Tucked within a narrow strip of the Mornington Peninsula, Sorrento is a beach destination with two faces: there’s the calm sheltered waters of Sorrento Front Beach facing Port Phillip Bay in the north, then there’s the rugged Back Beach fronting the open ocean of Bass Strait in the south. Each has its charms. The scenic Front Beach is close to town and is a safe spot for families, with treed areas and several jetties to explore. The Back Beach is for the more adventurous and is popular with surfers, walkers and confident swimmers, as well as kids who enjoy poking around the rock pools at low tide. There are several walking paths across the dunes and cliff tops that afford excellent views of the beach and Bass Strait on one side and Sorrento and the bay on the other.
Forget seeing dolphins at the aquarium, in the waters off Sorrento you can swim with them in the wild and get up close and personal with fur seals, too. Join Polperro Dolphin Swims for a half-day marine adventure that will see you snorkelling with bottlenose dolphins and frolicking with fur seals in Port Phillip Bay. Tours leave twice daily from Sorrento Pier, weather permitting.
See how the other half live on a scenic cliff-top walk past the waterfront mansions of Melbourne’s rich and famous. The Millionaires Walk between Sorrento and the well-to-to coastal enclave of Portsea meanders past private jetties, lavish homes and beach boxes worth more than the average outer-suburban house. Start at Lentell Avenue and don’t be put off by the gates as you stroll the short distance to Point King Road, enjoying spectacular views of the bay along the way and a little history lesson: the path features a stone monument commemorating the site where the Union Jack was first used to claim possession of Australia.
Drive to the tip of the Mornington Peninsula, about six kilometres west of Sorrento, and immerse yourself in the history and beauty of Point Nepean. Not only does the point boast spectacular views, it also played a key role in Victoria’s early settlement, defence and quarantine. Explore the old military forts and tunnels, see the historic Quarantine Station, and pay your respects to Prime Minister Harold Holt at a memorial marking the spot where he went missing.
Many who come to Sorrento and Portsea have cash to splash, and there are plenty of boutiques and galleries housed in historic limestone shopfronts that are happy to help you part with your money. Ocean Beach Road is the commercial centre where you’ll find designer labels, antiques, home wares, jewellery and nautical kitsch. After a day of retail therapy, make your way to the iconic Hotel Sorrento – the town’s oldest building (circa 1871) – for sundowners overlooking the water, a bite to each or perhaps a massage in the heritage day spa.
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