Our guide to the best beaches at Phillip Island – Melbourne’s nature and wildlife wonderland – home of the Penguin Parade.

Just 2 hours drive from Melbourne is the nature and wildlife paradise of Phillip Island. This island is one of the most picturesque places in the state of Victoria. Plus, because its an island it has many wonderful beaches. 

You can swim in the calmer waters of Western Port Bay or catch the waves at some fantastic surf beaches. Explore the beaches, coves and wildlife on foot, or take a boat ride to see it all from the ocean.

Here is our guide to the best beaches on the island.

The best beaches on Phillip Island 

The best beach to see Penguins – Summerland Beach

Summerland Beach is a must-visit, as it is the home of Phillip Island’s famous Penguin Parade. The Little Penguins of Phillip Island live in the sand dunes of Summerland Beach. They are land and sea birds that dig their burrows deep under the grassy beach shore. It is a great beach for swimming and surfing, however the beach is closed in the evenings so that the penguins can come to shore safely after sunset. The Penguin Parade facilities allow visitors to see these cute creatures waddle by without interfering with their daily lives. It’s therefore a great place to watch them up close as the Penguin Parade staff explain the facts and daily lives of these incredible sea birds. You can then walk back along the boardwalks with the penguins waddling along right beside you. 

The best beach for swimming – Cowes Main Beach

The most popular beach at Phillip Island is the main beach is the town of Cowes. The calm waters and soft sand, make it a wonderful spot for the whole family to enjoy. In addition, you are spoilt for choice with the array of cafes and restaurants in the Main Street, just a short stroll from the water. There are picnic areas, cafes, and BBQ areas scattered along the foreshore. Plus the beach is patrolled during the summer, making a safe spot to swim. 

The best beach for surfing – Woolamai Beach 

Woolamai Surf Beach is the best place to catch waves at Phillip Island. However, it is infamous for its strong rips and currents, so it’s best left to experienced surfers only.  The beach is actually around 4km long – the longest stretch of sand on the island. To access the beach, the best place to park is at the Surf Lifesaving Club, because there are plenty of car parking spaces. From there you can access the beach and the Cape Woolamai Walking Trail. Because this beach is on the southern side of the island, is picks up all of the southerly sell. This means there are waves year-round. The entire length of the beach has surf-able waves, but in front of the Surf Club is the easiest spot to access. 

The best beach for snorkelling – Kitty Miller Bay

Kitty Miller Bay on Phillip Island is the perfect place to go snorkelling. The large bay stretch for around 500 metres and is sheltered from the currents of the open sea. Therefore, in the deep rock pools you can discover starfish, colourful marine vegetation and fish. You can also hike nearby to discover the remains of the a that was shipwrecked in 1906, the SS Speke.

Other Phillip Island Beaches to Explore

Old Granite Quarry 

On the opposite side of the Cape Woolamai Headland, Old Granite Quarry Beach is a great place for swimming. It is a protected beach without waves, and also without many other people around. It can be reached via the Cape Woolamai Walking Trail.

Smiths Beach

On the south of the island in a secluded bay, Smiths Beach has calm waves and gentle surf, therefore it is perfect for swimmers and beginners. It’s well-patrolled by Surf Lifesavers in summertime and its bay-side location gives it a relaxed, peaceful feel.

Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach is similar to Smiths Beach in that is it has small waves perfect for beginners. You can try a whole heaps of water sports and relax in the quiet location with incredible views.

Ventnor Beach

Ventnor Beach on the northern coast of the island, is where you can find your own patch of sand and enjoy the calm waters for swimming. The long narrow beach offers plenty of space and safe swimming conditions. There are also some fantastic views out to the horizon. 

Berrys Beach

A ten minute drive from Cowes, lets you discover this gem – Berry’s Beach. Descend the wooden stairs from the carpark.and take in the amazing clifftop views. This beach is popular with surfers but it also has a series of rock pools that are great for exploring.

Red Rocks Beach

Red Rocks Beach lives up to its name with an impressive backdrop of red rocks. The beach is sheltered making it a great option for splashing around in the shallows and relaxing with beautiful sea views.

Surf Beach

Surf Beach also lives up to it’s name, being another great place to grab a board and watch some waves on Phillip Island. For experienced surfers, the large waves and strong currents let you catch plenty of waves against a backdrop of incredible landscapes.

Other coastal attractions at Phillip Island

Seal Rocks

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. 

Nobbies Boardwalk 

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. Visiting the Nobbies gives you fantastic views out to the Southern Ocean and across Western Port Bay. 

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 frolic and search 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.  

Shearwater Birds

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. You can see them between September and April. 

Take a tour to Phillip Island

Phillip Island is a great place to visit on tour. You can discover the best parts of the island and finish the day at the world-famous Penguin Parade. Here’s what you can expect if you take a Phillip Island Tour with Go West. 

  • 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


Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator @gowest.com.au