Iâ€™m a big fan of putting together my own itineraries and planning my own excursions when traveling, whether on a 10 day Mediterranean cruise or simply spending a day in Kyoto. There can be substantial savings when not going through an arranged tour company. With less people to wait for there can usually be more excursions fit into a shorter period of time as well.
That being said, sometimes it is easier to just to join in on an organized excursion. There is no need to put in the time to plan everything, and you simply show up and let the company handle the arrangements.
I was in Perth, Australia and wanted to take a spur-of-the-moment day trip the following morning. Rottnest Island looked pretty cool from my late night searches, plus there were reportedly Quokka on the island (a small marsupial) that I’d never seen before.
I booked a trip online that night with Gray Line (and no, they didn’t know I was a travel blogger or provide me with any special rates or privileges), and chose the package called, â€œRottnest Island with Bike and Snorkel Hireâ€.
The price was $84.60 after a good random discount coupon Iâ€™d found online, and a bus would pick me up at my hotel at 8:10am the following morning.
Bus pickup was painless, and the ride to Hillaryâ€™s Boat Harbour was quick. There were a bunch of people on the bus, but once on the ferry everyone kind of spread out. The ferry ride was accompanied by interesting commentary about the Swan River and the surrounding houses (Nicole Kidman reportedly has a property nearby), and then we arrived at the island.
I was quickly outfitted with a bike and helmet after stopping by the fitting station, given snorkel equipment and I was off to explore the island by myself. The turquoise waters were available via 60+ different bays and beaches around the island, and I figured that I’d have time to see plenty of them plus keep my eyes open for Quokka.
There were informational points along the paths that provided information about the area, including wildlife. I found a pelican enjoying the view from his high-up perch on the top of a streetlamp.
If I had been worried about finding a Quokka, I shouldnâ€™t have been! When booking the tour, I had figured that the snorkeling and bike riding would be fun and if the Quokka were elusive and I didn’t catch a glimpse that would still be ok. I was pleased to find that they were actually all over the wooded areas. A bit skittish and hopping around on their rear legs, they reminded me of a cross between really, really big hamsters or very, very tiny kangaroos. My pictures didn’t turn out quite as cute as some that I’d seen online because I didn’t get tooo close, but they did look almost like Disney characters with their cute little faces.
I sat on a rock and watched them hop around on their strong back legs and wave their little front arms around.
After I’d had my fill of Quokka, I decided to turn my attention to exploring the island and snorkeling. I took to the sunlit paths around the island that were perfect for bike riding, and the day was hot but there were shady spots to rest.
Although Iâ€™m sure at peak times there are parts of the island that get busy, I found myself biking along on empty paths with just the salty sea breeze in my hair and hearing just the faint clicking sound of the bike gears in the wind.
Pulling the bike off into a little secluded cove, I found the perfect little spot for some snorkeling. The sand was hot but soft, and I set up my belongings on the shady side of some big rocks.
I reapplied sunscreen, and waded into the water. After a hot bike ride, the cool water was the perfect temperature and my moment of hesitation gave way as I dove under. I slid on my fins and mask, and let the sea float me out a bit. The water was clear, and as my eyes adjusted to the underwater world I saw fish darting about. They werenâ€™t huge or as brightly colored as Iâ€™d seen at the Great Barrier Reef, but it was still fun.
After a good swim I dried off and sat on the beach, digging my toes into that soft white sand. Changing into dry clothes I said goodbye to the beach and hopped back on the bike to continue my loop around the island. Even with some more sightseeing along the way I still had plenty of time left when I got back to town, and hopped back on the ferry when it was time to go back to Perth.
Quokkas, a bike ride, and snorkeling. All fun, All in one easy day trip from Perth.
Could I have gotten from my hotel to the jetty, over to the island, rented snorkel equipment and come back for cheaper? Probably. But this option worked best for me with the limited time and effort I wanted to put into arranging the day’s excursion. I am sure it is the same with readers, too. Sometimes I remind readers about the savings that can be had when not going with an arranged package and get emails afterwards that they didn’t realize it was so easy NOT to go with a tour group. Is one way better than the other? No, since it just depends on what your needs/wants are.
Have you seen a Quokka? Did I miss any other cool day trips from Perth?