Shipwrecks and Limestone Reefs

Take a journey of a lifetime on the iconic coral viewing vessel, the 'Sub Sea Explorer' and venture beneath the waves of Rottnest Island to discover the amazing story of shipwrecks and the incredibly rich marine life that now inhabit them.

Watch from below the waterline to spot as many fish and marine species as you can. You will probably see many, many species of fish, rays and perhaps spot one or two of the new tropical species that now call Rottnest home.

The vessel is the only semi-submersible vessel in Western Australia and operates at Rottnest Island from October through to March every year, beginning in October 2017. We will offer a unique 60 minute coral, marine & shipwreck tour over Kingston Reef starting at 9am and hope to offer a 2 hour snorkeling tour from 2018. Learn all about the maritime history, the new sub-tropical fish species that call Rottnest home and the effects of ocean currents on the flora and fauna that you'll see on your tour. All tours will come with a full commentary by a trained guide.

Tour Times and Bookings

Tours will commence in October 2017.

Due to high demand, it is essential to book a tour in advance. Bookings can be made online by clicking here.

Five tours leave the Fuel Jetty near the Visitor Centre daily. Tour times are:

9am  – Coral Viewing, Shipwrecks & Fish Feeding
10.30am – Coral Viewing, Shipwrecks & Fish Feeding
12pm – Coral Viewing, Shipwrecks & Fish Feeding
1.30pm  – Coral Viewing, Shipwrecks & Fish Feeding

On-board commentary by our qualified staff is included in each package.

Tour times are subject to minimum passenger numbers, tides and weather conditions.

Season Dates

Exmouth - Peak Season
1st April - 30 October

Exmouth - Low Season
1st Nov - 31st March

Customised Group & Corporate Tours

Our vessel caters for 30 passengers at a time. If you are a tour operator or have a private group of 10 or more passengers, please give the Sub Sea Explorer crew a call on 0477 778 520 for competitive rates.

Perhaps you are celebrating a corporate event like a Christmas Party, a birthday, wedding or a special event. Make it even more special on the Sub Sea Explorer, an experience you will never forget. Phone us on 0477 778 520 and our friendly staff will give you a very competitive rate.

Group bookings to and from the island can be organised through Sub Sea Explorer.

Rottnest Island History

Rottnest Island has the best snorkelling and water activities in the Perth region.Today, many of the bays are protected, Marine Sanctuary Zones and our tours are mindful of that. The major draw card is the aquamarine water, sheltered bays and limestone reefs giving the island an enviable appearance of a tropical oasis for those who venture below the waves.

About 600 species of fish call Rottnest home. Of these, 135 are tropical species.The island's ecology is influenced heavily by the tropical Leeuwin Current that moves warm water from the tropical north past Rottnest Island. Step aboard the Sub Sea Explorer and learn all about the recent changes to the ecology of Rottnest Island. New species of corals and many tropical fish have moved into the warmer Rottnest waters in recent times and their expansion is the subject of current research.

The Island is formed of Pleistocene-age limestones that are only 140,000 years old. You will see large blocks of these limestones around coastal exposures that form the beautiful underwater outcrops and caves that we see, and is one of the reasons why there is an abundance of fish and coral species.

Rottnest only became an island about 6,500 years ago, prior to this is was connected to the mainland. Aboriginal communities probably lived on the island before the sea level rose.The first recorded landing on Rottnest Island by European visitors occurred in 1658 by crew members of the vessel Waeckende Boeij, skippered by Samuel Volckersen. The Island was named 'Eӱlandt Rottenest' by Willem de Vlamingh some 38 years later in December 1696 whilst mapping the SW Australian Coastline and Swan River with three ships, the Geelvink, Nijptang and Wezeltje. 'Rottenest', meaning 'Rats' nest' in Dutch came about from Vlamingh mistaking the Quokkas (a marsupial) for rats.

Tragically, many seafarers who entered the Western Australian waters in the 17th and 18th Centuries on their passage from Europe to the Dutch East Indies, ran aground or were lost at sea. The shipwrecks that litter the Rottnest coastline are numerous and a tour over Kingston Reef outside Thomson Bay on the Sub Sea Explorer will give you the chance to see first-hand some of the wrecks whilst listening to an informative commentary of the island's maritime history.

Getting Here

Rottnest Island Sub Sea Explorer Map