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If you’re looking for a fun day trip from Perth, Penguin Island is a pristine, rugged wilderness lying just 700m off the coast of Rockingham, a 45-minute drive south of the city.
With beautiful beaches, a colony of 1,200 little penguins and a large population of nesting seabirds, the island seemed the perfect destination to begin my five-week Perth to Adelaide road trip.
There are plenty of things to do on Penguin Island and in the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, including cruises, activities and self-guided walks. Read on to find out more!
How to Get to Penguin Island
If you want to make your own way there, you’ll need to catch the Penguin Island ferry (a five-minute journey) from Rockingham Wild Encounters at 153 Arcadia Dr, Shoalwater WA 6169, where there’s a free car park onsite.
If you’re arriving by public transport, take the train to Rockingham Station and catch the 551, 552 or 553 bus from stands 9 or 10 to Penguin and Watts Rd. Plan your journey with the Transperth transport planner.
If you prefer to join a Penguin Island organised tour, read my section below for options.
Penguin Island Tours & Activities
We chose to have a leisurely day exploring the island on foot, but for those of you wanting a bit more adventure or a guaranteed sighting of penguins and other wildlife, here are a few options:
Penguin Island Glass Bottom Boat Cruise (1-hour cruise plus watching the penguin feeding);
Wildlife Cruise (full-day tour includes 45-minute boat trip, lunch at Pengos, entry to Caversham Wildlife Park, visit to the Chocolate Factory with tastings, optional wine tasting and hotel drop-off and pick-up from certain hotels);
Island Tour & Marine Park Cruise: (90-minute glass bottom boat cruise plus a 30-minute guided walk of the island).
Shoalwater Tours & Activities
You can also enjoy the wider Shoalwater region on the following tours:
Wild Dolphin Swim & Cruise from Perth: (luxury cruise includes guaranteed dolphin sightings, wetsuit and snorkelling equipment plus light lunch and refreshments);
Shoalwater Kiteboarding Lesson: (2.5-hour beginner lesson with a qualified instructor).
Penguin Island Beaches
If you’re looking for some beach time without the crowds, you’ve come to the right place. Take a rest from your explorations by laying your towel down on whichever deserted patch of sand takes your fancy.
Penguin Island Wildlife
As the name suggests, the island is home to a colony of little penguins, in fact the largest population in Western Australia.
Since the penguins are usually out at sea hunting for a nice bit of dinner during daylight hours, it’s unikely you’ll spot them in the wild unless you have a good look underneath the boardwalks and at the back of the limestone caves.
To guarantee a sighting, it’s best to attend the organised penguin feeding sessions at the Discovery Centre. The island and its surrounding crystal-clear water is also home to a whole host of other beautiful seabirds, as well as dolphins and sea lions. And just to warn you, there are a lot of seagulls. And I mean a lot!
There’s more to the island than beautiful beaches and wildlife: whilst wandering around you’ll come across seacaves and craggy coves, cliffs and rocky headlands, and a number of boardwalks and viewpoints.
Once you’re back on the mainland you can enjoy a coffee or meal at Pengo’s Café or a picnic by the children’s playground. To read about the next stop on my Perth to Adelaide road trip, here’s my post on Yalgorup National Park!