There are many nature and wildlife attractions on Phillip Island including stunning beaches and the world-famous Little Penguin Parade.
If you are planning a trip to Melbourne, it’s well worth taking a day trip to Phillip Island. You can explore amazing beaches, take in incredible coastal views and see unique Australian wildlife up close.
In addition to the nightly Penguin Parade on Phillip Island, there are other attractions that will give you a glimpse of life on the island for the resident wildlife. From penguins, seals and whales to migrating sea birds, the island and its surrounding waters are a haven for marine and land animals.
Iconic Attractions on Phillip Island
The main attraction on Phillip Island are the resident Little Penguins. The nest on the island’s beaches and go out to the ocean to fish when they are hungry. At the end of each day you can see the Little Penguins returning to the island with full bellies. They waddle out of the waves and across the sand in groups. When they reach the sand dunes it’s time to split up and go their separate ways, home to their burrows for a good night’s rest.
Every night of the year on Summerland Beach at the western end of Phillip Island, you can view these penguins returning from the ocean. The Penguin Parade facilities provide seating and boardwalks so you too can walk through the sand dunes and view these penguins up close – without disturbing their daily ritual. It’s an amazing sight and a highlight of any trip to Phillip Island to see penguins up close.
Seal Rocks are flat rocks further off the coast of Phillip Island. They are a home to Melbourne’s largest colony of Australian fur seals. They feed in the waters surrounding Phillip Island and can be found resting and sleeping on the rocks. At Point Grant there are binoculars along the boardwalk which can be used to spot the marine creatures out on Seal Rocks.
The Nobbies are dome-shaped rock formations off the coast of Phillip Island which provide an important home to the island’s Little Penguins. They can be viewed from the boardwalks at Point Grant and the Nobbies Visitor Centre. Viewing the Nobbies before sunset gives you fantastic views out to the Southern Ocean and across Western Port Bay. If you follow the boardwalks at Point grant they will take you the Nobbies Blowhole. A hollowed-out section of the cliffs where waves crash in and mist sprays back out. If there is a large southerly swell, the blowhole will be at its most spectacular and is well worth a look.
Cape Woolamai at Phillip Island is renowned for its stunning pink granite cliffs, surf beach, and incredible wildlife. It is also one of the top surf spots on Phillip Island. With big swells and beach breaks, it is for experienced surfers. The beach is 4.2 kilometres long and faces south-west into the high waves and westerly winds.
Woolamai Beach is home to the island’s first surf lifesaving club. The beach is known for having strong rips, and is not an ideal place to swim. The protected beach on the other side of Cape Woolamai is safer for swimmers.
Whales in Winter
Around June/July and again in October/November, you can witness whales passing by the coast of Phillip Island. At times they have even been spotted frolicking and searching for food in Western Port Bay. Southern Right whales are the most common, but Humpback whales and even Orcas have been spotted there as well.
These whales make a journey north from Antarctica each year to breed and give birth to their young in warmer waters. They then return to the icy waters down south. There are a few breeding areas or ‘nurseries’ along Victoria’s coastline. But in particular the sea life around Phillip Island seems to attract the whales to that area.
Cape Woolamai is a nesting ground for over one million short-tailed shearwaters (mutton birds). Each year the shearwaters fly 8,000 kilometres from the Alaskan Aleutian Islands to Phillip Island. They can be seen on and around the island between September and April.
During this time they build nests in burrows around Cape Woolamai and they fly out to sea during the day for fishing. Around sunset they return to their nests and you can view the magnificent sight of the large flocks of birds returning to the island.
About Phillip Islands penguins
Australia’s Little Penguins are just 40 – 45 cm tall and weigh up to 1.2 kg. They have a blue or grey upper body and flippers, with a white underbelly. Juveniles are generally brown in colour. The adult colouring provides camouflage for them at sea. Their predators can see only white from below and only blue from above.
The Little Penguins only live in Australia and New Zealand. They are found nesting along the southern edge of Australia’s mainland and Tasmania. The majority of colonies exist on islands such as Kangaroo Island and Phillip Island.
Our tour highlights
- Visit the famous Brighton Beach boxes
- Take a guided tour of the award-winning Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park
- Meet and feed a wide range of Australian animals including koalas, wombats, dingoes, and more
- Visit Point Grant on Phillip Island to view the Nobbies and Seal Rocks
- Stroll the coastal boardwalks to enjoy amazing panoramic views
What to pack for a day tour to Phillip Island
Even in summer, the Penguin Parade can be a chilly location. Summerlands Beach is in the south side of Phillip Island and can be exposed to the cold southerly winds. It’s best to pack an extra layer (or two) for your visit. It’s also a good idea to check the weather forecast before you go. This will help you decide how much to pack.
If you do bring extra layers with you for the final stop on our Phillip Island Tour – you can leave them in the bus until you arrive at the Penguin Parade. For our other tour stops throughout the day (Brighton Beach, Moonlit Sanctuary and The Nobbies) you are welcome to leave your extra layers on your seat onboard the tour bus.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where is the Phillip Island Penguin Parade?
The Penguin Parade is at Summerlands Beach, on the southern coast of Phillip Island – just under two hours drive from Melbourne.
What are the different tickets for the Phillip Island Penguin Parade?
You can choose from the following ticket options for the Penguin Parade:
- General Viewing – Enjoy tiered seating in our general viewing grandstands overlooking the picturesque Summerlands Beach.
- Penguins Plus – Get up close and personal with the Little Penguins from our extra special Penguins Plus grandstand.
- Underground Viewing – Go underground and watch the Little Penguins waddle right past the window – some might even come up to the glass to say gidday!
Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator @gowest.com.au