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When it comes to quaint seaside towns along the Great Ocean Road, you’re spoilt for choice and one of those gems happens to be Apollo Bay! If you’re looking for fun things to do in Apollo Bay, it is home to some great attractions and activities that the whole family will love!
Best of all, many of these Apollo Bay activities are completely free!
Located along the Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay is a beautiful seaside town in Victoria, Australia. This small coastal town has a fascinating history that goes back to the 1840s, when a whaling station was established at Point Bunbury, at the western end of the bay.
With a history of sawmills, farming and as an important fishing port, along with production occurring between Melbourne and Portland and boats stopping also at Apollo Bay each week. These days. Apollo Bay is a popular tourist stop along the Great Ocean Road, with visitors wanting to give themselves a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
RECOMMENDED READING: Plan the ultimate trip to Australia with our Australia Travel Guide!
Best Things To Do In Apollo Bay Victoria
Apollo Bay offers a wealth of options for outdoor enthusiasts as well as plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy the salt air.
Best of all, this beautiful coastal Victorian town is a wonderful place to visit for families looking to get away from the city and enjoy the slower pace for a few days.
1. Visit The Beach
No matter what time of year you are visiting Apollo Bay, it’s always a good time to spend some time at the beach, provided the weather is nice! Whether that means taking a stroll along Apollo Bay or enjoying the water!
Apollo Bay Beach
This 3km stretch of beach is patrolled by lifeguards during the peak periods and is a great spot for swimming, surfing, kayaking and boating.
But even if you aren’t so keen on a swim, a bit of beach cricket and lazing about with a book is just as nice here. The kids will love building sand castles too.
For families, stick to the south end of the beach near Point Bunbury and the Apollo Bay Harbour as this is a more protected area and where the patrols are situated during the summer months.
For surfing and boating, head a little further north when you will get more of a swell. It can be a good beginner surf beach.
If you want to avoid the big crowds at the main Apollo Bay beach, head to nearby Marengo, approximately 3km west of Apollo Bay.
These beautiful beaches are stunning to see. While this isn’t the best spot for swimming, it is a wonderful beach for exploring wildlife.
Kids will love looking for crabs and other marine life in the rock pools. The Marengo Reefs Marine Sanctuary is also home to a local colony of Australian Fur Seals.
2. Marriner’s Lookout
For the best view in town, make your way to Marriners Lookout. This is one of the highest points in Apollo Bay, offering impressive views across the town and ocean.
The walk is only around 300 metres return, up a bit of a hill but it isn’t anything too intense. Our kids managed it easily!
The drive up to Marriner’s Lookout Road is quite steep though so it may not suit every vehicle. The parking area isn’t overly large either if you need lots of space to turn around.
Marriner’s Lookout is actually on private property and the owners have kindly allowed public access.
We did the walk in the morning before it got too hot, but it is said to be one of the best places to watch the sunset in Apollo Bay and we can certainly see why! It would be freezing up there on a windy winter day though!
If you’re feeling really keen, you can hike your way from the base of the road. This is around a 2km steep hike uphill so don’t forget your water bottle and comfy shoes!
Location:155 Marriners Lookout Rd, Apollo Bay
3. Apollo Bay Distillery
The Apollo Bay Distillery is a popular spot to visit for locals and visitors alike. This small-batch gin and vodka distillery is inside one of Apollo Bay’s oldest buildings, and the historic SS Casino anchor can be seen when you visit.
This is also the only gin distillery on the Great Ocean Road! Although with them rising in popularity, that may soon change.
Pop in for a tasting of their award-winning gins or vodka. We did the gin flight experience when we visited and they offer some really unique and great-tasting varieties, each named after ships that have sailed from the bay.
The pizzas here are also popular and will keep the kids happy while the adults sample the drinks. There is a good-sized menu that includes a kids’ menu. It can get really busy during the peak summer holiday season and tricky to get a table so head in early if you are wanting to go for lunch or dinner.
Location:23-27 Great Ocean Rd, Apollo Bay
4. Apollo Bay Museum
The Apollo Bay Museum is a great local museum to learn about the history of the area. This is the perfect thing to do in Apollo Bay on a rainy day too!
There is an entry fee for the museum, of just $5 per adult and $1 for kids. Although the museum is only open on weekends, or by appointment through the week (with an extra surcharge). The museum is run by volunteers so all entry fees go towards the maintenance of the facility.
Here you can learn about the Submarine Cable Station from the 1930s, which is where the museum is now located.
Aside from the old cable station history, there are displays about local shipwrecks, the construction of the Great Ocean Road, the Apollo Bay township and activities for kids too.
Location: 6250 Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay
5. Great Ocean Road Brewhouse
One of the most popular places to hang out in Apollo Bay is definitely the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse.
This family-friendly craft beer bar and restaurant have a mammoth selection of craft beer, including different local beer from the region. This includes their own Prickly Moses Handcrafted Beers.
The Brewhouse is huge with lots of tables indoors and out on the outdoor balcony area, with views of the beach. Here you can get yourself a meal or just come for a drink. It is also dog-friendly for those of you visiting with your fur friend.
Their menu has plenty of the typical pub fare options plus a kids menu too. And desserts!
Next door in their Tastes Of The Region tasting room and bottle shop, you can enjoy a paddle of Prickly Moses Beers or try a wine tasting featuring wines from the region. You can also grab other local produce here, such as cheese, meats, chocolates and a range of gifts.
Location: 29-35 Great Ocean Rd, Apollo Bay
6. Take A Nature Walk
Apollo Bay is home to some stunning natural landscapes, making it the perfect place for a leisurely stroll or hike, especially with its close proximately to the Great Otway National Park.
The multi-day Great Ocean Walk passes through Apollo Bay, although you might not be keen on an almost 100km walk!
Instead, you will find a variety of shorter and longer walking tracks in Apollo Bay and the surrounding area, such as the above-mentioned Marriner’s Lookout walk, along the Apollo Bay foreshore or the Apollo Bay to Skenes Creek Coastal Walk.
Like many of the popular stops along the Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay is a good spot for whale watching in Victoria.
The best time of year to spot whales is usually between May and September, although you can sometimes see them earlier or later depending on the year.
Southern Right Whales, Blue Whales, Orcas and Humpback Whales are just a few of the species that migrate along the Southern Coast, where they come to give birth each year.
There are a few vantage points to catch a glimpse of the beautiful creatures as they can sometimes come as close as 100m from the coastline.
There are other locations along the Great Ocean road that will give you better vantage points than Apollo Bay, but sightings are still quite possible!
8. Wildlife Wonders
While it’s not all that difficult to spot native Australian wildlife in the wild anywhere along the Great Ocean Road (we had to stop for a koala crossing the road when we first arrived in Apollo Bay), if you want wildlife encounters, Wildlife Wonders is a great place to visit.
The wildlife tour is one of the best things to do in Apollo Bay with kids, as they will love seeing the different native animals and you will all enjoy the educational experience along the guided walk.
Your guide takes you through Otways bushland, through their protected wildlife sanctuary, along a 1.4km all-abilities walking path.
The tour runs for approximately 75 minutes and is located just outside the centre of Apollo Bay. Best of all, all proceeds go towards wildlife conservation and research!
They also do dusk discovery tours, with the best chances to see the nocturnal wildlife emerging in the early evening. Plus there is a cafe to enjoy a coffee and something to eat and a gift shop to grab yourself some souvenirs or gifts.
The Wildlife Wonders tour costs $59 for adults, $24 for children aged 4 to 15 or $149 for a family of 4. Book your tour online.
Location:Wildlife Wonders, 475 Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay
If you are visiting Apollo Bay with kids, or simply looking for the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic or BBQ, the Apollo Bay Foreshore Reserve is a great option.
Here you will find a playground, benches, picnic tables and easy beach access to Apollo Bay Beach.
10. Enjoy Fish & Chips On the Beach
I don’t know about you, but one of our favourite things is always to sample the fish and chips when we visit coastal towns. After all, you can’t get much fresher!
Apollo Bay Fisherman’s Co-Op often makes the list of the best fish and chips on the Great Ocean Road, alongside The Wharf in Port Fairy. They are also a fresh seafood market if you want to cook up your own local seafood feast too.
Location: Breakwater Road, Apollo Bay
11. Kayak Tour Of Marengo Reef Marine Sanctuary
As far as hidden gems go along the Great Ocean Road, Marengo Reef Marine Sanctuary is definitely one of them.
If you want a chance to see the local Australian fur seals, you can take a kayak tour to do so. The kayak tours are suitable for children aged 12 and over (or anyone who can swim at least 50 metres confidently).
The experience takes around 1.5 hours. You are provided with a wetsuit, life jacket, helmet, guide and kayak and it is around $75 per person. You can book your kayak tour via Apollo Bay Surf Kayak online.
12. Get Some Sweet Treats
Sweet View is Apollo Bay’s specialty confectionery shop and the only of its kind along the Great Ocean Road!
They sell traditional English sweets, local and international lollies, premium coffee, tea, hot chocolate and milkshakes. You will find Sweet View at 39 Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay.
Or if ice cream is more your style, head to Dooley’s Ice Cream shop and sample their premium homemade ice cream flavours, sundaes and milkshakes.
Visit Dooley’s at 89 Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay.
Travel Insurance: Make sure you don’t leave home without travel insurance. Trust us, it’s one of those things you don’t want to skip, especially when travelling with kids. Check out SafetyWing to make sure you’re covered!
Day Trips From Apollo Bay
Apollo Bay’s location makes it the perfect base for a night or several nights to explore some of the local attractions along the beautiful Great Ocean Road.
We stayed here just one night during our 4-day Great Ocean Road itinerary, but it is easily a place you could stay a while and explore the many things to do around Apollo Bay.
Here are some of the other great things to do near Apollo Bay and fun day trip ideas if you do have longer to spend in the area:
13. Cape Otway Lightstation
With its fantastic proximity within Great Otway National Park, the Cape Otway Lightstation is one of the most iconic things to do on The Great Ocean Road. This is the oldest lighthouse on mainland Australia and is situated just half an hour away.
The lighthouse sits 90 metres above the Bass Strait and you can take a self-guided tour of the light station and historic buildings in the area.
It’s also a beautiful spot to watch migrating whales and dolphins as well as witness a spectacular sunset from the clifftop.
Tickets are $19.50 for adults, $7.50 for kids or $49.50 for a family of 4.
Location: Lighthouse Road, Cape Otway
14. Otway Fly Treetop Adventures
If you love adventure and adrenaline-pumping activities, then the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures is a real must-do.
The Otway Fly includes a 600-metre elevated treetop walk through the rainforest for panoramic views of the natural environment, or the chance to get daring with the Otway Fly Zipline experience. You will get incredible views of the surrounding area.
Tickets for the treetop walk start at $27.50 for adults and $120 for ziplining.
Location: 360 Phillips Track, Ferguson
15. Melba Gully Glow Worms
There are quite a few places along the Great Ocean Road where you can see glow worms in their natural environment.
Perhaps one of the most accessible is Melba Gully, which you can visit all year round. It is located just under an hour from Apollo Bay and is a fun way to round out your day of sightseeing around the Otways as the sun is going down.
There is a short walk along a gravel track that will take you to the area where you will be rewarded with the glowing illumination of thousands of glow worms.
Take your torch for walking along the track if needed, but make sure not to shine it on the glow worms. This will impact their glow and ruin your experience.
Location: Melba Gully State Park, 5 Melba Gully Rd, Lavers Hill
16. Waterfalls Near Apollo Bay
There are a lot of beautiful waterfalls within the Great Otway NP. Here are some of the most popular waterfalls to visit within around 1-hour drive of Apollo Bay:
The picturesque 20-metre waterfall is located off the Great Ocean Road and is a 3km return walk to reach. The walk takes around an hour and can be a little steep and slippery in places so it is best you have reasonable fitness to take on this walk, but well worth the sight at the end!
A little further along you will find Hopetown Falls, which is a 30-metre waterfall that plunges into the Aire River below. There is a viewing platform just 20 metres from the car park or you can climb down the 200 steps to the base of the falls for a view from the base.
Carisbrook Falls is the closest of the 4 waterfalls on this list to Apollo Bay with a 300m walking track, making this a quick and easy stop to enjoy on your Great Ocean Road drive.
Possibly the most breathtaking of these waterfalls, Triplet Falls is located near the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures, making it a great stop to combine with your day of active family fun. This is one of the easier waterfalls to access along a scenic 1.8km (1-hour) track that takes you past the original Victorian Timber Mill.
17. Port Campbell National Park
Apollo Bay is approximately 90 minutes from some of the most famous landmarks on the Great Ocean Road!
Here you will find Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge (or London Arch as it is more accurately known now), the Grotto, Gibson Steps and of course, the twelve Apostles.
You can easily visit all of these landmarks in a couple of hours, with them all located close together and a short walk from the car park areas.
There are longer hiking trails connecting some of them, such as Gibson Steps to the Twelve Apostles Lookout during low tide.
Another worthwhile place to visit near Apollo Bay (if you aren’t already following the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne) is Aireys Inlet.
Split Point Lighthouse is the main attraction here, with spectacular views out to sea if you choose to do the tour up the top of the lighthouse.
What is extra cool for those of us Aussie kids who grew up in the 90s is the fact that this is where ‘Round The Twist‘ tv series was filmed, based on the popular Paul Jennings kids’ books.
There are also walking tracks and access down to Steps Beach. This is a great place for a picnic lunch or just to take in the views from the top of Eagle Rock.
Apollo Bay With Kids
Apollo Bay is an ideal destination for families, offering a stunning coastal backdrop and enough fun activities for the kids to keep the whole family entertained for a few days.
Especially if you are visiting in summer and can make the most of the beaches and outdoor activities.
Kids will especially love the Apollo Bay attractions involving wildlife and play at the foreshore playground of course!
There is plenty of family accommodation available, but make sure to book early if you are visiting during the summer school holidays!
Planning Your Apollo Bay Visit
Now that you’ve got your list of the best things to do at Apollo Bay Vic, it’s time to plan your visit. Here are the essentials for making the most of your stay:
Where Is Apollo Bay?
Apollo Bay is located on the southwest coast of Victoria, Australia, along the Great Ocean Road. It is approximately 3-hours from Melbourne or a 4-hour drive from the South Australian border.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Apollo Bay?
The best time to visit Apollo Bay is in summer when the days are longer and the weather is warmer! This allows you to make the most of all the things to do here, such as swimming and water activities, as well as activities such as Marriner’s Lookout and exploring the nearby Otways.
If you want to avoid the big crowds, visit outside of the Australian school holidays period when it is most busy. This includes mid-December through to late January especially.
For seafood lovers, the annual Apollo Bay Seafood Festival takes place in February each year and the harbour comes alive with pop-up restaurants, tastings and Apollo Bay Bakeries’ famous Scallop Pies.
They even have fun hands-on activities for the kids too!
Getting Around Apollo Bay
By far the easiest way to get to and around Apollo Bay is by car!
Find the best price on a car or van to suit your needs on DiscoverCars.
You can also hire a budget campervan, such as a Jucy van and road trip your way through Victoria.
Otherwise, Apollo Bay is quite a small town so it’s a perfect place to go for a bike ride, with many of the best attractions within cycling distance of one another. This is a great option when considering what to do in Apollo Bay during the warmer seasons.
Best Places To Stay In Apollo Bay
There are a variety of great places to stay in Apollo Bay to suit different types of trips and budgets.
We stayed at the Apollo Bay Eco YHA which was one of the few things left available when our summer vacation plans changed fairly late. However, it was a great place for an overnight stay, with clean, modern facilities and shared bathrooms.
Some other Apollo Bay accommodations options include:
Accommodation – We use Booking.com or Agoda to book most of our hotel accommodation when we travel.
Travel insurance – Protect yourself and your belongings with Hey Mondo.
Tours & attractions – Our preferred attraction and tour booking sites are Get Your Guide and Viator. Booking ahead will mean you don’t miss out on popular tours!
Apollo Bay is an incredible destination for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and anyone looking for a break from the city. With its beautiful beach, unforgettable outdoor activities, and an abundance of local wildlife, Apollo Bay is definitely worth visiting for longer than just a lunch stop on your Great Ocean Road drive!