Let’s say you’re living in Melbourne and looking for a place to have an epic girls weekend. The criteria for any awesome girls weekend? Chocolate, wine, relaxation and the beach. It’s time to rent a car and make your way to the Mornington Peninsula.
It’s been rumored that Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi are keen to purchase a home here. Sources say Pink is, too. If the ‘Malibu of Australia’ is loved by these ladies, it’s got to be good.
Moonraker Dolphin Swims
If you’re doing a two day, one night trip, be prepared for an early start! Leave Melbourne at 6am, but I guarantee that the excitement over your impending swim with dolphins *almost* precludes the need for coffee.
Watch the sun rise over the ocean as you get close to Sorrento, and meet the team from Moonraker for a 9 am dolphin swim. They’ll get you fitted for fins and wetsuits… be sure these fit well, because there’s nothing worse than losing a flipper mid-dive toward a leafy sea dragon (or so I’d assume…)
Once on board, take advantage of the tea, coffee and biscuits or just take in your surroundings. The Mornington Peninisula boasts gorgeous homes and beautiful beaches. Plus, even though the Moonraker team is on the lookout for dolphins, it doesn’t hurt to have an extra set of eyes watching the water!
Warm up your snorkeling skills (and cool down in the chilly water) as you search for leafy sea dragons. These are some of the coolest sea creatures I’ve come across. It’s kind of a cross between a seahorse and a chia pet, with leaves growing from the sea dragon.
Next stop, bottlenose dolphins! We had a bit of an expectation vs reality moment when we realized that ‘swimming with dolphins’ meant 10 guests at a time holding onto a rope behind the boat and watching the dolphins swim past us. The crew dives down to the dolphins, trying to encourage them to stick around. Don’t get me wrong… dolphins are smart, majestic creatures and just being in their presence is awe-inspiring. But when you have expectations of Flipper becoming your bestie, any reality just can’t quite compare. Be sure to hang out at the front of the boat as the other groups swim with dolphins to see the pods playfully swimming past. At one point, we had 4 different groups of dolphins surrounding us… definitely better viewed from the surface!
Drumroll please, because the next stop is worth getting excited about. Chinaman’s Hat is a gazebo full of fur seals. These cuties spend their day lounging around the gazebo and diving into the water when they get too warm. That’s when your fun begins. Fur seals are the puppies of the ocean and they’re always ready to play. We jumped in the water and these little guys hung around upside down, just watching us, but as soon as we dove beneath the surface, they whizzed past, ready to play.
I could’ve stayed there all day long, but alas, we’ve got places be and there are adventures to be had!
Just Fine Food Sorrento
Swimming and excitement burn a lot of calories. Walk from the Sorrento Pier to Just Fine Foods for the dessert that’s been called the peninsula’s best vanilla slice. During a typical summer day, Just Fine Food sells 1,200 of these treats made with flaky pastry, rich vanilla cream and plum jam and generously topped with powdered sugar. This treat is guaranteed to provide the energy needed to get to your next stop.
No girls weekend is complete without a little bubbly… and bubbly is even better when it’s made with love. The team at Foxey’s Hangout provides an experience where you can learn about and make your own sparkling wine.
The expert sparkling wine makers will guide you through the final stages: disgorgement, dosage and corkage. It’s a create your own wine adventure as you choose the kind of sparkling wine you prefer. Sweet or dry? White or pink?
After you’ve created your own bottle of bubbles, stick around for lunch with a view. Everything sounded so delicious that we decided to trust the chef with the tasting menu.
Bread, olive oil, and pistachio spice
Atlantic salmon with miso mayo
Mushrooms sausage rolls with smoked tomato sauce
Figs, vin cotto and jamon
Stracciatella and pickled cucumber
BBQ quail served with a lemon wedge
Tomato salad with red wine vinegar, mint and feta
Spiced meatballs with yoghurt dip
Avocado with candied walnuts and pancetta
Paired with a glass of rosé sparkling wine, this is the perfect ladies-who-lunch spot and one of the highlights of our weekend.
Peninsula Hot Springs
With 20 different hot springs for bathing, this is one popular spot. If at all possible, avoid weekends and holidays for a more private experience. Although there’s a cap on guests at any given time, be prepared to wait or share very close quarters with strangers if you’re there on the weekend.
Relax in the hot pools and be soothed by the sounds and sights of nature. Clearly, humans are not the only ones who come to Peninsula Hot Springs to enjoy the healing properties!
One of my favorite pools was the base camp pool, set in the shade of the woods and just the perfect temperature for relaxation. Don’t miss the hilltop pool, though, with 360° views of the rolling hills of Mornington Peninsula. It’s worth the trek to the top!
How often can you be completely covered in mud and feel good about it? Clay Ridge offers five different kinds of clay from around Australia, each with unique healing properties. Pick up a paintbrush and get dirty!
Most participants went crazy, slathering the mud all over, but I tried to be a little more artistic. It’s all about the Instagram (which hit 10K this week… go and give me some love?!).
After my pretty pictures were done, though, I turned into a mudwoman, with head-to-toe coverage. As good as it felt to get dirty, the geothermal showers were a treat after the treatment was complete.
This is a seasonal activity, so be sure to book your experience before 17th April, when it closes for winter.
Dromana Drive In
Looking for some good old fashioned fun? Dress in your comfy clothes, pack the car with snacks and blankets, and head over to the Dromana Drive In. The night we visited, Beauty and the Beast was playing, and the staff got into full character. Lumière and Cogsworth greeted cars while Belle and the Beast danced through the crowds waiting for hot dogs and Dippin Dots. It’s been a long day, so be sure to get a little caffeine to stay awake for the movie and drive home.
Speaking of home: we stayed in an AirBNB, which seemed to be the most reasonable accommodation in Mornington Peninsula. If you book an AirBNB stay, use this link for $53AUD off your first stay.
Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm
I’m a big fan of outdoorsy activities in small doses. Do I want to be a strawberry farmer? No. Do I want to fill a bucket with strawberries I picked? I sure do. The experience is $9. A box of pre-picked and packaged premium strawberries is also $9. A box of non-premium strawberries, which aren’t the perfect color or shape, is $5. So Sunny Ridge is making good money off people who want the picking experience. But the strawberries are the most delicious I’ve ever eaten and I can cross strawberry picking off my list of things I’ve done.
Don’t miss the Dessert Cafe on site for (you guessed it) strawberry-themed sweets. We split the fondue and added on a cup of strawberry ice cream. Pro tip: If you pour the chocolate over the ice cream, it creates a Magic Shell effect.
Also… be sure to be on the lookout for delicious treats by Sweets for Tilly. I met this awesome family at Melbourne’s Cake Bake and Sweets show, and think their desserts are some of the best! They live in the Mornington area, so track down some of their sweets while you’re here.
Cape Schanck Lighthouse
Walk off those strawberries and chocolate at The Cape Schanck Lighthouse. Built in 1859, it’s Victoria’s second lighthouse and the first one with stairs. Walk past the lighthouse for great views of the ocean. During migration season, this is a great location to see a whale tail or two.
Mornington Peninsula Chocolates
It’s time to head home, but not before trying some of Mornington Peninsula’s most delicious chocolates. The shop was packed when I arrived, so I knew I was there for something good! I chose the Chilli and Tequila, Lime Ganache, Morello Cherry Jelly, Raspberry Ganache, Lime Delight and a chocolate frog… which ones will you try?
Whether you decide to follow this itinerary or create your own, the Mornington Peninsula Tourism Board has the coolest trip planning tool I’ve ever seen. Add activities and create your own itinerary with drive times between each activity. There’s even an option to plug in the address of your accommodation as a start and end point.
Have you been to Mornington Peninsula? What are your favorite things to do there?
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Disclaimer: Some of the activities mentioned in this post were received free of charge. All opinions are my own, though, and I wouldn’t recommend anything to you that’s not awesome!