If there’s one trail you must complete when visiting Phillip Island, it’s the Cape Woolamai Walk. This fantastic 8.5km circuit encompasses the entire southeastern peninsula of the island, showcasing some of the most dramatic scenery on Phillip Island, such as The Pinnacles Lookout. Better still, this isn’t a long walk either, so you’ll have plenty of time to tick off some other Phillip Island attractions after seeing Cape Woolamai. And lemme tell ya, there are plenty!
So, let’s take a look at everything you need to know to complete the Cape Woolamai Walk.
Table of Contents
About Cape Woolamai
Cape Woolamai is a wild and beautiful headland at the southeastern tip of Phillip Island. The area is jam-packed with natural beauty and plenty of wildlife. Specifically, Cape Woolamai is home to the largest colony of Short-tailed Shearwaters on Phillip Island. It’s also home to the endangered Hooded Plover. So, keep your eyes peeled as you take the coastal trail of the Cape Woolamai Walk.
Certainly, natural attractions are in abundance when you walk Cape Woolamai. Dramatic cliffs drop away into the rough waters below. Waves crash and carve out interesting rock formations like Cape Woolamai’s pièce de résistance, The Pinnacles. From The Pinnacles Lookout along the Cape Woolamai Walk, you’ll have incredible views of this jagged set of sea stacks as they descend like steps into the surrounding Bass Strait.
Indeed, given the epic wave action, it’s no wonder Cape Woolamai Surf Beach is one of the best surf beaches in Australia. Attracting experienced surfers from around the world, you’ll likely get to enjoy the surfing spectacle as you walk the Cape Woolamai circuit. Clad in their black wetsuits, they resemble a bob of seals, relaxing playfully together in the cool waters. Which, given Phillip Island is home to a large colony of fur seals at The Nobbies (guide coming soon), doesn’t look out of place at all.
Best Cape Woolamai Tour From Melbourne
- Cape Woolamai Surf Beach
- The Nobbies Boardwalk
- Penguin Parade
Where Is the Cape Woolamai Walk?
The Cape Woolamai Walk is located within the Phillip Island Nature Reserve in the southeastern corner of the island in Victoria, Australia. The circular walk encompasses the entire headland, including visiting The Pinnacles Lookout. To help get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the area on Google Maps.
Cape Woolamai Walk Overview
The Cape Woolamai Walk is a wonderfully wild and picturesque hike. Taking little more than a couple of hours, it really does showcase some of the best scenery on Phillip Island. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for birdlife as you walk Cape Woolamai. Additionally, you’ll be sure to spot plenty of wallabies as you adventure across the cape, especially if you visit early in the morning.
The Cape Woolamai Walk is neither long nor difficult and is the perfect introduction to what Phillip Island has to offer. Top sites to look out for along the way include The Pinnacles Lookout, Cape Woolamai Beacon – which signals the highest point of the island, Gull Island Lookout, and the old pink granite quarry.
All in all, this is a delightful coastal walk that’s easy to follow and really does tick all the boxes. Let’s look at the route map and hiking stats.
Cape Woolamai Walk Map and Stats
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 8.5km
- Time: 2 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 130m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Woolamai Surf Beach Car Park
- Map: AllTrails
Cape Woolamai Walk Description
Beginning from the car park at Woolamai Surf Beach, the 8.5km circuit commences. As you head down the wooden staircase to the beach, you’ll begin to get a sense of the rugged coastline that stretches along the south of Phillip Island. The sand is perfectly golden and, if you head off first thing in the morning, the sea air feels crisp and refreshing.
The initial stages of the Cape Woolamai Walk lead you eastwards along the beach. It’s a pleasant beach walk and, if you hike in winter like us, is quiet. Before reaching the end of Woolamai Surf Beach, you’ll see a wooden staircase leading back up to the cliff tops. Take the steps to the top and then join the path heading east. This trail leads towards The Pinnacles Lookout and as the trail curves around the coastal bluff, you can enjoy more extensive views of Bass Strait.
The Pinnacles Lookout, Phillip Island
The Pinnacles at Cape Woolamai is one of the best natural attractions on Phillip Island. Certainly, upon reaching The Pinnacles Lookout, you’ll begin to see why the attraction is a highlight of the walk. The natural rock columns that make up The Pinnacles descend like marching soldiers into the sea. The early morning light just begins to light up their faces.
Additionally, there’s a wooden platform here to stop and admire the spectacle. Also built, we assume, to discourage people from getting too close to the unstable cliff edges and to prevent upsetting the habitats of wildlife that call this area home.
Continuing on from The Pinnacles Lookout, the Cape Woolamai Walk hugs the coastline as it weaves its way to the southernmost point of the trail. Here, you’ll find Cape Woolamai Beacon. The views are spectacular and at 112 metres above sea level, Cape Woolamai is the highest point on Phillip Island.
From the Woolamai Beacon, views over the wild clifftops, surrounded by the fierce Bass Strait, are breathtaking. Additionally, looking back across the cape, the whole of Phillip Island is laid out directly in front of you. Indeed, from here you get a real sense of the size of Phillip Island.
Gull Island Lookout
After reaching the ‘summit’ of Cape Woolamai, the walking trail winds back through low grassland as you head toward the Old Granite Quarry. You’ll pass a lovely wooden boardwalk that leads to a wide viewing platform. This is the Gull Island Lookout and the views back out toward San Remo and mainland Victoria offer a more serene vista compared with the rugged southern Bass Strait.
The sea here, as it hugs inland on its way toward French Island, is still and calm. You also get excellent views of Phillip Island Road – the connecting access bridge between Phillip Island and San Remo. Albeit from a distance.
Old Granite Quarry
Taking the trail to the Old Granite Quarry is optional. But, it’s very much part of the Cape Woolamai Walk, so we recommend heading there. Around midway across the cape, take the trail shooting off to the right. This will lead all the way to the northeastern edge of Cape Woolamai, where you’ll descend down onto the beach.
The remnants of the quarry include huge boulders littering the shoreline. You’ll spot them to your right as you arrive at the beach. They look quite natural, to be honest, and if you didn’t know the site used to be a quarry, you’d hardly know.
Cleeland Bight Beach
From the quarry, turn left and head northwest along the beach. Here, you’ll join Cleeland Bight Beach. This section of the Cape Woolamai Walk is recommended only at low tide. And we should know, as we did not check the tide. If attempting to walk across Cleeland Bight Beach at high tide, you’ll find there isn’t much beach to walk on at all.
As this coastal stretch of Phillip Island and Cape Woolamai is more enclosed than that on the south side, the waves are gentle and the lapping of the shoreline resembles that of a peaceful lake, rather than huge intimidating waves. So nothing threatening to deal with, but still, it’s best to walk at low tide.
If you hike the Cape Woolamai Walk across Cleeland Bight Beach at high tide, the trickiest part of the beach section is traversing a large amount of driftwood, debris and general obstacles blocking the narrow patch of sand. Occasionally, unless you’re up for a paddle, there’ll be the odd scramble up the sand embankment to get around. No cause for concern though. You’ll see numerous footprint paths laid out by other hikers. Just follow those. And, if you need to make a new sand scramble, that’s okay too. Just remember you’re still sticking to the beach at this point.
Eventually, after nearly 2km of beach walking, you’ll see an opening in the trees to the left. Here, you’ll see a trail and a signpost. This is where the track begins to head back inland. Follow this back to the car park and that’s the Cape Woolamai Walk completed.
Alternative Cape Woolamai Walks
If you don’t want to commit to the full Cape Woolamai Walk, then there are a few shorter alternatives you might consider. In fact, the full Cape Woolamai Walk encompasses all three of the below walks, and you’ll find each of the below trails colour-coded on signposts as you explore the cape.
FYI – The Pinnacles Lookout Walk is by far the most popular. So, expect a busier trail.
- The Pinnacles Lookout (Green route) – 4.5km: walking from the Woolamai Surf Beach Car Park to The Pinnacles Lookout and back is a very popular walk, seeing some of the top attractions on Cape Woolamai.
- Cape Woolamai Beacon Walk (Black route) – 7.5km: head all the way to Woolamai Beacon on this circuit walk, and instead of taking the Old Quarry Trail to complete the longer Cape Woolamai Walk, continue on the path straight ahead and back to the car park.
- Granite Quarry Walk (Blue route) – 6km: head straight from the car park to Cleeland Bight Beach to reach the Old Granite Quarry. Again, this walk should only be done at low tide.
Useful Things to Know Before You Go
So, now you know about the Cape Woolamai Walk and The Pinnacles Lookout, let’s look at a few useful things to know before visiting, including how to get to the trailhead and where to park.
How to Get to Cape Woolamai
The easiest way to get to Woolamai Surf Beach Car Park for the Cape Woolamai Walk is to drive there yourself. From Melbourne, you’re looking at around a 1 hour 45 minute drive. You’ll follow directions towards San Remo, the gateway to Phillip Island.
It’s possible to take public transport from Melbourne to Cape Woolamai. But, you’ll have to start the hike from the town of Cape Woolamai instead, walking an extra 20 to 30 minutes down Woolamai Beach Road to get to the trailhead. Public transport from Melbourne to Cape Woolamai takes around 2.5 hours and you can check timetables here.
Public transport is, unfortunately, a much less convenient way to travel, especially if you want to see other things on Phillip Island too. To that end, we highly recommend driving yourself to the Cape Woolamai Walk. If you don’t have access to your own vehicle, we recommend hiring one.
If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.
Getting to Melbourne
If you’re travelling to Melbourne from overseas, we recommend using Skyscanner to search for the cheapest flights.
Skyscanner is our go-to website for booking flights. If you’re looking to find the cheapest flights, we recommend getting the ball rolling with a Skyscanner search. It allows you to scan all airlines and platforms to find the cheapest airfares.
To find out more about booking the cheapest flights, read our Skyscanner review.
Cape Woolamai Walk Parking and Facilities
Cape Woolamai Walk parking is found at the end of Woolamai Beach Road at Cape Woolamai Beach Car Park. The car park is large with room for at least a couple of hundred vehicles. As Woolamai Surf Beach is a popular place to visit, the car park can fill quite quickly, especially with surfers.
Additionally, you’ll find Magiclands Kiosk and Woolamai Surf Life Saving Club at the car park, where you can buy refreshments and use the facilities.
Cape Woolamai Walk Length and Difficulty
At 8.5km and taking around two hours to complete, the Cape Woolamai Walk isn’t technically demanding and is also relatively easy. In fact, the walk is fairly simple until you reach Cleeland Bight Beach. That’s because walking across the sand is much more difficult. Additionally, if you don’t walk the Cape Woolamai circuit at low tide, you’ll have to do a little bit of scrambling here and there as you make your way up the beach.
But, all in all, the Cape Woolamai Coastal Walk is very family-friendly and you’ll likely see lots of people of all abilities out enjoying this wonderful circuit.
Is the Cape Woolamai Walk Dog Friendly?
Sadly, no dogs are allowed on the Cape Woolamai Walk.
Other Things to Do on Phillip Island
The Cape Woolamai Walk might be the premier coastal trail to complete on Phillip Island, but there are still plenty of other things to see and do within the national park. Some of our favourite natural attractions and walks are as follows (guides coming soon).
- George Bass Coastal Walk: a beautiful coastal walk from San Remo with all of the English countryside feels.
- Forrest Caves: explore these wonderful red rock beach caves at low tide.
- Penguin Parade: watching these little penguins is an absolute must when visiting Phillip Island.
- The Nobbies: look for penguins and fur seals at the southwestern tip of Phillip Island.
- Pyramid Rock Lookout: a quick walk from the car park brings you out to views of this excellent sea stack.
- Churchill Island: there’s an even smaller island at Phillip Island, don’t miss it.
Read more: Best Things To Do On Phillip Island (guide coming soon)
Where to Stay Near Cape Woolamai
Being close to Phillip Island and within easy reach of Melbourne for a quick weekend getaway, you’ll find plenty of great accommodation options close to Cape Woolamai and other attractions in the area. Below are some of our favourite and most highly rated on Phillip Island.
Top 3 Phillip Island Accommodation
Below are our top gear essentials for the Cape Woolamai Coastal Walk. You should also pack a hat, snacks and sunscreen.
Osprey Skarab 30
The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.
Osprey Ultralight Raincover
A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.
BUFF Original Ecostretch
The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.
To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.
Cape Woolamai Bonus Tips
- Checking the tide: you can check the tide times for the Cape Woolamai Walk here.
- Wildlife watch: be sure to stick to designated walking trails as you explore Cape Woolamai. There are plenty of nesting birds around the cape which you should avoid disturbing.
- Hiking Victoria: for more coastal hikes in Victoria like Cape Woolamai, check out our guides on Mornington Peninsula and Wilsons Prom.
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We acknowledge and respect the First Nations people as the Traditional Custodians of the land/water that we visited and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.