Check out our guide to San Remo, the small seaside town that is the gateway to Phillip Island!

San Remo is a small seaside village in Victoria, which has become famous for being the gateway to world-famous Phillip Island. San Remo was once a small fishing village, and it still has the same relaxed, holiday vibe. It is a great place to visit or stay, particularly when paired with a visit to Phillip Island.

Phillip Island is famous for the colony of Little Penguins that live there, and the nightly Penguin Parade. This is where you can get up close to watch the penguins returning from the ocean at  the end of the day. The island also has other natural attractions and is home to the MotoGP Circuit. 

A visit to San Remo lets you enjoy the seaside and ocean views, see wildlife or try your hand at fishing, and taste some of the local cuisine. For a getaway from the city, this is a wonderful place to escape to and its just a few hours drive from Melbourne. 

The History of San Remo 

Indigenous History

The land surrounding San Remo and Phillip Island was part of the homelands of the Yalluk Bulluk clan of the Bunurong people. He lived in this area for many thousands of years. The Bunurong people were members of the Kulin nation of Aboriginal people. There is evidence to show that they travelled from the mainland areas such as San Remo to Phillip Island in six-person canoes made from a curved piece of bark cut from trees.

European Settlement History 

George Bass was the first European to visit Western Port in 1798. He named it Western Port because it was west of Port Jackson. Sealers soon followed, harvesting the seals on the Bass Strait islands and Seal Rocks near the Nobbies.

Early settlers in this part of Australia used to carry supplies and by sailing ship from Western Port to Port Phillip Bay and back. However, it was a hazardous journey and road transport was preferred. But it wasn’t until the Koo-wee-rup swamp was drained that vehicles could finally reach San Remo.

Connecting to Phillip Island

From San Remo people could row across The Narrows inlet to Newhaven on Phillip Island. However, between 1908 and 1920 the livestock had to swim across this channel. In later years a suspension bridge was built to connect the two towns, making the transporting of stock and supplies a whole lot easier. 

Following this there was a smaller bridge which had strict load limits. However, Phillip Island these days is connected to San Remo via a bridge which was opened in 1971. but It allows easy access for tourists and traffic from both sides. 

Things to Do in San Remo 

San Remo is a charming seaside town that’s becoming well known for its fishing and dining options. 

Sea Views 

The coastal views from San Remo are spectacular. Head out on the George Bass Coastal Walk to explore the rugged cliffs. Or for a beach walk try the sand stretch around Quarry Rocks.

See the Pelicans

One of the most popular activities in San Remo is the daily Pelican Feeding. Every day at noon  the area’s local fishermen feed the resident pelicans. This tradition has been a daily occurrence for many years and allows visitors to get up close to the pelicans by the San Remo jetty.


San Remo village is known for its large shark fishing fleet, you can head to the marine to see the boats coming in at the end of the day. If you want to join in, the best places to cast a line are either off the jetty or by joining a fishing charter and heading out to sea.

Food and Shopping

Because of its history as a fishing village, San Remo is bursting with delicious seafood. Check out the fresh catch of the day at the San Remo Fisherman’s Cooperative. San Remo is full of cafes, pubs, as well as galleries and local stores selling handmade jewellery and homewares. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon exploring and soaking in the village atmosphere. 

What is Phillip Island famous for? 

The nightly Penguin Parade on Phillip Island is the most famous attraction. It’s the only way to have front row seats as the island’s famous Little Penguins waddle across the sand. These seabirds are the world’s smallest penguins. Phillip Island is home to the largest colony, around 32,000 – so you are guaranteed to see them every night of the year. 

Phillip Island is home to a Grand Prix Circuit that was built in 1956 and hosts the International MotoGP and World Superbike Championship each year. Every race weekend throughout the year motorbike enthusiasts converge at the racetrack on Phillip Island. 

Phillip Island is also famous for it’s pristine beaches, native bushlands, and amazing coastal viewed. Nature lovers can explore coastal clifftops, picture-perfect lookouts and rock formations on Phillip Island.

Take a tour to Phillip Island with Go West

Phillip Island is an easy day trip from Melbourne. 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 colourful Brighton Beach boxes near Melbourne
  • Take a tour to meet the animals at Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park
  • Get an up close look at 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
  • Finish the day at the world-famous Phillip Island Penguin Parade


Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator