Penguin Island is situated 45 minutes drive south of Perth in the beautiful Shoalwater Bay, Rockingham. It is accessible by a 5-minute ferry across the bay. The ferry departs on the hour every hour from 9am to 3pm and returns to the mainland every 10 minutes past the hour with the last ferry returning at 4pm. Unlimited ferry transfers throughout the day cost $16 for everybody over the age of 3. There is a large free car park situated next to the Rockingham Wild Encounters ticket office.

The star attraction of the island is the little penguin – the smallest species of penguin in the world! They are also known as Fairy Penguins. The island and its marine park are also home to many other wildlife including wild dolphins, sea lions, stingrays, pelicans and over 50 species of seabirds.

There are approximately 1000 pairs of little penguins that nest on the island over the winter period. During the rest of the year, they spend their days feeding in the waters around the marine park which can be difficult to spot during the day. However, you can get up close to a few of the penguins and learn more about them at the island’s Discovery Centre.

Penguin island

Penguin feeding takes place daily at 10.30am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm. To go along to the session attracts an additional fee which can be added to your ferry ticket.

Penguin island

When we visited Penguin Island we also opted to take a tour of the wildlife sanctuary zone of the marine park onboard the glass bottom boat. The kids loved looking at the seagrass growing from the seabed through the glass floor.

Penguin island

We also got to see lots of nesting seabirds and loved spotting the huge rare Australian sea lions sunning themselves on the beach at Seal Island.

Penguin island

The Glass Bottom Boat Tour departs daily at 10.15am, 11.15am and 1.15pm. They also put on extra cruises at 12.15pm, 2.15pm and 3pm during peak season. 

Penguin island

We structured our day so that we caught the 11am ferry to the island, followed by the 11.15am glass bottom boat tour finishing off with the 12.30pm Penguin feeding session. This worked out well for us.

After all that wildlife spotting it was time for a bite to eat and relax on one of the beautiful sandy beaches with its calm shallow waters. There are no food outlets on the island nor are there any BBQs so you will need to bring along your own picnic. There is a lovely large grassy area outside the Discovery Centre complete with picnic tables and shaded by trees. There is a drinking fountain so if you run out of water you can fill up your bottles there.

Penguin island

If you don’t wish to bring a picnic you’ll find Pengoes Cafe situated next to the ticket office on the mainland which serves breakfasts, fish and chips, burgers, coffee and cake amongst other things. They also offer a full range of freshly made rolls, wraps and salads for takeaway. There is a children’s playground right next to the cafe.

The beaches on Penguin Island are beautiful and are perfect for small children as the waters on the south side of the island are crystal clear,  sheltered, calm and shallow.

Penguin island

There is some shade provided on the main beach area via a couple of wooden shelters and underneath the boardwalk areas but I would recommend taking along your own shade if you are planning on spending some time on the beach.

Penguin island

Beaches on the north side of the island are a lot windier and wavy.

Penguin island

If you are a lover of nature and fancy a stroll around the island you can do so using the network of timber boardwalks and lookout points. Penguin Island has been voted one of ‘WA’s Top Nature Trails’  and boasts some of the best coastal scenery in Perth.

Penguin island

We loved our trip to Penguin Island and will definitely be returning this summer. There are many other activities which you can enjoy on Penguin Island which include a Dolphin, Penguin and Sea Lion Adventure Cruise, Sea Kayak Tour and Swim with Wild Dolphins. All the details can be found on their website

Penguin Island is open daily from September 15th to early June. Tickets can be purchased from the gift shop from 8.30am – 4.30pm. You can also make reservations by phone by calling (08) 9591 1333 or email

Find more places to visit with kids in Perth

About Jennie McNichol

After spending 11 years in London working in the television industry for the BBC, Jennie McNichol made the move to Perth in 2010. As the Co-Founder and Editor of Buggybuddys, she has been able to use her experience and passion for helping families to create a trusted online resource for parents across Perth.
Jennie is the proud mother of two daughters, aged 14 & 12 and is a big advocate of the family-friendly lifestyle that Perth has to offer.

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