The best kayaking locations in Melbourne

The best kayaking locations in Melbourne

With access to a range of unique waterways and spectacular coastlines less than an hour's drive from the beating heart of the city, kayaking in Melbourne is something all watersports lovers should try at least once in their life.

If you're looking for some of Melbourne's best kayaking spots, then read on!

(Lower) Yarra River

Yarra River

With the exception of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, there are few iconic Melbourne landmarks that are as instantly recognisable as the Yarra River. And one of the best ways to explore what it has to offer is kayaking.

The lower Yarra section of the river refers (loosely) to the part that stretches from Toorak and South Yarra to Fishermans Bend and Docklands. Not only is the lower Yarra a hub for many of the city's cultural and social events, it is also an outstanding kayaking location.

Kayaking on the Yarra River is unmatched as a paddling trip where you get to transition from the natural environment at the South Yarra end to the urban wonder of Birrarung Marr, the rowing club boathouses and Federation Square at Princes Bridge, and then Southbank, the CBD and South Wharf before arriving in the Docklands precinct.

All watercraft using the Yarra are required to keep to the right, and although it's perfect for kayaking beginners with its calmer waters and spectacular views, completing the Docklands to South Yarra (or vice-versa) round trip can be physically demanding, so make sure you stay within the limits of your fitness capabilities. Luckily, there are plenty of resting and refuelling stops to sample along the way!

Regular kayakers and paddlers recommend launching at Como Landing on Alexandra Ave (adjacent to Como Park North) or Morell Bridge near the Botanic Gardens. Cray's Landing on Alexandra Avenue between Yarra Street and the Church Street Bridge is another option, but parking and getting your kayak to the water's edge can be challenging with the addition of many high-rise apartment buildings to the area.

St Kilda Beach

St Kilda Beach

St Kilda enjoys a pre-eminent place in the hearts of Melburnians and its millions of tourist visitors. Rising to prominence as a seaside escape for Melbourne's nouveau-riche and other landed gentry in the late 1860s and '70s, it remains a haven for people looking to enjoy the sun and fun of the inner-city's beaches.

The sights to be enjoyed while kayaking at St Kilda Beach are amazing, and you can launch into the water from pretty much anywhere along the shoreline that takes your fancy.

Kayaking at St Kilda has aspects about it that you need to be aware of. There's often a lot of traffic on the water, so you'll be sharing the bay with boating enthusiasts, windsurfers, kitesurfers and stand-up paddleboarders, so you need to keep your wits about you at all times. Given how quickly conditions can change, you definitely should be across that day's weather forecast to avoid getting caught out if conditions turn nasty - which they can if a cool change rolls in.

For absolute rookies or parents looking to do something different with the kids, a guided sea kayaking tour of St Kilda is an excellent way to experience the fun of paddling around St Kilda Beach while developing your kayaking skills.

Williamstown Beach

Williamstown Beach

St Kilda Beach has a well-earned reputation as Melbourne's premier inner-city beach for watersports, but Williamstown - or 'Willy Beach' as locals and other old-school types from Melbourne's west know it - is a seriously underrated spot for kayaking. Located 10 minutes from the West Gate Bridge, it's traditionally a bit quieter than the southern side of Port Phillip Bay.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that fewer users equates to lower quality because Williamstown beach is undoubtedly one of the best spots for kayaking in Melbourne. Not only is it close to the big smoke but, due to its (slightly) calmer waters and (slightly) less paddlers than beaches on the other side of Port Phillip Bay, it's an ideal place to get in the water and work on your fitness and improve your confidence if you're a beginner. If you're a more experienced paddler, then the natural wonders of Williamstown's beach and shorelines are sure to delight, and it's also a great spot to cast off and do some kayak fishing.

The best place to enter is the Williamstown and Newport Anglers Club boat ramp on Williamstown Esplanade near Gifford Street. Paddling west will take you towards the main beach and, if your fitness levels allow, provide ample opportunity to explore the nearby Jawbone Marine Sanctuary.

If the mood takes you, paddling east from the boat ramp will put you well and truly into Port Phillip Bay, providing an unforgettable aspect of Melbourne's CBD skyline, as well as Port Melbourne, South Melbourne, Middle Park and St Kilda's beaches. It will also give the chance to have a look at Williamstown's old Naval shipbuilding yards and HMAS Castlemaine - a restored Bathurst class Corvette ship stationed at Gem Pier.

When you come off the water, Williamstown has no end of quality places to picnic or BBQ. You might even want to shower off and head around to Nelson Place, which has a range of excellent restaurants and eateries to restore the energy levels after a day's kayaking.

Mornington Peninsula

Mornington Peninsula

Victoria's Mornington Peninsula is a Mecca for all kinds of water activities like stand-up paddleboarding, snorkelling, surfing, scuba diving and bodyboarding. Not surprisingly, it's also one of the best kayaking options in Melbourne.

The beauty of the Mornington Peninsula for kayaking is two fold: Firstly, it's only an hour and a bit south of Melbourne, and stretches from Frankston to Mount Martha, then on to Mornington, Dromana, Blairgowrie and Sorrento - each with pristine beaches, no shortage of launching points and excellent amenities like changing areas, parking, cafes and restaurants. Secondly, it caters so well to experienced and rookie paddlers alike.

You'll be wise to put it on your list of must-do kayaking destinations.

Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach

A 10-minute drive from St Kilda lands you at Brighton Beach - a great suburban spot for watersports in Melbourne. The Brighton Sea Baths on Beach Road have great facilities like changing rooms and parking, so it is an excellent place to take to the water and have a paddle in Port Phillip Bay.

Head south from the Sea Baths and take in the iconic beach boxes or just admire Melbourne from a completely different perspective.

In conclusion

Kayking in Melbourne

Whether you're a regular kayaker looking for something closer to home, a watersport lover hoping to try something new, a tourist visiting the city or an adventure fan simply looking to challenge yourself, kayaking Melbourne is a great way to see and experience the city's range of beaches and rivers - and all while having loads of fun.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there!




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