Okay, so Melbourne doesn't boast of the fancy 'Caribbean climate' but that doesn't make our beaches any less special. Come summer and we all love to don our swimwear and head for the water. The Great Ocean Road drive is studded with spectacular beaches (read gems) but we don't have to go that far since we have some fabulous beaches right around the city and suburban region.
Beaches like Elwood, Brighton, Hampton, Sandringham, Black Rock, and further down south like Aspendale, Edithvale, Chelsea and Bonbeach, all face Port Phillip Bay and are an equal hit among locals and tourists alike. Here's a random list of some of the most-loved beaches in Melbourne - our unfeigned excuse to dress down and have fun in water.
This is one of the hotspots amongst locals and tourists. What makes it so popular is its proximity to the city, Luna Park and some of the best restaurants, cafes and bars. The fact that it's a part of one of the most stylish suburbs in Melbourne is just happenstance. It is a great spot for water sports and activities like kite boarding, waterskiing, windsurfing, sailing, rollerblading, volleyball and of course, swimming and sunbathing. The best part to swim is towards the St Kilda Pier, which forms the northern boundary of the beach. The beach is also a popular place for fishing along the piers. It is also the venue for international volleyball tournaments. The gentle, fresh bay wind can be a bit chilly at night nevertheless makes for an invigorating walk along the Esplanade. The only drawback is the lack of sufficient parking space; though it is well accessible through public transport (Tram No. 96).
Known for its iconic beach houses, Brighton beach is approximately 1 km long. Owing to the pure water and clean sand, it's a good place for swimming and sunbathing. When the south-western winds are strong, they produce rideable waves and good surf. The famous Middle Brighton Sea Baths are a stone's throw from the beach. There are a plethora of delightful cafes, seafood restaurants and many other interesting shops and galleries abutting the beach area. Despite the popularity, it's generally quite and ideal for relaxation, picnics, sunbathing, et al. Take an unwinding stroll along the Middle Brighton Pier and enjoy fabulous views of Port Phillip Bay. It is relatively close to the city and is easily accessible by train, tram or bus. There are 100 parking spaces in the formal parking area.
Port Melbourne Beach Backed by Beaconsfield Parade and promenade, Port Melbourne beach is very popular among the locals. The beach is around 2 km long, wide, relatively low and good for swimming. It is flanked by palm trees that give it a picture-postcard look. Strong south-western winds result in good surf. The two piers, one at each side, are great for a walk or fishing. A fabulous pedestrian path is very popular among joggers, walkers, skaters and cyclists. It is easily accessible by tram (No. 109), bus (No. 253) and car though Beaconsfield Parade – the only accessible parking near the beach – is a restricted area. Bay Street, a stone's throw from the beach, is dotted with fantastic cafes and restaurants.
Chelsea Beach Situated between Edithvale and Bonbeach, Chelsea beach is great for swimming, fishing, windsurfing, waterskiing, sailing, sunbathing and picnics. It is a popular spot for locals during the summer months. There is pier towards the south of the life saving club that makes a fabulous spot for fishing, however jumping off the pier could be dangerous due to the shallow water below. Enjoy the views of the ocean and watch the sun go down. Strong westerlies produce good breaks for surfing. The beach is similar to Bonbeach – clean, fun and inviting. A foreshore park and parking area (for 100 cars) is situated towards the north of club. It has easy access by train (the railway station is just a few metres away), bus or car.
Williamstown Beach This tiny beach (approximately 500 m long) borders the picturesque suburb of Williamstown, a short drive from the city centre. It offers some of the most amazing views of the Melbourne skyline. The beach, popular among locals as 'Willy', is backed by the Esplanade and is a short walking distance from the train station. Owing to relatively low and infrequent breaks, it is safe for swimming and sailing; it is one of the most celebrated sailing shores among locals with countless boats adrift at all times. The wide, sandy front makes it ideal for sun worshippers and picnickers. A foreshore reserve and a picnic area are located towards the eastern end of the beach. The formal parking area can accommodate 250 cars. Nelsons Place, the mainstay of food culture in the suburb, is only a few strides away.
Elwood Beach This beach and the adjoining foreshore reserve are a popular haunt particularly during the summer months. The beach is great for on-water sports like wind surfing, jet skiing, parasailing, kite surfing and sailing; strong southerlies produce good breaks for surfing. It is safe to swim around the shallow, outer segments though the deeper sections (approached by the piers) are good for angling. It's a very clean and picturesque beach – great for sunbathing, picnics and relaxation. The nearby parks, cafés and restaurants are just a few added benefits. It has easy access to public transport and the formal parking area accommodates 100 private vehicles. The adjacent Point Ormond Beach is also a popular hangout zone for water lovers.
Albert Park Beach This is one of the most popular inner city beaches in Melbourne. Owing to its relatively placid and shallow water, it is safe for kids. Locals tugging their boats and sails out on the water is a common spectacle during summer. You can enjoy a beach picnic, play volleyball with friends, revel in thrilling water sports, take a plunge or simply unwind in the sun. A walk along the Kerferd Road Pier affords spectacular views of the horizon. The piers also serve as popular fishing spots. Surfing is possible only at times of strong southerlies that result in high tide. There are walking and cycling trails skirting the beach front, and plenty of restaurants, fish and chips', and other places to eat in the vicinity. The beach is well accessible through public transport (Tram No. 1); private parking is available around Beaconsfield Parade.