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10 reasons it's worth visiting Rottnest Island in winter

Woman walking in the lakes region at Rottnest Island

Yes, Rottnest Island is definitely worth visiting in the winter. If you are hanging out for summer to book your trip, read these reasons why you shouldn’t wait.

We all love Rottnest Island in the summer. Nothing beats the island’s turquoise waters on a hot summer’s day. But if you think a trip to Rotto is only an option from December to February, think again. Rottnest Island is just as magical during the cooler months. From cheaper deals to quieter beaches, there are plenty of reasons it’s worth visiting Rottnest Island in winter.

Cycling Rottnest Island
Cycling Rottnest Island. Image credit: Rottnest Island Authority

1. It’s quieter

One nice thing about the off season is, well it’s not the high season, which means fewer people. While summer can get a bit hectic on Rottnest Island, you won’t have trouble finding a secluded spot to yourself if you’re travelling in winter. It’s easier to get a table at the pub, you don’t have to worry about bike hire running out and you can find plenty of space to yourself on the beach.

2. It’s cosier

Sure, we love a cocktail on the beach in the sun. But what about a cocktail on the beach by a firepit? Samphire’s beachside firepits are the perfect place to admire the moody ocean views with a drink in hand. If you’re staying overnight in their luxury accommodation, you can also relax indoors by the fireplace at the Samphire Club.

Food wise there’s plenty to keep you warm too. The restaurants on Rottnest Island draw on seasonal produce to offer some seriously tantalising winter dishes. Isola’s slow-roasted lamb shoulder is comfort food at its best while Lontara’s Padang style eggplant balado is a fragrant coconut curry to warm you up all over. Or grab enjoy a hot drink with a view at Frankie’s or their coffee van Lexi’s out at West End.

3. It’s cooler

If you want to explore Rottnest Island beyond the beaches closest to the settlement, winter is the best time to do it. The milder weather makes it much easier to cycle around the island to those lesser-known beaches on the western side. Or lace up your hiking boots and wander along the Wadjemup Bidi, 45 kms of walking trails that snake across the island.

4. But it’s not as cold as you think

Being surrounded by the Indian Ocean keeps the temperature on Rottnest Island more constant than on the mainland. While in summer that means the island is usually a few degrees cooler than Perth, in winter it’s the opposite. The average daytime temperature on Rottnest is around 19°C and will usually be a few degrees warmer than on the mainland.

Mother and joey quokka
Mother and joey quokka. Image credit: Rottnest Island Authority

5. You’ll see more quokkas (and maybe some joeys!)

During the heat of the day in summer, quokkas tend to chill out in the shade. But in winter, you can find them hopping about throughout the day. That means it will be much easier to get that iconic quokka selfie!

Winter is also when baby quokkas, known as joeys, begin to emerge from their mother’s pouch. They spend the early winter months tucked up and warm in the pouch as they grow. Then from about August, they start to explore their island home. And if you think an adult quokka is cute, just wait until you see a joey poke its head out to say hello.

6. Sensational snorkelling & delightful diving

Outside the temperature may be much cooler in winter, but in the water, it only drops a few degrees compared to summer. The Leeuwin Current flows from the north along the WA coastline, bringing with it the warm waters of the Kimberley. Don a wetsuit and snorkel mask to explore the calm waters of protected bays like the Basin and Little Parakeet Bay. For divers there are stacks of sites to discover including shipwrecks, seagrass meadows and more.

Golfing on Rottnest Island
Golfing on Rottnest Island. Image credit: Rottnest Island Authority

7. Greener greenery

With winter comes rain. Several of the salt lakes found in the island’s centre, including Pink Lake, Lake Sirius and Lake Negri, only contain water in winter. Follow the Gabbi Karniny Bidi section of the Wadjemup Bidi to explore the lakes area at its fullest and most alive.

That extra water is also soaked up by the plants on the island – including the greens at Rottnest Island Golf Course. The creeks that flow through the course add interesting hazards after rain. It’s the perfect time for a putt around one of WA’s most tranquil golf clubs.

8. Wilder wildlife

If you’re heading over to Rotto from August to December, you won’t be the only one taking advantage of the island’s picturesque bays. Humpback whales pause to rest in the bays on their journey up the Western Australian coastline. Head out to Camp Vlamingh or Cathedral Rocks to spot the majestic marine mammals surfacing and playing in the water.

Sunrise over Bathurst Lighthouse
Sunrise over Bathurst Lighthouse. Image credit: Rottnest Island Authority

9. Sooner sunrises

Rottnest Island is one of the few places in WA where you can witness the sunrise over the ocean. In summer, that means waking up before 5:00 am, but in winter, you can sleep in until 7:00 am. That’s a much more achievable wakeup time while on holiday! If you’re going on a day trip, take the 7:00am ferry to experience sunrise on the water as you make your way over.

10. Save it for a rainy day

We know the best things to do on Rottnest Island are outdoors, but that doesn’t mean you should pack up and go home at the first sign of rain. If you do get a rainy day, take the opportunity to explore some of the history and culture of the island. The Wadjemup Museum in the Old Mill and Hay Store showcases artefacts from Rottnest Island’s history through fascinating exhibits.

To explore the island without getting wet, book a bus tour that takes you all around Rotto. You can sit back and relax in the warm comfort of a bus as you travel to the scenic and historical locations of Rottnest Island.

Rain, hail or shine, there are always plenty of ways to enjoy Rottnest Island. Don’t wait until summer to experience this magical island near Perth. Start planning your winter trip today! Explore SeaLink Rottnest Island's special offers to make the most of your holiday.


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