Aerial panoramic view of Phillip Island coastline, Australia

Things to do in  Phillip Island

Where the penguins steal the show

Wave-sculpted sea cliffs, sandy surf beaches, and starry skies provide an impressive backdrop for Phillip Island’s star attraction—the wildlife. Less than a 2-hour drive from Melbourne, this island getaway has enough outdoor adventures and foodie finds to fill up a weekend itinerary, along with one of the world’s most unique Grand Prix circuits (and its go-kart alter ego). Wildlife watching is, of course, top of the list of things to do on Phillip Island, whether you’re spotting seals, taking a whale-watching cruise, or admiring the evening Penguin Parade.

Top 14 attractions in Phillip Island

Moonlit Sanctuary

Located in the bushlands of Mornington Peninsula, Moonlit Sanctuary is a wildlife conservation park that is home to native Australian wildlife, including koalas, wallabies, kookaburras, and dingos. The sanctuary is most famous for its night tours, which allow visitors to see nocturnal pythons, feathertail gliders, quolls, and more.More

Penguin Parade

Phillip Island is brimming with memorable wildlife experiences, but its headline act is the nightly Penguin Parade. Each night at dusk, thousands of little penguins—the largest colony in Australia of the world’s smallest penguin breed—can be seen along the shores of Summerland Beach, waddling back to their beachside burrows after a day at sea.More

Nobbies Centre

The Nobbies Centre on Phillip Island features educational displays, a cafe, a children's play area, and a gift shop. Overlooking Seal Rocks, the center’s network of boardwalks also offer a front row seat to Australia’s largest fur seal colony and the impressive sea cave known as the Blowhole.More

Koala Reserve (Koala Conservation Centre)

The Koala Reserve on Phillip Island is a fun and informative place to learn more about the popular Australian marsupial. Stroll elevated boardwalks through eucalypt woodland as you observe koalas in their natural habitat.More

Cape Woolamai

With its sandy beaches, windswept bluffs, and Pinnacles Lookout granite colonnade, Cape Woolamai is a must-see town on Australia’s Phillip Island. Jutting out from the island's southeastern corner, the rugged headland is a hotspot for surfing, bird-watching, and hiking its miles of coastal trails.More
Cleft Island (Skull Rock)

Cleft Island (Skull Rock)

Looming large off the tip of Wilsons Promontory—mainland Australia’s southernmost point—this massive skull-shaped rock is reminiscent of a movie villain’s lair. Sheer granite cliffs on all sides make it nearly impossible to access, but intrepid travelers can view its mysterious mass and enormous cave from the water on a day cruise.More

Churchill Island

Get a glimpse into the lives of early Australian settlers and pioneer farming practices at Churchill Island. Located just off the coast of Phillip Island, Churchill Island was the first European agricultural site in Victoria. Today, it’s home to a historic working farm, the Churchill Island Heritage Farm.More

Phillip Island Winery

Whether you want to sample Gippsland’s cool-climate wines or tuck into delicious seasonal cuisine amid verdant farmlands, Phillip Island Winery is the perfect spot to relax and unwind. The island’s oldest winery and one of only two cellar doors, the family-run business produces a range of boutique wines and ciders.More

Phillip Island Wildlife Park

Phillip Island is famed for its free-roaming penguins and Australia’s largest colony of fur seals, but those are not the only types of wildlife you can see there. The Phillip Island Wildlife Park is home to more than 100 different species of native Australian animals. Visitors can see and interact with the wildlife living in the park.More

A Maze'N Things

Set amid the natural wonders and wildlife reserves of Phillip Island, A Maze'N Things offers a fun alternative for a family day out. The small-scale theme park is packed with interactive exhibitions and activities, including mind-bending illusions, a gigantic maze, a minigolf course, and plenty of games, puzzles, and challenges to keep all ages entertained.More

Phillip Island Circuit

Phillip Island isn’t only famous for its wildlife sightings, coastal hikes, and the nightly Penguin Parade—the Victorian island is also home to a legendary Grand Prix racing circuit. With a history dating back to 1928 and formerly the site of the Australian Grand Prix, the Phillip Island Circuit is known for its technical twists and turns and spectacular ocean views.More

Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

While Australia’s Phillip Island may be best known for its wildlife, this family-owned chocolate factory brings a tasty touch to the island, with handmade truffles and other treats crafted on-site. Cocoa-themed games and displays–like sculptures carved out of solid chocolate and a giant chocolate waterfall–hit the sweet spot for kids.More

Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse

Perched along the wild and rocky south coast of the Wilsons Promontory National Park, this 19th-century lighthouse is a historic landmark and a beacon for ships crossing the Bass Strait. It’s also the southernmost settlement of mainland Australia. Accessible only on foot, you'll take an overnight hike to reach the remote Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse, where spectacular views await.More
Phillip Island Nature Parks

Phillip Island Nature Parks

Located only 1.5 hours from the teeming streets of modern, fast-paced Melbourne—Phillip Island is known for its wildlife and rural, undeveloped shores. The fact that the island has remained so wild is in large part due to the Phillip Island Nature Parks—a group of five family-friendly attractions, plus conservation areas that preserve and promote the island’s wildlife wealth.More

All about Phillip Island

When to visit

Wildlife sightings take place in all four seasons on Phillip Island, but late spring through early fall (November–March) is the most popular time for sightings as breeding season is underway. Migratory birds flock to the island in spring, while winter is the time to enjoy whale-watching along the coast. The island can get crowded with day-trippers over holiday weekends as well as for the annual Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in October.

Getting around

Many travelers opt to rent a car and drive over to Phillip Island themselves as the island is linked to the mainland by a bridge. Having a car will come in handy, as there’s no public transport on the island. Don’t worry if you don’t have your own wheels—tours and taxis will take you to all of the island’s beaches, towns, and natural attractions.

Traveler tips

For a sunset view without the crowds, follow the steps down to Magiclands, a scenic cove just south of Woolamai Beach. Known for its striking rock formations blanketed with bright green moss, it’s most stunning at low tide.


People Also Ask

Is it worth going to Phillip Island?

Yes. Phillip Island is easily reached on a day trip or weekend getaway from Melbourne, and some 3.5 million visitors head to the island yearly. Most come to see the nightly Penguin Parade, attend the Motorcycle Grand Prix, and visit coastal attractions such as The Nobbies and Seal Rocks.

What is Phillip Island best known for?

Phillip Island is known for its varied wildlife, including fur seals, whales, koalas, and Australia’s largest colony of little penguins, best viewed during the nightly Penguin Parade. The island is also famous for its scenic Grand Prix circuit, great surf beaches, and natural wonders including The Nobbies.

How long should I spend in Phillip Island?

You can take in the highlights of Phillip Island on a day trip from Melbourne, but to fully explore the island, plan a 2- or 3-day trip. By spending the night, you can enjoy the evening Penguin Parade, hike the Cape Woolamai Walk, and discover the food and wine scene.

Why is Phillip Island so popular?

Phillip Island has several claims to fame, including Australia’s largest colonies of little penguins and fur seals, and hosting the annual Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The island’s close proximity to Melbourne—less than a 2-hour drive—and abundant wildlife make it a popular choice for a day trip.

Can you see penguins on Phillip Island without paying?

Yes, you can often spot little penguins for free on Phillip Island along the boardwalk at The Nobbies. However, if you want to witness the spectacle of Australia’s largest little penguin colony returning to their burrows en masse, it’s worth paying to access the evening Penguin Parade viewing area.

Is Phillip Island colder than Melbourne?

Yes. Thanks to its ocean breezes, Phillip Island tends to be two to three degrees cooler than Melbourne. Average daytime temperatures in summer are around 74°F (23°C)—ideal for hitting the beach and enjoying outdoor activities—while winter temperatures are slightly colder than in the city but still mild.

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