Everybody knows the Great Ocean Road. And that’s no exaggeration. This stretch of shoreline winds from Torquay all the way to the Shipwreck Coast in Warrnambool, with spectacular beaches shielded by dramatic bluffs, lush national parks, super fresh seafood and farm-gate produce along the way. Victoria’s coastal highlight rates as one of the world’s most scenic drives, and is a not-to-be-missed bucket list experience. Choose your favourite seaside spot, or go all out for a road-trip tour of the lot.
Travel 10-minutes from Apollo Bay’s hub and you’ll hit the beachfront cottages of Points South by the Sea
. Designed for year round enjoyment, you can cosy up on plush furnishings in front of the fire, sink into a warm spa-bath and curl up in your king-sized bed, or conversely, kick back on the ocean facing deck in the sea breeze, grill up summery meals and wander down the track to the private beach for a swim. With amazing views from every room, your eyes will constantly be drawn across the treetops to the curving coastline below.
For a unique experience in the heart of the action, Johanna Seaside Cottages is the place to be. Four architecturally designed cottages take in sweeping valley and mountain views on one side, and the world-class breaks of Johanna Beach on the other. There’s a private path down to the water's edge, or if it’s too cold for the ocean, plunge into the heated indoor pool instead. Collect produce from the veggie garden, fresh eggs from the chooks, or simply choose from the pre-prepared menu and have all that delicious fare plated up for you. Treat yourself to an in-house massage or get out and explore – here you can enjoy doing as much or as little as you please.
Among the sand dunes of Port Fairy are seven stunning limestone villas with the foreshore at their doorstep. Each is within reaching distance of the Southern Ocean, with a deck that steps straight down to the beach. At Hearns Villas
whether you're lounging, sinking into the spa or sleeping in, the views won’t escape you. Floor-to-ceiling glass throughout captures dynamic scenes of rolling waves and shifting sands. For the ultimate indulgence, order in a fresh seafood platter to enjoy with a bottle of bubbly while the sunsets over the water.
In an area of the Great Ocean Road known for its buzzing beachside culture, La Perouse Lorne
is a relaxed haven to return to after days spent soaking it all up. This charming boutique hotel has four luxury suites to choose from. Our top pick is the Honeymoon Suite, with its double bath and ocean views that can be enjoyed from bed. Decadent breakfasts are served Parisian-style on the terrace or in the kitchen each day. Embark on a coastal or waterfall walk, go for a dip, and then collapse at your chic French-style retreat at day’s end, waking to scrumptious food and strong coffee to fuel you doing it all again.
Another Port Fairy stunner right on the shores of East Beach, Sandcastles is a palatial home that's all elegant understated luxury. Port Fairy has plenty of appeal, with historic buildings, eclectic boutiques and great food. You’re within walking distance of all this, and the River Moyne sits directly behind the house. But with a huge six-bedroom retreat and ocean facing decks covered in cushiony sun beds, we'd just be lounging about and watching the swells roll in. Life at the beach doesn’t get much better than this.
For an ultra romantic escape along the Great Ocean Road, The Deck House in Wye River is a dream. Suspended above the coast, the 180-degree ocean views from this studio will knock your socks off. Sip champagne on the sun-drenched deck, snuggle up on the daybed-sized window seat, or sit in front of the crackling fire and get lost in the endless expanse of water in the background. After a long sleep in and a bit of lazing, watching all the morning beach activity from bed, we'd recommend heading down to the Wye General to pick-up some freshly baked bread and delicious coffee.
Pebble Point is the ultimate Great Ocean Road rest for nature lovers. Nestled behind the cliff-tops and rock formations of the Twelve Apostles, right near the end of the coastal highway, five luxury tents are located within metres of not one but three national parks. This is ‘glamping’ at its best; perfect for hardier types that still enjoy their creature comforts. We promise there’s not a sleeping bag in sight. Here you have king sized beds with adjoining ensuites, heated throw rugs and hot water bottles, all your linen and towels supplied, and a private deck from which to take in the Otway Ranges and star-filled night skies.
Midway between Wye River and Apollo Bay, this is one of those quiet beachside spots you’ll have virtually to yourself – and you’ll want to keep it that way. At Stephanie's there are three rooms to choose from. The Seascape Room boasts dramatic ocean views, double decks and a private track to the communal herb and veggie garden; the Carisbrook room is the largest, suited for friends or couples travelling together, with a spacious terrace overlooking the Otway Ranges; and the Garden Room downstairs is great for those who want their own space. The best part? A private track through the tea-trees leading to the typically isolated beach.
Aireys Inlet is one of the Great Ocean Road’s better-kept secrets, and as host to literary and music events throughout the year, something of an artistic bohemia. Ocean Inlet reflects the quirky-cool nature of this laidback coastal town. Offering up a ‘Life Aquatic’ themed apartment, complete with an under the sea wall mural and aquarium porthole, this is a fun choice for you and your friends. For something more romantic choose the multi-level Shorehouse with its huge corner spa, sun soaked breakfast spot on the balcony, and amazing views across the waterway to Aireys Inlet’s iconic lighthouse.