Melbourne provides some awesome sea, river, and lake kayaking adventures, even right in the heart of the city! So no matter what type of kayak you have, you can find an patch of water to get it into somewhere around Melbourne.


We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which these adventures take place who have occupied and cared for these lands and waters for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

8 Places to Put Your Paddle in Around the City:

1. Yarra River
2. Brighton
3. St Kilda Beach
4. Williamstown
5. Mornington Peninsula
6. Great Ocean Road
7. Lake Nagambie
8. Barwon Heads
9. Gippsland Rivers & Lakes
10. The Grampians

From downtown Melbourne to the neighbouring day trip tourist haunts of the Great Ocean Road and Mornington Peninsula, there’s an abundance of waterways to kayak near Melbourne.

But where exactly are the BEST places to kayak in and around Melbourne? Let’s find out.

Also Read:

Best Kayaking in Melbourne


1. Yarra River

Best entry point: Como Landing or Crays Landing

So you want to kayak Melbourne? Where else would you look but the waterway that runs right through the heart of the city? The Yarra River.

The Yarra River is a popular spot for paddlers, from beginners who want to try out kayaking, through to the more experienced. Not only is the Yarra River wide and gentle, but it’s a unique place to take in the cityscape.

There are a few launch sites to choose from. For the full experience, it’s best to start upstream of Church Street Bridge. The further the better, depending on your fitness levels. By starting further upstream, the transition from relative nature (for a city), into the urban area delivers some great visual impact. Paddling past Federation Square, then through Southbank, South Wharf, and into the Docklands area, really is a unique experience.

Grab some lunch, and then enjoy it all over again on the way back.

Don’t limit yourself to daytime trips only! The same trip down the Yarra River can be enjoyed at dusk or even later. Some say Melbourne looks more beautiful when lit up at night.

Read more: SA Murray River Kayaking – A Warm and Lazy Overnight Loop Paddle for One

Photos thanks to Visit Victoria


2. Brighton

Best entry point: Brighton Baths

Toddle past the historical Brighton beach boxes down to Brighton Baths for a perfect option to explore the beautiful bayside area by kayak.

Beginners can easily practice kayaking in the sheltered sea baths, while those with more experience with a sea kayak can explore Port Phillip Bay and the open ocean.

Hoping to hire a boat? No worries, there are operators who can hook you up with a rental canoe or kayak, including Brighton Baths Health Club and Kayak Shop Australia.



3. St Kilda Beach

Best entry point: The beach itself

With gorgeous seaside views, and cafes aplenty, St Kilda Beach has earned its popularity from locals and tourists alike. Right in the heart of Melbourne, this spot is a great place for a day of sea kayaking.

You can kayak around the pier or even take a guided tour around St Kilda.

As you paddle, take in breathtaking views of Melbourne City, Williamstown, and Port Melbourne.

Head a bit further towards the breakwater, and you just might be lucky enough to spot a penguin or two that belong to the colony in the area.


St Kilda Beach, Melbourne, photo by Visit Victoria

Photo thanks to Visit Victoria


4. Williamstown

Best entry point: Williamstown and Newport Anglers’ Club

Looking for somewhere a little bit quieter and beginner-friendly? Williamstown is a generally quiet spot with calm sheltered waters perfect for someone trying out their sea legs.

Launch from Williamstown and Newport Anglers’ Club, and go for a laid-back kayak past Williamstown Beach and around Port Phillip Bay.

Otherwise, paddle calm waters around Point Gellibrand and keep an eye out for dolphins that like to frolic in the area.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!


Best Kayaking Around Melbourne


5. Mornington Peninsula

Time from Melbourne: 90 mins drive
Best entry point: Sorrento front beach or Point Nepean

The Mornington Peninsula is just a 90 minute drive from Melbourne CBD (you can see the skyscrapers in the distance on a good day).

The entire Mornington Peninsula has a gorgeous coastline, but towards the tip are Sorrento and Point Nepean. Launch your watercraft out from here.

Not only will you enjoy the beautiful scenery, but you have the chance to see penguins, seals, and even dolphins up close – what more could you want from a spot of sea kayaking?


Photos thanks to Visit Victoria

The coastline’s lined with millionaires’ mansions, some with helicopters sitting in the front garden. There are worse ways to see how the other half live!

If you’re quite experienced at sea kayaking and are up for the challenge, you could venture onwards a little further towards the rip. Be cautious though, the currents are among the strongest in Australia.


6. Great Ocean Road

Time from Melbourne: 90 mins drive
Best entry point: Apollo Bay or Angelsea boat ramp

The eastern side of the Great Ocean Road is our next port of call.

Both Apollo Bay and Anglesea provide great opportunities for some paddling, and again we’re talking 90 minutes away from Melbourne CBD by car.



Apollo Bay sits close to the gateway of the very scenic Great Otway National Park. Just a few hundred metres from the shore lies Marengo Reefs Marine Sanctuary, which holds a local fur seal colony and other sea life.

You can join a kayak tour around the colony if that’s your thing, otherwise, you’re able to hire a kayak and paddling gear to fit your needs.

A little further eastbound along the coast sit Lorne and Anglesea. Both these locations cater for all skill levels.

Head west and you have the inland options around Cape Otway (Aire River) and Princetown (Gellibrand River). Princetown sits next door to the world-famous Twelve Apostles, so it’s a good chance to kill two birds with one stone. Not literally of course!


Photos thanks to Visit Victoria


7. Lake Nagambie

Time from Melbourne: 1 hour 40 mins drive
Best entry point: Plenty of spots along the shoreline to ease in, so wherever is free!

Around an hour and 40 minutes’ drive north of Melbourne, Lake Nagambie is an excellent spot for a boating day out.

The lake hosts plenty of kayaking championship competitions throughout the year, so it’s perfect for kayakers of all levels. Outside of regatta days and rowing events, it’s a hotspot for kayaking, fishing, sailing, and swimming.

If you haven’t got a kayak of your own, or are still new to the sport there are plenty of boats for hire near the lake.


Photo thanks to Leslie A Butler


8. Barwon Heads

Time from Melbourne: 90 mins drive
Best entry point: Your best bet is the Barwon Heads small boat ramp

Just 90 minutes outside of Melbourne, Barwon River in Barwon Heads is a kayaker’s paradise. With calm shallow waters, it’s a great spot for beginners and experienced kayakers alike to spend a relaxed day paddling. It’s also an excellent spot if you feel like a sea kayak without too much swell.

Boat and gear hire is readily available, and with plenty of sand along the shore, it’s simple to ease your craft into the water.

There’s even a bunch of cafes nearby to treat yourself to a delightful feed after a day of paddling.


Photos thanks to Visit Victoria

Kayaking Weekenders from Melbourne


9. Gippsland Rivers & Lakes

Time from Melbourne: 3 hour drive
Best entry point: Depending on which lake and river you choose to kayak from, there are lots of entry point options!

This is a must-do if you are anywhere near Melbourne. You could sample this in a day trip from the city, but it’s recommended that you stay at least one night – and more if you can!

Gippsland has a series of lakes and rivers for those that love freshwater, but there are some cool spots to visit around the coastline too – like Ninety Mile Beach.

The top two river choices are Snowy and Mitchell River.


Photos thanks to Visit Victoria


Snowy River is the calmer of the two, with awesome scenery. There are plenty of tours in the area which is great for those with little-to-no kayaking experience.

Mitchell River is a little faster with grade 3 and 4 rapids for the more experienced kayaker. This entices canoeists and white water rafters alike.

If you want a really leisurely cruise, head over to Gippsland Lakes. Often referred to as ‘Gippy’ lakes, and at over 100kms, this is Australia’s largest enclosed waterway. The main still waters are King, Reeve, Wellington and Victoria Lakes.

Mallacoota Inlet is another popular lake option, but it is a bit further to trek, as it’s close to the NSW border. You can also paddle up and down the Wallagaraugh River that flows into it.


10. The Grampians

Time from Melbourne: 4 hour drive
Best entry point: Boat ramp at the end of Kellett St

If you really want to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life, take yourself out to the Grampians and go kayaking along the Glenelg River.

The Glenelg River is over 400km in length. Don’t worry, we’re not going to ask you to paddle the full length! Instead, head down towards the border town of Nelson. From here, there’s around 30km of stunning limestone cliffs that edge the river.

If you have the resources and 2-4 spare days, you can car shuffle and turn the trip into a kayak-camping trip. There are some dedicated kayak campsites along the river for you to pitch up at, or you can even book cute little wooden cabins!


Photo thanks to Visit Vic

Kayaking Melbourne FAQs

Can I kayak anywhere in Melbourne?

Yes, you’re allowed to kayak in any public waterways in Melbourne, so long as it’s deep enough and safe to do so.

Do I need to wear a life jacket?

Anyone using a low powered kayak or canoe is not required to hold a licence or register the watercraft, but will legally need to be wearing a life jacket.

Do I need other safety equipment?

It’s recommended by Maritime Safety Victoria that all paddlers use a paddle leash, to ensure you stay attached to your kayak if you capsize. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation or you capsize, Maritime Safety Victoria asks paddlers to stay with their watercraft as it’s much easier to spot.

A communication device and means of removing water from your watercraft are also recommended.


Feature photo courtesy of Visit Victoria