The Nine Best Coastal Walks Near Melbourne
It's time to get off of the couch and onto the coast.
You can walk to the shops. You can walk to work. But no walk will feed your soul quite like a walk by the water. And your soul should be pizza-party-level full with the number of walks around Melbourne featuring stellar water views.
These nine coastal walks have it all — wild scrub, picturesque paths, hidden lagoons and even a few well-placed pubs. Some hikes can be blitzed in an hour, while the Great Ocean Road track can go for eight full days. Here's your guide to a huge summer's worth of active leisure.
Some of the beaches on this list are not patrolled by lifeguards. To ensure you stay safe, head over to Tourism Australia for its latest tips on water safety.
TIDAL RIVER TO WHISKY BAY, WILSONS PROMONTORY
A much-loved playground for nature lovers, Wilsons Promontory National Park is packed full of scenic hikes, including plenty of ocean-kissing coastal treks. And you'll spy some of its best angles along the trails between the Tidal River footbridge, Picnic Bay, Squeaky Beach and Whisky Bay. It's a fairly easy hike, clocking in at about six kilometres return, that'll see you rolling along river banks, pristine beaches and picturesque headland tracks. There's a stunning lookout located at Pillar Point, and at the legendary Squeaky Beach you can have fun making noises with the fine quartz sand. Tidal River is a three-hour drive from Melbourne so it's easily doable as a day trip, but if you'd like to turn it into an overnighter, the area also has a stellar campground.
GREAT OCEAN WALK, GREAT OCEAN ROAD
The heritage-listed Great Ocean Road is a famously stunning drive, but you can experience its beauty from a different perspective, with a trek along the Great Ocean Walk. While the full seven-day trail is probably a bit much for some, it does encompass a bunch of different smaller stretches, with distances and terrain to suit just about any level of walking skill. Choose from routes like the seven-kilometre track between Castle Cove and Johanna — which promises plenty of beach, a hidden lagoon and even the odd peregrine falcon sighting — and the final, most western 16-kilometre portion (about five hours of walking) offering primo views of the world-famous 12 Apostles.
THE COASTAL WALK, MORNINGTON PENINSULA
You won't find a much more breathtaking way to work off all that Mornington Peninsula winery-hopping than a jaunt along The Coastal Walk — a famous beachside trail linking the Cape Schanck Lighthouse and Point Nepean National Park. Thirty kilometres in total, it's made up of a variety of different smaller walks, so you can choose your own adventure as far as length and terrain goes. Expect a mix of sandy beachfront, coastal scrub, gravel tracks and rugged coastline, with a number of lookouts providing picture-perfect panoramas. Hot tip: if you walk in the direction of Point Nepean, you're in for some extra special views up the Bass Strait coast.
GEORGE BASS COASTAL WALK, BASS COAST
If you're after a walking trail that boasts buckets of solitude and serenity, consider the George Bass Coastal Walk a winner. This one will take you through seven kilometres of grassy cliff-top curves and secluded beaches, sweeping from the outer edges of San Remo through to the Bass Highway. It's also one to delight your inner history buff, following the coastal route that explorer George Bass took over 200 years ago. The whole trail is doable in about two hours and it even comes with a nice little reward at the finish line, in the form of a cold pint and pub feed at the Kilcunda Ocean View Hotel.
CAPE WOOLAMAI BEACON WALK, PHILLIP ISLAND
The Cape Woolamai Beacon Walk puts you up close and personal with the picturesque southern tip of Phillip Island. Starting and finishing at the Cape Woolamai Surf Lifesaving Club car park, there are three different loops to choose from, ranging from a two-hour, four-kilometre stretch, through to the full 6.6-kilometre trail, which takes around 3.5 hours to complete. It's an easygoing track with manageable surfaces and minimal glute-burning hills, though the panoramic views from the top — the island's highest point — are sure to have you whipping out your phone quick-smart. Expect soaring clifftops and a possible sighting of some of the area's cutest feathered residents — the short-tailed shearwater.
BAYSIDE COASTAL ART TRAIL, BRIGHTON
With an easel in hand and a stretched canvas, many famous Australian artists have captured the spectacular southern Melbourne coastline in their work. Boasting endless sea, red cliffs and hidden rock coves, it is the perfect art destination for painters. The Bayside City Council now highlights more than 40 talented creatives and their works along the 17-kilometre coastal walk from Brighton to Beaumaris, including Arthur Boyd and Frederick McCubbin. Don your sun hat and get ready to be inspired while you stroll.
BUSHRANGERS BAY WALKING TRAIL, MORNINGTON PENINSULA
The Cape Schanck lighthouse once guided ships safely on this dangerous stretch of coastal shore along the Mornington Peninsula; now the 150-year-old building greets sprightly walkers traversing the salty track. Launching from the Cape Schanck carpark, the 2.6-kilometre Bushrangers Bay Trail — supposedly named after two escaped convicts — follows along the jagged rocks through banksia grove. Along the way, you'll spot hermit crabs in the passing rock pools, lots of birds above and possibly a kangaroo or two in the clearings.
SURF COAST WALK, GREAT OCEAN ROAD
The Surf Coast Walk is a 44-kilometre track connecting the towns of Torquay, Anglesea and Aireys Inlet. You don't have to cover all of it at once, either — just pick a section that suits you. The walk is one-way, so you'll need to car-shuffle, arrange a lift or jump on a local bus. Some sections weave along the beach, so we recommend leaving early in the morning before high tide. This walk is ideal for beginners, though probably not as well suited to those who hike for seclusion. Nonetheless, you will score some astounding ocean views, have multiple cafe options come lunchtime and be able to take a rewarding dip in the ocean at the end of your trek.
HOBSONS BAY COASTAL TRAIL
Teaming architecture, history and art with some idyllic water views, the Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail offers more than just a healthy dose of Mother Nature. In total, this 23-kilometre stretch runs from near the Westgate Bridge, all the way east to Skeleton Creek by Sanctuary Lakes, with most of that set right on the water. You can tackle it without too much effort by foot or on a bike, and there's plenty to occupy your mind along the way. Keep an eye out for trail markers offering local information, significant historic buildings and a slew of public artworks, including Pauline Fraser's Seaborn — a collection of bronze and steel structures standing guard over Altona Pier. If you want to lock in a spot for a rest and refuel, Sebastian Beach Grill & Bar is located right next to the track, around 7.6 kilometres from Westgate Bridge.
Top image: Cape Schanck Boardwalk by Derek Ross for Visit Victoria.
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