The best beaches in, and around, Melbourne

St Kilda beach on a busy summer's day, with the city skyline visible in the background

Nicola Dowse

Posted November 30, 2022

Whether you’re into swimming, surfing or simply relaxing on the sand, there are plenty of beaches either in Melbourne, or only a short drive away.

Melbourne might not have the same sun-kissed reputation as some of Australia’s other cities to the north, but that doesn’t stop locals and tourists hitting the beach whenever the temperature allows. 

Port Phillip Bay and the Mornington Peninsula are dotted with beaches, some perfect for swimming, others for quiet relaxation, and plenty still great for families.

Be sure to catch up on your beach safety first and always swim between the red and yellow flags.  

It’s not just humans that enjoy a bit of sand and surf - there are plenty of top dog beaches in Melbourne as well.

Melbourne’s most famous beaches

St Kilda Beach 

There is possibly no beach loved more by Melbourne tourists than St Kilda. Conveniently located just 6km from the CBD and easily accessed by public transport, St Kilda Beach is popular amongst swimmers, sunbathers, joggers, volleyball players and watersport enthusiasts. 

There’s no shortage of cafes and restaurants nearby, with Luna Park only a short walk from the foreshore as well. Visit at twilight and you might even spot a fairy penguin or two by the breakwater. 

Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach is proud of its multicoloured bathing boxes - a relic of the late 19th century where they used to protect the modesty of swimmers. These days the boxes are a major tourist attraction and will cost you quite the pretty penny if you wish to own one - boxes often sell for north of $300,000. 

Half Moon Bay

Though it feels delightfully secluded, the throngs of Melburnians sunning themselves or swimming at Half Moon Bay in summer demonstrates the popularity of the beach. The beach is bordered by steep sandstone cliffs, the most famous of which is Red Bluff. At low tide you can traipse around the bottom of the cliffs to discover more secluded swimming spots.


Half Moon Bay in Melbourne on a sunny day, as taken from the cliff

Half Moon Bay, located 40 minutes south of the Melbourne CBD, is bordered by steep sandstone cliffs. Photo: Parks Victoria.

The best beaches for swimming

Williamstown Beach 

Swimming is serious business at Williamstown Beach, with the resident surf lifesaving club hosting the Williamstown Open Water Championship (the ‘WOW Challenge’). Held in March, everyone is welcome to take part in either the 2.5km, 5km or 10km ocean swim events. Of course, casual swimmers are also able to enjoy the beach for swimming at any time, with patrols throughout summer and beach wheelchairs available to book. 

Kerferd Road Beach 

Kerferd Road Beach in Albert Park is sheltered, with a swimming area protected from jet skis, boats and similar. The neighbouring Port Melbourne Beach also features volleyball nets if you prefer to exercise on the sand. 

Elwood Beach 

There’s plenty of space to relax on your towel at Elwood Beach, either before or after you take a dip in the water. Swimming is safest in front of the surf lifesaving club where boats are prohibited. Elwood is a great beach for families too, with a playground and picnicking facilities at the adjacent reserve. Parking is available 


St Kilda beach on a busy summer's day

St Kilda Beach is one of Melbourne's most popular beaches thanks to its proximity to the city. Photo: Visit Victoria.

Family-friendly beaches 

Sorrento Beach

Sorrento Beach is a favourite Mornington Peninsula playground for families, offering wide, flat stretches of sand as far as the eye can see and calm waters perfect for paddling. The beach is lined by trees and dinghies, with cafes only a short walk away.  

Altona Beach

As one of the west’s biggest beaches, it’s common for Altona beach to be heaving with families, sunbathers and teens during summer. A wide sandbar keeps the water fairly shallow well out from the shore, ideal for little swimmers. The beach is fully accessible, with year-round beach matting down to the water.  

Mordialloc Beach

Wide stretches of sand await you and your family at Mordialloc Beach, or Mordi Beach as it’s known to the locals. In addition to the 4km of sand, there’s also a playground nearby at Peter Scullin Reserve, plus barbeques, picnic tables and a rotunda. Shops and cafes also abound. 

Frankston Beach and Foreshore

Another family-favourite is Frankston Beach which in addition to 2.5km of sand also features boardwalks, a playground, plenty of toilets, a number of cafes to choose from, and dedicated parking. Kids are safest swimming closer to shore and in the patrolled areas, as troughs are present further out.


People walking down the stairs to Sorrento Back Beach

The right conditions can allow surfing in the bay, but the swell is better at locations like Sorrento Back Beach. Photo: Visit Victoria.

Quiet beaches

Sandringham Beach 

Compared to other beaches in Melbourne’s south, Sandringham beach is relatively tranquil while still featuring plenty of charm. The southern end tends to be quieter but swimming is best done along the beach’s northern end near the surf lifesaving building. 

Seaford Beach 

If you like pristine sand and the sort of blue water that could make the Maldives jealous, then you’re going to like Seaford. This beach is a true gem, with a refurbished pier to stroll along and crystal-clear waters to swim in. The beach is backed by Coast Banksia bushland as well, and it’s common to find young families frolicking in the gentle waters. 

Edithvale Beach 

Parking is limited at Edithvale, making the expansive shoreline a favourite with locals looking for a swim (or even a surf when there’s a westerly) without too much company. The Edithvale train station is just under 1km from the beach too. 

Aspendale Beach 

Rounding out some of the best quieter beaches in Melbourne’s south is Aspendale, which is just as pretty as its neighbours Edithvale and Mordialloc, but comes with the added bonus of colourful beach huts (think Brighton but smaller). It’s likewise popular with locals and accessible by train station.

Best surf beaches 

Sorrento Back Beach  

Immortalised in the film clip for Tina Arena’s hit song Sorrento Moon, Sorrento Back Beach is great for surfers looking for a little more than the city’s bay beaches can offer. Sorrento Back Beach (also known as Sorrento Ocean Beach) faces onto the ocean, with the breaks here are perfect for intermediate surfers with a reliable low break. 

Gunnamatta Beach 

Regarded as one of the best places to surf near Melbourne (and certainly on the Mornington Peninsula), Gunnamatta features waves averaging 1.9 metres with high westerly winds common. While great for surfers, Gunnamatta can be perilous for swimmers thanks to powerful rips close to the shore – do not stray from between the flags.