By Experience Oz

How to get to Phillip Island

By Brittney · August 2023 · 3 min read
No matter how you get there, you’ll wanna stick around. Here’s how to park yourself in penguin land.

Phillip Island is a popular travel destination for visitors to Melbourne and local Victorians, but what’s the best way to get there?

Located just 75-kilometres from the Victoria capital, Phillip Island is famed for its adorable Little Penguin colonies viewed from the Penguin Parade, the Koala Conservation Habitat and its beautiful beaches and atmosphere. An ideal coastal getaway without having to travel too far, you’ll be spoilt for choice in terms of activities when it comes to Phillip Island.

In all its fame and glory, there is one common question that is on the lips of many travellers, how do you get there? While it is not an island completely detached from the mainland there is more than one way to visit the island. Here we outline how you can visit Phillip Island with ease depending on your travel circumstances.

By car

If you have access to your own car or you’re hiring a car during your visit to Melbourne then you’ll be pleased to know you can drive straight onto Phillip Island. Though you will have to take a long way round, making the trip a 120-kilometre journey, it’s worth it once you have the freedom to explore the island at your own pace.

Departing Melbourne CBD, you’ll venture south along the Monash Freeway and take either the South Gippsland Freeway, Clyde Road OR Koo Wee Rup Road exits, either way, you’ll still end up in the same place. The journey will take around 90-metres on way and take you to the bridge at San Remo that links the island to the mainland.

While there is a ferry (see below for more information) it is purely a passenger ferry only and doesn’t accommodate for vehicles. This relatively short journey is both scenic and adventurous and allows you to stop off at various destinations on the outskirts of both Melbourne and Phillip Island such as the popular animal attraction, Moonlit Sanctuary.

By bus

Public buses depart Melbourne en route to Phillip Island on a regular basis, however, be sure to get your times right so you don’t miss a connection or have to wait too long. The V/Line bus rides take around 2 hours to reach the bridge at San Remo and then an additional 20 to 25 minutes to reach the popular suburb of Cowes.

Departing Southern Cross Station in Melbourne city, the buses stop at various different points around the island including Newhaven, Cowes, Cape Woolamai, Surf Beach and Sunderland Bay.

Fares vary depending on your age, student status and departure point, so be sure to check with Public Transport Victoria for specific times and prices.

By train

For those looking to catch a train, you’ll have to combine train and bus travel to arrive at Phillip Island. The closest train station to the island is Dandenong, which takes roughly around 40 to 50 minutes from Melbourne CBD, depending on which station you depart from.

From here, you’ll have to jump on a bus at Dandenong Station to travel the 1-hour 45-minute journey to the Phillip Island bridge and an additional 20 to 25 minutes if you wish to travel on to Cowes.

By ferry

As mentioned above, there is a passenger ferry available that shuttles people from the mainland to Cowes Jetty. Departing Stony Point, located 1-hour 15-minutes south of Melbourne, you’ll board the Western Port Ferries. Departing Stony Point you’ll travel in a comfortable catamaran to Cowes Ferry with a short stop at French Island before your arrival. The entire journey takes around 45-minutes to complete one way, making it the most time-effective and cost-effective transport option available.

Prices for the ferry vary between passengers and are dictated by age, the option also exists to purchase a one-way ticket from $6, return ticket or 10-ticket pass. In terms of getting to the ferry, there are two options, you can drive yourself and park or catch the train. There is free public parking within the small car park at the train station or a paid parking lot near by. If you’re catching the train, you can travel from Melbourne to Frankston on one line before having to change to a diesel service for the Frankston to Stony Point portion of the trip.

By air

If you’re looking to shave time down even more and aren’t worried about price then your best option is a chartered flight. Departing either Essendon Airport or Moorabbin Airport, Phillip Island Helicopters offers 30-minute charters to the island’s own airstrip for a scenic and time-efficient journey.

Keep in mind this is one of the most expensive transport options, however, it is an ideal way to combine sightseeing with transport.

By tour

If you don’t have access to a car and aren’t eager on navigating your way through the Victorian public transport system, then your best option is to book yourself onto a guided tour. Numerous local operators conduct daily tours out to Phillip Island from Melbourne, these include The Little Penguin Bus, Penguin Island Tours, Go West and AAT Kings to name a few.

Prices vary depending on the length of the tour, the attractions visited and the age of the passenger. You can check out all of the available tours to Phillip Island on our website and book your spots online today.

In addition, if you’re looking for things to see and do during your visit to Phillip Island in Victoria, be sure to check out our main Phillip Island catalogue which features a range of tours, activities, attractions and more.

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