Australia is renowned for its sun, surf and sand, and the state of Victoria is no exception. The southernmost state on the mainland is home to 2,500 kilometres of coastline straddling the Southern Ocean, including these five scenic swimming spots.
St Kilda Beach
There’s no doubt St Kilda is Melbourne’s favourite city beach, even if it’s not Victoria’s most naturally beautiful strip of sand. Situated just a short tram trip from the middle of town, the beach is shielded from Port Phillip Bay by the long breakwater of St Kilda Pier, ending with a picturesque Edwardian kiosk. It’s little details like those that make St Kilda
what it is, such as the joggers and rollerbladers racing down the esplanade, the toothy grin at the entrance to Luna Park, the cake shops on Acland St, the historic St Kilda Baths, the trendy bayside bars and restaurants, and of course, the colony of little penguins that return to shelter in the harbour every evening at dusk.
Another bay beach that isn’t necessarily the most spectacular stretch of coastline you’ve ever seen, Brighton is famous for its 82 colourful bathing boxes. These uniform timber structures were built in the Victorian style a century ago and have remained unchanged ever since, besides a few fresh coats of paint that add a splash of colour to the Port Phillip foreshore. Brighton Beach isn’t just one of Melbourne’s most iconic images, it’s also a good beach for swimming and surfing. As well as one of the city’s most exclusive postcodes, the neighbourhood contains some of Melbourne’s top shopping, coolest cafes
and classiest eateries.
The world’s premier surfers converge on Bells Beach for the Rip Curl Pro
every Easter weekend, and the waves are popular with beach bums all year, especially when conditions are at their best during autumn and winter. Located about a 90-minute drive south-west of Melbourne near Torquay at the start of the Great Ocean Road, Bells enjoys huge swells rolling in from the Southern Ocean, making it a mecca for big wave riders
. Visitors can watch them from the dramatic cliffs that overlook the beach to offer sweeping vistas along this rugged section of coastline, not far from the iconic 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge rock formations.
Visitors to Victoria should make a beeline to Phillip Island
for its pristine landscapes and unique wildlife, and Cape Woolamai ought to be one of the first stops on the itinerary. With ancient pink granite rising out of the ocean at one end of the beach, and pretty rock pools at the other, this golden strip of sand is one of Victoria’s premier surfing spots, and has recently been declared a National Surfing Reserve. Stroll along the walking tracks and viewing platforms to admire Phillip Island’s highest point, then keep an eye out for the population of short-tailed shearwaters (also known as Australian mutton birds) that return to shore here each sunset after a long day fishing at sea.
A long line of lovely beaches link Melbourne with the Mornington Peninsula
, including Sorrento, which is wedged between Port Phillip Bay and Bass Strait near the tip of Point Nepean. The serene waters of Sorrento Beach are well worth the 90-minute drive from Melbourne, providing the perfect conditions for a swim, kayak, scuba diving expedition, fishing trip, or even a tour to swim with dolphins and seals. And Sorrento isn’t just home to one of Victoria’s best beaches—the town itself is one of the state’s most charming villages, dotted with gorgeous limestone homes and hotels dating back to the 1860s that now house upmarket boutiques, galleries and eateries.