Just a few cruisey hours’ drive from Melbourne, Phillip Island is a coastal haven abundant in wildlife, both underwater and on land. A weekend trip here is enough to restore you, but you may need longer to tick off all of Phillip Island’s adventures.

We acknowledge that these adventures are located on the traditional Country of the Bunurong / Boonwurrung people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.



  • Honest, coastal detox from city livin’ 
  • A surfer’s haven with options for all abilities and board volume 
  • Home to the largest Little Penguin colony in the world! 
  • Diverse walks from wetlands and mangroves to beaches, caves, and even abandoned quarries

The concrete jungle can be dense, particularly after a rather gruelling winter. With warmer days making a more regular appearance on the calendar, there couldn’t be a better time to get out of town. And on Phillip Island, a quintessential coastal break awaits. 

Prepare yourself for too many amazing beaches to pack into a weekend, spotting all manner of sea life, bushwalking along the rugged coast and through protected wetlands, plus tasty cafes and great watering holes (pubs) to close out your days. Oh, and…there are the penguins, an adorable must-see for anyone visiting Phillip Island. 

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!

Hikes and Bushwalks

Cape Woolamai Walks

Cape Woolamai is one of those unpredictable beauties. A beach where the ocean either swells and boils in an untamed fashion or appears postcard perfect, not a gull out of place. Taking one of the Cape Woolamai walks is a great way to better understand this impressive salty landscape.

To get to the trailhead for the walks, park at Cape Woolamai car park and head left when you hit the sand. Follow the beach for about a kilometre before you reach a set of stairs, at the top is your pot of hiking gold, a sign will list three options:

Pinnacles Walk – 4.5km, 1.5 hour 

Follow the green markers for an out and back mission that’ll get you up close and personal with The Pinnacles, Woolamai’s impressive sea stack rock formations. 

Old Granite Quarry Walk – 6km, 2 hour

Following the blue markers, this walk takes you to an old abandoned granite rock quarry. You can either turn around and come back via the beach or retrace your steps back to the stairs. 

Cape Woolamai Beacon Walk – 6.6.km, 2.5 hour

This walk traverses Woolamai’s cliffs and leads to Phillip Island’s highest and most southerly point. Enjoy panoramic views of Phillip Island and dramatic scenes as waves collide with eroded bluffs and caves. 

Cape Woolamai Loop Walk – 8km, 3 hours

Keen walkers also tend to combine all three walks to experience a total exploration of the Cape. Piecing the walks together creates an 8km loop. 

Read more: Staying Safe on Coastal Rock Platforms

Kitty Miller Bay Shipwreck Walk – 2km return

In 1906, the SS Speke sailing ship collided with reef and ran aground, just off Phillip Island’s shores. The ship’s parts were then scattered along the coastline, the bow washing ashore at a neighbouring cove to Kitty Miller Bay. 

Kitty Miller Bay is one of Phillip Island’s picturesque and hidden gems. Accessible on low tide is a delightful 2km walk to the wreck. Head left when you reach Kitty Miller Bay’s sand and follow the rocks to skirt around the headland and onto the next bay. Continue until you see and eventually reach the wreck.  

Forrest Caves Walk – 2km return

Marvel at the sea’s erosive creativity, and how it reconfigures the coast on this bite-sized 2km walk to Forrest Caves. Only accessible at low tide, head left when you reach the beach and wander toward two impressive caves.

You’ll also pass large dunes, which are the homes (burrows) of Short-tailed shearwaters, who flock to Phillip Island between October – April. Red and orange in colour, the caves contrast with the ocean’s hues and are definitely worth a picture, so pack the camera.

Conservation Hill & Rhyll Inlet

Tucked in Phillip Island’s north-west corner are the tranquil Rhyll Inlet Wetlands and Conservation Hill. A local conservation success story, the wetlands were planned to be developed in the 1960s until a group of passionate locals opposed the proposal.

Now a nature haven, the wetlands have been listed under the Ramsar Convention and are a safe haven for a number of precious species, including Spoonbills, Oystercatchers, Herons, Egrets, and Cormorants. 

There are a number of walks to take from the Conservation Hill car park, through the varied salt marsh, mudflat, woodland and mangrove landscapes. 

Read more: Best Day Hikes Near Melbourne

Surfing & Snorkelling

Smiths Beach

Get down to Smiths for a more mellow session than the other surf spots on Phillip Island. It’s a great place for beginners, foamie lords, the kids or those who just want to cruise! The waves are at their cleanest when the northerly wind blows, and the beach break offers both rights and lefts. There’s also a killer general store on the way in, so consider your post-surf potato cake sorted! 


Cat Bay

Cat Bay is another great spot that offers cruisy waves, particularly if the beaches facing the Bass Strait are looking rather wild! Expect mostly lefts with a fairly chill take-off and waves breaking over reef – Cat Bay is best surfed on mid-high tide. Not the greatest for absolute beginners, this wave works on south-west or south winds and often requires a board with a little more volume. 


Woolamai is an illusive enigma. One day it can provide perfect peelers, the next it can be a total washing machine! That’s why this one is best left to experienced surfers. Even when the waves are small, they’re still fast and steep. This beach break offers both lefts and rights and the waves are cleanest in north to north-east winds. 


Kitty Miller Bay

Kitty Miller Bay is ten minutes drive south from Cowes, a quaint circular bay that features an impressive wave-cut platform and exposed reef on low tide. Head to the eastern side of the cove and explore the underwater wonderland that awaits. Spot Zebrafish, Bluethroat wrasse, Magpie perch, and maybe a Port Jackson shark!

High Adrenaline Activities

Jet Boat Tour

If you’re a nature addict that likes a thrill, this jet boat tour is for you. A great way to experience Phillip Island from a different perspective, Ocean Adventures offers a 35 minute tour of Cape Woolamai.

You’ll track the coast’s red-orange granite cliffs and explore its caves all from the best seat in the house, the turquoise waters of the ocean! The Captain loves a yarn too, so expect to return satisfied from a few belly laughs, and be more informed about Phillip Island’s history. 

Go Karting

Arguably the best location to whip yourself around a Go Kart track in Victoria, Phillip Island Go Karts’ circuit overlooks the Bass Strait and is surrounded by green rolling hills. Sometimes you just have a need for speed, and this is the place to fulfil it! The circuit is 750m and has 12 corners to test your skills on.



Penguin Parade

Do not be complacent when it comes to the Penguin Parade. You simply must go! Phillip Island is home to the largest Little Penguin colony in the world, and you can witness their bedtime ritual from the Phillip Island Nature Parks’ boardwalks.

Every sunset these 40cm tall bundles of white and black cuteness waddle back to their burrows to sleep. You can rest easy knowing your ticket helps the Nature Park continue their conservation work, protecting and learning more about the amazing species that frequent and live on Phillip Island.


Whale Discovery Trail

Walk, ride or drive this wildlife trail that takes you to the best viewpoints along the coast to catch Humpbacks and Southern right whales on their annual migration. May to October is your best bet for whale spotting, outside of the season this scenic route is still worth taking.

It captures some of Phillip Island’s best coastal landmarks including Pyramid Rock, Cape Woolamai, and The Nobbies. You’re also likely to spot dolphins, sea birds and a few furry seals! 


Koala Conservation Reserve

Nothing takes away your troubles like spotting a koala. Lucky Phillip Island Nature Parks protects and manages six precious hectares of native bushland where you can spy one. There are two treetop boardwalks to meander along with plenty of chances to get up close and personal with these fluffy icons. The boardwalks are open from 10am until 4:30pm.


Sea Scooter

Level up your snorkel game on Ocean Adventures Phillip Island’s Sea Scooter Dive. This experience gives strong James Bond energy. A fully guided experience, you’ll learn how to snorkel, or refine your skills and learn how to drive a Yamaha Sea Scooter, plus make friends with a few underwater fishies! 


Where to Eat & Drink?

Ocean Reach Brewing

Simple can be best when it comes to a tap lineup, and Ocean Reach Brewing achieves this. There are four core beers, your usual suspects, a pale, pilsner, IPA, and porter plus three seasonal brews. There’s also a ridiculously good food van serving lunch and dinner to quieten any rumbling tummies.

Purple Hen Winery

Grazing plates with melt-in-your-mouth cheeses, plenty of outdoor seats to soak up the sun, delicious wines and local beers. Purple Hen Winery is a great post-adventure afternoon and super convenient if you’re on your way back from exploring Conservation Hill and Rhyll Inlet. Family-owned and operated, the winery is situated on 11 stunning hectares.


Bang Bang Bar and Food

A top choice if you’re staying out at Cape Woolamai. Bang Bang’s Asian-inspired menu has everything from freshly shucked oysters, Gippsland scotch fillet with Rendang mushrooms, and even a whole Indonesian fried baby Snapper. The atmosphere is easy, breezy, and the staff are legends! 



Feeling a little fancy on your coastal getaway? Bust out of the campground, don your Saturday night best and head to Kelp. Kelp’s menu is Mexican-inspired with a few cracking burgers thrown in the mix. For me, the fish taco with a margarita is the perfect combo after a day in the salt, sun, and sea. Tuck in! 

Rusty Water Brewery

If you love leaving the city, but not its good beers and quality dining experiences, Rusty’s could be the place for you. The institution boasts international chefs and a fine selection of handcrafted ales. The crew here likes to plan for your visit, so be sure to book ahead.

Where to stay?

Five Acres

Sometimes you don’t feel like the beaming fluorescent lights of a backpacker’s dorm or the swinging spectacle a head torch creates as it bounces around the tent. Sometimes you want lighting that turns on at a switch, is low, warm and mounted to the wooden-clad walls of a coastal cabin. And Five Acres is where you’ll find it. 

Run by Katie and Ron, there are three bougie cabins to choose from that are situated on a working micro-farm and have views out to Western Port Bay. Here is a place to reset and rest, in style.  


NRMA Phillip Island Beachfront Holiday Park

This is where you make memories with the gang! A beachfront campground with plenty of sites or cabins. Plus two of the cabins are pet friendly!



Another great farm stay option is Bimbadeen. Eco-friendly cabins are dotted across a 340-hectare working cattle farm, with sheep, alpacas, and chooks too. The size of the property makes you feel like you’re a million miles away, but if you get the urge to tap back into reality the Phillip Island Winery is just around the corner. 


Anchorage Camp Park

Anchorage Camp Park offers a classic camp experience, away from the hustle and bustle. Located in Ventnor, it has a number of powered and unpowered sites, plus cottages and cabins. The park is a five minute walk to the beach, super close to the Penguin Parade and the general store for supplies.

Essential Gear

  • Surfboard
  • Wetsuit (that southern water is chilly!)
  • Hiking shoes
  • Hat and sunscreen
  • Snorkel and flippers
  • Rain jacket (for the spray on the jet boat)
  • Binoculars (for spotting whales offshore)
  • Camera

How To Get There

Although Phillip Island is an island, you don’t need to take a boat to get there!

From Melbourne, it’s just a 2 hour drive south to where you cross over the bridge and officially land on Phillip Island.

It takes about 25 minutes to drive from the eastern side of Phillip Island to the west.

Leave No Trace

Phillip Island is an absolute gob-smacker. At We Are Explorers, we reckon it’s a good idea to keep it that way, so make sure to take all of your rubbish with you, minimise your plastic use as much as possible, stick to the paths and try not to disturb the area or animals. Mother Nature will thank you for it!


Photography by @ben.savage