Wading out to Madfish Island is one of the best things to do on a Denmark holiday in the summer months. Getting there is easy, but quite an adventure all the same!
Madfish Island is one of my favourite places to spend a morning or afternoon fishing, exploring, swimming and snorkeling – or just admiring some spectacular scenery and the power of the Great Southern Ocean.
Where is Madfish Island and how do you get to it?
Madfish Island is located just a few hundred metres off shore from the beaches and rocks of Madfish Bay. This beautiful area on the south coast of Western Australia is part of the William Bay National Park, an easy drive west from the town of Denmark.
The island lies parallel to the shoreline along the length of Madfish Bay, with a 200 metre-wide channel separating it from the mainland.
The channel is beautiful and calm. It is a safe, sheltered swimming spot, with several small beaches in amongst the smooth rocks on both the island and the mainland sides.
Big waves crash against the island and its outlying rocks, with smaller gentle waves being deflected around into the Madfish Bay channel from two different directions. Where the two sets of waves clash, a shallow sandbar been built up, forming a walkway from the beach below the Madfish Bay carpark all the way across to the island.
Here’s an aerial view of Madfish Island and the bay:
Crossing the Sandbar
The sandbar is usually shallow enough to wade all the way across to the island. Most times I’ve walked the crossing it’s been about knee-depth, but it’s difficult not to get soaked when the waves clash together.
Sometimes the sandbar doesn’t quite reach the island and you have to swim a short section towards the end. I’ve only ever seen it like this in the freezing cold of winter, so never attempted the swim!
Madfish Island Has the Best William Bay Rock Pools!
One of the best things about the William Bay National Park are the many pools, crevices and channels through the coastal granite, which are home to crabs, shells, anemones, seaweeds and sometimes even fish!
Madfish Island has the best rock pools of all – and is well worth visiting for this reason alone. The flat banks of granite that make up the island are criss-crossed with channels leading from one pool to the next. In every pool and crevice in the rocks, orange and purple crabs are hiding, ready to scuttle away if you get too close.
Most of these rockpools are located on the north and eastern side of the island, behind the first beach you get to after crossing the sand bar.
Scuttling Crabs on Madfish Island
Crabs are extremely common on Madfish Island. They are hard to spot at first, but the more you look, the more you see. The best places to find them are under ledges and in gaps between the rocks, and of course in rock pools. You have to sneak up on them, as they scuttle away into the shadows once they sense you’re there.
Exploring the Rest of the Island
Walking further out onto the island, you’ll see that most of it is made up of flat banks of rounded granite curving down into the ocean. This is a good place to stop and take in the beautiful views.
When the ocean is rough, monstrous waves smash onto the outer edge of the rocks, sending seaspray high into the air.
Caution: It’s important to keep well back from the seaward side of the island, even if you aren’t seeing any big waves breaking. The south coast of Western Australia is notorious people getting swept off the rocks by an unexpected large wave and drowning.
Weather and ocean conditions can change rapidly along this high-energy coastline, and seemingly random king waves twice (or more!) as big as average occasionally hit.
A good guideline is to stay well away from any blackened rocks, as these are the ones that have had seawater washing over them.
There are two beaches on Madfish Island, both on the calm Madfish Bay side facing back towards the mainland. Often when it’s windy on the mainland beaches, the island ones are perfectly sheltered.
Firstly there’s the one that you step onto when you reach the island, connecting with the sand bar.
The other beach is further to the west, on the other side of the grassy dune. This one is my favourite because it’s secluded and scenic, and easy to swim out into the deeper water of the channel.
Last Updated: 29th May, 2015.
First posted on 1st November, 2013 by Bonny.
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