Penguin Island (Perth): What You NEED To Know Before Visiting

Penguin Island is a fantastic island located south of Perth.  Famous for, well you guessed it, Penguins – Penguin Island is home to over 1000 little penguins!  I was fortunate to visit both Penguin Island this summer so to help others out I thought I would put together the article below covering everything to do with Penguin Island:)

Map of Penguin Island rockingham
A map of Penguin Island, Perth WA

Where is Penguin Island?

Penguin Island is approximately 30 minutes south of Perth.  Penguin Island is part of the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park and is located 700m off the coast of a town called Rockingham.

How do you get to Penguin Island?

As the island is 700m off the coast you’ll need to get over there either on the ferry or by using your own watercraft such as a kayak, paddleboard or boat.

It is possible to walk over there, though as mentioned below it’s not recommended due to safety concerns.

What to do on Penguin Island?

There are a number of activities to do on Penguin Island.  These include, though are not limited to:

  • Look for penguins or visit the Penguin Island Discovery Centre
  • Walking around the island on the boardwalk trail
  • Go bird watching (Plenty of pelicans and other birds to see)
  • Go swimming and snorkelling
  • Go fishing
  • Go surfing
  • Have a picnic on the beach or grass area

Can you walk over to Penguin Island?

People walk back from Penguin Island to shore
People walking from Penguin Island back to the shore (Note, this was a very calm conditions)

Technically, yes if the tide is low you can walk over to Penguin Island via the sand bar, however, due to tidal movements and currents this can be dangerous hence recommendation is to consider catching the ferry over or using your own boat or paddle craft.

people have drowned walking to Penguin Island sign
A local sign showing why walking over to Penguin Island isn’t recommended

What is the Penguin Island Discovery Centre?

Penguin Island discovery centre

The Penguin Island Discovery Centre is a shaded structure with a pool and standing area by which you can pay to listen to a presentation by a ranger from the Parks & Wildlife Services.  In addition to learning all about the penguins that inhabit the island, you also get to see the penguins being fed.

Personally, I found the presentation to be quite engaging and especially enjoyed seeing the penguins being fed so if you’re heading over to Penguin Island I’d recommend paying to visit the discovery centre.

Is Penguin Island good for kids?

calm kiddies beach at Penguin Island
This is the beach on the east side of Penguin Island

Yes, yes and yes! Personally, I found Penguin Island to be a great spot to take the kiddies.  When my sons were younger I often took them there not only to watch and learn about the penguins but mainly to be able to relax on the beach whilst they spent hours on end playing on the beach and swimming in the calm shallow waters of the main beach.

Where is the best place to snorkel at Penguin Island?

map of general areas to snorkel at Penguin Island
General areas that I’ve found good for snorkelling at Penguin Island

If you’re keen to go for a snorkel then there are a few nice areas to check out towards the back right corner of the island. The water here is generally deeper and here and is home to some nice reefy structures to snorkel around and check out.

As always, if you are snorkelling here be aware of the conditions and as always, best to be safe and snorkel in pairs.

Can I take my own boat to Penguin Island?

Private boats moored up at Penguin Island
Above is the general area of where you can moor your boat when visiting Penguin Island

Yes, you can take your boat to Penguin Island.  As per the photo above, boats usually moor up on the sheltered side of Penguin Island, not far along from where the jetty is.

Where can you surf at Penguin Island?

surf break at the back of Penguin Island
Surf breaking on the reef at the back of Penguin Island

The best spot to surf at Penguin Island is on the back section of the island. If you walk over the hill and toward the back of the island you’ll see the main surf break.

Are there toilets on Penguin Island?

Yes, there are waterless composting toilets located on the island.

Are there rubbish bins on Penguin Island?

No, there are no rubbish bins or waste facilities on Penguin Island.  Therefore, if you’re heading over for the day ensure you bring your rubbish back with you.  If required, there are rubbish bins on the shore near Pengos Cafe.

Does it cost to get onto Penguin Island?

No, there is no cost to get onto Penguin Island, hence if you take your own boat or paddle over on your kayak it’s a free day out.

Does it cost to see the Penguins?

It depends – there is no cost to see the Penguins on the island, though there is a cost if you wish to enter the discovery centre to watch the penguin feeding.

Are there Seals on Penguin Island?

close up of Seal swimming at Seal Island Western Australia
A young seal that I was fortunate to swim with at Seal Island

Due to it’s close proximity to Seal Island, you may be fortunate to come across a seal or two relaxing on the beach or rocks.  However, this doesn’t occur too often, hence if you’re keen to see a seal then I’d definitely consider heading over to Seal Island.  Be sure to check out our page on Seal Island for more information.

Penguin Island or Pelican Island?

Pelican on Bird Sanctuary sign

When visiting I was surprised at the number of pelicans on the island.  If you walk along the boardwalk up towards the back (west side) of the island you’ll come across a bird sanctuary zone.  From here you can look across and see tens, if not hundreds of Pelicans and other birds on the island.

Pelicans at Penguin Island

Are there snakes on Penguin Island?

Yes, when you visit the island you’ll notice a number of “snake beware” signs, hence when you’re walking around the island it is always best to be mindful of this and remain on the boardwalk and beach areas rather than venturing out through the bush and sand dunes.

lizards on penguin island

In addition to snakes, there are also a number of lizards that inhabit the island.  Sometimes mistaken for snakes, these lizards are pretty friendly and have no issue venturing out onto the grass area to join families whilst picnicking.

Final Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed our day trip over to Penguin Island and would recommend it to any other Perth peeps that are looking for a nice day out! Enjoy all and remember, if you have any questions or would like to see other information covered please comment below:)

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