10 best things to do on the Mornington Peninsula

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  • Post last modified:July 20, 2024
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The simple but no less appreciated pleasures rule on the Mornington Peninsula. Ease into holiday mode with our favourite activities, a quintessential blend ensuring you make the most of your visit.

1. Trace the treacherous coast of Mornington Peninsula National Park

Legendarily dramatic, Mornington Peninsula National Park showcases the untamed Bass Strait coastline, where majestic cliffs and empty beaches abound.

On top of your list should be the Cape Schanck precinct, home to the namesake lighthouse, museum and staircases leading down to Black Rock Beach. Hike along the coast for 2.6 km to find wonderful Bushrangers Bay, a collision of soft sand and towering basalt cliffs.

Some 30 km north, the natural London Bridge entices with peculiar wind-whipped shapes. Leisurely drive there, stopping for breathtaking beaches and rock formations, or get ready for the peninsula’s biggest adventure, the ultimate Coastal Walk.

Waves battering the rugged Cape Schanck in Mornington Peninsula National Park
Check out dramatic Cape Schanck.

2. Frolic in rock pools at Sorrento Ocean Beach

An array of breathtaking “back beaches” line Mornington’s Bass Strait coast. These are paradises for those who prefer big scenery and surf over the sheltered Port Phillip shoreline.

Our favorite is Sorrento Ocean Beach, especially beautiful during low tide when a large collection of crystal-clear rock pools lure adults and kids alike. Enter to splash, swim and snorkel, exploring the rich marine life left behind by the ocean.

To soak it up from above, ascend the stairs to the Coppins Lookout, offering brilliant views up and down the coast. Then, reward yourself with something to drink at the cute beachside cafe.

People scattered across Sorrento Ocean Beach, on the sand and in the rock pools, during low tide
Time your Sorrento Ocean Beach visit for low tide.

3. Find your way out of the Ashcombe Maze

Enjoy navigating the Ashcombe Maze, the fluffy highlight on a delicately landscaped 25-acre property. Featuring 3-m high, 2-m thick hedges of evergreen Cupressus macrocarpa, Australia’s oldest maze is, actually, two: The south (newer) and north (original), with shaded lawns and a sparkling fountain allowing you to catch a break between them. Some visitors try the included gnome and fairy scavenger hunt for an additional thrill.

Strayaguide's Marie chilling on the lawn in the Centre Garden, between the south and north maze of Ashcombe
Marie relaxing after finishing the south maze.

4. Encounter furry locals at the Moonlit Sanctuary

You can expect to meet an intriguing bunch of Aussies at the Moonlit Sanctuary, housing over 70 native species. Roaming among kangaroos and wallabies, maybe hand feeding them, is the essential experience. Also included in admission are keeper talks and shows, providing fascinating details while showcasing the animals’ beauty. Those ready to fork up extra can relish personal encounters with mammals like dingoes, koalas and wombats, plus birds and snakes.

5. Follow in the footsteps of Matthew Flinders at Arthur’s Seat

Conquer the loftiest mount on the peninsula like captain, navigator and cartographer Matthew Flinders did when he surveyed the area in 1802 — well, almost, at least.

Making it to the top is effortless with the Arthurs Seat Eagle, a modern gondola system carrying passengers between the base and summit. For more of a challenge, climb the steep granite hill on trails framed by eucalyptus forest, a venture taking 45 minutes. Alternatively, to save both money and sweat, drive the winding asphalt road up.

At the 314-m summit await a cafe and network of walking tracks boasting views that, on a clear day, extend all the way to Melbourne. Take the 1.8-km Arthurs Seat Circuit Walk to tick off the elevated highlights, including Seawinds Gardens, often frequented by kangaroos, and the historical Matthew Flinders Cairn.

Blue gondolas of the Arthurs Seat Eagle travelling up and down the hill while providing exceptional views of the turquoise ocean below
Arthurs Seat Eagle — the easy approach.

6. Play amid vivid bathing boxes on Mount Martha Beach

The peninsula’s protected “front beaches” along Port Phillip Bay provide tranquility and ideal swimming conditions. Be mesmerised by the gently lapping waves, golden sand, fishing piers and, of course, the iconic bathing boxes. These simple but irresistibly colourful summer symbols are scattered along the coast, with especially eye-catching swathes on Mount Martha Beach.

Beachgoers soaking up sun amid colourful bathing boxes along Port Phillip Bay
Recline on Mount Martha Beach.

7. Let Peninsula Hot Springs rejuvenate you

Peninsula Hot Springs invites you to a rejuvenating soak. Indulge in a wide range of pools and baths, including a hilltop pool providing panoramic views of the lush surroundings, with natural geothermal mineral waters from 637 metres below the surface. There are also wellness treatments available for those in need of some extra TLC.

8. Rub shoulders with friendly fishermen at Portsea Pier

Shooting out into Weeroona Bay like an upside-down “L”, Portsea Pier is a nostalgic blast from a less complicated time. Imagine small boats bobbing on the water, children jumping off the jetty and fishermen gladly showing today’s catch while eager seagulls hope to share.

Calm and crystal clear, the surrounding waters make for excellent diving and snorkelling. Although the adjacent sand strip may be humble, you find longer beaches within a stone’s throw in either direction. Opt for the walkway to the west (left) for a pretty beach enhanced by timeless bathing boxes.

Idyllic Portsea Pier shooting out into the calm, blue Weeroona Bay like an upside-down "L"
Soak up the vibe at the Portsea Pier.

9. Appreciate Mornington’s acclaimed Montalto

Wine lovers find themselves in seventh heaven on the Mornington Peninsula. Choose from over 50 cellar doors, where award-winning cool-climate wines like pinot noir and chardonnay lead the way.

A gastronomical hotspot, Montalto takes pride in offering the complete winery experience. Savour wines while being guided by a knowledgeable guide at a tasting. Then, enjoy a meal with estate-grown produce at the fine-dining restaurant, laid-back piazza (with superb pizza) or over a private picnic. If you want to stretch your legs on the undulating grounds, the 1-km sculpture trail has you covered.

Neat rows of grapevines stretching across an undulating vineyard landscape on the Mornington Peninsula
Elevate your holiday with a wine tasting.

10. Step back in time at Point Nepean National Park

To understand the early settlement of Victoria, travel back in time at Point Nepean National Park on the peninsula’s very northwestern tip.

A sprawling complex dating to 1852, the Quarantine Station spans some 50 heritage-listed buildings, from sandstone hospitals to influenza huts to the original cemetery. As you stroll along the quiet Nepean Bay shore, a stunning setting for rehabilitation, picture being one of all the new arrivals who, often after a massive voyage at sea, spent time here.

Strategically positioned at the entrance to Port Phillip, Fort Nepean encompasses once-critical military structures served by a labyrinth of tunnels. Especially keep an eye out for Gun Emplacement 6, from which the first Australian shots of both World War I and II were fired.

Two-storey hospital block built during the 1800s for the Quarantine Station in Point Nepean National Park
Roam through the expansive Quarantine Station.

In case you wonder…

What are the best free things to do on the Mornington Peninsula?

You don’t need to fork up any money to have fun on the Mornington Peninsula. Neither Mornington Peninsula National Park nor Point Nepean National Park has an entrance fee, and the same goes for the beaches.

What are the best things to do on the Mornington Peninsula with family?

Play and recharge together along the calm Port Phillip shoreline. To change it up, visit the dramatic Sorrento Ocean Beach during low tide, admiring the exciting creatures in the rock pools.

Which are the best things to do on the Mornington Peninsula for couples?

Quality time on the Mornington Peninsula can mean a lot of things. Consider trying the many baths at Peninsula Hot Springs and exploring the vineyard scene, including Montalto.

What to do on the Mornington Peninsula at night?

Take a night tour of the Moonlit Sanctuary to marvel at nocturnal animals in their prime, a captivating side most visitors miss out on. Note: Bookings are essential.

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