Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park


Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park

Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park is part of an Aboriginal cultural landscape in the traditional Sea Country of the Wadawurrung Peoples. Parks Victoria respects the deep and continuing connection that Wadawurrung Traditional Owners have to these waters, and we recognise their ongoing role in caring for Country.

Divers and snorkelers can discover exciting underwater destinations within the Marine National Park. Portsea Hole is one of the most popular recreational dives sites for experienced divers, reaching depths of up to 30m. Experienced divers can explore the spectacular vertical reef and array of invertebrates, fish, sponges and soft corals.

Popes Eye is a popular short-stay destination for pleasure craft and Licensed Tour Operators. There is good snorkelling within the structure, but more experience is necessary when diving on the outside of it. Tides play an important role for both scuba diving and snorkelling. The diverse marine life includes colourful reef fish, octopus, feather stars, cuttlefish, seals and gorgonian corals, making it the perfect spot for underwater photography. Swan Bay and the surrounds of Mud Islands, and the intertidal reefs at Point Lonsdale and Point Nepean, are also great locations for both beginner and experienced snorkelers to explore.

In the entrance to Port Phillip – known as ‘The Rip’ – qualified divers can experience spectacular wall diving and challenging drift dives. The clear waters and outstanding colour and diversity of hard temperate coral outcrops, colourful sponge gardens, fish and invertebrates rivals even the tropical coral reefs.


Surfers and bodyboarders can ride the waves from outstanding breaks at Point Lonsdale and Point Nepean, although Point Nepean’s break is only accessible by boat. The waters of Swan Bay attracts canoers and kayakers, including regular social paddling groups.

You don’t have to be on or under the water to enjoy the park’s diverse marine environment. These wonderful coastal settings are perfect for nature observation such as mudflat wading, bird watching (especially Australasian Gannets at Popes Eye), rockpooling or walking on the beach. Take a boat trip out to Mud Islands and take in the scenery of these internationally recognised natural sites.

Things To Do

A snorkeller jumps into the water from a boat, Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park

Diving and snorkelling

Whatever your skill level, you can explore the hidden corners and diverse environments of this marine national park via popular diving spots.
The Heads of Port Phillip taken from Point Nepean National Park.

Water sports

Surfing and bodyboarding on the outstanding breaks at Point Lonsdale and Point Nepean (accessible by boat), canoeing and sea kayaking in Swan Bay and safe swimming on sheltered beaches are all popular activities.
A group of Gannets in Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park

Bird watching

See the Australasian Gannet colony at Popes Eye and keep a look out for the Ruddy Turnstone, a small migratory wading bird that feeds amongst the basalt rocks of Popes Eye.
A group of children rockpooling in Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park

Rockpooling and mudflat wading

Go rockpooling at low tide on the Point Lonsdale intertidal platform and mudflat meandering along the shoreline of Swan Bay.

Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park

Colourful sponge gardens, tall kelp forests and seagrass beds can all be viewed while diving and snorkeling. Australasian Gannets, Blue Devilfish, Octopus, Feather Stars, Cuttlefish, Australian Fur Seals, Whales, Dolphins, Little Penguins and Weedy Sea Dragons are just some of the fauna you may see when visiting the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park. Keep an eye out for:

Weedy Seadragon

Tours and adventure experiences in parks

One of the best ways you can get into nature is with a Licensed Tour Operator.

There are more than 400 Licensed Tour Operators across Victoria who are ready and waiting to help you experience and connect with Victoria’s spectacular parks and waterways.

Discover more than 60 different types of nature-based experiences including hiking, mountain biking, boating, four-wheel driving, indigenous culture tours, birdwatching, surfing, diving and so much more. 

Licensed Tour Operators know all the best places to go and will plan and prepare your visit to ensure you are safe and can enjoy your nature-based adventure to the fullest.

Find a Licensed Tour Operator

How to get there

Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park

From west of Melbourne follow the Princes Highway to Geelong then onto Queenscliff. From the east of Melbourne, make your way to Sorrento to access Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park.

When to go

Waters are starting to warm and fish are starting to get more active.

Need to know

Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park

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