A Mornington Peninsula day trip wasn’t part of our plan when we initially organised our weekend to Melbourne. With rain forecasted and my reduced mobility for that weekend (using crutches), we decided to forget about the Grampians and Wilsons Promontory and pick something closer. Although I’m not glad I hurt my foot, I’m thankful it pushed us to organise a day trip to the Mornington Peninsula.
I had always underrated this region. A Mornington Peninsula road trip is a fantastic day away from Melbourne.
The coast is fantastic, and you can even alternate the beach with the wineries. This perfect combo reminded me of the Margaret River region in Western Australia.
A day trip isn’t enough to visit everything the Mornington Peninsula offers. It can make a lovely weekend getaway from Melbourne. But less than 1.5 hrs from the heart of the city, the Mornington Peninsula is easy to access even just for a short trip.
Our Mornington Peninsula Day Trip Itinerary
Among all the possible day trips around Melbourne, we chose the Mornington Peninsula for the many wheelchair accessible paths. Despite the crutches, I wanted to enjoy the beauty of the coast and spend as much time as possible outside during our Mornington Peninsula day trip. We already toured the wineries of the Yarra Valley the day before, so we preferred to focus on the coast for this second trip away from Melbourne.
We opted for several short coastal walks to beautiful lookouts around the tip of the Mornington Peninsula National Park:
1. London Bridge
The most northern beach of the Mornington Peninsula National Park is stunning. The lookout to the spectacular sand formation is an easy and flat 200-metre walk return. The beach lookout isn’t much further from the carpark, but with a small gradient. You can also explore both at sea level to see the lines and patterns created by the erosion from up close.
If you can plan to be there at low tide, it will reveal the terraces near the London Bridge, with beautiful contrasts and the waves crashing on it.
We also climbed the stairs to the Farnsworth Track to reach the first lookout (700 metres return). I’d have loved to do a full loop by reaching the next lookout on the cliffs and coming back near the water (approx. 4km). But considering my foot condition, it wasn’t reasonable.
2. Sorrento Back Beach
If you want to swim safely on the ocean side of the Mornington Peninsula, Sorento Back Beach is your best option. The best views are from Coppins Lookout, but only those who don’t mind the stairs will get all the way up there.
You may want to time your visit to relax at the beachfront All Smiles café. It has one of the best views you could dream of.
If you’re not there for swimming or having a break at the cafe, you may want to head straight to Diamond Bay. I found both beaches quite similar, but Diamond Bay was empty.
3. Diamond Bay / Mount St Paul
After checking out Diamond Bay, we followed the Tuckey Track that led us to the St Paul lookout with fantastic 360-degree views of the Mornington Peninsula. It was steeper than most of the other walks we did, but the terrain was easy and well maintained. The stunning views of both sides of the peninsula were worth the effort.
4. Spray Point
You may think you’ve seen enough coastal landscapes at that point. Well, don’t skip this last one. I could have spent hours sitting on the cliffs at Spray Point watching the giant waves crashing on the rock pools or lifting the surfers.
What you can add to your Mornington Peninsula Day Trip Itinerary
With only one day and limited and slowed down by the crutches, we couldn’t visit everything on the Mornington Peninsula. If I was planning this road trip again without the crutches, I’d choose a couple of things from this list below to add to the itinerary:
You have time to add wine tasting and lunch at a winery on the road trip itinerary. You can view a map of all the wineries in the region here. Australian wineries are often a great lunch spot – even for those who aren’t wine lovers.
Cape Schanck Lighthouse
Don’t you think lighthouses always have the best viewpoints?
If you love lighthouses as much as I do, Cape Schanck Lighthouse is a must-do. But with my injured foot, hopping up in the spiral stairs didn’t sound like a good idea. So I will have to organise another day trip to the Mornington Peninsula to tick this lighthouse off my list!
Point Nepean National Park
If you want to learn more about History while discovering one of the most beautiful coastal landscape in the region, head to Point Nepean at the tip of the Mornington Peninsula.
The best way to start your visit is with a stop at the information centre at the Quarantine Station. You can rent a bike there to maximise your time in the park. They even offer all-terrain beach wheelchairs, which would have been given me a break from the crutches.
There’s a hop on hop off shuttle bus service from the Quarantine Station car park to Fort Nepean. You can access the audio guide for Fort Nepean online here.
For the best views, walk the Range Area Walk to climb the Monash Light tower.
Download this map to prepare your trip around Point Nepean National Park.
Marine life encounters
Unfortunately, I could only enjoy the crystal clear water from the shore. But the Mornington Peninsula is reputed for its marine life.
If you’re not too scared of the cold water, you may want to look into scuba diving or snorkelling. The most accessible site is the 200-metre long Octopus Garden trail alongside Rye Pier. But there are many other sites, including a long list of shipwrecks.
Port Philip Bay is famous for hosting many weedy sea dragons. But be prepared as they are expert in camouflage! If you are confident in your abilities to spot marine life, you can go by yourself. Otherwise, you may want to join a guided tour*. Before organising your snorkelling trip, you may be interested in these important tips about snorkel gear.
You can also kayak or hop on a boat to approach wildlife and experience the beautiful coastline from a different angle.
You may be interested in these experiences* in the Mornington Peninsula:
I wouldn’t add this one to my itinerary, but I thought it would be worth mentioning the Mornington Peninsula is a surfing spot. Not that I know much about surfing, but I could see many surfers when we visited. Point Leo seems the best place for beginners. And experienced surfers looking for big waves will be served on the wilder ocean side. There’s a surf club at Sorrento Back Beach.
The rainbow-coloured bathing boxes may be the most famous image of the Mornington Peninsula. They aren’t particularly special but they provide a touch of colour that pleases photographers. You can find there between Mount Eliza and Portsea.
It was a hot day when the Hot Springs wouldn’t have felt that hot. And I was happy to be able to walk with my crutches more than expected. So we decided to keep the Hot Springs for another visit.
A kind of spa in the heart of nature, the man-made pools are filled with natural hot mineral water directly coming from the ground. The concept of outdoor bathing is rare in Australia so the experience at the Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs* is quite unique.
Where to stay in the Mornington Peninsula
We only did a day trip to the Mornington Peninsula but it’s a destination I would gladly consider for an overnight trip. We haven’t tried the accommodations suggested below, but this pre-selection can give you a few ideas of places where to stay.
Our first choice is always camping. It’s close to nature and cheap. There are many camping options in the Mornington Peninsula, but we saw a few that were too close to the road to be pleasant. Point Leo Foreshore sounded like a great option for a quiet spot facing the sunset. Cameron’s Bight Foreshore also seemed to have great beach views and shade, a little bit further away from the road than the other campground we saw.
When we don’t opt for camping, we look for an exceptional experience we will remember for long rather than just a room. The luxury and sweeping winery views of the Jackalope Hotel (see reviews*) could have been a good option.
Map of the Mornington Peninsula day trip itinerary
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Eloise lives in Brisbane (Australia), but you won’t find her often in the city. When she is not disconnected underwater or in a national park, she loves sharing her travel tips and inspiring her readers to take care of our beautiful planet. She considers every weekend as a two-day holiday break. Her approach: you don’t always need to go far to travel. Still, she also enjoys exploring the world and discovering new cultures. Eloise is originally from France and, before moving to Brisbane, she lived in Sydney, Istanbul and England.