Just a short 90-minute drive from Melbourne, Phillip Island has a lot going for it besides the incredible motorcycle Grand Prix circuit and its adorable penguin community. Stunning beaches, coastal hikes and exquisite local food offerings are enough to keep anyone coming back weekend after weekend. Here’s how to spend a few days on the island, be it in the sand, surf or on land.
1. Hike Cape Woolamai
Head to Cape Woolamai to check out one of the most popular surf beaches in Australia, and to take in the scenery. If you’re feeling adventurous, head out on a coastal hike along the pink granite cliffs to the top of the cape, where you’ll get a picture postcard view back along the sparkling coastline.
2. Learn some history at Churchill Island Heritage Farm
Churchill Island sits just off the shore of Phillip Island but holds a special mark in the area’s history. It was the site of the first European agricultural pursuits in Victoria and is now a historic working farm with restored farmhouse and cottages, that gives visitors a glimpse into the early lives of Australian settlers.
246 Samuel Amess Dr, Churchill Island
3. Head on an Antarctic Journey
Facing out onto the Southern Ocean, Nobbies Centre features an interactive experience for all the family. The multimedia installation will take you on a real-world sensory trip across the Antarctic, all the way to the great southern continent. An augmented reality feature can also show you standing on an ice sheet petting a penguin or stroking a seal.
320 Ventnor Rd, Summerlands
4. Laze about Summerland Beach
Summerland Beach isn’t only a place for quirky animal encounters, it’s also one of the most picturesque beaches on the island. It’s a famed surfing spot that introduced surfing on the island in the 1920s, and thanks to its flat sandy bottom it’s also a haven for day swimmers.
5. Watch the playful penguins
Each night at sunset, the colony of little penguins come to shore after a day out fishing in the ocean – and believe us, there’s nothing better than ending your day watching these majestic creatures march their way into shore. The main penguin parade viewing area is at Summerland Beach and has tiered seating, providing a breathtaking 180-degree view of the beach below. There's also the Penguin Plus experience and underground viewing platforms for an close-up view.
The Cape Kitchen is an Instagram haven, and it’s suitably located at the gateway to the island, in the town of Newhaven. The floor-to-ceiling windows provide breathtaking views of the southern coastline and the wholesome food is just as beautiful. The menu and the restaurant is designed with sharing in mind and highlights the best seasonal local and Victorian produce.
215 Phillip Island Rd, Newhaven
2. G-Day Tiger
Bringing a little taste of Melbourne over to Phillip Island, Jonathan Bentley and Claudio Fumagalli’s urban-chic café G-Day Tiger is a haven for coffee lovers. With polished concrete benchtops, exposed bricks and rustic plywood furniture, this slick café has Melbourne written all over it. A local gem that’s proving popular among visitors, hole up for world-class coffee and their sensational selection of moreish sandwiches.
3/34 Thompson Ave, Cowes
For kids and sweet tooths alike. The café and restaurant at the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory showcase the best chocolates around. Head chocolatier Panny will tantalise the taste buds with a selection of sweet treats, including his famous chocolate fondue. You can also indulge in hours of chocolate making fun – there’s even a chocolate waterfall and a hands-on chocolate making machine. Tempted much?
930 Phillip Island Rd, Newhaven
Run by the Fumagalli family, this popular island restaurant has been serving up quality Italian food – along with its adjoining gelateria – for over 27 years. The restaurant is BYO, so it's the perfect place to enjoy, antipasti, pizza or pasta, all year round.
2 Thompson Ave, Cowes
This airy, industrial-styled café has a laid-back beachy vibe, making it the perfect pit stop to perk up with a cuppa. There’s also a courtyard dotted with herbs and fruit trees, and a dedicated kids’ play area.
117 Marine Parade, San Remo
Ocean Reach Brewery is one of the first brewers to actually brew their handcrafted ales and ciders on the island. The golden nectar is brewed and poured at their brewpub in the centre of Cowes in a compact operation. The owners have a special philosophy: “made on the island, for the island”, using only the freshest, locally sourced ingredients, combining them with a passion for craft beer.
47 Thompson Ave, Cowes VIC
Also located in the heart of Cowes is the Grenache Wine Bar, a one-stop shop for wine lovers. The cellar door/wine bar space has an elegant atmosphere lovingly created by local owners Jerome & Shelley. Depending on the weather, you can take a seat at the front windows and watch the street go by or hunker down at the back by the fireplace.
55a Thompson Ave, Cowes
Gippsland is fast becoming known as one of Australia’s premier wine regions, so whilst visiting the island, why not stop into the Phillip Island Winery, where food, wine, and a little extra are all on the menu? The exquisite cellar door has wines and ciders available for tasting and to take away. While you’re there, be sure to visit ‘The Yards’ – the island's go-to florist.
414 Berrys Beach Rd, Ventnor
There are a number of traditional caravan parks and camping sites on the island, but if you want to take it up a notch, book a few nights with Phillip Island Glamping. The glamping team will set up your spacious bell tent at one of the caravan parks or camping spots and deck it out with plush queen size air beds, blankets, linen, heaters and kitchen appliances. All you need to bring is your beach towel and you’re set for the entire weekend.
Optional locations around the island
Prices start from $150 per night (2 people)
Set high on the hills above San Remo, Silverwater Resort is the ideal place to spend a day or two, whilst enjoying the range of onsite activities. Heated lap pool, outdoor pool, tennis courts, spa and steam room are all available to enjoy, and there’s also a divine restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating with views out onto Phillip Island below. After arriving, you won’t even need to leave.
17 Potters Hill Rd, San Remo
Nightly rates range from $200-400 per night
2128 Phillip Island Rd, Cowes VIC
Nightly rates range from $130-$300 per night
Phillip Island has a rich history, so it seems only fitting to book a few nights at the historic Glen Isla House. The charming homestead features three different rooms types, all with modern conveniences to make your stay a pleasurable one. We recommend the heritage suite which is a part of the original homestead, and includes a mahogany four-poster bed, a gas log fireplace and a large corner spa bath. If you like a swim, the beach is just a short stroll from the back gate.
230 Church St, Cowes
Nightly rates range from $250-$450 per night
Sleeping up to 12 guests, Chapel Island Retreat is the perfect beach escape for a large family or friends’ weekend away. Located just a stone’s throw from the town of Cowes, this seaside sanctuary has modern, spacious rooms and living spaces, and has a fully fenced garden so the kids can run around and play without too much worry.
6 Chapel Street, Phillip Island VIC
Price on request