How does a day of surfing, slacklining, swimming in rock pools, walking on rugged coastal cliffs and picnicking with some of Australia’s best coastal views sound? Well then, slap on a hat, strap up your sandals and pack your favourite snacks ’cause the Mornington Peninsula’s only 80 minutes from Melbourne.
The Mornington Peninsula is a region of thirty towns and over a hundred pristine beaches between Frankston and Portsea. Want to know how to fill up your day? Here’s some local tips.
Beginner to Intermediate
If you are a beginner or intermediate surfer, or if hanging ten on party waves is more your thing, then some protected surfing locations include:
- The Pines in Shoreham
- Point Leo beaches
- Merricks Beach
Keep in mind that it’s best to surf the above three locations at high tide, so be sure to look up the tides and forecast before you go.
Intermediate to Advanced
If smacking the lip is more your style check out these more exposed beaches:
- The Gunnery in Flinders
- Gunnamatta Beach
- Koonya Beach
- Sorrento Back Beach
- Portsea Back beach
Wild Swimming Spots
If surfing isn’t on your menu today and you’d rather close your eyes and get lost in paradise, some calm, clear and turquoise beaches where you can have a dip and relax include:
- Diamond Bay in Sorrento
- Sullivan Bay in Sorrento
- Safety Beach
After your morning surf or dip, how about a picnic on the cliff tops or at some beautiful gardens? Here are some perfect picnic places you can throw down a rug, lie down, listen to the birds or waves and tuck into a homemade lunch.
Amidst Arthurs Seat State Park in Redhill, Seawinds Gardens features beautiful Indigenous gardens and sculptures with plenty of shady trees, ponds and green grass to throw down a rug.
There are plenty of short walks around the area which can lead to the 314m summit of Arthurs Seat, Kings Waterfall or various lookout points that feature panoramic views of the peninsula. Keep an eye out for the local wombats and wallabies. You can get here by making your way up Arthurs Scenic Road.
Cairns Bay Cliff Tops
The rugged coastal views and the huge basalt cliffs make this place hard to describe with words alone. You’ll find these stunning cliffs in Flinders. Just drive down Boneo Road and park in the little dirt car park on the side of the road just before Keys Road. Walk down towards the bay and turn right up the grassy fields, throw down your rug and bask in the tremendous ocean views.
You can also walk down to the secluded Cairns Bay for a dip and scramble around the many small rock pools to the left of the bay.
Mornington Peninsula Rock Pools
A trip down to some of the Mornington Peninsula’s swimming holes is yet another highlight, the hardest part is picking which one to swim in. Whilst there are many rock pools to be found along the rocky back beaches, here are two winners:
Bushrangers Bay Rock Pools, Cape Schanck
Cape Schanck definitely takes home the trophy for the Mornington Peninsula’s best rock pools. I don’t know how geology works, but I have a good feeling that it’s working damn well here. The big basalt cliffs and huge rocks meet with the powerful ocean to provide not only some epic places to swim, but wild coastal views.
To get to the Bushrangers Bay rock pools, follow the well-maintained walk from Cape Schanck lighthouse, walk down the many stairs towards Pulpit Rock, scramble to the right around the point and smile at the postcard-perfect pools.
There are also plenty of walks around, including a 3.6km walk to Bushrangers Bay on a path along the cliff tops, which is another winner.
Blairgowrie Rock Pools, Bridgewater Bay
For those who like to climb and jump off stuff, and I know there’s plenty of you out there, this one’s for you. Park at the end of St Johns Wood Road and take an easy 1km walk to the south end of the beach and you’ll see a beautifully perched rock with a deep sky-blue pool sitting magnificently underneath it.
There are a few options here: for the thrill-seekers, you can climb up and send it from the top, with a gnarly 8m drop to the water. For the others for whom heights just don’t work, you can enjoy a pleasant 2m jump off the rock, or just take a refreshing dip without jumping.
Although Blairgowrie Rock Pools are deep and heavenly to play around in, only go here at low tide, as high tide will cover the pool and make it dangerous to jump in. Take caution and enjoy this beautiful area safely!
Some key prerequisites for any amazing walk include beautiful views, clean air, native wildlife and a whiz-bang attitude. We can almost guarantee that the following walks will tick the box for at least three of those criteria.
The Point Nepean Walk takes you right to the tip of the Mornington Peninsula in Point Nepean National Park, past the old Quarantine Station, World War Two military defences, and along coastal and bush tracks. It’s definitely worth bringing a bike or skateboard down as you can ride along the winding road to the very point of the Peninsula.
From Point Nepean, there are other short walks to the London Bridge (a massive rock formation in the shape of the London Bridge), Gunners Cottage and Fort Nepean (old gunneries and military forts). Be careful of swimming in this area, as a very strong current sweeps out of Port Phillip into Bass Straight.
Some other great walks, a little further down from Point Nepean National Park, include the Lifesaving Track and the Farnsworth Track that both form part of the 26km coastal walk along the back beaches of the peninsula.
- Runners/walking boots (good sandals are also a treat, and sexy!)
- Sunscreen and a hat
- A playlist of beats ready for a nostalgic drive along the coast
Though the area is beautiful all year round, it definitely is a summer special, so try get down on a warmer day!
There have been cases where incredibly scenic parts of the Mornington Peninsula have been closed off from the public due to irresponsible visitors. It’s incredibly important to respect the environment by having an epic time and leaving no trace of your visit.
Take everything with you, pick up a couple bits of rubbish if you see some, chat to your fellow adventurers and enjoy this stunning part of the world!
Mornington Peninsula FAQs
How far is the Mornington Peninsula from Melbourne?
The Mornington Peninsula is roughly 80 minute’s drive from Melbourne’s CBD.
Is there an entry fee for the Mornington Peninsula?
Mornington Peninsula National Park has an entry fee but many areas are free to explore.
Can I camp on the Mornington Peninsula?
Yes! Here is a list of places where you can camp, many of them are on the foreshore.
Are the rock pools and beaches patrolled?