14 Dog-friendly beaches, Melbourne & Mornington Peninsula
On long hot summer days or even during brisk wintery weather, it is lovely to take our four-legged friends to the beach. Most dogs revel in the fun of crashing through the surf and charging along sandy stretches of beach.
Melbourne offers some amazing beaches for dogs to run free, extending from Altona in the West all the way to the Mornington Peninsula. The city even offers some excellent pet-friendly accommodation choices. If frolicking on the beach isn’t your dogs ‘thing,’ head for the hills as the Dandenong Ranges offers some wonderful dog walking trails.
Horse riders often dream of taking their horses swimming in the sea and Melbourne, believe it or not, offers something for them too!
We have sought out 14 stunning beaches close to Melbourne for dog walkers that can be used all year round. Please keep in mind that these are not exclusively for dogs, other people do use them too. Families, tourists, locals… in hot weather and holiday times, early morning is the quietest time to let your dog loose on most of the beaches and wintery days will usually find the beaches empty but still perfect for dogs to run.
If you plan to head down the Great Ocean Road with your pooch, you can find great beaches there too. Read more here…
Dog-friendly Cafes, Melbourne: Many of the dog beaches have nearby cafes that welcome dog owners, we have some suggested cafes listed along with the beaches below.
Public transport can be used to reach most of the beaches, read about rules and conditions for dogs on trains, trams, and buses here.
This list of Dog-friendly beaches is specifically:
- Beaches that have no restrictions on the time of day they can be used and are open all year-round for dogs to run free.
- Rules and regulations change, please let us know if any details are not correct or if any beaches are missed off.
Some of the beaches are close to the Bay Trail for bike riders and pedestrians and close to busy roads. Exceptions to this are Altona Beach which has quite a distance from the beach to the road and Brighton Beach which is within a fenced off area. Dogs need to be good at returning when called.
Some beaches have bags and bins for dog poop, please remember to bring your own bags in case though.
1. Altona Dog Beach
The Altona Beach receives favourable reviews from all who visit it seems! Friendly locals, happy, excited dogs, beaming owners, and more fun than any dog could dream of. The water is quite shallow, wonderful for a really fabulous romp and play. It is the nearest year-round, off-leash beach that is close to Williamstown.
The main road is a reasonable distance from the beach with the PA Burns reserve acting as a buffer, making it less of a worry when training dogs or for dogs with a tendency to roam or with poor recall responses.
When the tide is low, the sand flats stretch out a long way, giving dogs so much room to race about. The beach itself has a lot of shell grit rather than being really sandy, which makes it interesting for kids too.
Parking: Park either at the PA Burns Reserve (no public toilets) and walk across the park to the beach or in designated parking bays near the boat ramp at the western end of the beach.
Arriving by train is quite a simple way to get there too. From the Seaholme Train Station it is about a 10-minute walk to the beach, walk down to the Bay Trail and follow the path.
Nearby Cafe / Restaurant: The Bayview Bistro at the Altona Sports Club (western end of the beach) is the nearest place to eat and has an outdoor bistro so dogs can go too.
2. Sandridge Beach, Port Melbourne
This is a really nice little beach with views across to the Port Melbourne pier where ships dock. Even at high tide, there is still plenty of sand to romp along. The dog area is easily identifiable between the two rock groynes and signage is clear.
Get Directions to Sandridge Beach
3. Port Melbourne Dog Beach
Between Lagoon Pier and Bay Street is Port Melbourne off-lead dog beach. There is paid parking on the street near Lagoon Pier and free parking further along towards Station Pier. This is an ideal beach stop for people traveling on the Spirit of Tasmania with a dog as plenty of energy can be expelled prior to boarding.
It is a lovely beach too and close enough to well known Bay Street for coffee and food!
Get Directions to Port Melbourne Beach
4. St Kilda West Dog Beach
From the famous St Kilda Pier and stretching along the St Kilda West Beach to the groyne opposite Sandridge Street. is another awesome leash-free beach for dogs. So close to the city and St Kilda, it is little wonder this beach is so popular with dog lovers!
There is a sensitive dune conservation area (signposted clearly) with a lovely boardwalk part way along the beach, this section is totally out of bounds for dogs, but they can go past down along the beach.
When the tide is low there is a multitude of shallow areas for dogs to romp around in the water. It is easy to spend hours at this beach!
Parking: Metered parking along the roads, bring cash or use a credit/debit card.
Nearby Cafe: The West Beach Bathers Pavillion on Beaconsfield Parade is a super popular cafe with a great vibe, established in 1928, it has a good outdoor dining area where you can take your pooch too, water bowls are even provided! Alternatively, pop your pooch on a lead and walk to the St Kilda Cafes.
Get Directions to West Beach, St Kilda.
5. St Kilda Dog Beach, near the Marina
From near the St Kilda Marina is another great spot to let your beach bum dogs romp. Access through the skate park area or along Marine Parade. There is plenty of sand for dogs to play on as well as fun sandbanks when the tide is low. Closer to the marina is an area with large rocks that dogs enjoy exploring too. Dogs are allowed, on lead, within the skateboard park area so people with dogs could enjoy a bbq or picnic perhaps.
Parking: Free parking is available near the Marina or in side streets and paid parking is available near the reserve and skate park where a few bbq’s can also be used.
Nearby cafes: There is a little food stall near the skate park on the west side of the Marina and also a good cafe with a few outdoor tables next to the Melbourne Skydiving center on the edge of the marina.
Get Directions to the St Kilda dog-friendly beach.
6. Brighton Dog Beach
On the bay in Brighton is a super dog off the lead beach, it is fenced off which is great for peace of mind if you have a dog that gets carried away with running, has a poor recall or being trained. Big dogs can be fairly well contained, though smaller ones can sneak under the gate, it is up to each owner to be responsible for their pet of course. It is well-known and really popular, for good reason too, when the tide is high there is still plenty of space for dogs to run and play.
Parking: It is possible to park in side streets for free, though this can cause congestion and problems for residents. Parking by the Brighton Sea Baths is a good option, then walk about 400m to the beach along the Bay Trail.
Get Directions to park near the Brighton Dog Beach.
7. Sandringham Harbour/ Hampton Dog Beach
Near the Sandringham Harbour and within cooee of the local beach cafe, this is another good off-leash dog walk area. Plenty of sand and shallow waters.
8. Beaumaris – Black Rock Dog Beach & Ricketts Point Cafe
This is quite a long off lead dog beach that stretches almost to the famous Ricketts Point cafe. Fabulous for a really good walk and then a snack or meal at the cafe which has outdoor seating. Put dogs on-leash and walk on the Bay Trail to the cafe unless restrictions allow you to walk on the beach in this section.
Parking: Unless parking in a side street, some of the parking around this section of the bay is to be paid for.
Get Directions to park near Ricketts Point
9. Mentone Dog Beach
Another popular spot, the 450-meter off-lead beach at Mentone is awesome and has sweeping views around Port Philip Bay and to the Mornington Peninsula. A number of cafes are to found along Beach road.
Parking: Paid parking in designated areas or free in the side streets.
Dog-Friendly Beaches Mornington Peninsula
Still within an easy drive of the Melbourne city centre, the Mornington Peninsula beaches are well worth a day trip to visit with your dog.
10. Royal Beach, Mornington
A smaller beach, just under 200 metres long, that is accessed from the Esplanade right opposite the Royal and Kirkpatrick Hotels. Both these lovely hotels have beer gardens where dogs are welcomed, an ideal location for a meal afer a good walk. The water is quite shallow and ideal for dogs to swim in.
Free parking on the Esplanade or up behind the shops.
Get Directions to Royal Beach
11. Fossil Beach
Fossil Beach is a really interesting spot, fossils to be found, hence the name of course. If your dog likes running around a rocky environment then this is a top beach to have them off the lead and maybe take the kids fossil hunting. There is not a sandy shoreline.
The walk to the beach is just under 500m and passes through bushland, it is quite a pretty walk and not particularly difficult. Dogs must be kept on a lead until reaching the beach.
Parking: There is a free gravel parking area on the road that runs above the beach, then follow signs to the beach.
Get Directions to Fossil Beach.
12. Hawker Beach – Dog-Friendly
Nestled between beach huts at either end, this sandy little beach is popular. The track down from the Esplanade is wide and fairly steep but worth the trek. Rocks are in the water which could make it tricky for dogs that like to rush about in the water.
The beach huts that are at the far end of the beach and, initially, out of site are such a surprise. Beautifully painted and elevated above the waterline on long posts. There is no signage to say dogs on lead cannot pass by the huts, but they must be put back on a lead just before the beach huts.
Parking: There is a good amount of parking up along the roadside, free too!
Get Directions to Hawker Beach
13. Tassells Cove, Safety Beach
One of the friendliest little spots to walk your pooch off the lead and enjoy the beach to the fullest. Tassells Cove, at the northern end of Safety Beach, on the Mornington Peninsula is one of the most popular beaches for dogs and their humans and one of the best dog-friendly walks on the Mornington Peninsula. Lovely shallow water and a gorgeous sandy beach, with cliffs behind and rocks to the far end.
Parking: There is limited (about 25 spaces) parking, free, by the beach. The access to the parking is a little confusing, see the image below. The main road passes under the small bridge to the car park. It is a good idea to browse google maps and directions to know beforehand how to get here.
It is possible to park further away and cross under the waterway using steps or an elevator (these are directly to the left in the image below).
14. Flinders Dog Beach
Right down towards the end of the Mornington Peninsula is the super popular Flinders Beach off-lead dog zone. Scenery, history and loads of fun for pooches, it is definitely a walk to put on your ‘must do’ list.
The dog off-lead area extends north from Flinders for 2 km from Dodds Creek to Manton Creek. Loads of rockpools and sandy stretches to keep everyone interested. It is best at low tides when the rockpools are revealed.
Flinders is a lovely seaside town and well worth spending some time visiting. There is plenty of history to discover in the region as Flinders was a cable station in 1869 and has a proud war history with memorial plaques along walking trails. During summer kids (and adults) love to jump from the pier into the sea.
Parking: Park on the Esplanade and follow the track to the beach.
Get Directions to Flinders Dog Beach
Beaches for Horses near Melbourne
Down along the bay, there is a beach that was used historically by local racehorse trainers to exercise their thoroughbreds by taking them into the water to swim. Nowadays, the beach is open to horse owners to swim their steeds from dawn until 10 am.
Mordialloc Horse Beach
Along Beach Road in Mordialloc is a bronze horse statue, standing as a reminder that this used to be racehorse country. Nearby, in Horse Paddock carpark, horse trainers and owners can be seen arriving with horse floats early in the morning to take their horses into the water. There is no riding allowed on the beach, handlers must walk their horses to the water before mounting. In our case though… we led them to the water and stood waist deep whilst our little Shetland ponies, Winston and Churchill, swam around us. They are just little chaps and this was their first time on the Bayside beach.
This beach is popular with locals coming to watch and children just love seeing the horses swimming… or just seeing horses at any time.
- If you come to watch, please keep clear of the horses and stay safe. Watch from a distance.
- If possible, please park in a nearby carpark and avoid the Horse Paddock car park in the mornings as it gets super busy with horse floats!
Rules for Horse Owners
- You need to clean up any manure as soon as it is deposited by a horse or pony.
- Lead your horse to the water before mounting.
- Do not ride along the beach at all, this is just for swimming.
- Horses must be off the beach by 10 am
No dogs allowed on this beach (though there is a seasonal/ time restricted beach next to the horse area).
By following the rules and heeding any advice from Park Rangers or authorities, this beach will, hopefully, remain a special place for horse owners and all the people coming to watch them swim.
Get Directions to Horse Paddock car park – There are no defined bays for horse trailers, park safely and courteously along the parking bays.
Horse Riding Mornington Peninsula – Gunnamatta Ocean Beach
Whilst the chance to horse ride along Gunnamatta/St Andrews beach on the Mornington Peninsula is not really close to Melbourne, it is still being added here as an option.
We took our Shetland ponies down to the ocean beach for a paddle and walk. It is a good way to get them used to a variety of experiences and helps make them be rather chilled about any new things we introduce them to.
Parking is on Truman’s Road immediately before entering the Cape Schank National Park entrance. There is parking for about 8 vehicles and space to turn around. From the parking area, it is 1km to the beach, follow the clearly marked signage.
Get Directions to the parking area.
Read information from Parks Victoria about riding on Gunnamatta Beach.
For people who dream of riding a horse along a beach near Melbourne but can’t bring their own horses – Gunnamatta Trail rides is your answer!
No dogs are allowed on this beach.