Penguin Island Walk Trail
Penguin Island Walk Trail
Penguin Island Walk Trail
Penguin Island Walk Trail

Penguin Island Walk Trail

Shoalwater Islands Marine Park

Directions - Penguin Island is about 600m off the coast from Shoalwater and can be reached by ferry or by kayaking over. There is a sandbar that is walkable in low tide but there are risks involved (see warnings later on). Park at the car park on Arcadia Drive and the ferry departs from the jetty located on the beach.

The Hike - I've said it on here before and I'll keep saying it, summer in Perth is far from the ideal time to be out in the bush hiking. Even though 2018 had been my busiest year with many great adventures, it's still nice to get out and about every now and then to stretch the legs. A few activities that are better suited to the summer sun are snorkelling and kayaking, something that I'd been enjoying a lot with podcast partner Donovan and the other half of The Long Way's Better, Alissa. With a mid-week trip to Rottnest Island for some snorkelling, I had another island adventure planned, this time on Penguin Island.

We wanted to visit Penguin Island after a snorkelling trip to Point Peron a couple of weeks earlier and it was decided that we were going to kayak over with Alissa taking the ferry. Arriving at the Shoalwater car park, we unloaded the kayaks and packed up all of our dry sacks for the mornings adventure. Alissa had decided that she would walk across the sandbar instead of taking the ferry while Donovan and I paddled. I must note here that walking on the sandbar is dangerous and should only be undertaken at low tide with calm conditions and by strong swimmers. People have died crossing by foot so do not underestimate the journey or conditions. About 50m into our paddling Donovan and I realised that it would probably just be easier to walk the kayaks across so we paddled over to Alissa and jumped out. After a good leg workout we reached the island and set about dragging the kayaks up the beach to higher ground where we could unload our gear and continue on. The plan was to take in the 2km loop with a stop at the snorkelling area we had read about on the west side of the island. With our snorkelling gear, dry sacks and cameras in hand we headed off around the southern beach and up towards the staircase leading to the first boardwalk section. With many pelicans circling the skies I was surprised to see a brave crab on the beach and gave the ground near it a little poke to make sure it was still alive (it was). We climbed up the stairs and set foot on the boardwalk where we would be directed up more stairs to the highest point on the island.

 

The lookout up here gave you 360 degree views all around the island and down towards the southern tip of the island that has rightly been designated a bird sanctuary off limits to humans. With plenty of exploring to do and keen to get in the water for a snorkel we headed back down the boardwalk and onto the western beach. The somewhat blustery conditions here meant the ocean was very choppy and we were all hoping that the snorkelling spot wasn't meant to be here as it would not have been a very pleasant experience. We made our way up the beach and to the limestone headlands just past the staircase leading back to the boardwalk. Donovan was sure that the photos of the snorkelling beach were here so we picked our way through the jagged limestone until we were on the more sheltered part of the island. The gnarly formations and caves here were very interesting to behold so we kept stopping for photos before setting our gear down on some rocks ready to enter the water. Interestingly, I had been expecting the sea cliffs on this side of the island to be full of native birds but it appears that pigeons have made this their habitat of choice. Looking at the water from the beach we figured the best snorkelling was close to the shore and heading north so with our gear on we headed on out. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake as the shallowness of the water made for some tight squeezes through and over the reef.