Rottnest Island sits off the west coast of Perth, visible on the horizon on most days, it's a mere 18km from the mainland. Steeped in history, it is now a protected nature reserve, accessible by private boat or by two ferry companies who operate trips to the island every day. Home to white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and the ever-inquisitive quokka, a native marsupial found only on this island, it’s a must-visit location for anyone travelling to Western Australia.
Featuring some of the most beautiful beaches in WA, some stunning wildlife, plenty of wind and turquoise water, it’s the perfect place to go to and experience something a little different to the beaches on the mainland. Visitors can go for a day trip, or to get the most out of the place why not stay in one of the many different types of accommodation on the island, which range from camping right the way through to luxury beachfront bungalows. You can even live on the Island for up to 15 weeks during the summer. The accommodation gets busy especially at key periods, so be sure to book early to make the most of your trip.
Most of the northern beaches are home to moorings for boats and not really suitable for kiting as they offer shelter from the prevailing SW sea breeze known as the Fremantle Doctor. The southern beaches though are a different matter, spots like Salmon Bay will have you thinking you've died and gone to kiting heaven.
Wind And Weather
The summer season officially starts in Perth on the 1st of December, but in the months leading up to that, the famous Fremantle Doctor seabreeze can start to kick in. You’re pretty much-guaranteed wind from mid-November to the end of February. Summer in Perth is hot, and Rottnest Island is no different, expect to be wearing boardies and bikinis on the beaches. In the mornings before the wind kicks in it can be up to 40 degrees. Be sure to seek out shade and follow the Australian code of slip slap slop. Wear lots of factor 50 reef safe suncream, a hat on your head and a long sleeve t-shirt too.
You don’t need a wetsuit in Rottnest Island in the summer, but on the windy days, a shortie can take a bit of the chill off the wind. Whatever you wear, watch out for the sun, it is brutal here. The SW sea breeze is fairly consistent and easy to predict, so plan your trip around a good forecast. The wind is consistent and usually perfect for 10m kites, blowing from 20-25mph. Some days it can be more and some it can be less, but if it's a clear day of sunshine the Doctor is almost bound to deliver.
There are some great surf breaks on Rottnest, and the local surfers often come over on the ferry, it's all swell dependent so again check the forecast if you can.
There are no cars on the island, there is a bus that can take you around, but with a total area of just 19km it’s easy to walk or cycle around too. You can rent bikes, with trailers for kite gear, on the island or at the ferry terminal. A bike definitely gives you the best option for getting around and there is now a range of electric bikes on offer too, making it even easier to explore. The bus service works well and can take you to some of the main spots, but if you are serious about kiting, get a bike and explore all the options along the south coast.
Food And Drink
For such a small island there are plenty of places to eat and drink. If you haven’t brought your own picnic to enjoy on a secluded beach, you’ll find a multitude of options. The Rottnest Bakery is a great place to grab something quick and easy, they also make good coffee too. As the whole island has a focus on being eco-conscious, most of the things you eat and drink are sustainably sourced and locally produced with a drive to support Western Australian farmers.
The range of food on offer is impressive, from a sausage roll at the bakery to a 5-star dinner at Hotel Rottnest and everything in between there should be something to ensure you are satiated during your stay. A word of advice, when the ferries come in there is often a mad rush to the restaurants and bars, either get off the ferry fast or be prepared to explore a little on the Island first rather than spending your first magical moments on the island stuck in a queue!
You won’t find a disco here, but the pub is open late and will serve beers until closing time. The best thing to do is to chill at your chosen choice of accommodation with a bottle of wine. Or even better, find a secluded beach and lie back and enjoy the stars which shine so brightly over this majestic place.
If there is no wind, which is unlikely, especially if you plan your trip around the forecast, there is still plenty to do. Meet a quokka, arguably a must-do on the island, be sure not to feed them, or touch them though. Human food makes them quite sick and they are sadly only too happy to eat it. Touching them can make you sick, so say hello, get a photo but keep your distance. Just because you see someone else feeding them or touching them does not mean it is OK.
Take a tour of the island on a bike, explore the stunning beaches, stop off for lunch and do some snorkelling over the reef. If you are feeling adventurous why not go for a ride on the Eco Express, operated by the Rottnest Express ferry company, this purpose-built boat will take you on a high-speed tour of the island in just 90 minutes. The trained staff will seek out all the spots to watch New Zealand fur seals, the bountiful birdlife and if you are lucky perhaps even humpback whales who migrate through these waters from September to November.
Most of the bars and restaurants have high-speed WiFi and you can also get a good mobile data signal on the island. Although with so much to see and do it’s the perfect opportunity to disconnect from the world a little bit and enjoy the surroundings.
There are a plethora of options here, ranging from the campsite as a budget option to luxury bungalows and apartments. You can book these through Rottnest and rest assure it gets very busy during the summer months so be sure to book early if you plan to stay overnight. Staying on the Island gives you more time to enjoy the place and also more time while the ferry tourists aren’t present. The population goes from around 350 to 15,000 on busy summer days and these are all day-trippers, to really get a feeling of having the place to yourself, stay overnight!
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By Rou ChaterRou has been kiting since the sports inception and has been working as an editor and tester for magazines since 2004. He started IKSURFMAG with his brother in 2006 and has tested hundreds of different kites and travelled all over the world to kitesurf. He's a walking encyclopedia of all things kite and is just as passionate about the sport today as he was when he first started!
Been to Rottnest Island? What did you think?
Where are the Best Kitesurfing Beaches in Rottnest Island?
The best place to kite on Rottnest is Salmon Bay, located on the South of the Island the western end of the bay faces south-east meaning the prevailing sea breeze is cross onshore from the right. On the inside the water is flat and in the middle of the bay, it can get choppy depending on the wind strength. There can be swell on the reefs nearby too, so those can be worth checking out. You’ll enjoy an un-crowded session as due to the effort of getting here the Perth kitesurfers rarely come for a session.
- Wind: Cross Onshore From Left
- Waves: On Reef
- Shorebreak: No
Home to the start line of the famous Lighthouse to Leighton Race, which sees over 100 kiters race from Rottnest to the mainland every year at the beginning of December. It’s not the most ideal spot in the prevailing SW sea breeze, but as it’s where most people experience kiting on Rottnest we figured we would give it a mention. Chances are if you are kiting here it’s for the race, so here is some advice to reward the Google hunters out there.
The beach is tiny, the wind is cross offshore, find a spot and get set up as quickly as possible, if the sea breeze is in getting out and off the beach early. This will mean you are settled on the water ready for the start. If the wind is light wait it out until about 15 minutes before the start. There is a good chance of a postponement and the wind is gusty, meaning you might end up crashing the kite and missing the start if you head out too early. The launch is tricky thanks to the dunes, wade out as deep as possible and get upwind making the launch as hot as you can, especially if the wind is light. Try not to tangle with the other riders either!
- Wind: Cross Offshore From the Right
- Waves: No
- Shorebreak: No
When is the Best Time to go Kitesurfing in Rottnest Island?
The windy months to go kitesurfing in Rottnest Island are January, February, March, November, December
Kitesurfing Hotels and Accommodation in Rottnest Island
Do you know a good kitesurfing school here? Submit it below.
Kitesurfing Articles that Mention Rottnest Island
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