For a lively and lovely daytrip out of Perth that’s full of wildlife and water sports, you can’t go past Penguin Island. Here, you can get to know the oh-so-cute little penguins (also known as fairy penguins), the smallest penguin species in the world. You’ll find lots of other fun fauna here, too. And active pursuits abound, with swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, kite surfing, hiking and more.
You won’t find a bigger colony of little penguins anywhere else in Australia; close to 2,000 of these tiny penguins head to the island named for them to nest every winter. During the warmer months, lucky lookers will find them feeding, playing and swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park that surrounds the island. (They don’t return to dry land until the sun goes down.) However, little penguins can be quite shy, so often the best place to catch them is at The Discovery Centre here. The centre and its rangers provide insight into these fascinating little creatures. Be sure to catch one of the penguin feedings that take place daily at 10:30am, 12:30pm and 2:30pm. The Discovery Centre is open every day from 10am to 3:30pm.
Make sure you pack your swimmers, as Penguin Island is the perfect destination for some aquatic adventures. With its vibrant limestone reefs, beautiful turquoise waters and white sandy beaches, there’s something for those looking for some wet-and-wild fun as well as those who just want to laze by the sea.
Numerous cruises depart from the island daily, which take you out onto the open waters of the marine park to spot dolphins, sea lions and penguins. Or view the teeming-with-marine-life reefs from a glass-bottomed boat. You reach Penguin Island by land and by sea; it starts with a 45-minute drive south of Perth or a train ride to Rockingham station. Then make your way to the Rockingham Wild Encounters centre, where you can purchase ferry tickets. Ferries depart hourly from Mersey Point Jetty for the five-minute ride to the island. Note that Penguin Island is open daily (except for Christmas day) from mid-September to early June. The island closes every year during the penguins’ winter nesting season.