There's so much to discover on this brimming hamlet of beaches, walking tracks and food
Why Phillip Island?
Clifftop is a boutique hotel that started life as a family home – and as it has grown into a private eight-room retreat, it has thankfully retained every bit of its family charm. The hotel is perched over three acres on the magnificent clifftop above Smiths Beach, and every generous and modern room comes with a balcony and panoramic water views.
Guests at Clifftop can enjoy private access direct to the beach and breathtaking views of crystal waters hitting red rocks, the sound of which delightfully lulls you to sleep at night. Time Out was sure that the kangaroo bouncing its way across the garden in front of our balcony was a plant, until a quick drive to dinner during which we spotted five more in the bush confirmed the island is full of them. As we were determined never to leave our room again, we were happy to hear that breakfast is delivered, so you can rightfully enjoy more precious balcony time.
If you’re feeling a little more social, there’s also an airy common room complete with pool table, fi replace and fully stocked bar.
Clifftop, 1 Marlin St, Smiths Beach, Phillip Island 3922. 03 5952 1033. Rates: from $235.
A short drive away in sleepy Rhyll is the very relaxed Foreshore Bar and Restaurant, set right on the water with 180-degree ocean views. A posh pub-style menu features succulent chilli mussels and chorizo in tomato broth; crispy half duck served on a citrus celeriac purée with green beans; and three delicious steak offerings. Make a booking for the front deck just before sunset to catch the colours playing over the darkening sea as you sip a sweet glass of local moscato – or go for a post-dinner constitutional along the serene waterfront dotted with boat landings.
11 Beach Rd, Rhyll 3923. 03 5956 9520. Lunch and dinner Wed-Mon.
Time Out Tip
Phillip Island Nature Parks offer a range of penguin tours, from general viewing ($22) to the Ultimate Penguin Tour ($78.40) where a ranger will take you on an intimate tour away from the main beach with night vision goggles. Too. Cute.