Name any water-based activity and it’s highly likely you’ll find a great place to do it in Melbourne. From riverside walks to surfing, fishing to swimming with dolphins, we’ve got some great suggestions on where to go.
Melbourne’s position at the top of a large, almost circular bay means that the closest beach to the city centre is just a 30 minute tram ride away in St Kilda.
Slightly further away is Brighton beach known for it’s line of iconic, colourful bathing boxes.
The bay is cupped by two peninsulas lined with bay-side beaches on one side and ocean beaches on the other.
Low, even waves on the protected bay side beaches makes the water very accessible for kite surfing, jet skiing and stand up paddle boarding.
Stronger waves on the ocean side provide a great range of surfing beaches, where surfing beginners mingle with the boogie boarders, such as Point Leo, Ocean Grove and Torquay; as well as more challenging surf at places like Bells Beach.
There’s quite a list of fishing tour and charter companies based near Melbourne, from St Kilda and throughout Mornington Peninsula – the furthest being a 90 minute drive.
Kite surfing hire and lessons are available either in St Kilda or a 90 minute drive away in Rosebud on the Mornington Peninsula.
You can kayak along the Yarra River and see the city from the water or try sea kayaking in Mornington – about an hour’s drive from Melbourne.
Jet skis can be hired on both sides of the bay and in the centre of Melbourne – the most common place to see them is Rye, Safety Beach and Williamstown.
GoBoat rents electric boats by the hour, which seat about eight people. You can take your own picnic on board and steer yourself around the Yarra River.
Punting isn’t just the preserve of Oxford and Cambridge – you can take a punting tour around the delightful Botanic Gardens lake before high tea at the Terrace Cafe.
Take a look at our post on Melbourne bars to find out where the best riverside bars can be found.
There are a few options for sailing – either chartering a boat or joining a cruise in the Docklands and around the bay.
The most popular scuba diving site near Melbourne is off Flinders Pier on the Mornington Peninsula where you can see stingrays, seahorses, fish and octopus as well as a small wreck.
Snorkeling is popular at the Pope’s Eye – a man-made lagoon in the middle of Port Philip Bay where you’re protected from currents by the lagoon wall, which is also home to a myriad of sealife.
Stand-up paddle boarding
The flat waters of the bay make it an ideal place to try stand-up paddle boarding – although it is wind-dependent so check with the company to find out which day is best.
There are plenty of places to try out surfing – just bear in mind that 1-2 hours before high tide is the best time to surf and the tide changes by an hour every day so session times will change accordingly.
Swimming with dolphins
Take a look at our post on where to see Australian animals for more information about swimming with dolphins.
Walking or cycling along the river
If you head east from Federation Square on the river path you can walk or cycle 22km one way along the winding Yarra River. Heading west will take you on a 30km loop. Take a look at our Melbourne bike tours post.
More things to do in Melbourne