After you drive 1.5 hours south from Melbourne and hop over the bridge at San Remo, you’ll find Phillip Island.
Boasting amazing scenery, wild coastline and the opportunity to see native Australian wildlife in their natural habitats.
There’s a tonne of activities to do here, great accommodation, food and oh, did we mention the beaches?
Surrounded by beautiful beaches you’ll find something for everyone on Phillip Island. Everything from great surf spots, family-friendly areas, safe swimming zones and suitable dog beaches to the wild, rugged stretches of coast over on the western side of the island.
Spend enough time exploring the beaches here and who knows, you may even find some our of secret beaches… But we can’t give those ones away!
Let’s explore some of the best beaches on Phillip Island…
The Best Beaches on Phillip Island
Because the area has such an abundance of amazing beaches, it’s actually very hard to narrow it down to the best ones.
Ask any local and they’ll probably have their own personal list… but here are some of the best and most popular beaches our island has to offer.
Located in the South-East of the island, Cape Woolamai is one of the first beaches you’ll come to after crossing the bridge.
A long stretch of golden sand, with the Cape Woolamai Headland providing an iconic backdrop. (Which by the way, is an incredible walk if you get the chance).
Popular with both local and surfers from around Victoria. Woolamai can offer incredible surf when the swells right. However, being exposed to large swells, the area can be very dangerous for beginner surfers, with strong rips and powerful waves.
So it’s one best left to the experts.
Cape Woolamai has two car parks (ANZACS and Second Car Park), with the latter providing beach facilities and lifeguard patrol during the summer.
You can find out more about the safest time to swim here.
Smiths Beach is one of the most popular beaches on Phillip Island.
Perhaps the most family-friendly beach in the area and a great place to take the kids to the beach, learn to surf or just enjoy the day relaxing.
Situated at the heart of the island, Smiths has lifeguards during the summer, a beach cafe and is home to Island Surfboards and Surf Scool.
A small beach that has so much to offer truly makes this one of the best Island beaches.
However, on a hot summers day, it does attract crowds.
Being the main town on Phillip Island, it’s often surprising to some, that Cowes has a beach at all.
However, Cowes beach is beautiful and one of the most pleasurable beaches to spend time at during the summer.
Because of its location, on the Island’s north coast, the small stretch of sand is often protected from prevailing south-westerly winds. Meaning you can hide away and soak up the sun even on windier days.
The beach is also safe for swimming, is patrolled by lifeguards in summer and is super close to restaurants, bars and cafes in Cowes centre…
Just around the corner from Smiths beach lies YCW. At low tide, the two beaches are actually joined together with some interesting rock pools to separate them.
Because Its neighbour Smith’s is so popular, YC is sometimes overlooked by visitors.
Meaning you can get this beach to yourself (or with significantly fewer people) a lot more often than you think.
Like Smiths, it’s a great place to learn to surf and is a beautiful somewhat protected bay at the centre of Phillip Island.
Kitty Miller Bay
If you head out towards the western end of the Island (just before you reach Penguin Parade) you’ll reach Kitty Miller Bay.
Because of the rock formations that lie just out the back of the bay, large waves are broken up and dissipate before they reach the shore here.
At high tide, the water fills the bay and creates a lagoon inside of the breaking waves, making Kittys a great family-friendly option.
Just a short walk around the headland, you may even find the Shipwreck. The S.S Speke was shipwrecked here in 1906 and the remains are clearly visible today!
Summerlands Beach (Penguin Parade)
Summerland’s is one of Phillip Island most famous beaches.
You’ve likely heard of Penguin Parade, but Summerlands is the correct name of the beach.
The beach itself is a long bay, fairly exposed to surf as it is located at the west of the Island and is only open to the public during the day, the gate is then closed to the beach at dusk.
This is to allow the penguins to come in for the night. If you’re on Phillip Island, seeing the penguins is a must-do and you can get up really close to them among the boardwalks.
You can find out more and grab your tickets here.
Situated in the ‘Surf Beach’ area, Forrest Caves is a beautiful stretch of golden sand with fantastic news back to the Cape from the top…
Contrasting the golden sand, are the striking red rocks at the eastern end of the beach. This is where you’ll find the caves, which is a great way to spend a few hours exploring.
Just be sure to check the tide times and head down there at low tide. This way you can actually go inside the caves.
The Best Surf Beaches on Phillip Island
Phillip Island has some of Australia’s most consistent surf conditions and is a great place to be a surfer, whether you’re a beginner or have been surfing for years.
A very consistent stretch of beach, at the eastern end of the island.
The waves are rarely flat here, and the surf never even gets below head high. Fantastic for advanced surfers but not the best option if you’re still learning.
Although during the summer, Woolamai does have lifeguard patrol, the waves can still be very powerful with super-strong rip currents. So if you’re not a strong swimmer or experienced surfer, stick to the sand here.
As a beginner, you can’t beat smiths beach! A somewhat protected bay means the waves are often smaller there than the rest of the island.
You can also hire equipment or grab a lesson from the guys at Island Surf School.
An extremely popular right-hand point break out to the west of Philip Island.
A spot for advanced surfers only, that offers long walls a surfer can ride from the top of the point all the way into shore. Perhaps a 150-metre ride on its day.
Another very popular point break.
Situated in the surf beach area of Phillip Island, ‘Surfies’ has become synonyms with surfing on the island.
The wave itself is a very forgiving, soft right-hand point break that attracts both intermediate and advanced surfers. This spot gets very crowded and is especially popular with older surfers.
Cat Bay (Shelley Beach)
Heading out west again, cat bay is a very user-friendly patch of beach/reef popular with beginners, Intermediates and surfers riding longboards.
Cat Bay is often protected when the wind is coming from the South and works when the exposed south coast is massive and blown out.
Summary Of Phillip Island’s Best Beaches
To summarise this guide of the Islands best beaches, it’s very important to know your own swimming/surfing ability and be very careful when using the ocean.
Always follow the advice of the lifeguards and swim between the flags.
The beaches on Phillip Island are beautiful and plentiful and if visiting the beach is one of the reasons you’re coming here, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Phillip Island Beaches Map
Island Beach FAQ's
Yes there are patrolled beaches on Phillip Island, but only during the summer months. Cape Woolamai, Smiths Beach and Cowes Beach are patrolled.
Yes, there are some dog friendly beaches on Phillip Island. These include; Surf Beach, Crazy Brids, Cowes Foreshore, Smiths Beach and YCW.
Phillip Island has plenty of family friendly beaches, with the best being; Smiths Beach, Cowes and Kitty Miller
12, but the island is surrounded by beaches, so with a bit of searching, you’ll find there are a lot more than just 12. There are a few secret beaches on Phillip Island, you’ve just got to be prepared to find them...
Yes! All beaches are currently open, although safe COVID-19 behaviour should be practiced.