Carnac Island (Perth), Western Australia

Carnac Island is a popular island located approximately 10 km off the coast of Perth.  Only accessible via boat, Carnac Island is a nineteen-hectare nature reserve home to one of Perth’s well-known sea lion sanctuaries.

A boat moored up on Carnac Island Perth

Where is Carnac Island?

Carnac Island is situation 10kms out from Woodman Point boat ramp which is located approximately 30 km south of Perth. To the south of Carnac Island is Garden Island and out further west of Carnac, is Rottnest Island.

How do I get to Carnac Island?


The only way to get to Carnac Island is via boat, jet ski or any other suitable water-going vessel.  I have seen some people kayak out to Carnac though with the distance out from the shore, kayaking there should only be considered by those that are experienced ocean kayaks.

If you don’t have a boat of your own to get you there, then there are a number of charter companies that can take you out to Carnac Island.

Where do I moor boat when you arrive at Carnac Island?

If you’re taking your boat to Carnac Island then you want to consider the conditions before choosing a location to moore.  Usually, most people moor their boats on the eastern side of the island which provides the most protection from the swell and winds coming in from the west.

Can you swim and snorkel at Carnac Island?

Yes, you can definitely swim or snorkel at Carnac Island with most visitors jumping in for a dip when visiting the island.  If you’re keen to go for a snorkel, there are a number of different spots to snorkel in and around the island.

Personally, my favourite areas to snorkel at Carnac are located on the west side of the island where there are a number of ledges and swim-throughs to check out, including an abundance of marine life.

Swimming with the seals at Carnac Island

A seal cruising along on at carnac island

Talking about marine life, one of the biggest draw cards to Carnac Island is the resident seals that rest up on the island.  Visitors to the island not only have the option to kick back and watch these seals in their natural habitat, but for those that are keen, you’re also able to jump in and swim with the seals.

Yes, you read right… as long as you keep your distance and respect the seals, you’re able to hop in the water with your snorkel and mask and watch these inquisitive mammals swim around you!

This is a great experience and best of all it’s free!  For other areas to swim with seals in Perth, check out my guide I put together on swimming with seals in Western Australia.

When is the best time to visit Carnac Island?

Summer is the best time to visit Carnac Island, however, this depends on what you would like to do.  The reason I say this is that if you’re keen to go snorkelling or swimming in and around the island then summer is obviously the best time due to water temperatures, however, if you’re happy to just relax on board your boat and watch then a sunny winter’s day with calm conditions may also suit you.

Regardless of the time of the year, you’re thinking of heading over, you want to ensure the weather conditions are in your favour.  This being low winds and low swell.

Where should I launch my boat to get to Carnac Island?

The boat ramp where most launch their boats to access Carnac Island is Woodman Point boat ramp.  This boat ramp has a number of launching ramps and plenty of parking.

Tiger Snakes on Carnac Island

Carnac Island – sometimes known as Snake Island!

If you decide to venture onto Carnac Island it’s recommended that you remain on the beach and do not venture across the island.  This is because there is a large population of tiger snakes on Carnac Island which are considered one of the world’s deadly snake species.  As a matter of fact, Carnac Island is one of only two islands within WA where tiger snakes have been found.

Fishing at Carnac Island

Fishing is allowed at Carnac Island, however, when fishing please be aware of the sea lions in the area as fish is also their favourite food, hence if you catch a fish they also might take an interest.

Therefore, if you plan to do some fishing at Carnac Island, I’d recommend fishing at least a couple hundred metres away from the island where you’re free of seals and likely to be amongst less fished-out waters.

Common fish species caught in and around Carnac Island include, but are not limited to:

  • Whiting
  • Herring
  • Skippy
  • Flathead
  • Garfish
  • Wrasse
  • tailor

There is also some great squid fishing ground around Carnac Island, so if you are heading over be sure to pack a squid jig in your tackle box!  Need some tips on how to catch squid? Not to worry, head over to my squid fishing page which provides some great tips on catching squid in Perth waters.

Spearfishing at Carnac Island

I haven’t personally been spearfishing off Carnac Island, however, I’ve been told there is some pretty good spearfishing to be had out and around the island.  

Note however, as the island can get pretty, be sure to check local marine park guidelines for spearfishing rules in the area.

Final Thoughts

Carnac Island is such an excellent place to visit and for those that are looking for a destination to check out whilst on the water, then I’d definitely recommend you take some time to check out Carnac.

Looking for information on other islands off the Perth coast?  If so, be sure to check out our Islands and Reefs section of the website where I’ve taken the time to write up information on popular islands in Perth.

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