Whether you’re after dependable surf, a family friendly parcel of sand or just an idyllic spot where you can relax and splash around, check out these four beaches in Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula.
Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula might not receive as many column inches as its flashier eastern cousin across the bay, but there’s an equal amount of temptations on these fair shores, from cracking restaurants and pubs to scenic wineries, quaint towns, and, of course, inviting beaches. Here are four of the region’s best.
Eastern Beach, Geelong
Situated right in the thick of the city, Geelong’s Eastern Beach is a fine little slice of shoreline on Corio Bay. Not only are the third-wave cafes and smart little restaurants and bars of Victoria’s second city right at your heels, but there’s a fair bit to do right on the water’s edge too: think a scenic reserve with sheltered picnic tables and public barbecues, terraced lawns perfect for lounging at sunset, a playground for little ones, and even a shark-proof sea bath surrounded by an art-deco-style boardwalk that was built in the 1930s, complete with a diving tower. There’s also a separate swimming pool for kiddies who want to thrash around in the water but don’t feel confident enough in the sea. Basically, it’s a great spot to bring the whole family on a summer’s day.
Thirteenth Beach, Barwon Heads
Located on the southern face of the Bellarine Peninsula, Barwon Heads is home to a sweeping stretch of windswept coastline that’s often gloriously devoid of other people: Thirteenth Beach. Measuring nearly five kilometres long, this untouched swathe of silica is backed by dunes and coastal scrub for most of its length, and home only to a surf club, founded in 1961.
Lapped by brilliant turquoise seas, it’s super popular with surfers, and boasts a variety of conditions, catering to both beginners and professionals; The Beacon (the area in front of the shipping beacon) is one of the most frequented spots. It’s also a good spot for beach fishing, with the waters known to harbour gummy, snapper and mulloway. While it’s safe to swim here, rips are a common feature of the beach, so it’s best to dive in only within the patrolled area. Otherwise, you’ll find locals here walking their dogs, making sandcastles with their little ones from under the shade of their beach umbrella, or going for a brisk sunset jog.
Lonsdale Bay – Santa Casa, Queenscliff
This quaint seaside village (pop. 1,315) has long enticed Victorians for a weekend getaway with its old-timey charm; wander around the main streets littered with historic buildings that house cafes, pubs and antique stores and you’ll see what we mean. It’s also surrounded on three sides by water, meaning there’s plenty of prime coastline to choose from, dotted with historic piers, rocky outcrops and sandy beaches. In fact, there’s more than a dozen beaches to enjoy in the vicinity, and it’s hard to go wrong whichever you pick, but a little-known parcel of sand and sea, wedged between Queenscliff and the neighbouring township of Point Lonsdale, is arguably the one to beat. Not only is Lonsdale Bay, Santa Casa, known to have some of the cleanest water bayside, but this south-east facing, three-kilometre-long series of three beaches is also a relatively calm place to swim with small waves and wide, shallow surf zones. You’ll also find picnic areas dotted through the beach reserve behind, and a walking track that threads through much of it.
From Queenscliff there are plenty of water-based activities to be had too: catch the ferry to Sorrento, on the Mornington Peninsula, take a surfing lesson locally, or even go swimming with dolphins and seals.
Though it’s not strictly within the confines of the Bellarine Peninsula, this little crescent of sand merits mention. Located on the Great Ocean Road, just beyond Torquay, you can expect golden sands lapped by crystalline waters. Come the height of summer, Jan Juc is routinely packed with in-the-know beachgoers. Receiving waves that average some 1.4-metres it’s best suited to experienced swimmers, bodyboarding enthusiasts, surfers, or those who just want to sunbake and paddle, but it’s also patrolled over the weekend come summer.
Once you’ve had your fill of vitamin D (and sea) there are cliff top walks and lookout points to explore here, taking in the area’s rugged beauty from above.
Bear in mind that you’ll need to navigate stairs to reach Jan Juc beach, so it’s not suited to those with limited mobility.