Phillip Island tours

Your ultimate guide to the best time to visit Phillip Island

Phillip Island opening hours - Everything you need to know

The Phillip Island Nature Parks are a major attraction when you're visiting Phillip Island. Most of these parks open by 10am and you can enter them till around 4pm. However, the Phillip Island Penguin Parade time slots differ slightly — it opens at 4pm and the viewings start from sundown. Guided tours of Phillip Island start around 11:45am. As for cruise timings, there are a number of slots depending on the kind of cruise. 8:30am, 2pm and 10:45am are some of the slots for these cruises. 

So, choose what you want to explore and read on to know the best time to visit Phillip Island.

Phillip Island tour durations

Guided tours

There are full-day and half-day tours of Phillip Island. The full-day tour takes about 10 hours and you can see a number of attractions — the Penguin Parade, the Koala Conservation Reserve and more. The half-day tours are shorter. Guided tours commence around 11:45am.

Combo tours

Combo tours usually combine two or more attractions in and near Phillip Island to give you a more comprehensive experience. The Penguin Parade is usually the constant, which you can enjoy alongside a number of other spots — Brighton Beach, the Puffing Billy Train or the Healesville Sanctuary. Typically, the schedule starts around 10am.

Phillip Island Penguin Parade timings

Opening hours

The park itself opens up around 4pm but the real attraction — the penguins returning to their sandy burrows — only starts after sundown. This can be as early as 5:15pm to as late as 8:45pm depending on the different seasons so make sure that you check the sundown time during your visit. Arrive an hour early to have the smoothest experience.

Best time to see the penguins

The best time to see penguins at the Penguin Parade is November through March. During this time, there is a boom in the number of penguins as the little chicks hatch and are fed and trained by their parent penguins. Even the Winter and Spring months are interesting, although the number of penguins is low — it is the mating and egg-laying time of the year.

Phillip Island Nature Park timings

Koala Conservation Reserve: The Koala Conservation Reserve operates from 10am to 5pm daily, barring Christmas Day. The last entry to the koala boardwalk is 30 minutes before closing time, that is 4:30pm.

Churchill Island: This quaint farmland island is located near the coast of Phillip Island and is part of the Phillip Island Nature Parks. Tourists can visit the farm precinct between 10am and 4:30pm daily. The last entry is at 4pm. The cafe is open from 10am to 4pm on weekdays and 9am to 4pm on weekends.

Best time to visit Phillip Island

Summer (December to February)

The best time to visit Phillip Island is in the Summer. Not only is the weather pleasant and warm, but you can also enjoy the beaches, take a boat cruise and indulge in water sports like kayaking, snorkeling, etc. You can also catch sight of the largest number of Little Penguins as it is the chick feeding time in the summer. The baby Australian fur seals, too, learn how to swim during this season. As for the nature parks, they make for lovely walks and hikes in the Summer.

Lesser crowds on weekdays

Crowds are high during the weekend because it is very common for locals to come on a one-day-one-night trip to Phillip Island. Mondays and Fridays may also be crowded because of the weekend. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are relatively less crowded because of school and work timings. Try to reach the island early so you can tick off as many spots as you can.

Best time to visit Phillip Island Nature Parks

Peak season vs low season

The best time to visit Phillip Island Nature Parks is in the Summer — December to February. This is the time when nature walks are at their best, the weather is nice and warm, and there are a ton of activities that you can enjoy. Watch the penguins tend to their chicks at the Penguin Parade and the baby fur seals learn to swim at The Nobbies. However, the crowds are high this time of the year, especially during public and school holidays. 

Weekday vs weekends

Since most parks are open daily, choose a weekday instead of a weekend. The middle of the week is the best time to visit Phillip Island Nature Parks as local crowds are low and they are also school nights. Try to cover most of the parks in the morning since they all open around 10am, except for Penguin Parade, which is an evening activity. 

How long do I need to visit Phillip Island?

There are plenty of activities that you can do at Phillip Island, depending on the season and the amount of time you’re spending on the island. Here are the top attractions that you can visit all year round with what you can do at each attraction and how long they may take.

  • Penguin Parade: Watch a large number of Little Penguins waddle back to their burrows after sundown.
    Time required: up to 4 hours

  • Koala Conservation Reserve: Look at Koalas in their natural habitat from close quarters.
    Time required: up to 1 hour

  • Churchill Island: Experience farm life with blacksmithing, cow milking, wagon rides and hiking trails.
    Time required: up to 2.5 hours

  • The Nobbies Centre: Get amazing views of the Nobbies rock formations, fur seals and the famous Nobbies blowhole.
    Time required: up to 3 hours

  • Chocolate Factory: Indulge in a lot of chocolate and see some crazy chocolate sculptures while learning about cocoa production.
    Time required: up to 3 hours

  • A Maze’n Things: Adrenaline-spiking and mind-bending experiences with mini-golf, giant mazes, and high ropes course adventure.
    Time required: up to 3 hours

  • Phillip Island cruises: Head on dolphin, whale, and seal-watching cruises atop sightseeing cruises.
    Time required: up to 4 hours

Frequently asked questions about best time to see penguins on Phillip Island

What is the molting season for Little Penguins?

The molting season for Little Penguins is February through April. This is when they shed old feathers and grow new ones.

How early should I arrive before my ticket time?

This depends on the kind of attraction you’re visiting. You should arrive at least an hour before the viewing time at Penguin Parade but for most other attractions, keep 15-30 minutes in hand before the start of the activity. During peak season, account for extra traveling time due to traffic.

What happens if I am late for my entry time?

The consequences for late arrival will depend on the attraction and activity. Some tours may start without you, while you may be able to join others later. Be especially careful for cruises and guided tours as you will probably be joining a group of people. Check your tickets carefully for special instructions.

Are there different timings for attractions during holidays?

Most attractions are open daily at the same time throughout the year, although some may have different times during the weekends. School holidays and public holidays may also affect timings. For Penguin Parade specifically, viewing times may change from 5:15pm to 8:45pm depending on the season.

How much time should I spend at Phillip Island?

A two-days-one-night trip should be enough to experience most of the offerings at Phillip Island. Penguin Parade is a must, so you can spend a couple of hours there. Apart from that, you can spend 1-2 hours at each attraction and still be able to experience the best it has to offer.

Can I visit any of the Phillip Island attractions early in the morning?

Most Phillip Island attractions open around 10am in the morning, so arriving super early might not help. If you’re keen on seeing the penguins, choose Autumn or Summer because the viewing timing is delayed to late evening, giving you plenty of time to see other spots before that.

What can I do at night on Phillip Island?

The most exciting activity on Phillip Island is the arrival of the Little Penguins to the shore in the Penguin Parade. This is an evening time activity. Other than that, you can hit pubs and eateries at night.

What are some of the things to do on Phillip Island?

There is always a huge range of things to do on Phillip Island, no matter the season. You can see the Penguins at the Penguin Parade, get a closer look at the Koalas in the reserve, go seal watching at The Nobbies and experience farm life at Churchill Island. To know more, check out our guide on things to do at Phillip Island