19km (12 miles) W of Perth
The delightful wildlife reserve of laid back and casual Rottnest Island, off the Perth coast, has been WA's favorite holiday island for a hundred years. It's surrounded by sheltering reefs, which ensure safe swimming and snorkeling in glorious, protected bays. Its jewel-bright waters, warmed by a south-flowing current, harbor coral outcrops and 400 kinds of fish. The island is also home to 10,000 quokkas, cute little marsupials that you're not supposed to feed. Try to spend a night here if you can.
The island is only 11km (7 miles) long and 4.5km (3 miles) across at its widest point with two main areas of settlement, where self-catering cottages and villas can be rented from the Rottnest Island Authority. Getting about is restricted to walking and cycling, with a few buses taking visitors around the island or linking the settlements. Following mainland clashes between settlers and Aborigines, Rottnest was a "native prison" from 1839 until 1931. The main settlement now has WA's oldest, most intact precinct of heritage buildings and an Aboriginal cemetery. The island was a military base during World War II.