I travelled to Perth for a weekend in February to visit some family, and I'm so glad that we decided to check out Rottnest Island, or 'Rotto' as the locals call it.
Ferries leave from Perth or Fremantle- but I'd recommend going there as early as possible to get the most out of your day. Also, make sure you look up the ferry times in advance. If you miss one, it's a long wait for the next.
The ferry ride is about half an hour from Fremantle, and longer from Perth. It was quite calm on the way over, but I'm not sure if that was because it was so early, or if we were just lucky.
There are no cars on the island, and while there is a bus that goes every hour or so from the most popular spots, your best way to get around is by bike. I'm not a fitness freak, and was terrified at the thought of cycling 22km around the island but honestly, it goes really quickly and the views are so stunning, you don't even notice how much ground you're covering. (If you're still scared of the long journey, the south-east and north-east parts of the island are probably the nicest anyway, so there isn't far to go.) You have the choice of bringing your own bike or renting one from the ferry operators- it worked out a few dollars cheaper to borrow bikes from my family, but the rental bikes looked fine.
When you get to Rotto, make sure you grab a map from the info centre- there are lots of bike paths to choose from, going all the way around the island and taking you to plenty of amazing beaches. Also, make sure you have sunscreen and plenty of water, because once you're out of the main settlement, there's nowhere else to buy things that you've forgotten.
We cycled past the main settlement- which has a Subway restaurant, a few cafes and a grocery store- and travelled through a huge salt flat to get to the lighthouse. The ride is quite hilly in some places, but the views of beautiful crystal water is worth the effort! After that, we circled round to Parker Point to soak up some sun.
Parker Point was amazing- it has the most beautiful strips of dark and turqoise water, and it's quite calm to swim in. Just be careful walking into the ocean- a lady near us hurt her foot on some sharp coral. Also at Parker Point, there was a gorgeous family of quokkas hiding underneath a large tree near the bus stop. They're really friendly and love to be stroked, but try not to feed them- apparently human food is bad for their tummies.
Make sure you check out Little Salmon Bay if you're a snorkeller- the water is beautiful. I think snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef (in Queensland) is brighter and the types of coral and fish are probably more diverse, but this is definitely worth a look anyway.
After lunch, we checked out the northern side of the island- the reviews say to visit the Basin, but we found it to be a little crowded, and kept going to Geordie Bay. The sand is white and the water is turqoise, sectioned off away from the boats for swimming.
Although there is plenty of accommodation on the island, we got the late ferry home. I think our ferry left at about 6pm or so, and it was a really rough trip home. Waves were crashing left, right and centre. Probably make sure you don't eat right before you leave- lots of people were using paper bags that the crew had to hand out. Not the most pleasant half hour of our lives!
One last tip- don't forget the sunscreen, especially on the top of your legs and on your back if you're bike riding. Also, make sure you check out the rottnest island website before you go- it has pictures and maps so you can plan in advance, and get the most out of your day.
Enjoy your trip to Rotto!!!