1. Half Moon Bay, Melbourne
Half Moon Bay is iconic summer Australiana – a postcard pretty beach backed by the cliffs of Red Bluff. Sheltered from the weather, the ocean is mostly calm with minimal waves and middling depth – an ideal spot for beginner swimmers. Scrambling around the burnt orange cliffs will keep the kids entertained, and kayaks are available for rent. You’ll just have to keep an eye out for sailboats… and the shipwreck of the HMVS Cerberus.
How To Get There: Sandringham Train Station, 20km from Melbourne CBD
2. Elwood Beach
You name it, Elwood Beach has it. A no-boating zone for safe swimming and a wide sandy bay? Check and check. BBQs and picnicking facilities? You got it. Cycling paths if you’re so inclined? Definitely. Of course, it gets major brownie points for being a mere 20 minute drive out of Melbourne’s CBD. No wonder this bay is a family favourite!
How To Get There: Elsternwick Train Station, 11km from Melbourne CBD
3. Seaford, Melbourne
Seaford is one of those rare Melbourne gems with the best of both worlds. Hovering on the fringe of Mornington, Seaford has the pristine water of Victoria’s far flung beaches but is still an easy train ride from the city. The ocean is calm, with sandbars running parallel to shore that pop up at low tide. And if you’re feeling peckish, grab a spot at the beach cafe – its vantage point over the bay can’t be beat.
How To Get There: Seaford Train Station, 52km from Melbourne CBD
4. Middle Park Beach
You’d never realise you were just down the road from St Kilda – Middle Park somehow manages to escape the throngs at the popular Melbourne beach while remaining completely accessible. Just a 15 minute drive from Melbourne CBD, this sandy stretch boasts the historic Kerford Pier, playgrounds and cafes galore, making it the perfect family destination.
How To Get There: Middle Park Tram Stop, 6km from Melbourne CBD
The quiet beach-side suburb of Hampton is a 30 minute drive from the CBD. With safe waters suited to swimming, cliff points with panoramic views and 17km arts trail celebrating Melbourne’s coastline and the artists paint it, Hampton beach proves an easy bayside getaway.
How To Get There: Hampton Train Station, 16km from Melbourne CBD
6. The Pillars, Mornington Peninsula
Arriving at The Pillars, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d suddenly teleported to the South of France. A once secluded and now immensely popular spot in Mount Martha, the sandstone rocks present the perfect setup for a day at the beach. Whether it’s suntanning, leaping off the cliffs into the cool blue water, or exploring pockets of marine life hidden in the rock pools below, The Pillars have you covered.
How To Get There: Mount Martha, 80km from Melbourne CBD
7. Blairgowrie Jumping Rock, Mornington Peninsula
A worthy alternative to The Pillars, Bridgewater Bay is situated a little further down Mornington Peninsula. The beach itself is dotted with beautiful rock pools in a myriad of blues, but the real attraction is a single sandstone rock. Blairgowrie Jumping Rock towers above a natural plunge pool – and Melburnians aren’t about to turn down an open invitation. Over the years this spot has become an institution for cliff-jumping. With several rocky levels to choose from, it’s perfect for testing your limits before taking the plunge from the very top. Now check that off your bucket list!
How To Get There: Blairgowrie, 106km from Melbourne CBD
8. Bushranger Bay, Mornington Peninsula
Dishing up just the right mix of serene and adventurous, Bushranger Bay really hits the spot. It’s a beautiful golden cove surrounded by craggy cliffs and basalt spires, so ready your (waterproof) camera for panoramic views of the wild coastline. The sea isn’t the best for swimming, being choppier than most, so Bushranger is really more for picnicking, dipping in and out of rock pools, and the occasional round of cricket. To get there involves a scenic hike – this winding coastal track continues on past the bay to the historic Cape Schanck lighthouse. But save the second half for later, because beach is priority numero uno.
How To Get There: Cape Schanck, 109km from Melbourne CBD
9. Ocean Grove, Bellarine Peninsula
With gentle rolling waves and broad sandbars, Ocean Grove is the perfect surfing spot for beginners. Its wide surf zone allows ample room to practice, plus you can enjoy a long ride back to shore sheltered from the south-westernly winds. Framed a white wooden boardwalk and lovely little cafe with ocean views, it’s a charming alternative to the neighbouring Barwon Heads, where conditions are more suited to surfing experts.
How To Get There: Ocean Grove, 98km from Melbourne CBD
10. Woolamai Beach, Phillip Island
Embrace the wilds of the Bass Strait at the highest point of Phillip Island. Surging waves meet ancient granite spires… Cape Woolmai paints quite the panorama. But for experienced surfers, Woolmai is more than just a photo-op – it boasts some of the best surf breaks in the state. So brave the glacial waters (preferably at high tide) and treat yourself after at the Surf Life Saving Club cafe.
How To Get There: Cape Woolamai, 129km from Melbourne CBD