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As the main town on Phillip Island, Cowes is a lively centre of recreation, cultural, and artistic lifestyle. Swim on one of Victoria’s few north facing beaches, ride around the beach on horseback, or watch the penguins as they come ashore in the evening. From surf and sheltered swimming beaches and wildlife parks to the penguin parade and the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, Cowes has many activities.
See more VIC Phillip Island and Gippsland holiday accommodation.
Cowes: Headquarters for Phillip Island Holidays
Cowes, the largest town on Phillip Island, is a strategic base for getting close to some of Australia’s most iconic wildlife. The community is only a few kilometres away from the famous Penguin Parade, a koala conservation centre and a wildlife park.
The holiday destination is favoured not just by nature lovers but also by families and beachgoers. Phillip Island offers long stretches of golden sand, a maze, and ample fishing opportunities. In town, visitors can dine at an array of restaurants or go for a stroll along the waterfront reserve.
Holiday rentals in Cowes consist mostly of tidy flats close to the main street and apartments overlooking the beach.
A long, grassy stretch borders Cowes’ main beach, offering lots of picnic spots and plenty of shade, thanks to trees and man-made shelters. There are also BBQ facilities, so you can do some grilling as you take in ocean views. A trail winds along the foreshore, allowing visitors to explore this part of the coast at a leisurely pace.
Another possibility is to walk barefoot in the golden sand to the Cowes Jetty, where you will see a waterfront cafe. The Jetty is also a popular spot for fishing. Cowes’ main beach is favoured by families and swimmers of all skill levels. If you’re looking for some seclusion, head towards Erehwon Point and beyond to discover a series of quieter beaches.
Phillip Island Animal Encounters
Cowes is a strategic base for visitors looking to get up close and personal with some iconic Australian species. Phillip Island is well-known internationally for its Penguin Parade, only a short drive from Cowes. In the evenings, watch little blue penguins scurry across the beach, returning to their burrows on the rock foreshore after a day at sea. Listen to the guide’s commentary to learn more about these tiny, flightless birds.
To cuddle koalas, visit the Koala Conservation Centre, just a few kilometres from Cowes. As you drive on Phillip Island’s roads, look up at eucalyptus treetops and you might be able to spot some wild koalas and their joeys. To see over 100 Australian species, head to Phillip Island Wildlife Park. Here, kangaroos and wallabies hop around in the open, so you can feed and pet them.
Family Fun on Phillip Island
Close to Cowes, there are plenty of family-friendly activities, in addition to the wildlife encounters. Kids of all ages (and adults!) will enjoy the Phillip Island Chocolate factory, which features interactive games and displays. Learn how chocolate is transformed from bean to bar and try some samples on the way.
Spend the day at A Maze’N Things, Phillip Island’s very own maze complex with labyrinths and other activities, such as mini golf. If the kids are amateur fishermen, let them show off their skills at Phillip Island’s trout farm, where you can catch your own supper.
Cowes - In Town
The town of Cowes itself is a bustling seaside community. The main street, leading to the foreshore, is lined by cafes and restaurants, many of which offer terraces for outdoor eating. Try some fish and chips or sit down with a home-brewed coffee. After days out and about, come back to Cowes for dinner at one of the many restaurants, serving Indian, Thai, Italian or Modern Australian Cuisine.
Fancy a day of golf? Head to the Cowes Golf Club. On Saturday evenings, a couple times a month, Cowes hosts a night market. Browse the stalls under the stars and purchase arts and crafts, clothes or food produced or designed locally.
Getting to Cowes
Phillip Island is set just under two hours from Melbourne. The easiest way to get to Cowes is to drive. However, you can also take public transport in the form of V/Line coaches with direct service from Victoria’s capital city to Cowes.