makes it very difficult to see where the edge of the sandbar is. Once they step off the edge into deep water, the sea breeze will push them further away from the sandbar which becomes a very dangerous situation for people with poor swimming skills.
4. Although many of the people we rescue are international visitors with poor swimming skills, we also rescue locals who remember crossing the sandbar as kids. The sandbar is a dynamic feature that is constantly moving and changing, so people who have crossed the sandbar before should not assume that it will be the same each day. We also rescue a lot of locals who attempt the crossing with children who have gotten into difficulty and don't have the necessary skills to recover.

We have provided this information in the interest of visitor safety. Penguin Island is a beautiful place for everyone to enjoy and everyone is welcome regardless of how you access the island, however, think carefully about your own swimming ability and the factors discussed above if you're considering crossing the sandbar. Please be safe and catch the ferry- we don't ever want to have a repeat of the tragedy of Dec 2011.
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Brisbane, Australia
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23 reviews 23 reviews
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Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Natural site, easy to get to”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 4, 2012

Natural island, beautiful water for swimming, cute penguin feeding show. Worth taking the sea lion cruise also.

Visited December 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PenguinIslandLocal, General Manager at Penguin Island, responded to this review, December 19, 2012
Thanks for the great rating and review. Glad you enjoyed our Penguin & Sea Lion Cruise. Our Dolphin Watch Adventure Cruise is even better! Maybe try that one next time :) Thanks again and we hope you visit again soon.
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Perth
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29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
“Small, crowded but worth the visit”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 1, 2012

We visited on one of the hottest, windiest days, and queued for perhaps hours just to get a ticket on the ferry, however the staff were all polite, there were plenty of services running to and from the island and the educational shows are informative. I suggest packing your own picnic as there is no eating facilities on the island. We spotted plenty of wild penguins during the day and also went on a sea lion cruise to the nearby seal island and shag rocks where the wild creatures were sunbathing on the unspoilt landmasses.

Visited January 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PenguinIslandLocal, General Manager at Penguin Island, responded to this review, December 19, 2012
Hi Timothy. Thanks for your great review and rating. Glad you enjoyed the visit. Just in regards to 'queuing for hours'. We do get very busy on weekends and public holidays but put on extra ticketing staff to minimize waiting time- even on a busy day when the queue is out the door it would be rare to have to wait more than 20 minutes. My best advice on avoiding the queues & crowds for next time is to arrive early- the 9am ferry is always the quietest one of the day and you get the island all to yourself before the crowds arrive between 10am- 1pm.

Thanks again for your review and hope you visit again soon.
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Oslo, Norway
Senior Contributor
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“Penguins on an Island”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 28, 2012

I saw penguins on the Island. And we pretty mutch walked the entire way to the Island. The Island is nice enough but I guess you have to be really into penguins to get a kick out off this.

Visited November 2012
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PenguinIslandLocal, General Manager at Penguin Island, responded to this review, November 30, 2012
Hi Ronny. Appreciate your review of Penguin Island but definitely disagree that you have to 'really be into Penguins to get a kick out of this place'. Apart from the penguins there's the dolphins, sea lions, pelicans, sea birds that nest right next to the timber board walks and the cheeky kings skinks. Under the water there's all the fish, crabs, rock lobster, octopus, squid etc etc- it's a nature lovers and snorkelers paradise.

In addition to the wildlife the crystal clear waters and white sand beaches are stunning. If you are looking for a unique, unspoilt nature reserve teeming with wildlife with beautiful beaches and waters then Penguin island is a 'must visit' while you're in Perth.
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Malaysia
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“Expensive”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 27, 2012

The view in Penguin Island is beautiful but the ferry ticket is quite expensive. Moreover, there were only 7 little penguins and we had missed out the show time where my little boy felt quite disappointed.

Visited November 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PenguinIslandLocal, General Manager at Penguin Island, responded to this review, November 30, 2012
Hi There. Thanks very much for your review of Penguin Island. In regards to missing the penguins, I would be interested to know how this happened as there are 3 penguin feeding sessions a day at 10.30am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm and these times are clearly advertised on our brochures, websites and also on a sign in front of the Discovery Centre. Could you please provide more information as to how you 'missed the show' by emailing me at aaron@dolphins.com.au so I can ensure that this doesn't happen to any other visitors.

In regards to your comments about the ferry ticket being expensive. A basic ferry ticket costs $12 to get to the island including 10% GST and a 7% marine park levy which is paid to the Department of Environment & Conservation to help maintain the marine park. We believe this excellent value for money and I can't think of another attraction in Perth that has an entry fee as low as that.

Thanks again for your review and we hope you visit again soon.
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