Grab the sunscreen, stash the boogie boards in the car and don’t forget the wetsuits (this is Victoria, after all), because we’re bringing you the top family-friendly beaches to be found across the state.
From the sparkling waters of the Mornington Peninsula to the rugged coastline of the Great Ocean Road – even a few hidden gems in the bay – these are the beaches that are guaranteed to get the thumbs up from the kids. And don’t be surprised if the adults enjoy themselves just as much too…
Brighton Beach, Brighton
Not just one of the best family beaches in Melbourne, the iconic Brighton Beach is also one of Victoria’s all-round top stretches of sand. Best known for the colourful (and pricey!) beach boxes that line the shore, Brighton Beach is a safe, shallow watering hole that kids of all swimming abilities can happily splash in. And with a reputation as one of Melbourne’s cleanest beaches, there’s no need to worry about the little ones stumbling upon anything nasty while building sandcastles. With postcard-perfect views of the city skyline, and a grassy reserve just behind that beach that’s ideal for picnics, ball games and barbecues, it certainly ticks a lot of the right boxes. Oh, and did we mention it’s patrolled during summer? Certainly one of the best kid-friendly beaches in Melbourne.
Altona Beach, Altona
Introducing the best-kept secret in Melbourne’s west. We’re talking about Altona Beach, which is three kilometres of pure, salty bliss. Although often overshadowed by its more famous neighbour, Williamstown Beach, this works in Altona’s favour as it means there’s generally fewer crowds and more room to play (not to mention more parking spots!). The patrolled beach is clean, calm and shallow at low tide, making it a great spot for the kids to practise swimming, stand-up paddle boarding, boogie boarding or even kite-surfing. But the real jewel in Altona Beach’s crown is the 500-metre long, heritage-listed Altona Pier. Whether it’s fishing off the edge, strolling along the top or searching for crabs and shells below, it’s a wonderful addition to this already highly-rated beach.
Eastern Beach, Geelong
For the ultimate family day out at the beach, it’s hard to go past Geelong’s incredible Eastern Beach. Located by the city’s famed waterfront precinct, this shore’s list of amenities and attractions reads more like an expensive water park than humble beach. Think shark-proof sea baths with floating islands and diving platforms, paddling pool, palm-fringed walkway, adventure playground and Art Deco-style boardwalk. Oh, and as if you needed anything extra to entertain the kids, there’s even a Ferris wheel and old-school carousel to take a ride on. Plus, there’s also a number of great cafes and kiosks close by, for when that ice cream or hot chips craving hits. If that’s not enough to convince you Eastern Beach is one of the best beaches in Victoria for families, we don’t know what is.
Point Leo Surf Beach, Point Leo
Summer holidays are sorted with a trip down to Point Leo Surf Beach, on the Western Port Bay side of the Mornington Peninsula. This gentle surf beach is the ideal place for budding grommets to hang ten, with the nearby Point Leo Surf Life Saving Club running regular surf lessons. At low tide the exposed tidal platforms are perfect for a rockpool ramble, and the grassy foreshore contains a public park with picnic tables, barbecues and a playground. But the real secret weapon behind Point Leo Surf Beach’s success is the nearby campground. Just metres from the water, and boasting spacious, grassy sites, it’s one of the best beach camping spots in Victoria. Get in quick if you’re looking to get back to nature over December or January, as spots for the Christmas holidays are seriously hot commodities.
Smiths Beach, Phillip Island
Steer clear of busy Cowes the next time you visit Phillip Island and head in the opposite direction, towards Smiths Beach. Tucked away in a secluded and sheltered bay on the south coast of the island, this crescent-shaped sandbelt is without doubt one of the top beaches in Victoria. Patrolled during the summer months, the calm, shallow waves that roll in at high tide are made for practising surfing and boogie boarding skills, while low tide offers a wonderful opportunity for a snorkelling session. There’s also plenty of room on the sand for landlubbers to play beach cricket or build a sandcastle. Our favourite thing about Smiths Beach though? It’s dog friendly! Make it a full family getaway and bring your four-legged friend along too – just remember dogs need to be on a leash at all times.
Wye River Beach, Wye River
No list of the best beaches in Victoria for kids would be complete without a contender from the acclaimed Great Ocean Road, and Wye River Beach is the surprise standout. With big-name beaches like nearby Lorne and Anglesea drawing far bigger crowds, Wye River has managed to fly under the tourist radar, and its quiet, coastal vibes are hard to resist. Bordered by the lush, leafy slopes of the Great Otway National Park, it’s a pretty spot, and although the beach itself is only 200 metres long, there’s enough room for families to spread out and relax. The shallow passage where the Wye River flows out into the ocean is another drawcard, as it’s a safe spot to go for a paddle with little ones. Patrolled and picturesque, it’s no wonder Wye River Beach is considered one of the best family beaches in Victoria.
Half Moon Bay, Black Rock
More akin to Northern Beaches of Sydney than suburban Melbourne, Half Moon Bay is a little slice of heaven just 30 minutes’ drive from the city. This stunning, crescent-shaped (hence the name) bay is home to a long jetty, the Black Rock Yacht Club, the HMVS Cerberus shipwreck and some of the bluest, most crystal-clear waters in all of Port Phillip Bay. Protected from the elements, the lack of swell and shallow conditions makes Half Moon Bay a gorgeous location for fishing, swimming and snorkelling, and there’s a thriving world of sea creatures to discover, including starfish, urchins and occasional seahorse. But the main reason we think Half Moon Bay is a favourite to take out the best beach for kids in Melbourne? The fish and chips at the Cerberus Beach House are worth the trip alone. Dig in after a day in the sun, you won’t regret it!
Rosebud Beach, Rosebud
Rosebud has long been a popular summer destination for families, and it’s not hard to see why: the pristine swimming beach extends for more than nine kilometres, and its clean shoreline and sheltered waters are encircled by a grassy foreshore boasting walking tracks, picnic tables, toilets and barbecues. It can also lay claim to being one of the least dangerous beaches in the region, boasting a Hazard Rating of just 1 – the lowest possible score. But there’s one recent addition to Rosebud Beach that has confirmed its status as one of the best family beaches on the Mornington Peninsula: the new adventure playground. Situated just metres from the water’s edge, the epic setup includes a flying fox, slides, spinning discs and climbing nets. Between the water and playground, you’ll find it hard to tear the kids away from Rosebud Beach at the end of a long summer’s day.
Book flights to Melbourne with Webjet to get your feet sandy at one of these family-friendly beaches in Victoria, and look to lock your hotel by the beach or car hire in the same booking. Plus find even more shores to explore with some of the best beaches in Melbourne.
Hero image: Smiths Beach at Phillip Island. Credit: David Hannah | Visit Victoria