Winter time is penguin nesting season! This is a critical time for the little penguins as they spend more time ashore to find a mate, lay some eggs and raise the chicks. To ensure minimal disturbance to the penguins during this time, the Department of Parks & Wildlife traditionally closes Penguin Island to the public. However, for the first time ever, Rockingham Wild Encounters has been authorised to take a limited number of visitors on an escorted walk of Penguin Island as part of their winter cruise program! Read on below for full details. 

Our usual Penguin Island ferry and cruise schedule will resume on September 15, 2018.

Penguin Island Wildlife Cruise

Our Penguin Island Wildlife Cruise is only available from June 6 to September 14, 2017 during winter when Penguin Island is traditionally closed for the penguin nesting season.

Enjoy the scenic highlights of the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park and keep a look out for the wildlife! This 60 minute glass bottom boat cruise takes in the ruggedly spectacular coastlines of Penguin, Seal & Bird Islands and takes advantage of the best wildlife spotting opportunities of the day. Wild dolphins, rare Australian sea lions, pelican rookeries, and birds of prey are regularly sighted and our friendly crew will get you right amongst the action!

The cruise disembarks on Penguin Island for a guided 30 minute walk that takes in the spectacular beaches, coastal look outs and nesting sea birds of this stunning island nature reserve. 


  • Seeing rare Australian sea lions on the beach at Seal Island

  • Seeing wild dolphins at play (although sightings are regular, they’re not guaranteed as our cruise is restricted to inside Shoalwater Bay)

  • Exploring the rugged islands and viewing nesting pelicans, cormorants and spotting other sea birds that live in the park

  • Drifting over sea grass meadows and limestone reefs spotting fish and other marine life through the glass bottom

  • Viewing the fossilized remnants of ancient tuart forests

  • Taking in spectacular coastal views, nesting sea birds and hearing about the latest little penguin research on a 30 minute guided walk of Penguin Island

  • Enjoying a yummy lunch or coffee at Pengo's Cafe before or after your cruise (additional cost)

Departure Times & Bookings

Penguin Island Wildlife Cruise departs Shoalwater daily at 10.15am & 12.15pm  (June 6 to Sept 14, 2017) with an additional cruise on busy days at 2.15pm. Book online now!


Adults $39, Concession (seniors & students) $35, Children (3- 12 yrs) $30, Infants (under 3yrs) $0

To check availability, select your desired date on the booking form and then press the drop down arrow under 'Choose a Time'. 

Online bookings close 1 hours before departure, if you have not made a booking and wish to join today's departure please contact reservations on 08 9591 1333 as there may still be seats available. Alternatively tickets can be purchased over the counter. 

If you have a group of 10 or more and would prefer a different cruise time please use our Groups Enquiry Form and our friendly reservations team will respond with a proposed itinerary and quote within 48 hours.  

For more information see the FAQ’s below, see Visitor Info or Contact Us.



It’s perfect for everyone and a great way to see a lot in a short time. The cruise stays within the sheltered waters of Shoalwater Bay so it’s smooth sailing and sea sickness is highly unlikely. It’s suitable for all ages and people with limited mobility. Our gangways and glass bottom boat are wheelchair and pram friendly. For the guided walk component there are 2 grades of walk on offer. The first is an easy walk for the average person but includes some sections along the beach and several steps up to the southern lookout. For people with limited mobility, there is an alternative wheelchair friendly option along the northern boardwalk. If you would prefer not to walk, then you’re welcome to rest under the trees in the picnic area.


Cruises are subject to weather. When you book your cruise it is important that you leave us with a contact number for where you are staying in Perth (preferably a mobile that you will be carrying on the day of your tour). If we cancel due to weather, we will contact you to see if you can reschedule for another date. There is no charge if we have to cancel due to weather.


On the boat, it’s important that you are adequately dressed because it can be cold, especially in winter. A warm weatherproof jacket is essential. Gloves, scarves & beanies for the colder days are a good idea. We recommend comfortable shoes and a rain jacket for the guided walk on the island.


We visit the wildlife sanctuary zone of the marine park which has the best viewing opportunities including the Australian Sea Lion! There can be up to 30 sea lions ‘hauling out’ on the beach at Seal Island but numbers vary especially during the breeding season. There’s lots of sea birds and we typically sea pelicans, ospreys, terns and cormorants most days. We will also do our best to find you some dolphins but this can’t be guaranteed as our cruise is restricted to inside the sheltered waters of Shoalwater Bay. The dolphins do spend a lot of time here but they also go out to sea at times where our glass bottom boat is not licensed to go. If you really want dolphins then consider our Adventure Cruise or Swim with Wild Dolphins Cruise which operate from September 15 to early June!

Will we see little penguins during the guided walk?

Winter is nesting season for the little penguins so there are plenty that stay on the island during the day at this time of year. Please understand that this is a critical time for the penguins and most will be tucked up in their burrows and within nesting boxes sitting on eggs or attending to chicks so sightings are likely to be brief and can’t be guaranteed. As we walk around the island, your guide will be pointing out nesting boxes and burrows and if we’re lucky, you may spot little penguins at the entrances. If you’re lucky enough to spot a penguin we ask that you remain quiet, move slowly and give the penguin plenty of space (at least a few metres). Also please ensure your flash is turned off if taking photos.


Beneath the surface Shoalwater Bay has an interesting diversity of marine habitats including seagrass meadows, limestone reefs and sandy sea beds that are home to plenty of fish, crabs, stingrays, rock lobster, octopus and more. Our guides will endeavour to share the best underwater viewing on every cruise, however, visitors should not expect brightly coloured tropical reef and fish that they may have experienced on other glass bottom boats. The colours here are more subdued as we’re operating in temperate waters and we also don’t feed the fish to attract them under the glass (it’s bad for their health and the environment!). Viewing Shoalwater’s underwater world is just one component of our Penguin and Sea Lion cruise and some days limited visibility can make it difficult. Most of the local wildlife and scenic highlights are above the water so this is where our guides will focus your attention.


Due to the open and stable nature of our boat, few passengers get sea sick, however everyone’s susceptibility is different. If you suspect sea sickness will be an issue for you we recommend the following:

  • Purchase some Travel Calm tablets at check in.
  • Select a seat in the rear half of the boat where there is less movement.
  • Keep your body temperature on the cooler side.
  • If you wear glasses keep the lenses clean at all times.
  • Avoid looking through cameras or binoculars.
  • Stay away from acidic foods before the cruise such as orange juice and coffee.
  • Avoid going into the toilet to be sick. Confined spaces will only make you feel worse.
  • If you start to feel sick, let our crew know so we can assist.


They come incredibly close. They often enjoy ‘surfing the bow’ of the boat where they sit in the pressure wave created by the movement of the boats hull through the water. To ensure that we do not harm the dolphins in anyway by transmitting skin diseases or damaging their protective skin layer we adhere to a strict ‘no touch policy’.


Definitely not! It’s terrible for their health and would ruin the unique friendship we have with them which is based on a mutual curiosity and enjoyment of one another’s company, rather than food. Feeding wild dolphins (and most other species of wild animals) results in an increased mortality rate and decrease in reproductive success.