Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Located in the Indian Ocean approximately 18km west of Perth, Rottnest is known locally as Western Australia's vacation playground and receives around 400,000 visitors every year. But with vehicles banned from the island, it still manages to preserve its remote, easy-beat, island atmosphere.
The island is famous for its beautiful coral-fringed coves and beaches which make it a magnet for marine activities of all kinds from diving and snorkelling - the island has 13 shipwrecks and 360 species of fish - to fishing and surfing.
Strickland Bay (ranked among the top 50 breaks in the world), Salmon Bay and Stark Bay are particularly popular with surfers and bodyboarders.
Rottnest's unique wildlife includes the quokka, which looks like a miniature, slightly overweight kangaroo. It was this creature which inadvertently gave the island its name, the first Europeans to arrive on the island mistaking them for large rats and dubbing their discovery 'Rat's Nest' island.
The island was for many years an aboriginal penal settlement before it was taken over by the army and defences built against an expected Japanese invasion during WW2 which never came.
Today the island provides the perfect get-away from the pressures of modern life with numerous beaches, excellent swimming, surfing, snorkelling and diving. An amazing array of birdlife can also be seen among the island's many salt lakes.
The best way to explore the island is on foot or on bicycle with a fleet of over 300 bikes available that can be wheeled away from the jetty the moment your ferry arrives. Other top attractions include Wadjemup Lighthouse with its 360 degree views of the entire island; the Oliver Hill gun emplacements and tunnels built by the army prior to WW2; and the museum, originally built with aboriginal labour as a hayshed and granary in 1857.
Read more about nature & wildlife in Western Australia