At roughly the halfway point on The Great Ocean Road, this charming seaside town is a great place to stop- whether it be for a holiday, a few nights, or just for a bite to eat on a Great Ocean Road trip. Visitors are always pleasantly surprised at the sheer number of things to do in Apollo Bay Australia.
The town plays host to a number of vibrant events and festivals, has unique local dining options, and is surrounded by some of Australia’s best scenery.
Apollo Bay History
Apollo Bay was given its name by Captain Loutit in 1845 after his trading vessel. Around that time the area was frequented by sailors, whalers, sealers and timber cutters who began coming to the area in the early 1800s. However, settlers didn’t begin building their homesteads in the Apollo Bay area until 1849 – four years after the town was founded.
Location of Apollo Bay Vic
The coastal town of Apollo Bay VIC is 197 kilometres southwest of Melbourne along the famed Great Ocean Road. The drive from Melbourne to Apollo Bay takes about 2 and a half hours with no stops.
For those not driving The Great Ocean Road, there isn’t a direct train from Melbourne to Apollo Bay instead, take the train from Melbourne to Geelong where you be able to hop on a connecting bus.
Things to Do in Apollo Bay Australia
There are lots of exciting things to do in Apollo Bay Victoria. If you are visiting this seaside town don’t miss the following.
The Great Ocean Walk
Officially starting in Apollo Bay, and ending at the 12 Apostles, the famous Great Ocean Walk is a fantastic way for avid hikers to see the stunning coastline. Over 100kms in length, the trail generally takes around 8 days to complete from end to end. However, if you don’t have that sort of time you can do sections of it on your own.
Pack your best hiking boots and explore secret beaches, lookouts that offer endless horizons and cultural sites of the Gunditjmara People. Learn more about the Great Ocean Walk here.
Mariners Lookout is an iconic lookout in Apollo Bay Vic, with spectacular panoramic views of the town, ocean, and countryside. It is 10-minute walk from the carpark of Mariners Peak to the peak along a well marked trail. Just keep in mind that the walk to Mariners Lookout is quite steep but relatively easy.
Don’t forget your camera to capture the sunset. Many people come with a picnic or drink at that time of day. Otherwise, it is a popular jumping-off spot for hang gliders. So, grab your gear if this is your sport or just enjoy the free show.
Wildlife Tour at Dusk
If you want to see the best of the Great Ocean Road’s wildlife then this conservationist lead tour might be for you. You’ll have an opportunity to see koalas, emus, kangaroos, wallabies and a whole host of smaller critters which your guide will tell you all about.
These animals are most active at dusk, so you’ll have higher chances of observing them at this time of day. After your walk through the bush, you’ll share a board of local cheese and produce with your group accompanied by local beer or wine. Best of all 100% of profits of this tour go to supporting local conservation and research projects. You can book your tour here.
Apollo Bay Beach
Apollo Bay Vic is fronted by a beautiful 3km long sandy beach. The golden sand beach is fairly flat and protected by dunes. It is one of the town’s greatest assets and one of the reasons people keep coming back for holidays.
You can swim at this beach or simply go for a stroll. In the summer months the beach is protected by lifeguards. Apollo Bay Beach also has smaller waves which make it suitable for new surfers, as well as a playground and toilets. There is parking behind the beach.
Anchor Memorial & Apollo Bay War Memorial
If history is your thing, you might want to visit these memorials. The steamship, SS Casino sank in Apollo Bay on the 10th July 1932, killing the Captain and 9 crewmen. 50 years later, on the 10th of July 1982, the Anchor memorial was erected close Apollo Bay beach to commemorate the event.
Close to the Anchor of SS Casino, you will find the Apollo Bay War Memorial which was erected by the residents of Apollo Bay in 1922 to commemorate those who were killed in service in the First World War.
Apollo Bay Museum
Learn about the local history of Apollo Bay VIC from its indigenous roots to maritime history. You will find relics from shipwrecks and information about the growth of the fishing and logging industries. The museum is open from 2 pm to 5 pm on weekends and public holidays.
Apollo Bay Harbour
The Apollo Bay Harbour is always a hive of activity. It is the home of a number of commercial fishing boats which support the local economy and are the livelihood of nearly 100 people. Visitors and locals often crowd around Apollo Bay Harbour watching as the fleets of fishermen come into the harbour with their catches.
At low tide, marine life can often be spotted for the Harbours docks. These include jellyfish, stingrays, and a variety of fish. If you would like to try your hand at catching them and you must hold a Victorian recreational fishing license but there are designated areas to fish within the breakwater walls of the Apollo Bay Harbour.
Other draws of the Apollo Bay Harbour include the harbour’s beach which is great if you are traveling with small children since it is protected by breakwater walls.
If you have your own boat or water vessel, there is a public boat ramp and landing jetty. While you are out past the harbour you might even spot Southern Right Whales which frequent the area in the winter months.
Maits Rest Rainforest Reserve
Take a short walk through Maits Rest Rainforest Reserve. Here you will be surrounded by the ancient trees and giant ferns the Otways have become known. This natural park is located 15 minutes from the center of Apollo Bay.
Here you will find a 800 metres long boardwalk which takes you throughout the reserve. The whole path take about 30 minutes in total, and is a loop within starts and ends at the Maits Rest carpark. Keep your eyes peeled for wallabies, kangaroos and koalas while you’re there.
Apollo Bay Farmers Market
If you happen to be visiting Apollo Bay on the third Sunday of the month then make your way to the Scout Hut. The Apollo Bay Farmers hosts local business vendors hawking out handmade goods and local produce. It is a small market but sometimes you’ll they’ll have live music and always a good vibe.
Apollo Bay Fishing Charters
Apollo Bay Fishing Charters offers 4-6 hour fishing charters or special bluefin tuna charters. You’ll head out on their 8.8 Nossa Cat which has is fully outfitted for a comfortable day on the water. The company is local and family run. It is captained by Daniel Kent who has been fishing competitively for many years.
Pre-booking is essential and time slots can sell out in the busy summer months. However, you can also arrange a private booking. Visit their website for more details and ideas of Apollo Bay things to do.
Only available during peak season, this relaxing sunset cruise is available and limited to just 10 passengers. On it you will stop by the Marengo Marine Sanctuary to see Australian fur seals and then out in search of dolphins. Before heading back you’ll check the sunset over the water. There is really no better place to see it then out at sea!
Apollo Bay may be small but it’s shops pack a punch. You can easily spend an afternoon browsing Apollo Bays darling boutiques, bakeries, outfitters, souvenirs and clothing shops. Apollo Bay Bloom is a retail coffee shop and creative space worth a visit. It sells lovingly selected homewares, clothes and local art.
Coast Apollo Bay is has been in an institution in the area for nearly 20 years. It is run by a local artist who sells her artwork and prints, along with other local artists. You’ll also find clothing, jewelry and other unique products.
Just out of town is Otways Herbs, which is a garden and nursery which sells exotic plants and medicinal and culinary herbs from around the world. They make their own massage oil and other natural products from their plants from their garden which you can pick up there. They make a great gift.
Go on a Seal Kayak Tour
On this 90-minute tour you will paddle out to the seal colony at the Marengo Marine Sanctuary in Apollo Bay. Qualified guides will instruct you on how to use the kayaks and ocean safety before heading to the colony together. Once there they will discuss the lifestyle of the seals and provide insight into heir behaviours.
At the colony there is over 150 seals and in many cases they will swim over to the kayaks for an up close encounter. This tour is suitable for people of all ages and kayaking abilities.
Apollo Bay Golf Club
If you’re looking to get in a round of golf on your holiday then you’re in luck. Apollo Bay Golf Club is a well maintained 9 hole course with stunning ocean views close to Apollo Bay beach. All-day golf is approximately $25.
Rent Gear to Create Your Own Adventure
Apollo Bay is located close to some of Victoria finest natural areas. At Apollo Bay Surf and Kayak you can rent surfboards, wetsuits, snorkel gear, board boards or stand up paddle boards. Take them down to the beach and create your own adventure.
Otherwise head inland with a rented mountain bikes and take on the trails in the Otways. If you are new to the area, the staff at Apollo Bay Surf and Kayak will be able to direct to you to the best places to take your rented gear based on your interests.
Try Award Winning Ice Cream
Dooley’s Ice Cream is a multi-award winning ice cream shop located on the main street in Apollo Bay. They have won the Australian Grand Dairy Awards many times over for their premium chocolate ice cream, vanilla premium ice cream and other flavours.
All of their ice cream is produced on-site, and they have a large array of flavours which change on a regular basis. You can try classic varieties or unique creations like chili chocolate or lemon curd. You’ll likely head back for more than one visit.
Visit the Apollo Bay Distillery
If you like gin, then you’ll want to add this distillery to your list of things to do in Apollo Bay. The Apollo Bay Distillery is the only distillery on the Great Ocean Road. You can come in for a tasting and try a gin flight or stay for lunch. They serve pizzas and other delicious bites like truffle fries and calamari.
They are located in the old post office and have an indoor and outdoor dining area. The large outdoor area looks out onto the foreshore and is dog-friendly.
Apollo Bay’s Retro Cinema
This retro 180 seater cinema space is located in the Main Hall of the Mechanics Institute – the local community center. However, they have very listed hours and showings so keep an eye on the website for the movie times.
Go Visit a Waterfall
Beauchamp and Hopetoun Falls are two of the most spectacular waterfalls along the Great Ocean Road and they are located within a one hour drive from Apollo Bay. Both have their own parking lots and are located just a short walk away along a well marked path.
Beauchamp Falls has a picnic area and washroom facilities. For both waterfalls be sure to wear appropriate footwear, especially if you decide to descend away from the viewing platforms to the bottom of the waterfalls where it is more slippery.
Go to Cape Otway Lightstation
Cape Otway Lightstation is located just over 30 minutes away from Apollo Bay. Travel back in time to the fascinating and historically-rich landscape of Cape Otway Lightstation. Learn about the Aboriginal people, native flora and fauna and don’t miss out on the Heritage Trail where you can discover a host of preserved historical buildings from 1848 onwards; such as Keepers Lodgings, Assistant Lightkeepers Cottage and Telegraph Station.
Between May and October you can sometimes spot whales just off shore. There are a number of viewing points around the property.
Apollo Bay Festivals and Events
Apollo Bay plays host to thriving festivals and events throughout the year. You’ll rub shoulders with locals and holidaymakers alike at these Apollo Bay events.
This vibrant festival was first held in Apollo Bay in 2017 as a way to embrace the beauty and rawness of winter along the Southern Ocean.
The annual Winter Wild Festival is one of the most popular Apollo Bay events. It falls over four weekends throughout the winter. Each weekend is dedicated to an element: water, air, fire, or earth.
With the culmination of the festival being the lighting of a large bonfire. Festival-goers can expect a full and varied program of music, arts, workshops, and self-discovery.
Apollo Bay Seafood Festival
Head down to the harbour around the middle of February and you will be greeted by the Apollo Bay Seafood Festival. You can sample fresh seafood, mingle around the market and celebrate the local fishing community over this immersive three-day event.
Great Ocean Road Running Festival
Once called the Apollo Bay Marathon, The Great Ocean Road Running Festival takes place in mid-May. Over time it has evolved and grown to accommodate all abilities and age groups.
The Town of Apollo Bay hosts a range of activities and events alongside the Great Ocean Road Running Festival including the Kite Festival, where every child running in an event gets a free kite.
Where to Stay in Apollo Bay
There are a range of accommodation options available such as camping and caravan sites, holiday parks, motels, hotels and self-contained apartments. Captains at Bay is always a great choice. It is located within walking distance to the main street and has beautiful views of the surrounding hills and waterfront.
For a budget option, you can’t go wrong with the Apollo Bay Holiday Park or the Apollo Bay Eco YHA. They each have great communcal facilties and offer private rooms for under $100. See our full round-up of hotels here.
Read Next: The Best Apollo Bay Accommodation
Apollo Bay is a beautiful coastal town located on the gorgeous Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. With its stunning beaches and charming sea-side atmosphere its appeal spans across all ages.
Whether you’re on an adventure-packed holiday or simply want a relaxing getaway, Apollo Bay has something for everyone. If you are thinking about visiting Apollo Bay, Vic – don’t hesitate to go!