Top Sailing Spots To Explore Across The Bellarine Peninsula
While the Bellarine Peninsula has always been a popular destination for tourists to visit and locals to enjoy, it still manages to fly under the radar in comparison to some of Victoria’s other coastal hotspots. Which is understandable. Mention Port Phillip Bay and everyone immediately thinks of Melbourne — Australia’s cultural juggernaut. And though you could spend countless days exploring that wonderful city, only a short trip to the southwest will bring you to the Bellarine Peninsula. Yes, you can reach it by car. But it’s much more fun to explore by boat. Maybe you already have this in mind? Maybe you’ve begun taking note of businesses or websites that boast a range of yachts for sale? Choosing your vessel, though, is only half the challenge when it comes to planning a sailing expedition. The other half is choosing where to sail. To help spark your imagination, here are the top sailing spots to explore right here at home — across the beautiful Bellarine Peninsula.
Attend the Festival of Sails in Geelong
Technically, Geelong is not on the Bellarine Peninsula. It’s around the corner, in Corio Bay. We’re prepared to break our own rules for one time only. That time is Summer, late January, when Geelong hosts the Festival of Sails, Australia’s largest regatta. And what could be more fun than watching it unfold from the water rather than hustling with the crowds on land?Of course, if you’ve planned your trip well in advance and fancy your chances, you can enter the regatta. If not, make sure you do set foot on land, as the festival is more than just a race. With a multi-stage music festival happening alongside, it’d be rude not to make an appearance.
Swim with seals and dolphins in Queenscliff
Alright, we’re back on track. If you’ve just attended the regatta, the next place you should consider is Queenscliff. Dock your boat at the harbour and immerse yourself in this town’s quaint mix of the old and the new. For all you avid historians, there’s the military museum, Fort Queenscliff, and for the foodie, there’s places like Piknik and 360Q. In our opinion, though, the most enjoyable activity to do from Queenscliff is to take the Seal and Dolphin Swim Tour. With the world-renowned Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park as your host for the day, it’s the kind of adventure everyone loves, no matter how comfortable you feel in the ocean. From brushing up on your snorkelling skills at Popes Eye Marine Reserve to hanging out with Australian Fur Seals at Chinaman’s Hat to ending the day swimming along dolphins, it’ll take some special to top this tour as your favourite moment of the trip.
Perfect your selfie at the lighthouse in Point Lonsdale
Next up is Point Lonsdale, a literal step next door from Queenscliff. This hamlet offers much of the same relaxed vibes, so it makes sense to visit them both in the same trip. Though it is small, Point Londsdale still offers plenty. You can swim and fish in the calmer bayside waters or surf on the Bass Strait side. If you’re leaning toward more relaxing activities, make a tour of the historic Point Lonsdale lighthouse the centrepiece of your visit. The lighthouse famously guided ships through the treacherous entrance to Port Phillip Bay—known as ‘The Rip’—for well over a century. These days, it’s happy to be the perfect backdrop to your latest Instagram post.
Visit Basils Farm in Swan Bay
Across the bay from Queenscliff and Swan Island—still on the Bellarine side—is Swan Bay. While tiny in size—the locality boasts less than 100 residents—it’s home to Basils Farm, an artisan winery that’s a delight for both the eye and the stomach. If eating dishes made from local, seasonal produce is your thing—honestly, don’t be alarmed if you see kitchen staff foraging in the farm’s potager garden for the ingredients to make your lunch—make sure you make room in your Bellarine itinerary for Swan Bay.
The Bellarine is just the beginning
Again, we’re breaking the rules. And again, we can justify it. Travelling should be an open book, with the next adventure a turn of the page away. This is very much the case with the Bellarine Peninsula. Once you’ve experienced everything this region has to offer—and it has much more to offer, trust us—you’ll want to set sail and explore the rest of Port Phillip Bay and the surrounding regions. From the Mornington Peninsula across the bay to the Great Ocean Road to the Gippsland Lakes, there’s more than enough to keep your salty crew happy. The beauty of sailing as means of exploration is the freedom it gives you. Yes, there’s maritime traffic, and yes, Port Phillip is a busy bay, but really, few things are as satisfying as striking out toward someplace new with the wind in your hair and the scent of saltwater gracing your nose. It’s romantic and exhilarating. The only downside—and we use that term loosely—is that once you catch the sailing bug, it’s near-impossible to shake. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.