French and Phillip Islands – the BEST Day Trip from Melbourne!

What if I told you that there’s an island that’s home to thousands of adorable koalas? And an island just across from it where you can watch hundreds of little penguins parade on to shore every evening? And to top it all off, what if I told you that both of these islands are just outside of Melbourne? Well, if you’re anything like me, you’d race to make plans to see these too good to be true places. And you’d be delighted that you did because visiting French and Phillip islands is the best day trip you can take from Melbourne! 

The Tour

I booked my tour with Sightseeing Tours Australia. I enjoyed the tour immensely and definitely recommend this tour company. Just a few things to note before you go:

  1. It’s an all day tour and I do mean ALL day – it lasts about 12 hours. Lunch is included and there are opportunities to buy snacks and water on Phillip Island, though I’d still recommend bringing your own (especially if you’re prone to getting hangry). 
  2. The penguins don’t come ashore until dusk and it can get VERY cold and windy on the beach – even on warm days. 

French Island

French Island is the largest of Victoria’s coastal islands and about 70% of it is a national park. The only way to access the island is by ferry.   French Island is mostly undeveloped, and while it does have a small population of human inhabitants (about 140 people), I must confess that the only residents of the island that I was really interested in were the koalas. 

When I visited, approximately 3,000 koalas called French Island home! The island happens to be the world’s densest and healthiest population of koalas. Turns out the Aussie mainland koalas have a bit of a chlamydia problem – yes, you read that right (I had NO idea STDs were an issue for koalas!). But I’m happy to report the koalas on French Island are living their best (STD free) lives – sleeping 20ish hours a day and eating and, well, making baby koalas the other 4 hours. I saw several koalas on the tour I took and I could NOT get over how insanely cute they are! Seeing koalas in the wild was truly a treat and one of my favorite experiences during my Australian travels. 

Phillip Island

Phillip Island is one of Victoria’s favorite holiday spots and it’s easy to see why. It’s an idyllic island with lovely beaches, cute coastal cafes, wine bars, eclectic accommodation choices, all kinds of wildlife, and even the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. However, what Phillip Island is most famous for is absolutely the penguin parade

Every night at dusk hundreds of little penguins (aka fairy penguins) waddle ashore and up into the dunes above the beach into their burrows. It’s seriously maybe the most ridiculously adorable thing I’ve seen in my entire life! Complete cuteness overload – I thought my heart might burst! And the Phillip Island Nature Park has done an incredible job creating a beautiful viewing area and boardwalks from which you can watch the penguin parade. 

Fun facts about these little waddling wonders:

  • They’re not black and white, instead they’re slate blue and white.
  • They only grow to be about 12 inches tall and about 2.5 pounds. 
  • They spend nearly 18 hours a day in the ocean – but never too far from shore. 
  • Though tiny, their little bodies have roughly 10,000 feathers. 
  • Their poop sparkles! What looks like pixie dust is sparkling undigested fish scales. 

I spent over 2 weeks in Australia, visiting Cairns, Melbourne, and Sydney and I have to say that the time I spent on French Island and Phillip Island was quite possibly THE highlight of the trip for me. Truly magical experiences! I highly recommend checking out both. Hands down, visiting French and Phillip islands is the BEST day trip from Melbourne! 

Wondering where to stay in Melbourne? Check out this post!

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