Need a little indulgence and a slice of big nature escapism? This four-day seaside adventure will tick all the boxes.
Beachside simplicity, saltwater wellness, world-class seafood and breathtaking beauty. A journey to Apollo Bay is an adventure that will calm your soul and awaken your senses.
On south western Victoria’s iconic Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay and the Great Otway National Park have an abundance of activities to lose yourself, or, find yourself in! There’s spectacular scenery, wildlife encounters, curated culture, active adventure or just simply a chance to stop and embrace time with your loved ones.
Our trip isn’t about lazing on a beach towel reading a good book, instead we set off on a four day adventure to put COVID and the concrete jungle behind us and to reconnect as a couple.
Apollo Bay is about 2.5 hours south west of Melbourne. If you’re accessing the Great Ocean Road from interstate you can fly into Tullamarine airport (in Melbourne), or, via Avalon Airport near Geelong which is 1.5 hours from Apollo Bay.
Apollo Bay is a tranquil harbour village boasting panoramic views, abounding seaside adventures and tasty local seafood; and it’s our top choice for a city detox.
For our visit to Apollo Bay we chose to stay in one of the beautiful holiday homes provided by Holiday Great Ocean Road called Achilles. Holiday Great Ocean Road offers a superb range of boutique holiday homes in and around the Great Ocean Road.
Achilles suited us as it’s only a 10-minute walk along the beach to town. The deck top spa overlooking the ocean was also a major drawcard.
The Marengo Marine Sanctuary is a few minutes drive from Apollo Bay. Mark and his team at Apollo Bay Surf and Kayak can take you on a spectacular adventure to see the playful and inquisitive local Fur Seal colony on a 2 hour sea kayak tour. Surf lessons, SUP (Stand-Up-Paddleboard) hire and guided walks along the iconic Great Ocean Walk are also all on offer.
A trip to Apollo Bay would not be complete without indulging in Apollo Bay’s world class seafood offering. The Southern Rock Lobster (crayfish) tops the seafood wish list and the Fisherman’s Co-Op located at the Apollo Bay Harbour is the go-to for freshly caught crayfish…the local fishermen are also happy to share hot tips on how to prepare and cook your own ‘crays’.
An after lunch stroll around the harbour will only take 20 minutes. There are some lovely views and the stingrays and resident geese are captivating, amusing and easy to find.
Opened in February 2021, Wildlife Wonders, is located 5km west of Apollo Bay. There is a 75-minute walk through a natural Otways bushland setting with dedicated conservation Guides, where you’ll get to meet the real locals; potoroo, wallabies, koalas, kangaroos and a plethora of birdlife. All profits go directly to the Conservation Ecology Centre as the major contributors to conservation and rehabilitation efforts in the Otways.
After a day of touring around Apollo Bay it’s time to relax with a local brew from the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse, or, to sample and collect some of the Otways finest bounty at Tastes of the Region local produce centre. The Apollo Bay Distillery which is next door to the Brewhouse also offers tasty treats and onsite distilled craft gins made from local botanicals.
For a town that only has 1600 people, Apollo Bay has a wealth of beautiful restaurants, which all feature the local catch and are a short walk from wherever you stay in town. The newly opened Birdhouse Restaurant offers an intimate setting overlooking the main beach. Chris’s Restaurant located at Skenes Creek is a renowned local icon, only a 5 minute taxi ride from Apollo Bay.
Apollo Bay has some great cafés. The Apollo Bay Bakery is a great spot for brekkie and to load up on baked goods for a picnic lunch; make sure to try their famous scallop pie at some stage on your visit!
Located just 10 minutes’ drive west of Apollo Bay is the 1 hour return walk to Shelley Beach. This trail is part of Victoria’s iconic Great Ocean Walk which offers a one-in-a-lifetime 8 day hike along some of Victoria’s most spectacular coastline. At Shelley Beach, the walk from the carpark takes you through cool gullies and beautiful tree ferns to emerge onto the beach with stunning ocean views.
To take in some local history Cape Otway Lighthouse is well worth the visit. The Lightstation is the oldest surviving lighthouse on mainland Australia and considered the most significant. Built in 1848, the lighthouse, known as the ‘Beacon of Hope,’ sits 90 metres above the pristine ocean of Bass Strait.
40 minutes from the Cape is the Otway Fly Tree Top Adventures and a number of beautiful rainforest walks and waterfalls. The Otway Fly has a 2.5-hour Zip Line tour through the trees and a 600 metre canopy walk through the treetops. Both adventures take you high up through the layers of the cool temperate rain forest where there is no better way to see and experiences the colours, smells and beauty of this unspoiled natural environment. The ancient Myrtle Beech trees are a stunning 2000 years old species while the impressive Mountain Ash trees tower to over 100 meters and classified as the world’s tallest flowering plant.
15 minutes from the Otway Fly takes you along Binns Road to weave your way back to Apollo Bay. There are plenty of spots to stop. Hopetoun Falls is one of the most photographed waterfalls in the country and are situated next to the California Redwood forest – a truly stunning setting for a picnic and one of the Otways best kept secrets.
Apollo Bay has an abundance of dining options, however, after an action-packed day, it is often nice to simply retreat and rest up for another adventure. On such an occasion Holly Munday Bespoke Catering provides an amazing stay at home bespoke food option where local produce is the focus.
Another day, another venue for breakfast. Little Crumb Bakery in Apollo Bay are newcomers on the scene and their artisan croissants and pastries are a must try.
Adventure is always on our bucket list and just a 30 minute drive north of Apollo Bay takes you to the township of Forrest which happens to be one of Australia’s mountain bike meccas. Mainly focused towards family riders, there are 66kms of mountain bike trails situated in the breathtaking scenery of the Great Otway National Park. There are some super fun rides in and around the township – the Red Carpet trail was a highlight for us which we can strongly recommend for intermediate riders.
Conveniently located next to the Southern Trailhead is Platypi Chocolates. All chocolates are made on site by hand using all natural ingredients and the best Belgian chocolate. A word of warning that the deconstructed hot chocolate will have you coming back for more!
15 minutes from Forrest is Trees Adventures. Trees Adventure is a really fun high ropes and ziplining experience suitable for ages 8 and up. The 2.5 hour activity starts off with skills and equipment training course before you are released into the forest to explore and experience a real-life Star Wars style Ewok village! There are 8 courses for a variety of skill levels. Totally safe, you learn as you go and get to challenge your limits….if you’re game!
Stevenson’s Falls walk is in the Otway State Forest on the journey back to Apollo Bay. At a leisurely pace and a taking enough time to marvel in the awe of the falls, the walk takes about one hour.
Back in Forrest, Forrest Brewing Company is a great spot for dinner. The brewery is situated in the old general store and has been converted into a boutique bar and dining hall. The brewery celebrates mountain biking and I think I saw my old ‘Malvern Star Dragster’ hanging from the roof? With a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, the craft beers are made from the best hops and pure Otways water. After a generous Brewer’s Board of local produce, you can make your way back to Apollo Bay for a well-deserved rest.
Apollo Bay as a town is stunning and meandering up the beach and getting sand in between your toes is therapy in itself. For brunch, a crepe and coffee at Waves Café is not to be missed and a great way to set the flow for your day.
A return walk from town to Marriners Lookout takes about 1.5 hours, or, if you want to cheat because you’re running short of time…you can drive up to the lookout car park to take a shorter 20 minute return walk. A must-do, the lookout offers expansive views across the town and Southern Ocean, merely put, it will take your breath away!
Dooley’s Premium Ice Cream is something that needs to be experienced slowly and repeatedly. The Dooley’s shop wall is plastered with Australian Dairy Awards and it’s easy to understand why! Dooley’s ice-cream is absolutely the BEST ice cream we have ever had! You can try-before-you-buy so that there’s no reason to share…and you are likely to discover that vegemite and chilli ice creams are surprisingly yummy.
There is no more spectacular way to finish an adventure to Apollo Bay than taking a scenic flight with Apollo Bay Aviation. Departing from the Apollo Bay airfield, they offer helicopter or Cessna flights all along the Great Ocean Road, to the 12 Apostles and even to King Island. Taking in Apollo Bay and the Otways from the air is an amazing way to wrap up your trip to this special town.
A wander back to town along the Marengo beach takes about 30 minutes leaving enough time to indulge in some retail therapy. Shopping is easy at Apollo Bay Bloom, Hawkeye, and Black Berry Beach where you could spend hours browsing the amazing arrays whilst chatting to the passionate owners.
Masala Bay was our last dinner and there were no regrets! They offer authentic Indian cuisine, using the best local produce…anything from the tandoori smoker will blow your mind and truly satisfy your taste buds.
Apollo Bay has so much to offer all year round and is the perfect place to base yourself for an adventure-packed holiday or a relaxing break. The town’s many year-round events are another great reason to visit – why not plan your next trip around one of the occasions below:
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.