Located just off the coastline of Victoria sits the luscious Phillip Island. This magical island is home to a different kind of Australia then what most are used to. We imagine Australia and our imagination is filled with long sandy beaches, sublime aqua blue waters and plenty of sunshine. Whilst Phillip Island, of course, has plenty of the latter, the scenery is a little different. Our time on Phillip Island reminded me more of the English Coastline than the Aussie one! Picture rolling hills and rough waves crashing against cliffs. Phillip Island transports you into the scenic countryside. With all this beauty comes so much to enjoy. In this post, I’m sharing some of the best things to do in Phillip Island. Of course, the difference between Phillip Island and England is that you definitely won’t see any wallabies hopping around the English coast!
Where is Phillip Island?
Phillip Island is located in the state of Victoria. The nearest large city to Phillip Island is Melbourne which is where you’ll find the nearest airport too. Driving to Phillip Island will take just under two hours from Melbourne. Though technical it is an island there is no need to take the car across via ferry crossing. Phillip Island is connected to Australia via the San Remo Phillip Island Harbour Bridge (that’s a mouthful)! The bridge is 26KM and starts at the seaside town of San Remo. If you don’t want to drive on Phillip Island then there is a passenger ferry which you can get across taking around 45 minutes. But if you do have a vehicle the island is made up of fully paved roads so it’s easy peasy!
Weekend Itinerary and Things to Do in Phillip Island
In this post, I’m going to be sharing an exciting weekend Itinerary to Phillip Island. We adored this Island which gave us an amazing surprise. I had no idea how beautiful this Phillip Island is. I could take a week-long holiday just here! In fact, I think that a lot of Melbourians take frequent getaways to Phillip Island. The Island is famous for a few things here in Australia. From a huge Gran Prix circuit to a great colony of Little Penguins mixed with glorious scenery. Popular with tourists on a road trip from Melbourne to Sydney this little gem needs to be on your itinerary! You could spend a day or a week here on Phillip Island but I would definitely recommend staying overnight if you can.
History of Phillip Island
Before I get into my weekend itinerary and things to do in Phillip Island I wanted to share a little of history about the Island. Long before the European settlement on Australia and long before it became Phillip Island it was called ‘Beang Gurt’. The Island was home to some of the Bunurong people of Australia. Apparently, they roamed the island over 40,000 years ago. Even though a lot of people think the Phillip Island was discovered by Sir Arthur Phillip It was insect discovered by George Bass in1978. It was later that the island was renamed after Sir Arthur Phillip who was the first governor to sail from England to Australia in back 1788. In 1842 the first permanent settlers stayed on the island which was two men from Scotland. Over the years Phillip Island has become a hotspot tourist location gaining millions of visitors each year.
Phillip Island Accommodation
When we visited Phillip Island it was part of a road trip which we drove in a campervan. So naturally, we enjoyed one of the many campsites on the Island. We stayed at the Big 4 Caravan Park. Located on the right just as you leave the bridge this campsite is located near the start of the Island. There are more campsites further on the island which might be more convenient if you’re not wanting to do as much driving. If the driving doesn’t bother you then this campsite is a great option. Offering powered and unpowered sites as well as cabins there is some accommodation to suit everyone. The facilities were clean and well maintained fully equipped with a camp kitchen, jumping pillow, toilets, showers, playgrounds and the beach just metres away.
Budget: Prices start at $40 a night or 20 GBP
Heading on an Australian Road Trip? Check out my ultimate list of East Coast campsites here!
There are also multiple hotels and villas located on the island if you’d prefer. You can use the deal finder below via booking.com to find the perfect deal on accommodation for your stay on Phillip Island!
Weekend Itinerary and Things to Do in Phillip Island
Morning: Explore San Remo
Depending on what time you arrive at Phillip Island will determine how you spend the first morning. I would aim to arrive at San Remo at 11 am. San Remo is the gateway to Phillip Island. Though small it’s one of the cutest seaside towns in Australia. With views looking across to the Hills of Phillip Island San Remo is beautiful. There aren’t many places in this world where I could live long term but San Remo is defiantly one of them. Pull up on the seafront for free parking. Take a stroll across the beachfront soaking in the sunshine. Grab a coffee and a bun from San Remo bakehouse. I can highly recommend the doughnuts but it all looked delicious. Check them out on Instagram here!
Budget: Coffee and Cake $10 PP or 5 GBP
Pelican Feeding at San Remo
Every day at 12 pm fisherman and women head to the beach on San Remo with huge buckets of fish to feed some local friends. Which friends you might be wondering? That would be a flock of pelicans! The pelicans are fed here every day. I think its the highlight of their day because they were all waiting way before 12 pm during our visit! This unique experience is completely free and awesome to watch. The feeding only about 20 minutes and is truly incredible to see these creatures up close in their natural habitat. I was pleased to see that there was no barrier involved and the pelicans we’re free to come and go as they please. Of course, they all wanted to be fed so every pelican in sight was on that beachfront!
If you do have small children or for anyone really! These guys are huge! I couldn’t believe the size of these pelicans when they are stood out of the water and wings spread. And they ALL want the fish and they are not scared to fight for it! Just be aware that this is their territory and they will not let you get in the way of their lunch! Stand well back and keep hold of your kids just in case! This was one of my favourite things to do in Phillip Island and I’m 24 so if you’ve got kids I can bet they will love it even more!
Lunch: Fish and Chips in San Remo
Watching others get fed is always exhausting work even if it is pelicans! After watching the show head to the Fish and Chip Co-Op for a delightful seaside lunch. The fish and chips are amazing and very reasonably priced! The portion sizes are also amazing. Sometimes I find that you just get way too much when it comes to Fish and Chips and you don’t enjoy it as much. At the Fish and Chip Co-op, you can choose your size which is shown to scale by boxes hung on the wall! I think we each got a small and it was plenty big enough (and we are big eaters)! One thing to bear in mind if you opt for the hand battered prawn (my mum did) then make sure you order a few as they are singular when they arrive – oops!
Budget: Fish and Chips $11.90 Per Person or 7 GBP each
Arrive at Phillip Island
After enjoying the morning in the beautiful San Remo jump back in the car and make your way over to Phillip Island. Check in at whatever accommodation you have booked and perhaps freshen up before exploring the island for the rest of the day. If you decide to stay at the Big 4 Caravan park then head out of the campsite for a walk along the beach. The views of the mainland are wonderful and you bet you’ll spot some pelicans still lurking around by the Fish and Chip shop! Keep your eyes peeled for Wallabies too. On our arrival to the Big 4 Caravan Park at Phillip Island, a wallaby wondered into our site without a care in the world – it was pretty awesome!
Afternoon: Explore Rhyll
Rhyll is an idyllic fishing hamlet located North East on Phillip Island. Visiting Rhyll is one of the most popular things to do in Phillip Island. With plenty of places to eat local seafood and a winery if you’d like to enjoy a drink Rhyll makes for a wonderfully relaxing afternoon out. Find an abundance of wildlife in and around the village. If you’re like us then fill the afternoon with walking. There are various hikes around Rhyll but the most popular are:
Black Loop: Starting at conservations hill and finishing in Rhyll, 1.5 hours return.
Blue Loop: Starts at conservation hill finishing at Rhyll Lookout, 1-hour return.
Green Loop: An easy walk along the mangrove broad walk.
Find out more about these walks and more at this website.
Budget: FREE unless you buy food/drink in Rhyll.
Day Two: Morning
The Nobbies and Extraordinary Blow-Hole
The scenic views and secluded beaches are what made me fall in love with Phillip Island. The Nobbies Conversation Centre and Blow-Hole just added to that even more! Situated right at the end of the Island you’ll find The Nobbies Conversation Centre which leads to one of Phillip Islands Nature Parks.
Spend the morning walking along the broad walks spotting wildlife from geese to penguins – yes if you look hard enough you may see some penguins nesting. The walk around to the Blow-Hole is just awe-inspiring and the blow-hole itself is so impressive if the weather is right! Luckily for us, we got a windy morning so the waves came crashing in and back out of the blow-hole! The blow-hole is basically a huge cave where the waves come crashing into splashing water everywhere! I had a lot of fun stood with my camera practising getting some shots of the water in action!
If you stand at The Nobbies and look across the ocean you’ll be able to see seal rock in the distance. One of the largest colony of seals in Australia you can spot up to 5000 seals at any one time! Unfortunately, we didn’t experience the seals as you have to take a cruise to see them up close but I bet it’s an amazing experience! I think if we had longer to explore Phillip Island we would’ve done this but at $85 PP it’s also pretty expensive but if you’ve got the funds I think you should incorporate this experience to your adventure on Phillip Island! You can check out more information about the tours to seal rock on this website!
Visit Swan Lake
Not far from The Nobbies you’ll find swan lake where you can spot lots of swans! Depending on what time of year you go will depend on how deep the lake is! We went in April and the lake was still pretty dried up! The walk out to the lake takes about 10minutes and is a lovely little woodland walk where you’ll see loads of butterflies!
During our second day, despite the never-ending list of amazing things to do in Phillip Island we just relaxed at our campsite getting ready for the big evening ahead! Without a doubt one of the ultimate things to do in Phillip Island that everyone flocks to is the Penguin Parade. The Penguin Parade is what attracts millions onto the island every year. And why wouldn’t it, there aren’t many places in the world you can sit and watch Little Penguins come in from the ocean. Which is exactly what the Penguin Parade is. But if you want to get stuck into more on the island during this afternoon then there is so much more to explore! From chocolate factories, beaches for surfing, koala and kangaroo reserves you won’t be stuck for choice! You can take a look at this website for more options to fill your afternoon!
Evening: Penguin Parade
Phillip Island Penguin Parade
The Penguin Parade has been running on Phillip Island since the 1920’s creating a tourism hotspot for people visiting Australia. The Penguin Parade was created to protect these Little Penguins after a dramatic decline in numbers from 1985. In 1985 houses, shops, traffic and bushfires threatened Little Penguins who had made the Summerland Peninsula home long before they had. This are of Phillip Island is home to a colony of over 30,000 Little Penguins and the Penguin Parade only makes up a tiny number of that.
Penguin Parade Conservation
The Penguin Parade in Phillip Island does a lot in the way of conversation and the money used for the entry ticket goes towards helping these penguins. There are a lot of dangers that pose a threat to these little guys which you can read more about on this dedicated website or I’ll go into some below.
Foxes: Foxes are a huge threat to the survival on Little Penguin on lands can kill up to 40 penguins in one night! The Penguin Parade state on the website that their fox reduction management programme has dramatically decreased the number of foxes and killings.
Predators: Of course Penguins are threatened in the ocean like every other seabird. They are hunted by seals and birds of prey. Although, luckily for the Little Penguin the fur seals that live in The Nobbies in Phillip Island don’t eat penguin – phew!
Oil: Oil spill on the feathers of these creatures makes them incredibly cold and unable to hunt for food. At the conversation, the centre ran by The Penguin Parade they care for up to 1500 penguins suffering from an oil spill at one time!
Rubbish: Every year between 700,000 and 1 million seabirds are killed due to rubbish. Swallowing plastic and getting entangled in fish nets are the biggest cause of death by the rubbish in Little Penguins.
As travellers, it is our duty to protect the planet. Check out my simple ways to achieve sustainable budget travel here. These tips are so so simple but they might just go a long way!
Visiting The Penguin Parade
So what’s it like to visit The Penguin Parade? Well, it’s definitely enchanting and so impressive to see these little penguins in their natural habitat. The Penguin Parade runs every night at sunset where you can sit and watch these little guys come in from a long hard day fishing, some have been out there for weeks! As the sun goes down you’ll hear the penguins call and then watch as they emerge in groups from the ocean.
Depending on the time of year will depend on what time the penguins come to shore but the Penguin Parade website or App will tell you at the time of booking. Anything from 300-1000 penguins come in every night so you’re guaranteed a sighting! We visited at low-tide so it took the penguins a little longer to emerge from the ocean as low tide is a scary time for the Little Penguin. The stretch of sand they have to navigate is, of course, bigger meaning more time for predators.
Luckily all the Penguins made it to the shore safe and sound and we saw over 300 penguins that night! Most of the penguins came out of the ocean in groups of 3-6 until all of sudden over 200 penguins came out of the sea and followed each other up the shore. It was mind-blowing and a bit like follow the leader!
There are a few rules when you go to watch the Penguin Parade mainly no flash photography as this can harm and frighten the little penguins. Photographs taken professionally on the Penguin Parade App can be used and shared for your own use. There are security guards on the beach who will kick you out if you use a camera or your phone during the parade.
Budget: $26.60 PP or 15 GBP
Phillip Island is defiantly somewhere I put on any Australian bucket list. The scenery and wildlife that we got to explore on this island will stay with me forever. The rolling hills gave me a pinch of nostalgia for home and the gorgeous town of San Remo had me dreaming of staying forever. If you have any more questions about Phillip Island then make sure you either email me or let me know in the comments below! Don’t forget to share this post with someone you know visiting the land down under!
Happy and Healthy Travels,