You don’t have to travel far to find somewhere increible to swim in Victoria. Whether it’s hitting the surf on a world-class beach, floating in a remote lake or sitting beneath a waterfall in the forest, there are more options than opportunities you’ll have to visit.
Eva and I went for a surf this morning at Ocean Grove, which is a great beginners beach about 20 minutes from Geelong, an hour and 20 minutes from Melbourne and just before the start start of the Great Ocean Road. While we were waiting for the waves to roll in, we started planning our next surfing trip along the Great Ocean Road and this of course lead to us chatting about our favourite places to swim on the mighty road, so I thought I’d share them with you.
There are probably over 100 different places to swim along or near by the Great Ocean Road. It was tough to pick our favourites. They’re not just based on the aesthetics or swell, but instead we simply decided by thinking about how much we enjoy going to these places, the full experience from driving to the destination to getting in the water.
Our favourite places for a Great Ocean swim
The title ‘Great Ocean Road’ naturally sets some high expectations for the standard of beaches that you’ll come across. In this case, you’re not going to be disappointed.
The entire Great Ocean Road stretches for 243kms with the first 90kms having the official name the ‘Surf Coast’ with dozens of beaches in this area alone.
Our favourtie way of finding somewhere to swim each time we travel along the Great Ocean Road is to head away from the main places and down old dirt tracks, looking for beaches, rivers or lakes that we haven’t been to and could be suitable for a dip. It’s a lot of fun and we suggest you try doing the same, you can even come with us if you’re in the area, be sure to comment on this post and we’ll figure something out!
We’ve been swimming at more places than we can count on our fingers and toes and we’re beginning to add photos and details about these places to swim in our Guide to the Great Ocean Road.
The top 2 dipping spots:
Out of all of the places we’ve been swimming, whether it was relaxing in the shallow and shaded river bend at Aire Crossing Campground in the Otways, surfing at Apollo Bay or the more secluded and remote forest beach at Blanket Bay, there are two places to go swimming on the Great Ocean Road that sit above the rest and stand out as favourites to us: Step Beach & Johanna Beach.
Both of these swimming spots are totally different to each other. The first spot is close to the start of the Great Ocean Road beneath a lighthouse and surrounded by rugged, massive sandstone cliffs, but the water is quite calm. The second beach is much further down the road, closer to the 12 Apostles and surrounded by a forest with a huge stretch of beautiful gold sand, although the waves can get pretty big and rough, making it popular for surfing.
1. Step Beach, hidden below Split Point Lighthouse
You won’t find Step Beach on Google. It’s in a town called Aireys Inlet, which is about 30 minutes into the Great Ocean Road if you’re starting at Torquay.
Head to Split Point Lighthouse, then walk along the path for about 100 metres back west towards Torquay and you’ll come across some stairs down to the beach.
We’re massive fans of this place for a few reasons. Firstly, although Torquay and Anglease have stunning golden beaches that are perfect for swimming and surfing, and the fact that you would have already passed about a dozen other beaches that would be perfect for a swim to get to this spot, it’s still very early into your Great Ocean Road trip and completely different to everywhere you would have seen so far.
The beach is wrapped by huge stand stone cliffs with incredible rock formations beneath the lighthouse just waiting to be explored.
It’s normally a bit more protected than other beaches close by. It’s perfect for relaxing in the water and cooling off on a hot day without being pushed around by the swell and waves. In saying that, do make sure you’re careful because just like the entire Victoria coastline, there’s always a level of danger and the weather can get pretty crazy, pretty fast.
The feature image at the top of this blog post is from this beach. Our photos don’t do this place justice and as it’s less than an hour from where we’re currently based, we’ll head back here soon and get some better photos.
To get a better feeling for the place, take a look at when I went here to try and find the ghost that’s been haunting the beach since the early 1900s.
Be sure to head to take a look at this page on the Step Beach in another month or so, once we’ve had another chance to head down there and take some more photos.
2. The Incredible Johanna Beach in the Otways
Surely the most impressive and stunning beach on the Great Ocean Road!
Johanna Beach is right in the Otways National Park forest. Although you can get there in about 3 hours if you drive the inland route from Melbourne, if you’re heading the coastal Great Ocean Road route, it’s about two-thirds of the way from Torquay (the start) to the 12 Apostles.
The beach is huge! It stretches for about 1.5kms east to west. You can normally find somewhere close to the shore that will be calm enough for a safe swim, but make sure you’re careful here as the swell and waves can get rough and dangerous and it’s not always ideal conditions to head into the water.
On a good day (most days), you’ll find the conditions are perfect for surfing. There is a mix between smaller and larger waves, so although this is a popular spot for experienced surfers or those with guts, at times it can be suitable for beginner surfers too.
Not just for swimming, surfing, walking along and exploring, Johanna Beach is just incredible to look at. After driving through the forest, you’ll come to a bright green grass area and large campground right behind/..infront of the beach.
It’s worth checking out even if you’re just driving past, but keep in mind that just behind the beach and protected from the wind is the Johanna Beach Campground which would arguably be the best place to go camping on the Great Ocean Road!
These are our two favourite places to go swimming on the Great Ocean Road, although we’re constantly exploring new spots to swim and surf, then writing about them as we find them so that you can check them out in our Guide to the Great Ocean Road.
Let me take you on a private Great Ocean Road guided tour!
If you’re wanting to go on an unforgettable Great Ocean Road day trip, multi-day tour or just for a swim, comment below and I can take you on a private guided Great Ocean Road tour!
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