Born in Madeira, raised in Sydney, living in Melbourne and dreaming of Bali...
Published January 2nd 2019
Giving up my car a few years ago was one of the best things I ever did. Not only do I save money on petrol, insurance and the upkeep, but I'm walking and using public transport more - which is better for the environment. The only time I wish I had a car, is when I want to explore or try a new hike or walk that may be a little bit further away or difficult to access via tram or train.
That's why I love the coastal walk from Sandringham to Half Moon Bay! Not only is it easy to get to via train, but it's also a gorgeous 25-30 minute walk each way, passing a number of quiet beaches and taking in breathtaking ocean views. As you get closer to Half Moon Bay, there's also the spectacular Red Bluff Cliffs. For a moment, you could be forgiven for thinking that you were in Europe somewhere - the Algarve in Portugal maybe? Yet you're only 20 minutes or so out of the city.
You arrive at Sandringham train station - the trip is quick from the city and the tracks run parallel to the ocean at one point which looks and feels pretty unique. In Sandringham, you find a few cafes and takeaway shops for a quick caffeine hit or to pick up a bottle of water for your walk.
The beach is a 2 minute walk from the station - you simply head down Melrose St to the Sandringham Rotunda and from there, your walk begins. To the left of the Rotunda are wooden stairs leading down to the white sands and crystal clear waters of Sandringham beach - looking back to Melbourne city in the distance. You may like to stop here, but I assure you there are quieter beaches and spectacular views coming up.
Apparently, you can do this entire walk via the beaches and rocks below, but I'm usually hiking solo (and am slightly anxious) so I choose the safe path up the top. More adventurous and daring types may like to head down and try the beach version, however, may miss some of the sweeping views along the way!
The Bay Trail is clearly marked and easy to follow. In parts, it runs right along the coastline, and other times it's closer to the road. All the while you are surrounded by nature, so it feels a little bit like a bush hike. Do remember to wear sunscreen - most of the walk is open and if it's a sunny day, you may get sunburnt (like I did once!).
There are a number of ramp turn-offs on the right that lead to some unnamed beaches (probably still considered to be Sandringham). If you have lots of time, you can go down and explore these too.
The Edward Street Beach ramp is the last turn off before you head over the Red Bluff lookout and towards Half Moon Bay. You could go down to the beach and climb over the rocks at Red Bluff instead, but I usually go over the top to take in the view and then return via the beach instead.
The views as you walk towards Red Bluff is pretty amazing and then you arrive at the popular Half Moon Bay beach on the other side. Every time I have come, Half Moon has been littered with families - umbrellas and sunshades, toys and floatation devices everywhere you look. If you're a family this seems like the place to be.
There's an old shipwreck out in the middle of the bay that you were once allowed to snorkel around but it's badly deteriorating so there is now an exclusion zone in place. Nevertheless, you'll see plenty of people snorkelling out there, so there must still be some good marine life to see!
If you're looking for some peace and quiet (like me) walk along the beach back towards the Red Bluff cliffs.
Climbing over the rocks, you will discover two very small hidden bays that sit directly beneath the red cliff-face. It feels secluded and a million miles away - you really could be anywhere. You head over to the second little beach, just to make sure it's far enough from all the noise and activity of Half Moon Bay and roll out your towel...
There is minimal shade on both little beaches, so bring a hat and plenty of sunscreen. The water is cool, clear and calm - perfect for a relaxing dip and splash around in between reading and snoozing on the sand. It's been fairly quiet each time I've come - mostly couples and individuals trying to relax. Stand up paddle boarders will float by every now and then. One time, there was a small group of hippy types, complete with guitar and bongos, who provided free entertainment and really gave it a real overseas holiday vibe... The only thing missing were the cocktails!
To head back, you continue climbing over the cliffs away from Half Moon and back along Edward Street beach - there are usually a few fancy boats docked along here, further giving it a European holiday feel.
Back up the ramp, and onto the Bay Trail - the walk back can sometimes feel longer and more tiring after a full day out the sun, but you have salty sun-kissed skin and have made good progress on your book!
Safe and easy enough for all ages and abilities (except for the rock climbing parts) this is a great inner-city walk for anyone who doesn't have a car or doesn't want to go very far. The trail path is uneven and there are stairs in some parts so it would not be suitable for prams or wheelchairs.
There are public toilets at Sandringham playground and apparently a lovely cafe at the other end of Half Moon Bay towards Black Rock, where there are also more public toilets.
Apparently, you can start the coastal walk as far back as Elwood beach, passing through iconic Brighton beach and Hampton beach - but that might be one for a cooler, overcast day in early Autumn...