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Indian Ocean Playground

Perth residents and visitors both love ditching the mainland and spending a day recreating or lounging out on Rottnest Island, just a hop, skip, and a jump offshore. "Rotto's" Indian Ocean beaches are heaven-sent, while the coral reefs and abundant shipwrecks delight snorkelers and scuba divers. World War II fortifications, walking and biking paths, whales and dolphins plying the nearshore waters--this is one crowd-pleasing island. Now, if you're thinking Rottnest sounds rather like "rat nest," you're right: That's the translation of the Dutch name given the isle by Willem de Vlamingh in the late 17th century. It's a case of mistaken identity, however: Will's "rats" were actually the 100% more charming marsupials called quokkas, endemic to Western Australia and basically Rottnest Island's unofficial ambassadors.

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