Located along the southern edge of Phillip Island are the most astonishing sea caves of bold red and bright orange. They sit ruggedly on the powdery golden sand and invite exploration simply by their domineering appearance on an otherwise beautifully peaceful beach. These are the Forrest Caves, and in this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to visit for yourself.
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About Forrest Caves
Forrest Caves are a small cluster of low-lying caverns on Surf Beach (or Forrest Caves Beach) on Phillip Island. Rich in warm orange and red tones, the incredible caves have been formed over millions of years. The wild winds and rough waves of the Bass Strait have caused the erosion of the surrounding cliffs, resulting in this small warren of caves we see today.
Amazingly, the shallow tunnels can be explored by the likes of you and me. But, visiting the caves requires some planning. That’s because access to inside Forrest Caves is only possible during low tide. But, don’t worry, you won’t be left disappointed if you can only enjoy the caves from on top.
Surrounding the caves is a glorious golden sand beach, flanked by towering cliffs and gentle sand dunes. Indeed, the sand dunes are a hive of wildlife activity, where you might catch sight of short-tailed shearwaters between October to April.
Top Phillip Island Tour
- Koala conservation reserve
- The Nobbies to see fur seals
- Summerland Beach for the Penguin Parade
Where Are the Forrest Caves?
The Forrest Caves are located at the southeastern end of Phillip Island in the state of Victoria, Australia. To help get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the area on Google Maps.
How to Get to the Forrest Caves
The easiest way to get to Forrest Caves on Phillip Island is to drive directly to the Forrest Caves Car Park, located here on Google Maps. The car park is of decent size, but as the beach below is a popular surf beach, you’ll find the car park can fill quite quickly on the weekends and public/school holidays. Dan and I visited in winter and found the car park to be quite busy still.
Forrest Caves are located just west of Cape Woolomai and are accessed via Phillip Island Road.
Forrest Caves Walk
From the car park, take the stepped trail down to the beach. Once on the beach, head left along the sand and after a few hundred metres you’ll reach Forrest Caves. You’ll certainly see the brilliant red and orange hues of these remarkable caves as you draw closer.
Unfortunately, visiting Forrest Caves requires some planning. That’s because access inside the caves is only possible during low tide. For Dan and I, our visit coincided with high tide, and so our enjoyment was limited to viewing the caves from on top. Even so, we certainly still enjoyed visiting them.
There’s beach access to the rocky structure, but be sure to take care if walking over the top of the caves during high tide as the waves can be large and strong. So, we would never recommend walking too close to the outer edges of the Forrest Caves.
Given how rough the sea is here, the sheer force of each wave created a sort of blowhole effect through openings in the Forrest Caves ceiling. Certainly, Dan and I thought the effect was still very cool to view here, even if we were unable to gain access inside.
During low tide, you can explore the small warren of passages within Forrest Caves. Carved out by the wild Bass Strait, it’s certainly an incredible place to visit. As with all sea caves, take care of wet and jagged rocks and always be mindful of any rogue waves and the tide times. Even at low tide, Forrest Caves can still retain some water, so you’ll likely be kicking the shoes off for this exploration.
Forrest Caves Beach
Forrest Caves Beach is a wonderful stretch of sand on Phillip Island and alongside the caves, is certainly popular for surfing. But, you should certainly walk beyond Forrest Caves. Further east along Forrest Caves Beach are some interesting rock formations that jut out into the sea. The orange rock platforms are perfect to scramble around as you enjoy the incredible geology of this coastline. Again, be careful with your footing and stay away from the edges. Certainly, waves here can be unpredictable.
Forrest Caves Walk Difficulty
Exploring Forrest Caves is easy enough for all the family. Although, children should always be supervised due to the unpredictable nature of the sea and slippery rocks. The walk to and from the car park is simple and if you don’t want to venture in or on Forrest Caves, you can certainly still enjoy them from the beach.
Is Forrest Caves Dog Friendly?
Sadly, you’ll have to leave your dog at home to visit Forrest Caves as they are not permitted onto the beach due to the delicate conservation area that the caves fall within.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Forrest Caves are just one wonderful attraction on the fantastic Phillip Island. Indeed there’s plenty to see and do on Phillip Island and below is a selection of some of our favourite natural attractions (guides coming soon).
- Cape Woolamai Walk: enjoy this fantastic coastal walk around the southern point of Phillip Island to the Pinnacles Lookout and beyond.
- George Bass Coastal Walk: an absolutely stunning coastal walk beginning in San Remo at the gateway to Phillip Island.
- Penguin Parade: have you even been to Phillip Island if you haven’t seen the Penguin Parade?
- 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, with an easy circular walk around it.
Read more: Best Things To Do On Phillip Island (guide coming soon)
How to Get to Phillip Island
Certainly, the easiest way to get to Phillip Island is with your own set of wheels.
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.
If you don’t want to drive, then it is possible to take public transport to Phillip Island from Melbourne. It’s even fairly straightforward to get to Forrest Caves using public transport.
The simplest route is to take a coach from Melbourne’s Southern Cross Coach Terminal on Spencer Street to Cowes or Inverloch on Phillip Island, via Dandenong and Koo Wee Rup Interchange. You can check bus timetables here. Expect the journey to take around three hours.
Best Time to Visit Forrest Caves
In terms of seasons, Forrest Caves can be visited at any time of year. Indeed, Dan and I visited in winter and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the caves during the colder months. But, undoubtedly, to fully explore the caves, it’s not the time of year you need to consider. Rather, it’s the tide times.
To gain safe access to Forrest Caves, you must visit at low tide. There is no access to the caves at any other time. Although, you can certainly explore on top of the caves during high tide, and enjoy the impromptu blow hole theatrics, as we discovered. You can check the tide times for Forrest Caves here.
Additionally, try to visit on a weekday and outside of the peak holiday season for a quieter experience. Forrest Caves is a very popular attraction on Phillip Island, and so can see a number of visitors any time of year and whatever the weather.
Where to Stay
As Phillip Island is so close to Melbourne, it’s a very popular place to visit for a quick overnight stay or a long weekend getaway. As such, there’s plenty of accommodation to choose from. Below are some of the most highly rated accommodation options, and not far from Forrest Caves.
Top 3 Phillip Island Accommodation
Below are our top gear essentials for visiting Phillip Island and the Forrest Caves. 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.
- Facilities: there are drop toilets at Forrest Caves Car Park.
- Photography: visiting at sunrise or sunset is particularly nice for photography.
- More sea caves in Australia: check out London Bridge Portsea in nearby Mornington Peninsula.
Have you visited Forrest Caves on Phillip Island? Let us know in the comments below.
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.