Best things to eat, see and do on the Mornington Peninsula

Mornington Peninsula pier

RACV staff

Posted March 01, 2023

Mornington Peninsula has long been a favourite foodie and coastal destination for Melburnians, Victorians, and tourists alike.

Whether it’s a romantic getaway, family holiday or mini break, people go to the Mornington Peninsula to slow down, chill out and enjoy the beautiful beaches, award-winning wineries, on-trend restaurants, and fun-filled activities.

For those who can’t leave their precious pooches behind, there are off-lead beaches and a range of dog-friendly accommodation and pet services in the Mornington Peninsula.

Being so close to Melbourne, it’s also possible to do a day trip to the Mornington Peninsula if you have something particular in mind, like the Peninsula Hot Springs or a ride on the aerial gondola to the top of Arthur’s Seat. RACV Members save on ticket prices to some of Mornington Peninsula’s top attractions.

Chairlift at Arthur's Seat on the Mornington Peninsula

Get a bird's eye view of the Mornington Peninsula at Arthur's Seat. Image: Tourism Australia


Getting your bearings 

The Shire of Mornington Peninsula starts south of Frankston and takes in the coastal towns of Mornington, Mt Martha, Dromana, Sorrento, and Portsea on the Port Phillip Bay side, and Hastings, Somers and Flinders on the Western Port Bay side. Each beach has its own charm, and there’s a big contrast between the sheltered beaches of Port Phillip Bay and the surf beaches that face Bass Strait.

Take the time to drive to the southernmost tip of the peninsula and be rewarded with a dramatic view of the ocean from Cape Schanck Lighthouse. There’s a scenic walk that takes you along the volcanic cliffs, through bush, and down to the wild beaches below. RACV Cape Schanck Resort is a great base for exploring the whole region.


Dolphin in Port Phillip Bay

You may be lucky enough to see dolphins on a sightseeing cruise. Image: Tourism Australia


Best things to do on the Mornington Peninsula

Flying high

The Mornington Peninsula’s most popular tourist attraction, the Eagle Skylift offers a bird’s-eye view from Arthurs Seat to Dromana. Sometimes you get to see kangaroos grazing below. The gondolas are made of glass and the ride is about 15 minutes each way. Make a day of it by combining Arthurs Seat Eagle and Farmers Lunch for Two at Red Hill.

Sea adventures

WaterMaarq’s 90-minute Rip Eco Adventure Wildlife Cruise offers the possibility of seeing wild dolphins, Australian fur seals, and the breeding grounds of Australasian gannets and seabirds. Moonraker Charters has a three-hour sightseeing cruise with dolphin and seal swim. Victoria's marine emblem, the iconic weedy seadragon, resides in Port Phillip Bay, and the best way to see one is by doing a half-day scuba diving adventure with Bayplay Scuba Diving.

Water therapy

The Mornington Peninsula is blessed with natural geothermal waters where you can relax and rejuvenate in beautiful natural settings. Combine dinner and bathing at Peninsula Hot Springs or explore the rain pool, cold plunge pools and sunset pool at Alba Thermal Springs and Spa.

Wild walks

Rug up as it’s always windy at Cape Schanck Lighthouse in Mornington Peninsula National Park. You can take a tour of the lighthouse, which was built in 1859 and still in service today. The short Cape Walk takes visitors to a wooden staircase and boardwalk that lead down to Pulpit Rock and the Devils Desk. On one side you can see the lighthouse and, on the other, spectacular coastal views.

Family-friendly activities

Get lost in Australia's oldest most famous hedge maze and try the delicious home-made lavender ice-cream at Ashcombe Maze And Lavender Gardens, or cuddle a koala and feed the kangaroos at Moonlit Sanctuary. All ages and abilities can tee off and try to improve their handicap at the Mini Golf At Boneo Discovery Park.

Point King Beach on the Mornington Peninsula

Port King Beach is a lovely secluded beach at Portsea. Image: Tourism Australia


Best beaches on the Mornington Peninsula

Mount Martha

Being one of the closest beaches to Melbourne, Mount Martha is popular with day-trippers. It’s picturesque with white sand, multi-coloured bathing boxes and clifftop rocks that jut out over the bay. Unfortunately, erosion has made the cliffs, known as The Pillars, unsafe and the best way to view them is from a boat.

Safety Beach

Safety Beach is a little gem with calm and shallow waters that makes it perfect for families with young children. To the right is the picturesque hills of Mount Martha and to the south the highest point on the peninsula - Arthur’s Seat. As well as a stretch of beach where dogs can roam off-lead, there’s the Bay Trail that’s popular with dog walkers, sightseers, and joggers.

Number 16, Rye

This is a secluded beach between Diamond Bay and Rye Back Beach that’s treasured by locals. Its spectacular rock formations, such as “Dragon Head Rock”, make it popular with photographers, and there are rock pools for swimming and caves for exploring at low tide.

Point King, Portsea

The cliff-top Millionaires Walk gives you a peek into how the other half lives but the beauty of Australian beaches is that they belong to everyone. Tucked below the mansions is Point King, a secluded sandy beach that you can reach via a set of wood stairs at the end of Point King Road. It’s a bit tricky to access but worth the effort with its jetties and view of ships sailing by.

Sorrento and Portsea Back Beaches

These wilder ocean beaches along the rugged, southern coastline of the peninsula are great for bodyboarding and surfing. Conditions vary depending on the winds of the day, but you need to be a confident swimmer as there are rips and dangerous currents. Both beaches are patrolled on summer weekends and holidays, so make sure you swim between the flags. 

Flinders Beach and Flinders Ocean Beach

Flinders offers a range of different beach experiences. There are two sheltered beaches on either side of Flinders Point: Dodds Creek and Kennon Cove, a leash-free dog beach north of Dodds Creek.

On the sheltered side, the Flinders Pier is a popular for fishing, snorkelling and scuba diving, while on the ocean side the Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary is a family-friendly spot for discovering diverse marine life at low tide.

A waiter serving two people at a restaurant

Enjoy the view and fine food at CAPE, Cape Schanck Resort's signature restaurant. Image: Lucas Allen


Best cafes on the Mornington Peninsula

Wombat Cafe & Store, Dromana

The Mornington Peninsula is a haven for vegans and even meat eaters will find much to love at this friendly spot. Plant-based burgers and variations on bruschetta, curries and pies broaden the palate and offer a great introduction to meat-free eating. Look out for fancy specials like the Turkish Delight muffins or enjoy the signature Wombat smoothie: a creamy blend of banana, cacao and dates.

Commonfolk Coffee, Mornington

Need a coffee fix? You’ll find a great house-roasted coffee at this café, which is secreted away in the backblocks of Mornington. The seasonal menu delivers breakfast staples, but it’s a place to be adventurous. Influenced by the origins of the coffee beans, moreish alternatives like a Ugandan omelette or Columbian breakfast are on offer.

Buckley, Sorrento

You’ll be dazzled by Buckley’s breakfast options, but Buckley is renowned for its buttermilk pancakes, which pay homage to the days when this establishment was a pancake café called Buckley’s Chance. Served with whipped butter or ice cream, they are guaranteed to make a day of exploring Sorrento’s foreshore all the sweeter.

Pelikan Société, Hastings

Explore the Westernport side of the peninsula and discover how much Hastings has developed in the past decade. This historic fishing village offers places to fish, swim and fossick for vintage goods at The Emporium. The Pelikan Société boasts one of the best views, with a deck overlooking Hastings Bight and the marina. Soak up the atmosphere with a plate of fish and chips, fired and spiced calamari or seafood linguini.

The Somers General, Somers

Locals would prefer that you didn’t know about The Somers General but there’s no way they can keep this on-trend café to themselves. Chia bircher, blueberry ricotta hotcake, chilli scramble and free-range eggs on buttered organic sourdough are some of the offerings for breakfast, while you can’t go past beer-battered fish and chips for an authentic seaside feast. Top it off with Mubble ice cream, which is lovingly handcrafted in Sorrento. There are also local artisan wares for sale.

Discover Cape Schanck's hidden culinary gem | RACV

Best restaurants on the Mornington Peninsula

Cape, Cape Schanck Resort

The award-winning Cape restaurant at RACV Cape Schanck Resort is all about welcoming diners to the world of haute cuisine. The menu pays homage to European traditions, while focusing on the best local produce Victoria has to offer. Dishes change seasonally, meaning you could be dining on local pine mushrooms in autumn while winter brings locally foraged Warrigal greens to the table. The wine list showcases the peninsula's flair for cool-climate varieties including chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot gris.

Paringa Estate, Red Hill South

Paringa Estate is all class and a heavenly location for a special occasion. Expansive windows give you a view over the sloping vineyard as you sample locally sourced, seasonal produce and Paringa Estate’s award-winning wines. It’s dishes like fish croquette with Zuni pickle and fennel pollen mayonnaise, and slow-roasted lamb shoulder with cashew romesco, that have seen the winery attract its fair share of Chef Hats.

Le Bouchon, Balnarring

The old-world charm of this French restaurant gives the Paris end of Collins Street in Melbourne a run for its money. French classics like onion soup and escargot de Bourgogne a l’ail (yes, that’s snails with garlic, parsley and butter) are the entry point to favourites like boeuf bourguignon and casserole of confit duck. It also has a fixed price lunch menu, which you can enjoy before walking along the scenic path near Cliff Road.

Del Posto, Rye

Those in the know consider this one of the Peninsula’s gems. From the Insalata di Gamberi (marinated prawns) and prosciutto with buffalo mozzarella to the homemade squid-ink lasagna, this is Italian fare with flair. See if you can resist the tiramisu or pannacotta with lemon crumb and rhubarb.


People bathing at Hot Springs

Peninsula Hot Springs is a popular destination on the Mornington Peninsula. Image: Supplied


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