The 5 Best Boating Trips in Perth

Few places in the world are better built for boating than Perth. Between the stunning scenery and wide variety of nautical destinations, there’s something for every boating enthusiast around Perth. Best of all, thanks to our great weather, particularly over the warmer months, there are trips to suit all skill levels.

To help you plan your next day out on the water, here’s our advice on the best boating in Perth and our top day trip recommendations in and around the city. Whether you’re new to boating, or just looking for somewhere new to explore, we hope you find this helpful.

 

Cruising the Swan River

Swan River

Where is it?

The Swan River skirts the edge of Perth’s CBD and flows all the way to Fremantle. Through this section, the river is relatively wide and deep and there are a few public boat ramps.

How difficult is it?

The protected waters of the river are suitable for boats of all sizes – and particularly smaller boats. As there are few constrictions within the river, it’s also a great place to practice your boating skills.

When should you go?

Late Spring to early Summer, October – December, is usually best as this is when the weather and tides are ideal.

Why make the trip?

This is the definition of boating in Perth, taking you through the heart of the metropolitan area. It’s easy and safe to get around and there’s plenty of activities for the whole family. Making the run down the river to Freo is something everyone in Perth has to do at least once in their life.

Want more information?

Check out this Swan & Canning Rivers nautical chart and Discovering the Swan River & the Swan Estuary Marine Park.

 

Visiting Rottnest Island

Rottnest

Where is it?

Rottnest Island sits 19km off the coast of Perth. Getting there takes about 25 minutes from Fremantle Dock, 45 minutes from Hillarys Boat Harbour, and 90 minutes from Elizabeth Quay by ferry, but getting there yourself depends on your boat!

How difficult is it?

While this trip can be reasonably easy and most boats “should” make it, it really comes down to the weather. The crossing can see big winds, big swell, and all-around rough conditions, and is notorious for turning quickly. There are also the reefs, which require careful navigation. As such, we recommend making the trip with someone that knows what they’re doing – at least the first time!

When should you go?

The island is at its best over the warmer months, October – April, but gets really busy during the school holidays. We recommend aiming for October – November, as the water is flatter and the ride over should be more comfortable.

Why make the trip?

The waters around the island are home to Australia’s southern-most tropical coral reef and a vast array of marine life. As such, this largely unspoilt environment is the perfect place to do a spot of snorkelling, swimming, or fishing. You can also make your way onshore to explore the island’s breathtaking landscape and meet its most famous residents, the Quokkas.

Just be aware that, before you visit the island, you will need to pre-pay an admission fee. This money helps fund conservation efforts and the maintenance of the island’s facilities. When taking your own boat to the island, you’ll also need to register the trip with the Rottnest Island Authority.

Want more information?

Check out this Rottnest Island nautical chart and Dr Barry Hutchins’ Snorkeller’s Guide to Rottnest.

 

Navigating the Mandurah Estuary

Mandurah Estuary

Where is it?

Mandurah sits approximately 73km south of the Perth CBD.

How difficult is it?

Conditions vary greatly between different parts of the estuary and surrounding waterways. This means there are sections to suit boats of most sizes and boating enthusiasts of all experience levels. As such, a day of boating around Mandurah can be as difficult, or as easy, as you want it to be.

When should you go?

The weather and water temperatures are best in February – March, making this the most comfortable time of year to visit.

Why make the trip?

Mandurah is a true boating paradise with an almost endless network of canals, rivers, and lakes. This is in addition to the estuary, which is twice the size of Sydney Harbour. All of this provides the perfect habitat for a wide range of unique wildlife and beautiful plant life.

The buzzing foreshore and marina areas are also a major highlight, offering an array of shopping and dining options. There’s also plenty for the kids to do and even adrenaline-inducing activities, like jet skiing and jet boarding, on offer.

Want more information?

Check out this nautical chart of Mandurah to Rockingham or this one of the Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary.

 

Seeing the sights of the Shoalwater Island Marine Park

Shoalwater Island

Where is it?

The Marine Park is located just offshore, 45 minutes south of Perth.

How difficult is it?

While careful navigation can be required, particularly around the islands, most of the area is easily accessible. In fact, the waters of the Marine Park are generally calm enough for comfortable kayaking and canoeing.

When should you go?

Much like Mandurah, the Marine Park experiences its best weather and water temperature in February – March.

Why make the trip?

This is another must have experience for anyone interested in boating in Perth. It’s a particular treat for any wildlife lovers, with everything from penguins to Australia Sea Lions found in the area. There are also clear waters, idyllic beaches, impressive caves and cliffs, and just generally stunning scenery.

Within the park, Penguin Island is definitely worth a visit – and not just because of its namesake residents. Here you can grab lunch at the local café or go snorkelling or kayaking, and even try kiteboarding.

You can also visit nearby Seal Island, which is home to an impressive array of birdlife. There are also some great lookouts and plenty to see and do in the waters surrounding the island. However, access to the island is restricted and you must enter via Penguin Island.

Want more information?

Check out this guide to Penguin Island and the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park or the back of this chart of Mandurah which has a very good enlargement of the area.

 

Exploring Carnac Island

Carnac Island

Where is it?

Carnac Island is located between Rottnest and Garden Islands. It will take about 45 minutes to get there when setting sail from Fremantle Boat Harbour.

How difficult is it?

While the waters between the mainland and Carnac Island are usually calm, the crossing can experience strong winds and swells. But once you’ve made it to the island, the conditions are usually ideal – particularly in the sheltered cove.

When should you go?

Once again, February – March is the best time, thanks to the temperature both in and out of the water.

Why make the trip?

Carnac Island is really all about the wildlife. From the rare Australian sea lion to playful bottlenose dolphins, and a vast array of seabirds, it can all be found around Carnac. And, as the waters around the island are crystal clear and reasonably shallow, they are perfect for snorkelling and diving.

As an A-class nature reserve, access to the island is restricted to private boats and wildlife tours. As such, it is usually quite quiet, and you may end up having the whole area to yourself. However, there is no mooring, and the island is notorious for its large tiger snake population – so best to stay offshore.

Want more information?

Check out this Gage Roads and Cockburn Sound nautical chart.

 

Need help planning your next boat trip?

We hope this list has provided a little inspiration for your next big day of boating in Perth. For more information, or help planning your next trip, feel free to give us a call. We stock an extensive selection of nautical charts, topographical maps, and other useful navigation and planning tools.