You know what Sydney? No, you don’t have better beaches than us. Because a beach is attached to land, and your land has lockout laws and bad coffee (#rantover). So what if our bay waves couldn’t be surfed by a hamster? So what if our beaches occasionally get taken over by flesh-eating sea lice? They’re ours, god damn it. And some of them are actually pretty good.
If you want to know where to find the good sand in Melbourne (or vaguely near Melbourne), consider this your go-to guide.
Ah, the classic Brighton bathing boxes. A Melbourne icon, dating back to the Victorian era. There’s just something fun about lounging on sand surrounded by countless colourful houses. Okay, not countless. There are exactly 82. The water is usually fairly calm and swimmer-friendly, and when the weather’s right you can catch a glimpse of windsurfers and water-skiers getting in on the action. If nothing else, do it for the ‘gram.
No, not Williamstown front beach (are we even calling that a beach?) We’re talking about the sandy strip around the point, away from the marina (and most of the crowds). This is a highly underrated day trip from the Melbourne mainland. You can hop a ferry to Williamston, eat your fill on the main drag (Pier Farm is a good spot if you’re looking for fancy), then wander through the Botanic gardens to the back beach.
Edith-where? If you haven’t heard of Edithvale Beach, that’s because sand-hungry locals are hogging it all to themselves. It’s one of the few places around the bay where you’ll find genuinely white sand. Like proper, Queensland level sand (okay, we might be exaggerating a tad, but you get the idea). You can chill on the dunes or go paddle-boarding out in the shallows. The beach itself stretches for 1.5km between Chelsea and Aspendale. There’s not much parking, but you’ve got Edithvale Station right there if you want to PT it.
Black Rock isn’t the prettiest beach, but it does have some of the best swimming in the bay. The reason is the steep beach face and lack of sandbar, which means it gets deep quite quickly. Not great for the kiddies, but if you’re looking to cool off on a Melbourne 40-degree stinker, it’s a good option. The beach runs for about 750m, and swimmers are watched over by the guys at Black Rock Lifesaving Club.
Okay, so even if you’re not familiar with Mt Martha’s main beach we’re gonna hedge a guess and say at the very least you know of the Mt Martha Pillars. Unless you know, you’ve been living under a rock, rather than jumping off them. However, while that always makes for a great day out, we’re focusing on the beach itself for this one, in all it’s sandy, salty, glory. Not to mention the crystal clear water.
Sand quality? Solid. Better than Sorrento.
Dog-friendly? Hawker Beach is 24/7 pup-friendly. But the main drag is dog-free between9am and 7pm.
Eat: Providore Café
We’ll admit it’s not the prettiest beach going around, but it’s still a Melbourne staple. Grab yourself some fish and chips and plonk yourself down on the sand, under the watchful eyes of the Luna Park Mouth, before hitting up one of the nearby bars. Stay late enough and you can even stroll along the pier and catch sight of some very cute fairy penguins. Use this for tanning, eating and people-watching. Swimming not so much.
One of the best bits about Anglesea beach is when the tide goes out and for metres and metres you’re gifted with sandbanks just made for beach cricket. Made for it, you hear me? And skim-boarding, if those things still exist. Watch the cute-as-all-get-out nippers learning their life-saving skills or sit back and watch the lifeguards as you settle in for a day of wholesome family fun. And make sure you stop off at Anglesea Fish & Chips after your surf sesh.
Sorrento Back Beach
Sorrento tends to be heaving with holiday-goers in summer, so check this one out in a shoulder month. You still won’t have the waves to yourself, but you’ll at least avoid three to four budgie-smuggler encounters. Plus, there’s giant rockpools and sloping sand dunes galore for the adventure-seekers (and some serious insta-opportunities from the lookout point). Good beginner’s surfing with an on-shore wind.
Blairgowrie Back Beach
Yep, this tiny little town between two tourist hot spots (Rye and Sorrento) is making its mark. Head down to Blairgowrie Back Beach (sometimes referred to as Bridgewater Bay) for some peaceful fish and chips on the sand. Or follow the Lifesaver Track track for a sunset stroll when you’re not craving that I’ve-got-sand-everywhere sensation. Or, you know, head to my schoolies hot-spot Blairgowrie Jumping Rock, before doing a bomb into a deep rock pool.
Sand quality? Sandy (what do you want from us?)
Dog-friendly? Yep, but keep the lead on.
Eat: Blairgowrie Café
Another Summer staple. Everyone knows someone with a beach house down in Rye (or wishes they did). At very the least, a friend of a friend. And rightly so, thanks to some cute cafes popping up and the perfect beach for an afternoon spent on the water. Grab your book and plant yourself on the sand, or stroll along the pier—before jumping off it, of course. PRO TIP: escape the crowds at the back beaches. Not quite as pretty, but far more room to stretch out.
Sand quality? Silky smooth. Especially above the tideline.
Dog-friendly? Leash-free between7pm –9am (during Daylight Savings)
Eat: Captains of Rye
Mentone is a charming little beach. Often overlooked for flashier neighbours like Sandringham and Chelsea. It starts just past the Rickett’s Point Sanctuary, and features the ever-friendly Mentone Lifesaving Club. Throughout the year, you’ll see people strolling along the boardwalk with their pooches, getting in their morning tai-chi, or (weather permitting) going for a dip. This one definitely carries a family-friendly vibe, so pack your salad rolls, watermelon and sunscreen and get your butt down to the beach. Pro tip: come at low tide. It’s shallow and warm for 50m out into the bay.
Sand quality? Meh. Orange and a bit coarse.
Dog-friendly? Woof! (That’s a yes). 24/7 all year round (between Plummer Rd and Charman Rd)
Eat: The Corner Store
When they deepened the channel in Port Phillip Bay, it had some side effects. One of the side effects was all the sand drifting out of Portsea front beach. That was sad for Portsea, but brilliant for Shelley, a couple of bays over—because most of the sand ended up here. There’s millionaire’s corner down one end (think boatsheds bigger than your house), but 80% of the beach is beautiful white sand, tufts of beach grass and beautiful blue bay water. Most people drive straight past Shelley—there’s only two public access points down the cliff, and almost zero parking. Proper hidden gem.
Sand quality? Rich and velvety.
Dog-friendly? Rich people seem to do it, but technically you have to wait till after7pm. More info here.
Eat: There’s nothing to eat at Shelley. You can fish, or beg scraps from rich people.
Want to bring the pup? Here's our list of Melbourne's best dog-friendly beaches.
Image credit: Visit Victoria