St Kilda Beach is a hotspot for tourists and locals – like Bondi without the crowds and camera crews. The ocean, while practically wave-free, is great for all water sports with kite surfers jostling for air space around West Beach and paddle-boarders wobbling hither and thither. The shore is lined with palm trees and a wide boardwalk that attracts cyclists and other wheeled interlopers. The extra bonus with lounging about on St Kilda sand is how close it is to all the trendy cafés and restaurants on Acland Street – and Luna Park, of course.
Distance from CBD: 9km by car; trams: 3a, 16, 96
If you’re looking for a beach that has more than just sand and water, Mordi, a southeast suburb, is the place to go. There’s a restaurant – Windows on the Bay, a playground, BBQ and picnic areas, a bike path that runs all the way back to Mentone and a weathered but sturdy pier that stretches out 300 metres. It’s a popular family beach so if you want to avoid big crowds, head out during the week.
Distance from CBD: 25km by car; nearest station: Mordialloc, 1.4km
On the southern-most point of the Bay, 90 minutes out of the CBD, is an absolute gem of a beach in Sorrento. Straddling the waters of Port Phillip Bay on one side and Bass Straight on the other, it's the perfect spot for a sunset. It's backed entirely by the scenic foreshore and has popular jetties on the waterfront, complete with walking trails – well worth a road trip around the Bay.
Distance from CBD: 100km by car; nearest station: Frankston, 50km
Known to the locals as ‘Willy Beach’, this relatively small beauty spot is only a stone’s throw away from the city. It’s a popular beach for swimmers, sunbakers and sailors, but it’s the spectacular views that draw people into historic Williamstown. Just a five minute walk from the train station is Gem Pier, which boasts a clear, unobscured view of the city skyline – beautiful by day and spectacular by night. It’s no wonder Williamstown is such a hotspot on New Year’s Eve, with the fireworks on full display.
Distance from CBD: 17km by car; nearest station: Williamstown Beach, 500m
Eighty-two charming little bright, multi-coloured bathing boxes line the foreshore at Brighton beach, which is an ideal spot for swimmers, sunbathers and surfers alike. When the wind picks up, there are some pretty decent waves and the rip holes spotted around the place make for some pretty decent fishing as well. The beach is also just a short walk from all the restaurants, galleries and cafés that make Brighton one of the most popular upmarket suburbs.
Distance from CBD: 15km by car; nearest station: Brighton Beach, 250m