Surfing and Penguin Parades at Summerland Beach

Phillip Island is a haven of sheltered bays, pristine beaches, and surfing hotspots. All along the coast, you’ll find pockets of peace and calm amidst incredible wildlife, stunning views, and adrenalin-junkies hitting the waves. Recently, the island has been named a National Surfing Reserve, thanks to its rich surfing heritage and picturesque backdrop – not to mention it’s home to some of the best surf breaks in Australia.

Summerland Bay Beach is one of the best places to go on the island, especially if you’re seeking a dose of wildlife alongside your surfing escapades. Home to the Penguin Parade and incredible breaks, it has a little something for everyone, whether you want to simply catch a glimpse of the island’s residents, try your hand at hitting the waves, or want to kick back and relax in a stunning environment. There is over 1.2 kilometres of beach to explore during the day or if you’re visiting for the wildlife, Summerland Beach turns into a penguin haven at night-time, with hundreds of visitors coming to see the cute critters waddle their way in from the shore.

Summerland Beach

The Penguin Parade

The Penguin Parade is one of Australia’s most sought-after wildlife encounters. This famed tourist attraction actually began in the 1920s when three Phillip Island residents started taking tourists with only the guide of a torch to see the penguin’s arrive onto Summerland Beach. These days, there is a important significance place upon conserving both the little penguins, their colonies and the land around them including the flora and fauna that thrives in the protected site. Every evening, the colony of Little Penguins that call Summerland Beach home make their way up the shore from the water to settle in for the night. With several different viewing spots, you can watch the parade unfold from numerous different angles, and get up close and personal with these cute critters. If simply seeing the Little Penguins isn’t enough, you can always check out the visitor’s centre, which boasts displays about the habitat and behaviour of the penguins, as well as the history of the parade and why it is so important to Phillip Island and the penguins.

Little Penguins at the Penguin Parade

The little penguins that arrive on the shores of Phillip Island every night during the season are the smallest of the penguin’s species and are therefore sometimes referred to as ‘Fairy Penguins.’ Standing at just 33 centimetres tall and just 1 kilogram, these penguins have a notable difference to other species of penguins by their feather colours. While other penguins are known to have black and white feathers, these instead have blue and white feathers. The Little Penguins breed in colonies along the coast of Australia and New Zealand, and a large number of these sea birds, around 32,000 of them, make their way to Phillip Island to nest. The penguins spend about 80% of their lives at sea searching for food but make their way to the sandy beach of Summerland to breed and make nesting burrows.

Surfing on Summerland Bay Beach

As well as quirky animal encounters, Summerland Beach is famed as a surfing hotspot – in fact, it is thought to have been the birthplace of surfing on Phillip Island back in the 1920s. Since then, it has become a key place for keen surfers and beginners to work their magic on the waves, with numerous surf schools using the pristine shoreline to teach newbies how to ride the waves. It is so popular as a surfing spot because of its consistent wave conditions. With a flat, sandy bottom, it boasts a sheltered bay, but has consistent wave conditions at most times throughout the year. So, if you’re on the hunt for a picturesque spot where you can get to know Australia’s wildlife and try your hand at surfing, Summerland Bay Beach is the place to go.

Summerland Peninsula Beaches

Along the Summerland Peninsula lies several beaches and bays that are perfect for swimming and surfing. The peninsula itself is a critical conservation site for the animals that call it home, as it’s imperative in the existing colonies of the little penguins on Summerland Beach, and the Australian Fur Seals at the Nobbies. Here are some of the beaches that you can visit on the Great Ocean Road:

Shelly Beach

Swimming and surfing for both beginners and experienced surfers can be done at this beach, however swimming is only permitted when there are low waves during the high tide period. There’s even a few coastal walks you can do in the area. A popular trail is the Shelly Beach Circuit Walk which runs for about 2 kilometres through the Great Otway National Park and through to Elliot River, as well as Shelly Beach. The walk takes around 45 minutes to complete and is graded at an easy level.

Flynns Beach

This beach is a favourite amongst experienced surfers who enjoy the long 1.3 kilometre stretch of sand that leads out on to the water. Pay attention to beach and weather conditions as you can only swim at this beach when the waves are low. If there are some beachcombers travelling with you, then why not venture out on the Flynns Beach Historic Jetty Walk, which will take less than 40 minutes to complete. It’s an easy walk, with only about 2.5 kilometres to walk and will take you on a secluded beach near the Nobbies area.

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