Dogs are enthusiastic about many things. But a visit to the beach is definitely up there among the absolute favourite things the average dog likes to do.
Whether it's sniffing at pungent piles of stranded seaweed, digging holes without being told 'Bad dog!' or the simple joy of running with the pack, a day at the beach holds many pleasures for pooches and will bring a smile to muzzles and faces alike.
Summer brings with it seasonal restrictions on dogs at beaches across Victoria. These are the best places to take your dog off-lead or on-lead.
Chic city dogs hang out at the dog beach at the end of Bay Street in Port Melbourne. Close to Melbourne's CBD, you can watch the ships come in as your pup plays in the white sand. Ciao Cielo is one of many bars and cafes on Bay Street that welcomes dogs.
Around the bay, Brighton Doggy Beach is probably the best off-lead beach in Victoria. The beach is fully fenced with shallow water suitable for small dogs. When the tide is out, there’s oodles of flat sandy beach for zoomies. Afterwards, get a coffee on the deck at Middle Brighton Sea Baths.
Beaumaris Beach is next door to one of the best snorkelling spots in Port Phillip: Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary. Dogs aren't allowed in the sanctuary, so if you're in a group, take turns to look after the dog while you explore the reefs for harmless Port Jackson sharks.
Great Ocean Road
Surfers who don't want to leave their dog at home can enjoy big beaches and big waves at Torquay, Anglesea and Lorne, which all have year-round off-leash areas. Your dog can join you for drinks on the deck at the Swing Bridge Cafe in Lorne or Bomboras in Torquay. Fairhaven Beach at Aireys Inlet is another top dog beach and your furriest friend is allowed on the beautiful trails leading off Moggs Creek and Distillery Creek picnic areas.
Further west, a large area of Warrnambool's main beach is off-leash year round, as is Logans Beach on the other side of Hopkins River. Eat on the deck at Simon's Waterfront to the backdrop of ocean views.
The ocean beaches of the Mornington Peninsula are mostly off-limits to dogs. So stick to the Port Phillip Bay beaches with their acres of sand shelving gently into calm, shallow, crystal clear water.
Tassells Cove at Safety Beach is a compact stretch of sandy beach bounded by cliffs. If your pup gets bored with running, it can explore the rockpools. At Dromana, there's a 100m stretch of sand next to the Anthony's Nose boat ramp where your dog can run free. Mock Red Hill cidery is the paw-fect place to refresh.
Mornington has two leash-free beaches hemmed in by cliffs: Fossil Beach and Royal Beach. Both are quite rocky, and so are suited to gentle exercise. Take your dog for a drink afterwards at Mornington Peninsula Brewery.
On the Westernport side of the Peninsula, the northern end of Flinders Beach is off-leash all year round. This beach is best at low tide, when you and your best mate can explore the rock pools. If you're in a group, take turns to snorkel nearby Flinders Pier and sea if you can spot weedy seadragons. Finish a perfect day with your doggo up the road at Paradigm Hill winery.
Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula
Narrows Beach, between Point Lonsdale and Queenscliff, is a beautiful stretch of sand overlooking the Rip. Better still, it's close to Noble Rot, a dog-friendly wine bar. Thirteenth Beach at Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove Main Beach are perfect for the beginner surfer — whether human or canine. Large stretches of these beaches are off-lead all year round. Enjoy a bite with your pooch on the deck at At the Heads.
The sheltered waters of Anderson Inlet beach at Inverloch are perfect for families with fur kids. The area of beach between Grandview Grove and Cuttriss Street is off-leash all year round. For refreshments, sit out the back of the Bayside Lady.
It's not uncommon to head to Woodside Beach and see nary another soul. This stretch of Ninety Mile Beach is next to a dog-friendly camping ground.
Some dogs need to be on-lead — and it's almost always better to take them to a place where other dogs are on-lead, too.
Most of Phillip Island’s coastline is protected because of its unique birdlife. But dogs wearing leads are allowed on some beaches in the summer between 7-10am and 5-8pm. Ventnor Beach is great for swimming and offers stunning views of the Mornington Peninsula. Beginner surfers and their pooches should try YCW Beach.
On the Mornington Peninsula, there are on-lead beaches on the Port Phillip Bay side of Sorrento, Rye and Rosebud. Sit out front at Morgan's Beach Shack in Sorrento and order some fish and chips to share.
Gippsland's holiday hotspots are great places for leashed dogs. At Mallacoota, most of the ocean beach is open to dogs on leads. If your pooch prefers fresh water, head to Metung in the Gippsland Lakes. The laidback Metung Hotel has a beautiful terrace overlooking the water, where dogs are welcome. Nearby Lakes Entrance has kilometres of dog-friendly ocean beach. Nature-loving pooches will lap up Cape Conran Coastal Park. Stay at Banksia Bluff Campground and enjoy the local wildlife by night. During the day, swim with your dog at the far end of East Cape Beach where the Yeerung River meanders into the sea.
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