WHO said beaches were just for swimming? Juliana Mare takes you on a road trip around Victoria to discover the beaches that promise more than a lazy afternoon in the sun.
While the thought of swimming with sharks is daunting enough to send some people running in the opposite direction, a much less horrifying option is to swim with dolphins. An hour and a half out of the CBD, on the opposite side of the Bay, is the beach suburb Sorrento. It’s here you can swim with dolphins and seals in their natural habitat. It’s a thrilling experience to feel the leathery, slippery skin of a dolphin and at giftsthatthrill, you can tick this one off your bucket list for only $155.
If you’re more of a watch-from-the-sidelines kind-of person, Phillip Island offers some great animal watching options. The Penguin Parade is one of the island’s most popular tourist attractions at Summerland beach. From the tiered seating, audiences get to watch as the world’s smallest, and most adorable penguins waddle up the beach at sunset to their sand dune burrows. The show usually doesn’t start until dusk and the weather has usually cooled down by then, so do remember to dress warm!
While you’re there, you can also jump aboard a Wildlife Coast Cruise. The most popular cruise takes its passengers to Seals Rock, home to more than 6000 seals. While the beaches at Phillip Island are certainly worth your attention, it’s the animals that draw the tourists in. It’s just under a two hour drive from the CBD and well worth the trip.
While it’s not technically a beach, Corner Inlet has become a hotspot for recreational fishing in Victoria. Located in South Gippsland – about 200km southeast of the CBD, the bay is home to salmon, whiting, snapper, trevally and even gummy sharks. There’s a three-bay boat ramp for those who want to sail out into open water but if you prefer land-based fishing, there’s also a jetty. Despite the distance, Corner Inlet is specifically known as a fishing destination, so if you’re a fish enthusiast, the two hour drive will be well worth it.
If you’re looking for a beach that has a little bit of everything, then head to the southeast suburb of Mordialloc. The beach boasts a 300 meter pier, a playground for the kids, plenty of BBQ/picnic areas, a kiosk and a restaurant right on the foreshore. It’s very much a family-orientated beach so expect a crowd, especially on weekends. The actual strip of beach stretches across three suburbs with a running track if you fancy the scenic route on your morning jog.
Surfers, pack your bags and go on a road-trip southwest from the city toward the Great Ocean Road. Just south of Geelong, you’ll hit the internationally renowned surfer’s haven, Bells Beach. Home to the longest running surfing competition – the Rip Curl Pro Surf & Music Festival, Bells Beach draws people from across the world to its shore every year. While the water is one of the best spots for waves in Victoria, there isn’t much sand area so it’s best to save the sunbaking and sandcastle building for Mordi.
If you’re not so skilled with a surfboard, why not give Windsurfing a try? It’s a cross between surfing and sailing and if you’ve never tried either of those, the RPS Board Store offers beginner to advanced lessons at Elwood beach. Over summer, there’s usually a southwest wind across Elwood beach, peaking at 20 knots, which is perfect for beginners. Off the water, there are beautiful walking and bike paths, BBQ areas and restaurants nearby.
It’s not just the Great Barrier Reef that has amazing underwater worlds to explore, Port Phillip Bay has scallop beds, shipwrecks, kelp forests and a host of sea creatures living beneath its surface. There are plenty of areas around the Bay for scuba diving ranging from three to more than 100 meters. Several diving companies, such as Oz Dive Boat Charters and The Dive Victoria depart from Portsea and include professional training so irrespective of your experience, you’re sure to feel safe and confident underwater.
The beachy suburb of Dromana is only just more than an hour out of the CBD, which is far away enough to feel like a holiday without running your petrol down to empty. The long expanse of sand at Dromana makes you feel like you’re stepping into the tropics with a row of brightly coloured bathing boxes on one end and a long pier stretching out over the water on the other. With a variety of stores and restaurants just across the road, Dromana is the perfect beach to escape from the hustle and bustle of city living.