|Melbourne has a series of nice beaches, which ring Port Phillip Bay, which are great spots to cool off when the weather warms up. Many of the beaches are patrolled during the summer season which helps you to have a safe time near the water. There are a range of beaches to suit a variety of different requirements; there are beaches which are close to central Melbourne and public transport, others next to playgrounds and beach activities like volleyball, while others have very shallow water which is ideal for youngsters.
In general, the further you get away from the mouth of the Yarra and large stormwater drains, the higher the water quality will be. Beaches stretching from Port Melbourne across to St Kilda and down to Elwood typically have the lowest water quality while beaches down at the far end of the Mornington Peninsula such as Rye and Rosebud have the best water quality. The water quality deteriorates after periods of heavy rainfall.
In the western area of Melbourne, one of the best beaches is Williamstown Beach which is 550m long, wide and sandy. It is best to swim at the western end of the beach which is patrolled by Williamstown Swimming and Surf Life Saving Club.
There's a wide range of facilities and services including cafes, public toilets, picnic facilities, playgrounds and rotunda. Opposite the beach there is a playground at Sadler Reserve and to the east of the beach is another playground at Hatt Reserve.
There is a lot of ticketed parking spaces and some limited free parking is available in the side streets off the Esplanade. The beach can be reached by a ten minute walk from the Williamstown Beach train station.
The other good family beach in the west is Altona Beach which is three kilometres long. The best area to swim is east of the pier which is patrolled by the Altona Life Saving Club and is a boat-free zone. The depth over the sand flats varies with the tide, and is best at high tide for a swim, or low tide for a wade. It can be a long distance to reach deep water during times of low tide.
There are reserves with BBQs, picnic tables, toilets, food outlets and a playground near the pier.
There is parking around the beach area and a 650m walk from the Altona Railway Station.
Northern Part of Port Phillip Bay
St Kilda Beach is the closest beach to central Melbourne and has many amenities. There are showers, toilets and a great range of eating and drinking places close by. St Kilda is more about buzz than beach. Talk a walk along the St Kilda pier for some added exercise. The beach is patrolled by the St Kilda Life Saving Club.
Parking is very difficult and public transport is the best option. A number of trams run on a regular schedule to St Kilda beach.
A secret about St Kilda is that the St Kilda Breakwater which protects the harbour is home to a colony of around 1200 Little Penguins. If you go to St Kilda Pier just before dusk you'll see the Little Penguins swimming in at the end of the day and climbing the breakwater rocks into their nests.
To the west of St Kilda beach is a ring of safe family beaches; Middle Park Beach, South Melbourne Beach, Port Melbourne Beach and Sandridge Beach.
These beaches have good facilities such as toilets, showers and eating places as well as some very good playgrounds. The fenced Plum Garland Memorial Playground is near South Melbourne and Middle Park Beach. There are volleyball nets set up on the beach near the playground.
The Maritime Cove Community Park at Sandridge Beach is a brilliant playground which used re-purposed equipment to create a Maritime themed play park.
Middle Park beach is unpatrolled but the other beaches are patrolled during the summer season by Sandridge Life Saving Club and South Melbourne and Port Melbourne Life Saving Clubs.
Parking is not easy to find along these beaches during the summer season and catching a tram could be a better option. There are trams from the city to South Melbourne and Port Melbourne beaches.
Some interesting things to do in the Port Melbourne area are to view cruise ships and the Spirit of Tasmania at Station Pier and to experience the history of Victoria at Princes Pier which was a major arrival point for new migrants, particularly during the post-war period.
Brighton and Elwood Area
One of the most iconic beaches in Melbourne is Brighton beach. There are actually two beaches; the main Brighton beach (unpatrolled and lacking facilities) and Brighton Dendy Street Beach which is famous for its row of colourful bathing boxes. The Brighton Life Saving Club patrols an area of beach near the Dendy Street beach.
There is paid parking in this area (about 100 spaces) and the beaches are fairly close to the Brighton Beach train station on the Sandringham line.
Further south along the bay is Elwood Beach which has a lot of facilities and caters for a range of water activities such as swimming, windsurfing, sailing and boating. There are BBQ areas, playgrounds, toilets and showers. Elwood Life Saving Club patrols the beach during the summer season.
There is plenty of ticketed parking and buses stop about a ten minute walk away.
Beaches between the Mordialloc breakwater and the Patterson River
Aspendale Beach forms the northern 3 km section of a 7.5 km long strip of beach. The beach is patrolled by the Aspendale Life Saving Club and there are toilets, water tap and beach shower.
There is some ticketed car parking places and the beach is close to the Aspendale train station.
Another nice beach in this area is Chelsea Beach which is a 1.5 km long straight stretch of sand patrolled by the Chelsea Longbeach Life Saving Club. The beach is safe for swimming and the water is shallow for quite a way out and then gradually deepens. There are ticketed parking areas and the beach is very close to the Chelsea train station.
There is a nice playground at Victory Park with a lighthouse overlooking the beach. The area next to the playground has shelters with picnic tables and BBQs, unshaded tables and toilets. Check out the beautiful mosaic of the weedy sea dragon on the toilet wall. There are beach showers also.
Beaches South of the Patterson River
There are three family friendly beaches which form a nine kilometre long section between the Patterson River in the north and Frankston to the south; Carrum beach, Seaford beach and Frankston beach.
Carrum Beach forms the northern two kilometers of the nine kilometre long Frankston-Carrum beach. The best place to swim is the northern section of the beach which is patrolled by the Carrum Surf Life Saving Club. Be careful bathing near the mouth of the Patterson River, as there is a deep tidal channel and strong tidal currents in the river and over the adjoining bars.
The ticketed parking area has space for 150 cars and the beach is located 200m west of Carrum railway station which is about an hour from the city.
There is a very nice playground at the Carrum Foreshore near the Surf Life Saving Club.
Next to the playground are two shelters each with a table and BBQs. There are also toilets, water tap, wooden deck chairs for adults and beach showers.
Seaford Beach which is 4.6 km long is a bit of a hidden gem which is usually only used by locals.
This is a great location for family swimming with a lovely sandy beach which is patrolled by the Seaford Life Saving Club. It is a good location for younger children with two sand banks parallel to the beach. If the children aren't strong swimmers they can stay between the water line and the first bar.
There is a pier (don't jump off the pier into the water due to shallow bars), toilets, boardwalk, art sculptures and places for eating.
There is some paid parking and the beach is located only 250 m west of the Seaford railway station.
Frankston Beach is 2.5 km long and begins at the southern boat launching area. It includes the 500 m long Frankston Pier (no jumping or diving off the pier), Kananook Creek mouth and the beach to the north. There are stretches of clear, shallow water and soft sand which provide a safe swimming beach for all ages. The beach is patrolled by the Frankston Life Saving Club.
The Frankston Waterfront area has a pier, extensive boardwalk, an arched bridge at the mouth of Kananook Creek, restaurants, boat launching facilities, picnic tables and BBQs, good adventure playground and public artworks.
There are a range of parking areas, some of which are free and some are paid parking. It is about 1 km from Frankston train station.
Mills Beach is a popular family beach just off the Esplanade which is patrolled by the Mornington Life Saving Club and has a grassy picnic area and a kiosk where you can buy drinks and ice-creams. Swimming is safest in front of the lifesaving club where the bar is usually shallowest.
The beach is fringed by around 70 colourful beach boxes.
There are areas of free parking, but the train line does not extend this far to the south.
Further to the west, past the Mornington Foreshore Reserve and towards the Mornington pier is a 600m long sandy strip which has three other nice beaches; Shire Hall Beach, Scout Beach and Mothers Beach (has trees for shade at the beach level and a large park at the top).
Southern Mornington Peninsula Area
The beaches in this area tend to have shallow water and are most suitable for families with young children. You should be able to find free parking in this area.
The nine kilometer long Rosebud Beach is fairly narrow and backed by a foreshore reserve with camping sites but the best place to swim is near the Rosebud & McCrae Life Saving Club where the beach is much wider.
A great new playground towers above the foreshore near Rosebud pier.
The 4 kilometer long Rye Beach is next to foreshore camping areas for much of its length. The best place to swim is to the east of the 300m Rye pier which has the biggest beach in the area and is shallow for a long way out.
The fun Rye's Up! Community Playground is near the pier and has toilets, water tap, grassy area, shelter with seats, picnic tables, shaded BBQs and unshaded tables.
There is the Rye Pier Snorkelling Trail (Octopus' Garden) where you can discover an underwater world of plants and fish by exploring an 200m long underwater trail that leads along under Rye Pier.
Take a look at the Rye Lime Kiln for a historical insight into the area.
All Other Beaches
The following link has reviews of ALL beaches in Melbourne.