Beach + Island

Car-Free Destinations for Your Big Summer Trip

by Marisa Lascala

Rottnest Island
Australia

Just a little more than 11 miles west of Perth is a sun-worshipper's haven, with beaches and bays ready for surfers, snorkelers, swimmers, and divers. The best views to be found are actually just off the island—and under the water. In addition to the tropical fish—and more than 130 species of tropical fish have been spotted here—there are a number of shipwrecks to be explored off the coast, including at least three that can be reached by snorkelers without a boat. The destination is popular with students partying to celebrate the end of their terms, so it's wise to book in advance.

Getting Around: You can rent a bike. You can hop on a bus. (Yes, cars are forbidden, but coaches are allowed to traverse the six-mile-long island.) Or you can do both with the combo Bike & Bus pass. For $30 to $40, you'll be given the use of a bike but, when the fatigue sets in at the end of the day, you can hop on any of the Bayseeker buses that run a regular circuit around the island. Just leave your bike at the bus stop, and it'll be collected for you.

Getting There: Rottnest Island has the requisite ferries, including the Rottnest Fast Express, from Fremantle and Perth City, and the Rottnest Fast Ferries, from Hillary. But there are also a few airlines that service the island without requiring an expensive private charter (and arriving by air gives you the chance to take some aerial photos). Check out the on-demand services of Rottnest Air Taxi or Ozwest Aviation.

FYI: The name Rottnest came to be when a Dutch explorer saw the island's native marsupials and thought they were rats. (The island's name translates to "Rats' Nest.") In fact, the animals he saw were not rats, but Quokkas. They look like crosses between cat-sized squirrels and mini-kangaroos, and they're adorable.

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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