Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Type of dive: Reef
Access: Boat only (45 minutes)
Minimum qualification: Open Water (Advanced recommended)
Depth: 6-40 metres (20-130’)
Visibility: 15-30 metres (50-100’)
Water temperature: 19°C (66°F) – 22°C (72°F)
Best time to visit: October – May (West End)
Snorkelling: Yes, great reef & wrecks!
Rottnest Island, just west of Perth, is surrounded by spectacular dive sites particularly the ‘West End’.
‘Rotto’, as Rottnest Island is known to the locals, is a small low-lying limestone-based sandy island 18 kilometres (11 miles) to the west of Western Australia’s capital city, Perth.
Its name, ‘Rotte nest’ or ‘rat’s nest’, comes from the resident Quokkas, small marsupial kangaroos, which looked like rats to the first Dutch visitors in 1696.
In the past, the island has been used as an Aboriginal prison, a boys’ reformatory, a ships pilot station, an internment camp during both World Wars, and a military base.
The island is an A-class Reserve with only around 100 permanent residents. However, Rottnest Island is one of Perth’s most popular holiday destinations and is visited by over half a million people a year.
Rottnest Island is also Perth’s premier diving location, offering over 200 regularly dived sites and is generally an all-weather dive destination year round. The underwater terrain offers drop-offs, walls, caves, swim throughs, rocky outcrops and many shipwrecks.
The many wreck sites include Macedon, City of York, Transit, Lady Elizabeth, Mira Flores and Denton Holme – just to name a few. Some of these wrecks are easily accessible in shallow tranquil, clear water. The shallower wrecks provide great snorkelling.
It is the rugged exposed ‘West End’ that provides the island’s most spectacular diving where the best window is during the winter months. West End is subject to swell and strong currents.
Like the island’s south side, the ‘West End’ underwater terrain has been sculptured by the prevailing weather and swells, creating spectacular underwater walls, drop offs and numerous caves; often with openings that allow the penetration of sunlight and large enough to safely swim through to shallower water.
The many underwater caves provide shelter for delicate corals and other invertebrates such as the beautiful Venusta cowries, cuttlefish and crayfish plus huge schools of bullseye as well as wobbegongs, Port Jackson sharks and western blue devils.
Grey nurse sharks, rays and large schools of pelagic fish are also regularly encountered as well as resident schools of buffalo bream, western footballer sweep and Woodford’s pomfret.
West End dive sites such as Opera House with its grey nurse sharks, Swirl Reef, and underwater caves like Crystal Palace and Blue Cave, are simply awesome.
Copyright C 2015 Steve Sinclair
Other great dives while you are in Perth:
Stragglers Rock, North & South Molle, Ammo Jetty, Carnac Is. Seals, Point Peron and Marmion Marine Reserve.
Phone: (08) 9389 5018