You don’t have to drive too far down the Mornington Peninsula on Victoria’s southeast coast to find stunning white sand beaches, crystal clear water that shimmers in the sun, and a fantastic coffee to go.

Almost the entire northern coastline of the Mornington Peninsula that encircles Port Phillip Bay has its own pristine beach, a handful of local cafes, and great dining options to choose from. 

To narrow it down for you, we’ve created the best list of the Top 5 beach towns to visit on the Mornington Peninsula, from locals who call the Peninsula home. 

If you’re from out of town or visiting the country for the first time then a trip to the Mornington Peninsula is one of the best places to visit in Australia

Getting to the Mornington Peninsula

The route to the Peninsula from Melbourne CBD is straightforward and easy to find as it’s essentially one or two roads that take you the entire way down. 

You can take the inland route via Monash Freeway (M1) from the city center to join Eastlink which turns into Peninsula Link until you arrive in Frankston.

Or you could enjoy the scenery along the way by taking the coastal route along Beach Road that becomes Nepean Highway.

There are public bus routes and train lines that will take you into the Peninsula using the Myki system for around $10 AUD but this is longer and generally takes just under two hours. 

Top 5 beach towns on the Mornington Peninsula

Go for a drive to Frankstonfrankson beach

We know a lot about Frankston because we have called this ever-growing Peninsula metropolis home for 8 years so you’re in good hands. 

It’s the beginning of the Mornington Peninsula and the largest of all the towns here, which means it has a great coffee and food scene throughout the city. A day spent at Frankston foreshore is perfect because if you’re short on time it’s the prettiest and easiest beach to access from the main freeway. 

A long stretch of soft white sand nestled between a boat ramp at one end and a 307-metre-long pier at the other end where you could see a variety of fish life including puffer fish, crabs, and Stingrays. 

Go for a 30-minute walk up and down the wooden boardwalk that overlooks the ocean with all the locals walking their dogs and babies.

Where to get coffee

The best part about living in Frankston is that the absolute best coffee shop is on the beach, in a little caravan called Little Ollys Cafe. The team here serves a great selection of coffees for a loyal base of customers who make the early morning drive out here for a walk along the Frankston beach boardwalk. 

It’s even popular amongst the early swimmers who brave the cold frigid waters of the early morning for a cold plunge. 

Another coffee shop worth mentioning is Commonfolk on Main St, they have a larger sister store in Mornington further south complete with an outdoor dining area, coffee roastery, and co-working space.

Down the street deserves honorable mention for amazing coffee however they are a little further away from the beach (7-minute drive) but if you’re looking for a tucked away, local go-to cafe this is it. 

Best place for food

Our go-to breakfast stop is only a 3-minute drive (12-minute walk) from the beach called Nutrition 6, serving a delicious breakfast including signature smoothie bowls, smashed avocado on toast, healthy smoothies, and of course, more great coffee. 

Another option for eating out in Frankston is literally across the street called Nature Cafe Bar, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant with a mix of takeaway and dine-in options. 

Stroll down the coast to Dromana

Almost as close as you will get to island paradise this side of the state, Dromana is one of the best beach towns on the Mornington Peninsula because it has so much to offer. 

The beach itself is incredibly clear and blue in the summertime, perfect for stand-up paddleboarding, kayakers, and families with children to play in the shallow waters with very little to no currents.

The boat jetty on the eastern side normally sees a group of dolphins and large Smooth Rays who visit each night for their feed of the fisherman’s leftover catch.

There are also incredibly fun things to do around Dromana, nearby in neighboring Arthurs Seat is the Eagle cable car that takes you high above the hills and offers unparalleled views over the entire eastern coast of the Peninsula

A number of bathing boxes line the shore and make Dromana a very popular tourist destination in the summer.

There are also lots of BBQ facilities on the foreshore grassed area, as well as picnic tables and car spots to park close to the beach. 

Where to get coffee

Laneways Espresso can be found right next to the TAB and serve amazing coffee from their quaint and cute coffee shop. They serve a very large selection of coffees and teas, everything from your standard espresso or latte, through to a Liquorice tea and or Lemon Quencher.

Hot tip: Ask for a Magic, its Melbournes take on a double ristretto with a three-quarter flat white – a ton of caffeine that will keep you going all day long to explore the rest of the Mornington Peninsula.

Best place for food

Two Buoys restaurant offers a chilled afternoon vibe, somewhere to sit and enjoy a beer over lunch or dinner with views of Dromana beach directly in front of you. 

Their Mediterranean menu consists of a large range of Tapas style servings, local Peninsula seafood platters and wines also from around the region like Red Hill and Main Ridge.

Live like a local in Sorrento sorrento back beach

Probably one of the most popular, chic beach towns along the Mornington Peninsula is Sorrento, tucked away in the far southern tip of the bay is this quaint, Italian-esque town complete with a gelateria and cafe by the way. 

Sorrento is unique in that it has two beaches; the calm waters of Port Phillip Bay on one end, and the rough and rugged ocean beach to the south. There are so many things to see and do here in Sorrento it’s one of our favorite weekend escapes. 

Sorrento also services the Sorrento to Queenscliff ferry passenger/vehicle ferry that takes you from the Peninsula to the Bellarine Peninsula where you can start your journey along the Great Ocean Road. Others simply ride it for the fun, the views and to maybe catch a glimpse of Bottlenose dolphins riding the wake. 

As you drive into town you will no doubt want to stop at Sorrento front beach to cool off before you go and explore the main street, Ocean Beach Road. The main road here is the busiest stretch of town lined with boutique retail stores Tommy Bahama or Viktoria and Woods.

An early morning or late afternoon trip down to Sorrento Pier and you might see a local pod of Dolphins swimming just offshore. You can also join the crew at Polperro dolphin swim at the same pier for a paid tour of the bay to swim with Dolphins.

Insider tip: There is a hidden ocean beach within a short walk of the car park called Diamond Bay Beach, enclosed by a small inlet with a shallow reef and protected from the rough waters at low tide that is another local treat. 

Just make sure to visit on low tide otherwise there won’t be any beach left to walk on.port-phillip-bay

Where to get coffee in Sorrento

You could easily meander around town for an hour or two and tick off great cafes like Itali.Co Sorrento for an authentic experience, or try Baked In Sorrento, these guys also do amazing sandwiches, savouries and sweets. 

Best place for food

And this leads us into where to get a great bite to eat..also at Baked In Sorrento. Seriously they have daily baked, fresh goods that make your mouth water. Each morning they restock the shelves with an assortment of baguettes, homemade sandwiches, smoothies and eat in meals. 

They also have another store in Portsea not all that far from here called Baked in Portsea. 

Join the rest of Melbourne in Rye

No article talking about the best beach towns on the Mornington Peninsula could ever overlook Rye, it’s the most popular beach for Melbournians to flock to year-round, just make sure you get here bright and early to secure your spot on the beach or you will miss out!

That’s right, people from as far as 1 hour and 45 minutes away make the annual pilgrimage to Rye, hook up the caravan at their sites for two weeks, and stay put for most of the summer. The beach is incredibly blue, clear, and runs for kilometres in either direction that have just as nice beaches.

Rye Pier is very popular amongst tourists and fishermen for the abundant marine life that live here. 

The main street of Rye, Point Nepan Road has tons of awesome ice cream shops, cafes and bars, restaurants, and retail stores you could walk all day long. 

Our favorite part of Rye though is the Peninsula Hot Springs, technically in Fingal but most people associate the springs with Rye and it’s less than 7 minutes drive from the centre of town. The Peninsula Hot Springs are incredibly relaxing, with a mix of private bathing,  public bath houses and the spa dreaming center, a trip here won’t disappoint. 

Best place to get coffee in Rye

Freaky Tiki cafe is just on Ozone st and is our go to coffee shop in Rye, but honestly, with such an Italian influence in this part of town, you’re hard-pressed to find a cafe that doesn’t do good coffee.

Wild bean cafe and Captain of Rye are great alternatives both on main street Rye within a few minutes walk of each other and to the beach. 

Best place for food in Rye

SisCO on the corner of Weeroona st and Point Nepean road is a perfect local italian pizza house that pair well with beautiful Mornington Peninsula wines of Red Hill or Tuerong. 

We personally love finishing off the night with a sunset walk down Rye Pier and stopping at a few of our go to gelato stores. Mubble Ice cream and Vulcano gelato store are literally opposite each other adjacent to the Rye Pier car park so it’s a great place to venture out with the night time crowds of Rye. 

Retreat to Mount MarthaMount Martha

To cap off our list of the best beach towns on the Mornington Peninsula we couldn’t overlook the quiet and picture postcard Mount Martha. Take a stroll along the beautiful sandy foreshore with colorful beach boxes in the morning or watch the kite surfers take advantage of a windy day.

In comparison to the other beaches here, it is definitely not as busy as the rest even during school holidays but this is a well-kept secret we intend on keeping “secret”.

There’s lots of parking to the right of the life-saving club and yacht club which is technically Mount Martha North beach in parking lots, or further back in the suburban streets that generally don’t have time limits so you can spend all day here without the fear of a parking ticket. 

If you love walking then you can join the boardwalk along the Esplanade from Mount Martha to the Rock Pools to the west.

Best place to get coffee

Luckily Mount Martha is a small beachside town and the best coffee spots are all within a block of each other, but to begin with, we recommend heading to Higher Ground cafe behind the main strip of shops in the Bay Road car park. Super friendly staff with a delicious takeaway and dine-in menu open 7 am to 2: 30 pm. 

On the corner of Lochiel and Watsons Avenue that overlooks the main street are two great coffee shops called Volpino & Milk Bar and Co. which both have outdoor seating, the perfect way to watch the waves go by.

Best place for food in Mount Martha

Most of the best foodie places are all located in the strip of shops on the Esplanade between Bay Road and Watson Road but our go-to place on the entire Mornington Peninsula has to be Mr.Curtis. 

On the second floor of Volpino is access to Mr.Curtis has a beautiful balcony that overlooks Mount Martha beach and stunning views over the coast. They serve amazing lunches and dinner here and we go to ABC almost every month to snack on our favorite mushroom arancini and grilled saganaki. 

The owner Maria is delightful and very accommodating for her guests, be sure to give Mr.Curtis a visit. 

Where to Stay on the Mornington Peninsula

Final thoughts on the Top 5 beach towns on the Mornington Peninsula

Whether you’re coming from Melbourne city or taking the ferry from Queenscliff and you’re wondering what to do on the Peninsula, you will be amazed at the hidden beaches and delicious coffee scene the Peninsula offers, it’s the perfect blend of a relaxing weekend getaway that still has so many things to see and do. 

Guest Bio: We’re Chris and Laura Travels, your adventure travel and photography blog from Australia. A Canadian and Australian living the digital lifestyle, capturing engaging visual storytelling experiences from around the world. 

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