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“Waste of money and time” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Penguin Island

Penguin Island
Corner Arcadia Drive and Penguin Road | Rockingham/Shoalwater Bay area, Rockingham, Western Australia 6169, Australia
(08) 9591 1333
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Ranked #2 of 27 things to do in Rockingham
Certificate of Excellence 2014
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 young children, Activities for older children
Melbourne, Australia
11 reviews 11 reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Waste of money and time”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2014

We did the dolphin, penguin and sea lion tour. We found the staff to be quite rude at the counter and the tour was a waste of time. At $85 per adult and $50 per child we were disappointed. We saw dolphins once and from a distance. Would not recommend that anyone waste your time and money doing this

Visited December 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
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, January 1, 2014
Hi Dean. Appreciate your feedback and disappointed to hear you weren't happy with the cruise. It sounds like the dolphins you encountered on your cruise weren't up for company which does happen from time to time given that they are wild animals- it's part of the risk that you take when you join any tour that visits wildlife. We are very lucky here in that after working with the local dolphins for the past 25 years we have built up a strong friendship and trust that enables us to enjoy a better than 99% success rate. We also offer a wild dolphin guarantee to ensure that people who are unlucky enough to miss out on seeing dolphins on their cruise get the opportunity to come out again. I would like to extend the offer of another cruise for you and your family to come again and hopefully see the dolphins at their best. If you read through the reviews on Trip Advisor you will see that most visitors really enjoy that cruise and I'm sure we could change your mind as well. If you would like to take up this offer please email me at aaron@dolphins.com.au and I will organize a booking for you. I would also be keen to hear more details re your comment on our front counter staff being rude so that I can follow that up. Please be assured that they are not in the habit of being rude and are usually very good with our visitors. If I know which staff member was involved and the nature of your complaint then I will be sure to follow it up. Thanks again for your email and I look forward to hopefully hearing from you.
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Secret Harbour, Australia
1 review
“Would go back again and again”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2014

We wish we had the opportunity to visit local tourist attractions more often because if we did, Penguin Island is one that we would go back time and time again! For the first time in all the years we have lived locally, we decided to take our kids out for the day on Monday and even though we were obviously not the only ones that had decided the same day out, we were absolutely thrilled with the result of our decision. When we went down to ticketing to purchase our tickets for the ferry and penguin viewing, we were at first hesitant with the size of the queue however, we were already there so we proceeded to wait. Given the size of the line, the wait wasn't as bad as would be expected and on approaching the counter, the pleasant staff had made our wait feel almost non existent. I could see how impatient people could possibly get frustrated and take it out on the only obvious target being staff of the island however, in our experience, we couldn't have asked for better customer service from all the staff that were there dealing with clearly a massive day. Its never easy when theres so many customers in such a short time, but I must say they were awesome! Thankyou Penguin Island and ALL the staff for making our day amazing

Visited December 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes
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, January 1, 2014
Thankyou P Harvey for your kind words!! The week after Xmas is always a crazy time of year for us given the increase in visitation and we do our best to service people as quickly and professionally as possible. We have received a few negative reviews on tripadvisor over the last couple of days which are generally the result of frustrated people having to wait so it was so refreshing to get a pat on the back from a local who could appreciate the efforts of our crew who are doing their best at this busy time of year : ) Thankyou again and will highlight your review to all the crew at our tool box meeting tomorow meeting- they will be stoked!
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South Perth, Australia
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“shocking customer service”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2014

We arrived to book a ticket on 1/1/2014 at 12.00hrs, and there was a long queue, but that was ok, then we learnt that the ferry was not working and the glass bottom boat will be operating, that was ok too, but when we got to the counter, we were told that there was no 13.oohrs trip, so less time on the island for us, but we had little choice as we were already there, so we booked the 14.00hrs one. We were told when coming back the last trip will be at 16.00hrs. so there we were at 5mins to 16.00hrs in a long queue, the boat went and came back 2 twice then it was our turn, as we were in the front of the queue, but the skipper started calling people behind us to get in the boat, we were speechless, she turned to me and smiled saying I will go in the next boat. I was shocked, that's so UNPROFESSIONAL, and I felt discriminated as I was not Australian. I sat on the deck as I was getting tired. If she represents Australians then you had better let her go as the impression she gives is total disrespect of others.

Visited January 2014
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, January 1, 2014
Hi Marie. Thanks for your review and appreciate your feedback. Yesterday was a tough day for our operation. As you said in your review our ferry wasn't working as we had a mechanical failure on the last return ferry of the day on new years eve. Unfortunately the extent of the failure meant that our ferry had to be taken out of service for new years day and we did the best we could with our 2 remaining vessels on one of our busiest days of the year. We were using our glass bottom boat to facilitate the ferry service. It has a smaller passenger capacity of 49 passengers compared to 75 for our normal ferry and is also a bit more cumbersome to operate than our usual ferry. We were operating ferry departures every 20 minutes throughout the day which is as fast as we are able to operate, however, as the day went on we were starting to get behind on our schedule. Rather than continuing to sell tickets for the 1 pm ferry, our manager on the day decided to skip this departure to enable our crew to clear the backlog of passengers waiting on the jetty. If you were unable to get tickets on our 1.20pm or 1.40pm departure it would have been because they were sold out which is unfortunate but just a reflection of how busy the day was.
In regards to having to wait to get the ferry back home at 5 to 4pm- we were a bit slower than normal yesterday again as we were having to do the work of 3 boats with just 2. Also being a nice summers day a lot of visitors waited until 3 to 4 pm before deciding to return and this resulted in people having to queue. We ran the glass bottom boat constantly from 3pm- 4.30pm to get visitors back to the mainland. I do apologize for the wait but please be assured we were working as fast as we could. In regards to your comments about the skipper making you wait and loading others onboard who were waiting behind you in the queue- this would be extremely unusual. I haven't had a chance to speak with the skipper involved but will definitely follow up for an explaination as this should never happen. I know that skipper well and she is normally very accomodating, polite, proffessional and not in the least bit discriminatory. If she has loaded people onboard that ferry in front of you there would have been a good reason for it which I look forward to hearing about. All of our crew work with people from all over the world regularly and I would not tolearte having a member of staff onboard who discriminated against people for any reason. I would really appreciate it if you could email me your contact details so that I can give you a full explaination once I have spoken with the skipper concerned. My email is aaron@dolphins.com.au Again I apologize and do look forward to receiving your contact details so we can clear this up.
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Perth, Australia
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2014

I have been privileged enough to experience over night stays on Penquin Island pre 1987 before they closed access to the public...Penguins are abundant on the island after dark...they are not the shy creatures that they are made out to be ...and are in fact delightfully inquisitive animals.

I think it would be a great opportunity for DEC to arrange for organised night time tours where members of the public can get to experience a truly unique wildlife experience. It is ashame that people are denied the experience and its time the DEC relax some of the nanny state laws that are inplace.

Visited January 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes
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, January 1, 2014
Hi Peter. Thanks for the review and appreciate your suggestion. Great to hear from a local who remembers the island pre it's current format. Night time tours would be fantastic and it is something that DPAW (formerly DEC) have given careful consideration to in the past. Some researchers conducted an assessment of the tourism potential for Penguin island as they were considering setting up a night time viewing operation simiar to that of phillip Island in Victoria. The researchers study recomended against night time viewing due to the relatively small size of the penguin population (approx 1200 comapred to 40,000 at Phillip Island) and also due to the small size of Penguin island where there are limited sites for the penguins to come up the beach.

Keep in mind that when DPAW took over management of PI in the mid eighties the little penguin population was not in a good way and estimated to be down to around 100 so perhaps letting the penguins have the run of the island at night will ensure their long term survival.

Thanks again for your review.
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Perth, Australia
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Appalling queues and customer service”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed December 30, 2013

We arrived on a Monday in the Xmas break to a massive queue!! Immediately I approached a staff to ask how long until we would get onto the ferry. She advised that the queue was moving quickly and would be able to catch the ferry in 40 mins. We proceeded to wait in the line, and during this time, they came out on 3 separate occasions to announce the next ferry would be another 20 minutes later.... ie. an hour later than originally told.

We waited a total of an hour in the queue before getting to the counter. We asked when the next ferry was and it had moved another 20 minutes. It was going to be another hour from buying tickets to getting on a ferry that takes 5 minutes to the island (ie total wait of 2 hours). My husband spoke to a young lady at the front counter questioning why does it take so long to issue tickets, but more so why the next available ferry time kept changing. Then very rudely another staff member (an older lady) interjected and started being sarcastic and rudely said, "I wouldn't wait an hour for a ferry ticket" and basically told us to not to go on the island, and walked off. My husband stated to the lady "Is this what you call customer service?" to which she smiled smugly and replied in the affirmative. He then asked for her name and she said, "Cindy! You go for it!" Needless to say, we left!!

We have never been treated this poorly as a customer! Absolutely appalling attitude and I am embarrassed to be an Australian, if that's how the staff treat locals and particularly tourists.

To better improve their services, they need to 1) Manage customer expectations of waiting times better 2) Run more frequent ferry services 3) Train the staff better in customer service and speed 4) Look at other options for people to buy tickets -e.g. online, ticket machine, more staff

We have traveled to many tourist places around the world with much busier crowds, and the wait and customer service has NEVER been as bad as what we experienced today. Please lift your game!!

Visited December 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
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, January 1, 2014
Thanks for your review and I do appreciate and value your feedback. I can understand your frustration with having to queue to get tickets. Please understand that the week after Christmas is the busiest time of the year for our service given that most of Perth is enjoying holidays and Penguin island is such a popular destination in summer. As the locals head back to work the weekend after new years day, we expect visitation to become less hectic and waiting times will return to normal.Having to wait for an hour is probably the worst case scenario that visitors have endured over the past busy few days.

Please be assured that we do pride ourselves on providing the best possible service and take extra measures this time of year to minimize waiting times. On the day of your visit we were running ferry services every 20 minutes from 9am- 3pm. This is physically the fastest we can possibly operate our service- although it may only seem like a 5 minute ferry ride, by the time we board, disembark and get the ferry back to the mainland it takes about 20 minutes. Legally, our license only permits us to run services to the island between 9am- 3pm so we were operating to the maximum of our physical capabilities and legal limits.

In addition to running extra ferries, we also operated 6 extra glass bottom boat cruises and 3 extra Adventure cruises. Once again this is the most that we can physically operate within the legal limitations of our license. Please note we also departed the first four cruise depatures from Mersey Point rather than Penguin Island to make more seats available for visitors wanting to just catch the ferry.

In regards to your comments about putting on extra staff and why it takes so long to get tickets- over this peak period we put on an extra 3 staff at the front counter, 2 of which sell tickets and 1 to 'concierge' ie greet people who are waiting, answer all their queries regarding the visit, keep them informed of what the next departures will be as ferry and cruises fill up and also to ensure they are standing in the shade of the building rather than out in the open. From your review it is clear that our concierge did her best to keep you informed of the next departures as ferries sold out but please understand that this is not an exact science. You can never be sure of exactly how many tickets each person in the queue is going to buy as most will send their families to the cafe or down the beach to relax while they get tickets. In regards to why it takes so long to buy tickets, it actually takes less than a minute to buy a ticket but this can blow out to a couple of minutes depending on how many questions the customer asks when they get to the front counter and if they decide to pay credit card etc. The delay on the day of your visit was simple due to the large amount of visitors which we serviced as quickly as possible. Please also note that we had an extra staff member on in the office to deal with the increase in phone and email enquiries and an extra 2 staff on our boats to streamline checking tickets, boarding passengers and operating the boats. In regards to your suggestions about how to improve our services we are in the early stages of looking at online options for people to buy tickets before they come. We hope this will become available next summer.

Lastly, I would like to apologize for the rudenss your husband experienced from our ticketing officer Cindy. I have spoken with her extensively about this incident and reinforced the importance of diffusing disgruntled customers. Although her rudeness cannot be excused, our 17 year old female staff member Keisha who spoke to your husband while you waited in line and subsequently served you at the front counter was intimidated by the the loud and aggressive nature by which your husband vented his frustration at her. Cindy being a more senior staff member intervened when she could see that your husband was upsetting Keisha and although I don't condone the terseness in the way she responded, she was also upset by the manner in which your husband was venting his frustration at a junior staff member who was doing her best on one of the busiest days of the year. Please be assured that such customer service is not our normal standard and that Cindy has been counselled on her behaviour. Once again I apologize for your unfortunate experience and do hope that you will get the opportunity to visit us again on a less hectic day.
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