Tucked away on the southern coast of Victoria in Australia, Phillip Island is a beautiful destination for outdoor lovers, wildlife enthusiasts, and good food aficionados. The small island packs a punch with lots of exciting things to do!
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Located less than 2 hours from Melbourne, the island is a popular weekend getaway for those looking to experience something different.
No matter what time of the year you visit, the island is always buzzing with activity. Famous for its international racing circuit and colony of penguins, Phillip Island’s unique charm is exceptional.
We recently visited Phillip Island on a Sydney to Melbourne road trip and found it a very worthy detour.
If you’re planning a visit to Phillip Island, here are some of the best things to do in Phillip Island.
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How To Get To Phillip Island
Despite being an “island,” Phillip Island is easily reachable by car from Melbourne or elsewhere in the Gippsland region. The journey by car is a convenient and scenic option for those who prefer driving.
Route from Melbourne:
Getting to the island from Melbourne takes less than 2 hours (142 km) along the Monash Freeway. After leaving the city, you’ll venture along the perimeter of Western Port Bay and cross the bridge in San Remo. This drive provides picturesque views and is a popular choice among travelers.
By Public Transport
If you prefer not to drive, there are public transport options available to reach Phillip Island.
You can still access Phillip Island by public transport on the V/Line coach that departs from Melbourne daily. This coach service offers a convenient way for those who do not have access to a car or prefer not to drive. On average, the bus trip takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours.
Another good option to reach Phillip Island is by taking a ferry, which offers a unique experience and beautiful water views.
Western Port Passenger Ferry:
You can opt for the Western Port Passenger Ferry from Stony Point on the Mornington Peninsula. This scenic ferry ride takes about 45 minutes and includes a stop on French Island before arriving at Phillip Island. It’s an excellent choice for those looking for an alternative and memorable journey to the island.
Things To Do In Phillip Island
Phillip Island is a haven for family activities, excellent dining, and beautiful natural scenery. Whether you’re visiting for adventure or to unwind, there are many great things to do in Phillip Island.
Hike Cape Woolamai
Just past the bridge from San Remo is Cape Woolamai, home to breathtaking coastal views and amazing surf breaks.
The Cape Woolamai Circuit Walk takes you to the highest point of the island, offering an opportunity to enjoy panoramic views of the beautiful coastline. Enjoy the beauty of the rugged terrain and pristine waters stretching to the horizon as you follow the Cape Woolamai trail. From the elevated vantage point, you’ll be treated to sweeping vistas that include the rugged shoreline, turquoise waters, and picturesque landscapes that make Phillip Island so special.
The Pinnacles are another highlight of the hike, with rocky granite formations that stand tall during low tide. These rocky granite formations stand tall and proud, revealing their natural artistry during low tide. The Pinnacles are an iconic feature of Cape Woolamai, and they provide a unique geological insight into the island’s history.
Cape Woolamai is part of Victoria’s National Surfing Reserve and is considered one of the best surfing beaches in Australia. The sand dunes are the best-kept secret in Phillip Island, located on the back beaches of Cape Woolamai.
See Penguins at The Penguin Parade
Phillip Island is home to the largest colony of little penguins, or fairy penguins, in the world! These tiny penguins weigh about 1 kg and can only be seen at sunset when they make a nightly stroll up to their burrows.
The nightly phenomenon is called the Penguin Parade, and you can witness it every night, all year round, from the Penguin Parade boardwalks and viewing area. Tickets to the Penguin Parade start at $30 for adults and $15 for children.
Visit the Beaches
Get the most out of Phillip Island by exploring its scenic beaches with picturesque landscapes. The collection of beaches is one of the main reasons why people visit Phillip Island, thanks to its turquoise blue waters and sandy shores for sunbathing.
Woolamai Surf Beach
Ride the waves at the Woolamai Surf Beach, or or try your hand at surfing when you’re on Phillip Island This beach is renowned for its strong currents and rips, making it ideal for adventurous surfers If you’re with your entire family or lack experience in surfing, you can visit Safety Beach instead.
Perched on the south of the island, Smith’s Beach is one of the attractions in Phillip Island for those who want a scenic and isolated place to relax. It is in a secluded bay, with calm waves for beginner surfers, but is also well-patrolled for safety. The bay-side location makes it a peaceful place to walk or swim on Phillip Island.
Kitty Miller Bay
Kitty Miller Bay is the perfect spot for a snorkeling adventure during your trip to Phillip Island. This popular beach is the best place for snorkeling, and you can see colorful plants, starfish, and other amazing creatures. Take a walk or hike on the 500-meter bay, or explore the remains of the SS Speke ship that was shipwrecked in 1996.
Shelly Beach is ideal for beginner surfers or those who enjoy water sports. It’s a great option for day trips on Phillip Island. It is a narrow beach and scenic spot near Kilcunda, a seaside village. The waters have small waves that are ideal for surfers, and it is a great sunbathing spot with great views and a gentle atmosphere.
Located on the northern coast of Phillip Island, Ventnor Beach prohibits surfing, so it’s an excellent place for swimming and sunbathing. It is a long and narrow beach, suitable for families who want a full day in the sun or couples searching for a great sunset spot.
Cowes Main Beach
One of Phillip Island’s beautiful beaches, Cowes Main Beach, has impressively soft sand and calm waters. Facing north, it is the biggest beach in the Australian Mainland and is close to town, making it one of the top attractions at Phillip Island. You can eat at BBQ areas, picnic areas, cafes, and other food and drink spots near the beach.
Red Rocks Beach
Known for its impressive red coastal rocks in the background, the Red Rocks Beach is sheltered and ideal for swimming in shallow waters. The beach is not patrolled, but the waters are mostly calm and suitable for the whole family.
Located about ten minutes away from Cowes, Berrys Beach is one of the best beaches in Phillip Island. The only way to access this beach is through wooden stairs connected to a car park. The beach also has clifftop views, and its big waves are enough to entertain visiting surfers.
Summerland Beach is famous as the location of the Phillip Island Penguin Parade, a place where you can spot penguins on their nightly walk down to their burrows. You can spend a relaxing day at this beach, sunbathing on the sandy shores or swimming and surfing. At night, the beach is cleared so that the penguins can come ashore for their penguin parade.
Phillip Island offers a diverse range of surfing opportunities for visitors of all skill levels. The Surf Beach at Woolamai is a great option, offering large wave swells that are suitable for professional surfers. The high tides also provide deep waters for swimming stores like Fullcircle and schools like Pro Surf Coaching are located close to the Woolamai Surf Beach.
For beginners on Phillip Island, Smiths Beach and Shelly Beach are ideal options, offering gentle waves for a more relaxed surfing experience. Other options include Berrys Beach and Surf Beach, known for hardcore waves.
If you want to learn how to surf, some of the best schools are at Smiths Beach. Learn at Archy Surf, Island Surfboards & Surf School, and Girls on Board. Additionally, all the surf beaches have surf shops where you can rent a surfboard and other necessary gear.
Visit the Nobbies Centre
It’s no secret that Phillip Island is a haven for unique wildlife and magical scenery. Located on the island’s westernmost tip, the Nobbies feature interactive exhibits and displays to dive deeper into the island’s charm. Outside the ecotourism center, you can stroll along the boardwalk, soak up ocean views, and even see fur seals!
The Nobbies Centre is among the best Phillip Island tourist attractions for kids and adults.
Visit The Koala Conservation Reserve and Phillip Island Nature Parks
Journey through the native bushland at the Koala Conservation Centre to experience koalas in their natural habitat. We learned a lot about native koalas and their habitat on our visit to the Phillip Island Nature Parks. And it’s a great spot to get close to koalas.
Here, you can walk along the treetop boardwalks and watch koalas hang from eucalyptus trees as they go about their day sleeping and eating.
Walk Alongside Red Rocks And Sea Caves
Red Rock Beach is one of the most popular attractions on Phillips Island for a beachside stroll or a swim. Vibrant red rocks line the beach on the northern coast of the island in Cowes. Over in Surf Beach, you can head onto the shore at low tide to discover rocky sea caves.
The Forest Caves are two huge caverns that were formed by cliff erosion. Many say hanging out in the Forest Caves is one of the best free things to do in Phillip Island, Victoria!
Visit The Purple Hen Winery
Located on the east coast of the island, Purple Hen is a family-owned winery producing cool climate wines. The vineyard is surrounded by a picturesque view of the bay and the nearby Churchill Island. Purple Hen’s farming techniques and unique climate create award-winning wines that are indeed Phillip Island’s finest.
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Shop At The Store
After a day of sightseeing, pop into The Store for a gourmet treat. The Store carries a wide selection of high-quality, local products ranging from coffee to cheeses. A tip for any Phillip Island visitor: Enjoy toasties in the garden patio or pack some sourdough to-go!
Visit Churchill Island Heritage Farm
Cross the bridge to Churchill Island and experience the site of the first farm in Victoria. The Churchill Island Heritage Farm is a glimpse into the past where farmhands still do activities like sheep shearing and cow milking.
Other Phillip Island Attractions & Tours
Go on a Scenic Flight With Phillip Island Helicopters: Exploring Phillip Island, Victoria, is a beautiful experience by foot, so imagine how amazing it looks from the sky! See the beaches and cliffs that make the region so iconic from a different view onboard a soaring helicopter. You might even spot wildlife at Seal Rocks, where resident fur seals make up the largest colony in Australia.
Explore the Water With Ocean Adventures: Ocean Adventures offers fun water activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, boating or a kayaking tour. Explore the spectacular island with a 30-minute tour and funny commentary from Captain Risky. If you want an adrenaline rush, you can pay for the jet boat ride that takes you around the gorgeous water and islands.
Go on a Whale and Seal Watching Cruise: Join an environmentally-friendly ocean cruise to see underwater wildlife attractions. See seals up close on a seal-watching cruise while soaking in stunning views of the cliffs and beaches. Visit in the winter for an unforgettable whale-watching experience.
Visit Phillip Island Chocolate Factory: Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate is one of the best places to visit in Phillip Island for those with a sweet tooth. The Phillip Island chocolate factory boasts over 190 varieties of chocolate. Moreover, it has a chocolate waterfall! Entrance to the shops is free, but paid tours offer a unique experience into the world of chocolate making. It is one of the best things to do around Phillip Island.
Have Fun at A Maze’N Things: If you’re looking for fun family activities to do in Phillip Island, A Maze’N Things is a worthy stop. Filled with illusions, puzzles, mazes, magic and mini-golf, this theme park is loaded with outdoor activities and is one of the best things to do near Phillip Island.
Go Go-Karting at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit: Along with its impressive beaches and wildlife attractions, Phillip Island hosts an exhilarating Grand Prix circuit.
The Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix is held at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit each year. Adults and kids can ride like the pros on a 750-meter go-kart track meant to mimic the famous racing circuit.
Where To Stay In Phillip Island
Phillip Island has many great accommodation options scattered across the island. We always prefer to get the most out of our experience by staying somewhere unique and memorable. These hotels are in scenic locations with convenient access to the best Phillip Island attractions.
Oak Tree Lodge
Relax and unwind at a luxurious coastal escape set in a picturesque English garden at Oak Tree Lodge. Located in Rhyll, this bed and breakfast has four self-contained suites that have been elegantly designed for an ideal getaway.
It’s perfect for couples and is steps away from great restaurants like Outback Chef’s Wild Food Farm. It is one of the best places to visit near Phillip Island.
Set in 65 acres of bushland, the Ramada Resort is a beautiful escape close to many great things to do on Phillip Island. Conveniently located in Cowes, the Ramada has three swimming pools, an on-site restaurant, and a variety of villas, cabins, and studios.
It’s the perfect family getaway but also offers a relaxed setting for couples in suites with a peaceful outdoor deck.
Clifftop Boutique Accommodation
Perched on the cliffs overlooking Smiths Beach, Clifftop Boutique Accommodation is one of Phillip Island’s most luxurious hotels. Soak in a sparkling ocean view with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a National Surfing Reserve beach.
The hotel is surrounded by lush vegetation, has eight beautifully designed suites and offers access to fun things to do at Phillip Island.
Kaloha Holiday Resort
Centrally located in Cowes, the Kaloha Holiday Resort is Phillip Island’s tropical oasis. Dotted with palm trees, the hotel has a saltwater swimming pool and spa and is only a short walk from the beach.
There is an on-site restaurant along with a choice of rooms, beachfront cabins or campsites. Kaloha is close to all the fun Phillip Island attractions have to offer.
Best Restaurants In Phillip Island, Victoria
While enjoying your Phillip Island tours, you have access to delicious, locally sourced and harvested food.
Outback Chef’s Wild Food Farm
If you’re lusting for local meals, Outback Chef is the best place to try some of the best bushfoods in Phillip Island. Outback Chef started as a catering business that focused on infusing local herbs and spices into their dishes.
Today, the Outback Chef has expanded to a farm and on-site restaurant experience. The shop offers tea, nuts, and preserves, all proudly sourced in Victoria and surrounding areas. Visit the homestead cafe and take a guided tour of the native food trail. The farm is one of the best things to see on the island for a truly local experience.
Beach HQ Restaurant & Bar
Beach HQ offers the best waterfront dining in Cowes. The menu features a range of dishes highlighting Gippsland beef and local produce. Plus, their list of Gippsland wines and local ales is sure to complete any meal.
The Westernport Hotel
Located on the beach in San Remo, The Westernport Hotel features modern Australian pub food in a laid-back atmosphere. The menu is filled with local favourites from Victoria with a refreshing twist on the classics. Stop by on a weekend to catch live music and have a glass of Gippsland wine at the bar.
Phillip Island Winery
Dining at Phillip Island Winery is all about sharing delicious food with friends—with a glass of wine, of course. They craft mouthwatering charcuterie and vegetarian grazing boards that are perfect for sharing.
Their extensive wine list proudly showcases what Gippsland wines are all about!
The Cape Kitchen
Perched on the cliffs near Cape Woolamai, The Cape Kitchen is the ideal spot for oceanside local dining. The restaurant pairs sweeping views of the Southern Ocean with a thoughtfully prepared menu of regional cuisine.
All dishes feature seasonal produce from farms in Victoria with a great selection of delicious vegan options. We highly recommend their 2-3 course set lunch in Phillip Island!
Rusty Water Brewery Restaurant & Bar
Enjoy a seasonally inspired menu with local ingredients and hand-crafted ales at Rusty Water Restaurant & Bar. Using seasonal local produce, Rusty Water serves up a range of dishes, from light lunches to hearty dinners.
They offer vegetarian and vegan options and proudly serve a great selection of Gippsland wines. It’s a convenient lunch stop after seeing the koalas at the Conservation Reserve in Phillip Island.
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How Many Days Do You Need In Phillip Island?
You can easily explore the island and its attractions in 2-3 days, an ideal weekend getaway! While you can do a day trip to Phillip Island from Melbourne, it deserves a minimum of two days.
Have You Ever Visited Phillip Island? What Was The Highlight Of Your Trip?