The Cape Woolamai network of trails is, in my opinion, the climax of hiking on Phillip Island. Beginning at Woolamai Surf Beach, walkers can either complete a full loop circuit around the cape, or they can walk a desired distance and return at their leisure.
The first stage of the trail is a short shoreline stroll across soft sand. After a kilometre, hikers will reach the Magiclands steps that climb to the top of the Woolamai cliffs and provide heightened views over the beach. The gentle uphill dirt path heads towards The Pinnacles, a unique rock formation, and the Beacon.
At the Beacon Lookout, walkers are given 360 degree views of Phillip Island and Bass Strait. In the distance, it is possible to spot the San Remo Bridge and the low-lying suburban spread of Cowes.
From here, the highest elevation point on the Island, the trail heads to an Old Granite Quarry and along the relatively quiet and untouched sands of Cleeland Bight. It then returns to the car park at Woolamai Beach.
The full loop of Cape Woolamai is approximately 8.5km, however it can be shortened by skipping Cleeland Bight and returning via the Woodland Track shortcut.
2. Nobbies Boardwalk
At the furthest point of Phillip Island, visitors will discover the popular Nobbies Boardwalk. Beginning at the Nobbies Centre, the short walk navigates around the Western edge of the Island and out towards Cape Schnack on the Mornington Peninsula.
The name Nobbies refers to a large rock formation metres from the island mainland, which can be seen from the walk. When continuing on the boardwalk, visitors will eventually find a blowhole lookout point.
Because the area is a popular habitat for little penguins, walkers will notice a number of box huts near the boardwalk. Although most penguin activity occurs in the evening after the walk is closed, it is possible to spot a rare penguin during the day. The key is to keep your eyes peeled and look beneath the boardwalk as well as in the box huts.
There is an abundance of other bird life visible from the trail too - geese and silver gulls are common in the region.
3. George Bass Coastal Walk
Okay, I admit that this trail is not quite on Phillip Island. (But it's pretty close!)
The George Bass cliff top walk, stretching from San Remo to Kilcunda, allows hikers to experience and explore an unspoiled piece of the Bass Coast.
Rolling hills along the Bass Coast.
For majority of the trail, walkers have farms/fields on one side, and cliffs/ocean on the other. For the ears, it's an organic combination of moos and crashing waves.
The rugged coastal cliffs are very hilly - so expect to be heading upwards one minute and downwards the next. This slightly exhausting terrain is the price to pay for preserved, natural land.
In total, the well signposted walk is approximately 7km one way, but hikers can choose to turn around at any point. There is ample car parking available at both ends, either at Punchbowl Car Park near San Remo, or near Peppermint Road in Kilcunda.
4. SS Speke Shipwreck
The hike to SS Speke Shipwreck at Kitty Miller Bay is less of a trail and more of a beach/rock scramble. It's important that you only attempt this hike at low tide, because the wreck is otherwise inaccessible.
Kitty Miller Bay is a stony cove that is challenging to walk over, but thankfully the wreck is not a far walk. If you can find it, there is also a skinny goat's trail around the edge of the cove which is much easier on the ankles.
The SS Speke Shipwreck has rested on the beach for more than 100 years; a history proven by the rusty and broken nature of the framework. With the stony, craggy beach around it, the wreck can make for spooky and eccentric photography.
It's easiest to park your car at the end of Kitty Millers Bay Road and ensure you are walking South-East to reach the ruins.
5. Cowes Esplanade
For a stroll along a flat, concrete path, walkers can turn to the esplanade trail at Phillip Island's largest town: Cowes.
The simple walk can be started from any point along the Cowes waterfront, and can be extended to approximately 7km return.
Cowes jetty, low-tide rock pools, and the calm bay waters are popular points of interest along the way. Once the walk is complete, the is a variety of small goods stores and unique business to explore along the Main Street.