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Things to do at Phillip Island - Discover Nature Parks, water activities & hidden trails

Traveler’s guide: Things to do at Phillip Island

Situated just 140 km south of Melbourne, Phillip Island is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway for any traveler. From nature to wildlife, adventure to family-friendly activities, you can find a plethora of experiences to indulge in at Phillip Island.

Phillip Island map

Wildlife reserves at Phillip Island

Home to a variety of wildlife reserves, visiting one of the Phillip Island Nature Parks is the best way to interact with the various native species of the island.




Book your Melbourne to Phillip Island tour

Phillip Island Nature Parks Penguin Parade Tickets
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From Melbourne: Half-Day or Full-Day Phillip Island Guided Tour with Penguin Parade
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10 hr.
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From Melbourne: Brighton Beach & Phillip Island Tour with Penguin Parade
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10 hr.
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From Melbourne: Puffing Billy Train Ride & Phillip Island Guided Tour
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11 hr.
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From Melbourne: Healesville Sanctuary & Phillip Island Tour with Penguin Parade
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12 hr.
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Phillip Island 3 Parks Pass: Penguin Parade, Koala Conservation Reserve & Churchill Island
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AU$54.50

Other top attractions at Phillip Island

Along with wildlife reserves, Phillip Island has a bunch of other attractions as well that are perfect for a fun day out.

Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

Suitable for: children, family fun

A paradise for chocolate lovers, the Panny’s Chocolate Factory at Phillip Island is home to the biggest chocolate waterfall. Learn how chocolate is commercially made with interactive machines and explore various artworks and sculptures carved purely from chocolate!

A Maze’n Things

Suitable for: family fun, mild thrill

Step into a world of magic and illusions at A Maze’n Things, the island’s only theme park. You can indulge in a variety of fun activities, including a giant 3D maze, an illusion exhibit and a fun mini-golf. If you want a bit of a challenge, then try the Skytrail obstacle course 10 meters off the ground!

Phillip Island Golf Club

Suitable for: adults

Just 5 minutes away from the Cowes ferry terminal, this golf club houses an 18-hole course that’s entertaining and challenging to any golfer. There’s an in-house cafe with food and drinks and a bunch of other activities to explore. 

Grumpy’s Mini Golf

Suitable for: all ages, families

This completely shaded mini golf course also has 18 holes but in a completely different scale. This cow-themed attraction has multiple mini golf course options and also has a cafe and shaded seating area. 

Water activities at Phillip Island

Thanks to a coastline covered in pristine beaches and rocky landscapes, Phillip Island offers a variety of waterfront activities that people of all ages can enjoy.

Cruises

Phillip Island also has a variety of cruises that take place all around the island depending on what you’d like to see. There are two main types of Phillip Island cruises, sightseeing cruises and wildlife discovery cruises. Most cruises also offer light refreshments and tea/coffee for you to enjoy during your cruise. 

  • Sightseeing cruises: Go around the island learning about its history and discovering some beautiful lookout points like Forrest Caves, Pinnacles, Red Rocks, etc. 
  • Wildlife cruises: The best way to spot the island’s marine wildlife, you can spot basking fur seals, dolphins and even migrating humpback whales. 

Surfing

The drastically changing landscapes of Phillip Island create giant surfable waves in any wind! The summer season from March to May is the best time to surf here, which brings a lot of local and international travelers. There are multiple surf spots on the island that suit beginner to experienced surfers, including:

  • Smiths Beach & YCW Beach (beginner): The barreling reef in the area causes mellow, consistent waves that many surf schools in the area use to teach. 
  • Cat Bay (intermediate): There are multiple reef breaks here for varying levels of surfing experience, Right Point and Flynn Reef being the most popular. 
  • Cape Woolamai (advanced): This is a shallow rock reef between Magic Rocks and Forrest Caves with winds that form sandbanks for large waves. 

Kayaking

Phillip Island’s coastline also has caves and inlets that form intricate water channels across the island, and kayaking is the best way to explore these channels. This has to be the most popular water adventure activity here after surfing. You can find multiple tours with varying durations and experience levels:

  • Cowes (beginner): These are usually short beach-side tours that are great for even those who are trying kayaking for the first time. 
  • Churchill Island (intermediate): You go through serene bays and waterways with ancient colonial settlements in the backdrop. 
  • Rhyll wetlands (advanced): Sail along the mangroves of the Rhyll inlet that lead into intricate waterways that are home to native birds. 
  • Cape Woolamai (advanced): The rugged lands in the area make for breathtaking sights with secluded beaches, hidden caves, and also the famous Pinnacles rock formation. 

Other water activities

Beach visits & swimming

Cape Woolamai, Cowes and Smiths beaches host various beach activities during the peak season in summer. The water remains more or less comfortable for a swim as well, but beware that winters may mean really cold waters. Stay close to the flags in the water and check the ocean conditions before heading for a swim. Lifesavers will be around during peak seasons though. 

Boating & fishing

You can also go boating or fishing by yourself at any of the island’s beaches. However, you may need to get certain boating and fishing licenses. You will also need to be careful with whales in your vicinity. Be sure to read up on all the boating & fishing regulations to avoid being fined.

Adventure activities at Phillip Island

Helicopter tours

With breathtaking topography, the most majestic way to explore Phillip Island has to be in a scenic helicopter tour. Although it’s a slightly pricey experience, the magnificent top views you get of the granite cliffs, rock formations and the island’s forests is quite worth the extra buck. Choose from 8 to 25-min flights that take you over multiple locations, depending on what you want to see.

Go karting at Grand Prix

Phillip Island Grand Prix is a magnificent Southern Loop circuit that first opened in 1928 and hosted the first ever Australian Grand Prix, the 100 Miles Road Race. Not only can you view this circuit, but you can also experience go-karting at the replica circuit placed right beside at the Visitor Center. The choice between single and tandem karts allows anyone aged above 12 years to participate.

Wall climbing at Clip ‘n Climb

The most uniquely thrilling experience available on Phillip Island, Clip ‘n Climb has various platforms with multiple ways to get to the top. Suitable for both children and adults, you get to test your core strength and get healthier while also having fun climbing their interactive platforms. Check out their virtual reality experiences too where you can enter a world of simulation and gaming in one of their VR pods.

Hiking at Phillip Island

With lush greenery, dense mangroves, steep cliff sides and a variety of wildlife to discover, walking, hiking and biking is a brilliant way to get back in touch with nature at Phillip Island. Depending on what you’d like to see, you can choose from multiple walking trails and discover some truly incredible hidden gems on the island.

Nobbies walk

Level: Easy
Trail length: 500m
Duration: 20 mins

The Nobbies Centre, situated just beyond the Penguin Parade is surrounded by a maze of boardwalks that allow you to view the island’s rugged shores and some key animals in the area. There are telescopes placed in the area for you to peer through; don’t forget to check out the famous Nobbies Blowhole. 

Forrest Caves walk

Level: Easy
Trail length: 2km
Duration: 45 mins

Formed by oceanic erosion occurring over millions of years, Forrest Caves is an intricate network of caverns that thousands of shearwater birds call home. This trail may be easy to cover but is better suited for those quite daring as you can only enter the caves during low tides and you’ll need to time yourself to exit before high tides approach.

Rhyll & Conservation Hill walks

Level: Easy to moderate
Trail lengths: 1.2km to 7km
Duration: 45 minutes to 3 hours

The Rhyll Inlet is a dense mangrove forest that forms a key ecological part of the island. Many native birds and animals call these wetlands home. The trail starts from Mcllwraith Road and extends beyond Conservation Hill that eventually leads to the Rhyll historic village. You can either choose to wander around the mangrove boardwalks or challenge yourself to reach the village at the end.

Cape Woolamai walks

Level: Moderate
Trail lengths: 4.5km to 8km
Duration: 90 mins to 4 hours

Cape Woolamai being higher than the rest of the island, lends fantastic views of the surrounding coast and scenery. The entire Cape Woolamai circuit is built with 3 different trails that add up to 8km return distance. The trail covers some of the best lookout points in the area, including the Pinnacles rock formation, the beacon (the highest point of Phillip Island), and granite cliff slides. 

George Bass walk

Level: Moderate to difficult
Trail length: one way - 7km, circuit - 14km
Duration: 6 hours return

This cliff-top trail offers brilliant views of the Bass Strait and the surrounding coastal areas. Starting all the way in San Remo, this trail is quite challenging, but the views you get of the hidden beaches make it totally worth the effort. You can also bring your dog on this trail, but make sure they’re always on leash. 

Whale Discovery trail

Level: Easy
Time of year: May to Oct
Length: 55km

Designed specially for the Bass Strait, this trail starts all the way in Inverloch and ends at Cowes and can be covered in multiple ways, including biking and driving. The trail includes multiple coastal viewing points that whales are likely to appear at, the peak season being June to July. Be sure to carry a pair of binoculars to be able to identify which whale you may be seeing, an Orca, a Southern Right or a Humpback whale. 

Leisure activities at Phillip Island

Shopping

Phillip Island hosts a variety of markets throughout the year, a new market held every week during peak seasons. The island also has a rich farming history, making local produce quite popular amongst tourists for shopping. Keep up to date with the Bass Coast Market Calendar to make sure you don’t miss out on your favorite markets.

Eating

Phillip Island has much to offer even in the culinary realm, especially with its deliciously grown local ingredients. We definitely recommend trying out seafood while you’re in the area as Phillip Island has the means to provide some of the freshest seafood.

Tips for visiting Phillip Island

  • Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife: There are times you may encounter wildlife while simply taking a stroll or a drive. Make sure that you keep an eye out for them and avoid unnecessary contact to keep yourself and the animal safe.
  • Check the underside of your vehicle: An animal may have entered the underside of your car while you were away. Always check under your vehicle before proceeding.
  • Come early to discover more: Plan your trip to start earlier in the day you arrive at Phillip Island, the more activities and attractions you'll be able to cover.
  • Keep the map handy: Here's a map of Phillip Island with major attractions and other key points that will help you navigate your way through the island.
  • Stay warm: Phillip Island is located quite to the south and it can get cold at almost any time of the year. Keep a few extra layers with you to remain warm.
  • Get sun protection: You can get sun damage even if it's not very sunny. Wear sunscreen and carry other items you may need to keep yourself protected from the sun.
  • Keep snacks and water handy: Phillip Island is a vast area with much to explore. While there are several cafes and eateries on the island, do keep some snacks and a bottle of water with you to avoid spending too much and keep yourself energized.
  • Wear comfortable or walking shoes: You'll have a lot of walking to do on the island so wear comfortable shoes. We definitely recommend walking shoes.
  • Report any animal injuries: If you come across any injured animals, call Wildlife Victoria at 0384007300.

Frequently asked questions about things to do at Phillip Island

What are some family-friendly activities on Phillip Island?

Most of the activities at Phillip Island, apart from adventure activities, are suitable for all ages. However, there are some attractions on the island that cater specifically to families with children, like Chocolate Factory, A Maze’n Things, Clip ‘n Climb and Grumpy’s Mini Golf.

How long should I stay at Phillip Island to cover all activities?

Phillip Island has so many activities to choose from that you’ll be spoilt for choice. That being said, if you want to indulge in at least a few types of activities, we suggest that you try to come to the island for a whole weekend. Otherwise, even an entire day could help you cover the most popular activities of the island.

What are some free activities at Phillip Island?

While most attractions have entry tickets, you can still head over to some lookout points or hiking trails to try out experiences that you need not pay any money for. You could also head over to any of the beaches and try swimming or surfing, as long as you have your own board.

What things should I do if I’m at Phillip Island for just 1 day?

If you’re only able to spare one day for exploring the island, we suggest that you definitely visit one of the Nature Parks. The Penguin Parade is highly recommended for its largest colony of Little Penguins. You could also try going on a walking trail and you’re almost certain to encounter wildlife. For water activities, we recommend you try cruising or kayaking as they're the best ways to discover the island's coastline.

What can I do at night on Phillip Island?

Phillip Island is mostly active during the day. At night, there isn’t much to do on the island as the ocean and wildlife are activities that are most prominent here and they’re better enjoyed during the day. However, you can still head over to a local market or a restaurant to spend your evenings on the island.

Are there any pet-friendly activities on the island?

While the Nature Parks may not allow pets or service animals, you can still bring your pet to the island if you have your own vehicle. You can probably drive around the island or head onto a trail within your vehicle itself to allow your pet to enjoy the tranquil scenes. There are also some walking trails that allow you to bring your pet on a leash.