Here’s our top tips for the Phillip Island Penguin Parade, to help you make the most of this unforgettable day trip from Melbourne. 

The highlight of our Melbourne day tour to Phillip Island is the nightly Penguin Parade. Every evening after sunset, thousands of Little Penguins emerge from the ocean and waddle across the beach to their burrows in the sand dunes.

Just under a 2 hour trip from Melbourne, the Penguin Parade provides facilities for visitors to watch this natural spectacle without disturbing the Little Penguins or their natural environment.

It’s an exciting end to a fun-filled day tour that includes visits to the Brighton Beach bathing boxes and Moonlit Sanctuary, as well as scenic stops on Phillip Island.

Read on to see our top tips for making the most of your tour!

Our top tips for the Phillip Island Penguin Parade

Check out the Visitor Centre

To discover penguin fun facts, take a glimpse at life in the burrow and cuddle up to some very cute stuffed toys – the Penguin Parade Visitor Centre is the place to be. The Visitor Centre is the first building you will enter when you arrive at the Phillip Island Penguin Parade.

It has a large space dedicated to learning about the island’s most famous residents – the Little Penguins. Whether you want to know what they eat, how deep they can dive, or what other animals are stalking them in the ocean – you can find the answers. It’s a great introduction to learn about the lives of the Little Penguins that you are about to witness arriving at the beach.

There is also a shop with plenty of penguin and marine-life themed souvenirs. You can also grab dinner or a snack from the Little Penguin Cafe, Shearwater Restaurant or the Boardwalk Drinks Cart.

Get up close for the beach arrivals

The Penguin Parade is your chance to witness thousands of Little Penguins returning home from the and waddling across the beach to the sand dunes. These amazing birds live on the land, but hunt for their food at sea.

When they are hungry, they leave their burrows in the cover of darkness to head into the ocean. After one or multiple days at sea, with full bellies, they return to land. To avoid predators, they will wait for the sun to set before leaving the ocean and waddling across the sand.

For the Penguin Parade, there are seats facing the beach to watch this spectacle. Whether you have booked General Viewing, Penguins Plus or Underground Viewing – the best spot is close to the sand. However – if you do not get the closest seats, wait for about 20 minutes after the first penguins arrive. People generally stand up to leave, but the penguins will continue coming – so you can move closer to take in the action.

Catch the action in the sand dunes

Once you have seen plenty of penguins crossing the sand, it’s time to head for the sand dunes. Little Penguins make burrows in the sand dunes to stay warm and safe from predators. As you take the boardwalks back from the beach to the Visitor Centre, you will see the Little Penguins walking right beside you.

Depending on the season, you may hear mating calls. Or even the excited cries of penguin chicks calling out to their parents who are bringing home dinner. You’ll spot even more penguins in the sand dunes thean on the beach, as after sunset they leave their burrows in the safely of darkness.

Many people say this is the best bit – standing on the boardwalks watching in wonder as the Little Penguins waddle home.

Pack warm clothing

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 [LINK] 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 you seat onboard the tour bus.

This way you won’t have to worry about dragging them around with you as you explore the beach, feed wallabies and kangaroos, and take in the views to Seal Rocks. But when you arrive at the Penguin Parade, you’ll be ready to rug up for a fun-filled evening.

What else will you do on our Phillip Island Day Tour?

The Penguin Parade is not the only stop on our Phillip Island tour – here’s what else is included:

  • 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

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Phillip Island Penguin Parade?

The 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!

So what are you waiting for? Come and join us on a Phillip Island Day Tour from Melbourne!


Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator