Everything You Need to Know About Quokkas and Rottnest (Quokka) Island

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Deemed the happiest animal in the world, quokkas are small marsupials that are native to Australia and live on Rottnest Island in Western Australia. Rottnest Island, also known as Quokka Island, has gained notoriety for its cute inhabitants that pose for selfies with tourists. I’ve visited Rottnest Island twice, and can confirm that meeting these little creatures is an experience that everyone should have!

To meet one of these furry creatures, you’ll have to head to Rottnest, located just outside of Perth. In this blog post I’ll cover how to get there, what to do on the island, and everything you need to know about quokkas, including how to find them and snap the perfect selfie with one.

Quokka Island

Helpful Tip! Short on time and looking for the best ways to get to Rottnest Island?

Rottnest Island: Home of The Quokka

Rottnest Island, also called ‘Rotto,’ is a small island off the coast of Perth. It’s a beautiful and relaxed destination that’s known for its biking trails, pristine bays, and year-round inhabitants, quokkas.

Rottnest Island has gained notoriety in recent years as people have posted selfies with these smiling animals, including celebrities like Chris Hemsworth and Roger Federer. While this small island is the best place (and one of very few) to see quokkas, its natural beauty and sun-drenched activities make it a destination that’s very much worth the visit.

About the Quokka

The first recorded discoveries of quokkas were in the 1600s by Dutch explorers, who mistook them as wild cats and giant rats. The name Rottnest literally translates into ‘rat’s nest.’ But quokkas are in fact marsupials, which is the same family as kangaroos and wallabies.

Although they’re nocturnal animals, you can occasionally find them wandering the island in the daytime. According to the Australian Nature Conservancy, around 10,000 quokkas live on Rottnest Island today.

Quokka Island

Approaching a Quokka

Quokkas are approachable animals and not too fearful of humans. With that said, you can get close to them but ultimately let them come to you. Never touch quokkas! You can get fined for touching or feeding them.

Getting A Quokka Selfie

The best time of day to attempt a quokka selfie is in the morning or evening when they’re most prevalent. I got my selfie with one in the afternoon around 4pm before we were taking the ferry back to Perth. Have your camera ready in selfie mode and crouch down to their level. Again, let them come to you so you don’t scare them off. Be patient and respectful of these creatures.

Quokka Selfie

Best Rottnest Island Quokka Tours

When it comes to exploring the island and finding quokkas, you can do this on your own or take a guided tour. While getting around is no problem, a guided tour is great for those with limited time and looking to see as much as possible. Plus, tour guides will point out popular areas to find quokkas.

Discover Rottnest with Ferry and Bus Tour

This is one of the best tours I’ve found for seeing quokkas and Rotto. It covers a same-day return ferry from Perth or Fremantle, a 90-minute bus tour, local guide, and the fee to get into the island.

Rottnest Island Full-Day Trip with Guided Island Tour

This package includes a guided bus tour that takes you to the main sites of Rotto, such as the Wadjemup Lighthouse and Cathedral Rocks lookout. It also includes morning tea and lunch.

Quokka Island Map

From the below maps you can see where Rottnest Island is located. It takes 25 minutes to get there by ferry when departing from the town of Fremantle. On the second map you can see that there are several bays sprinkled throughout the island, which are best to explore by bike or bus.

Google Maps image from Perth
Image Credit: Google Maps
Map of Rottnest Island
Image Credit: Rottnest Express

How Do You Get To Quokka Island?

The most popular way to get to Rottnest (Quokka) Island is by ferry from Perth. There are four different ports throughout Perth: Fremantle (Victoria Quay), North Fremantle (Rous Head), Perth City, and Hillarys Boat Harbour. The trip duration ranges from 25 to 90 minutes depending on where you depart from.

You can also get there by taking a private boat or by air.

More Things to Do On Quokka Island

Bay at Rottnest Island

Aside from meeting quokkas and snapping selfies, there’s lots to do on Rotto. Plus, it’s an absolutely gorgeous island so you’ll want to maximize your time there! I’d recommend renting a bike to get around the island, swim in as many bays possible, and grab a bite to eat with seaside views.

Below are a couple of organized tours I’d recommend considering for your trip.

Bike, Snorkel & Ferry Package from Fremantle

This package is great because it includes all of your gear for biking and snorkeling, as well as same-day return ferry. This one is cheaper than if you purchased everything through SeaLink (one of the main ferry companies).

Adventure Rottnest Tour with Ferry & Adventure Cruise

If you’re looking to get more time out on the water, this tour would be a great one to check out. You get a 90-minute high-speed wildlife cruise to see dolphins and seals. You’ll be taken around by a local guide to show you the main sites of the island.

Where to Eat on Rottnest Island

Here are a few great places that I’d recommend eating at while on Rotto. Most of the restaurants are going to be near the port, so make sure you’ve eaten or bring food with you while exploring the island.

The marina

FAQs: Quokka Island

Now that you’re ready to head to quokka island, here’s a bit more information that will make you an absolute expert upon arrival.

Do quokkas only live on Rottnest Island?

Rottnest Island is where you’ll find the most amount of quokkas living in their natural habitat. You can find them in few other areas throughout Western Australia, like Bald Island. They can also be found in zoos throughout Australia.

How did quokkas get to Rottnest Island?

The first record of quokkas dates back to the 1600s from discoveries by Dutch explorers. After believing they had found rats, the island was named ‘Rotte nest’ which means ‘rat’s nest.’

Can you touch quokkas?

No, you cannot touch quokkas! As mentioned above, you can be fined for touching these animals. There have also been (very few) cases of quokkas biting tourists when they tried touching them. So, just don’t do it.

photo with a quokka

Conclusion: Quokka Island

So now you’re equipped with knowledge about Rottnest Island, how to find quokkas, and snap a selfie with one. Before heading to the island, make sure to book your transportation in advance and try getting there early in the morning.

With Rottnest Island being so beautiful, many people spend several days to explore and relax. If you have time to do so, I’d recommend spending at least one night there. Samphire Hotel Rottnest is a great hotel to consider, along with Discovery Rottnest Island.

Since you’ll be traveling down under, make sure you’re informed on the top 25 reasons to visit Australia and best things to do while there. Enjoy your time on Rottnest (Quokka) Island, I know you’ll very much love it there!

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