Welcome To Australia’s Little Slice Of Heaven! Mornington Peninsula Will Have You Coming Back Time And Time Again.
Mornington Peninsula is located an hour south-east of Melbourne, Australia and is home to stunning coastlines and charming seaside towns. Since Hannah was born, I have made it a family tradition to go at least once a year during long weekends and school holidays. We especially love travelling to the peninsula with friends and we typically rent a big house with 2-3 other families.
Despite having been there on so many occasions, we always seem to discover new gems and things to do. I suppose with Hannah growing up we’re able to indulge in different activities over the years so I always feel like we’re uncovering new adventures. It is simply not possible for me to cover everything one could do in a single post so I’m only going to dedicate this article to tips and ideas for outdoor adventures for the whole family.
MORNINGTON PENINSULA OUTDOOR ACTIVITY #1
Beach. The beaches and water conditions of the peninsula is entirely dictated by whether you’re on the Port Phillip Bay, Western Port Bay, or the Bass Strait side of the peninsula. For calmer, shallower waters that sometimes resembles a massive swimming pool, head to the foreshores at Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay. This would include foreshores such as Flinders, Rosebud, Sorrento, and Mount Martha. The waters here don’t tend to get very deep for quite a few meters out so you have a larger playing field, so to speak. Hannah grew up on these foreshores and I always felt very safe in being able to keep an eye on her easily as she splashed and sand castled her way.
If you’re looking for waves, head to the ocean side of the peninsula as the wild waters of the Bass Strait is perfect for the avid surfer. As Hannah has gained much more confidence in the water, she much prefers to head this side as she now finds the foreshore “boring”. Also known as the back beaches, these were our sunset spots too as we often take the kids to watch the sun dip below the horizon as they wade their toes in the white froth of the crashing waves. It really is stunning and I never tire of its beauty. It’s the most picturesque way to end the day.
MORNINGTON PENINSULA OUTDOOR ACTIVITY #2
Surfing, Kite Surfing, and Boogie Boarding. On the ocean side of the peninsula, you can find the calmer surf at Sorrento right through to the fierce waves near Gunnamatta. It’s the perfect shoreline to suit wave catchers of all levels. If you’re looking for consistent breaks, head to Portsea, Sorrento, and Flinders. Our personal favourite spot is Point Leo. It has plenty of parking, open space to lay out the boards, wetsuits, or any gear you may find cumbersome and most importantly it is patrolled by the Point Leo Surf Life Saving Club.
If you’re a camping family, consider the Point Leo Foreshore Park and Reserve which will put you within walking distance of the water. And if you’re keen on getting some surf lessons, East Coast Surf School is your best bet.
If you would like some kite boarding lessons, you’ll have to head to the Rosebud foreshore to catch the Northerly winds. Go Kite will teach you in waist high water to ensure a safe and hassle free learning environment. For the advance kite surfers, the ocean side will surely satiate your appetite for airborne acrobatics!
MORNINGTON PENINSULA OUTDOOR ACTIVITY #3
Dolphins and Seals. The best months to get out on the boat to see some Bottlenose and Common Dolphins and Australian Fur Seals are between the months of September and May. That is when they are in the Southern regions of Port Phillip Bay. You can choose to snorkel underwater and hope to swim with dolphins and seals or you can choose to admire them in comfort aboard the boat charters.
There are a couple of charters that leave from the Sorrento pier and a tour typically takes about 3 to 4 hours. It is recommended that you take the morning tour due to the heavier traffic of other boats and jet skis out on the water. Both Moonraker Charters and Polperro come highly recommended.
We have yet to go on this tour as we feel Hannah is not strong enough to snorkel in the ocean. It is however definitely on the cards and yet another peninsula adventure to look forward to in the later years.
MORNINGTON PENINSULA OUTDOOR ACTIVITY #4
Tree Surfing, Zip Lining & Tube Sliding. The Enchanted Maze in Arthurs Seat, is one of Hannah’s happiest places. We have been coming here for years and she never seems to tire of what it has to offer. Every time we go I always feel like she’s discovering it for the first time and we love how excited she gets. The Enchanted Maze is home to Mornington Peninsula’s tree surfing, the Big Zip and tube sliding. On top of that, it has beautiful gardens, bordered hedge mazes, 3D human sized puzzles and a canopy walk.
According to The Enchanted Maze it “offers an unforgettable Tree-top climbing tour activity for both adults and children alike with over 50 aerial obstacles, bridges and 5 zip-lines linked to tree-based platforms up to 10m high. The Grand course offers 5 different levels of challenges, giant Tarzan swing and rock climbing wall. There is also a separate Nippers course for kids under 135cm.”. For Hannah’s birthday just gone, Andrew did the tree surfing with her and she hovered between sheer excitement, adrenaline, pure fun and trepidation by the obstacles as well as the increased level of difficulty in the obstacles. It’s a highly popular activity so please book in advance to avoid disappointment.
And after a massive round of tree surfing, there is no better way to end the day than to head to the tube slides. Your general admission ticket into the garden will give you free access to the tube slides. There are six slides to choose from: 3 Big Twisters, 2 Straight Giants and 1 kids only slide. Children under 5 can sit with a parent on a big tube whilst the little ones can head to the kids only slide. Soooo much good wholesome fun!!!
Oh and because it’s essentially a garden, feel free to bring a picnic and secure yourself a good spot.
MORNINGTON PENINSULA OUTDOOR ACTIVITY #5
Watersport. With the ever changing coastline, there is an abundance of water activities you can indulge in. You can go sea kayaking, boating, sailing, snorkelling and diving. The shallow reefs and deep walls provide for a massive water playground for learners, intermediate and advanced adventurers. If you don’t have any equipment or mode of transport, check out Bayplay for all your needs. Here you’ll be able to not only hire what you need but they also run tours and take group bookings if you prefer to be guided on your day out.
MORNINGTON PENINSULA OUTDOOR ACTIVITY #6
Fishing. This is a great activity for the whole family. If you simply want to relax and fish off a pier, you can do so in Mornington, Dromana, Rosebud, Rye or Sorrento. Good starting point for young kids to get a feel for hook, line and sinker. If you would like to try surf fishing, there are plenty of charters you can hop on. The Snapper season is from October to May and you can certainly try your luck out at Western Port or Port Phillip Bay.
MORNINGTON PENINSULA OUTDOOR ACTIVITY #7
Paddle Boarding. The calm waters of the Port Philip Bay side of the peninsula is the perfect spot for a bit of paddle boarding. Both the Rye and Rosebud foreshores are our favourite places to visit as we watch the kids glide across the shallow waters. For beginners, it certainly doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. Hannah tried it for the first time last year when she was 8 and she didn’t fall in once.
If you need to hire stand up paddle boards, check out Mornington Boat Hire who services the Mornington Harbour.
MORNINGTON PENINSULA OUTDOOR ACTIVITY #8
Horse Riding. There is no better way to experience the peninsula than on horseback as you discover it through spectacular beaches or coastal bushland. Gunnamatta Trail Rides have been offering Horseback riding in the vicinity for over 30 years and they are certainly your best bet.
They offer Early Bird, St. Andrews and Sunset rides on the beach but there is a minimum age of 10 years. If you have younger children 6 years and above, they can enjoy the Truemans Bush Ride for 50 minutes and are suitable for beginners.
MORNINGTON PENINSULA OUTDOOR ACTIVITY #9
Rock pools. London Bridge, Portsea and Flinders Ocean Beach and Mushroom Reef are home to some of the best rock pool spots on the peninsula. Our favourite spot however can be found at Bridgewater Way in the back beaches of Blairgowrie. The best time to visit is during low tides so that the water recedes far back enough to expose the myriad of rock pools. Some of the pools are deep enough to even have a dip in or one can simply bathe in the shallower turquoise waters.
There is some dedicated parking at the entrance. Follow the path until you come to an open expanse of breathtaking views below. Well-built stairs provide for easy access whilst you search for a spot on the pristine sand to spend the next few hours. The kids loved searching for hidden sea life within the nooks and crannies of the rocks whilst the adults enjoyed being enveloped by the sandstone cliffs.
MORNINGTON PENINSULA OUTDOOR ACTIVITY #10
Cycling. One of the easiest ways to explore the peninsula is on your bike. If you’re keen to just go for a quick ride around the neighbourhood, be weary that you’re most likely riding on a shared road with cars and pedestrians. Be sure to hug the sides of the rode and it would be handy to have a bell to let people know you’re passing. The roads also tend to be undulating and filled with twists and turns so if you’re not a confident rider, you might prefer to head to a dedicated bike trail.
There are plenty of cycling trails to select from. In fact, you’re quite spoilt for choice. Here are some bike trails that may interest you:
- Mornington Rail Trail – Starting at the Mornington Railway Station, this trail follows the old Mornington Railway all the way to the Railway Preservation Society.
- Portsea to Sorrento Tail – A little bit more difficult, this section of the Bay Trail highlights the gorgeous part of the Mornington Peninsula between the Portsea and Sorrento Piers.
- Rosebud Bay Trail – Ride along the pathways and boardwalk on Rosebud Foreshore
- Frankston foreshore – Explore the Frankston Waterfront on the 3m wide, raised timber boardwalk.
- Peninsula Link Trail – If you’re looking for a massive ride, you can head down to the shared path of the 25km Peninsula Link freeway.
MORNINGTON PENINSULA OUTDOOR ACTIVITY #11
Strawberry Picking. If you’re in the Mornington Peninsula from November to April, head to Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm in Main Ridge. This is a suitable activity for every member of the family, especially if you’re travelling with toddlers and grandparents. It’s a self-picking activity of which you can eat as you pick and you’re entitled to take one punnet home (you must be able to close the lid or you’ll be charged extra.) I remember when we took Hannah when she was so little and she loved finding them hidden amongst the leaves and soil. She would just stand in the middle of the row and just devour them.
The strawberries here are super sweet and occasionally, we find massive ones of which you should eat those as it takes up too much space in the punnet! Sunny Ridge also boasts a lovely shop where you can pick up jams, syrups, freeze dried raspberries and strawberries, chocolates, and gorgeous gifts.
MORNINGTON PENINSULA OUTDOOR ACTIVITY #12
Walks. If it’s one thing the Mornington Peninsula isn’t short of is walking trails. Whether you’re hugging the coastline or exploring the inner hinterlands, you’ll certainly never complain it isn’t picturesque enough. Here are some of the more popular ones which you can do in its entirety if you’re serious walkers or just partway to stretch those legs and take in some fresh air.
- Point Nepean Walk – 8km one way and is a gentle trail through the Moonah bushlands of the Point Nepean National Park.
- The Bay Trail – This trail is 28km one way from the Portsea and Sorrento right through to the foreshore at Rosebud.
- The Coastal Walk – Not for the faint hearted, this walk is 30km one way from Cape Schanck to London Bridge at Portsea.
So as you can see, there are a plethora of activities you can engage in and this is one of the many reasons we keep going back. Or you can just be lazy and sit on the beach every day and enjoy the water. If ever you’re in Melbourne, do try and allocate a couple of days or even make a day trip to explore the region. I promise you won’t regret it!
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