The Mornington Peninsula has a long history of being a favourite holiday destination for residents of Melbourne.
The Mornington Peninsula is a peninsula located south-east of Melbourne. It is surrounded by Port Phillip to the west, Western Port to the east and Bass Strait to the south, and is connected to the mainland in the north. Much of the topography is flat in the north where it connects to the mainland, however moving south-west, it soon becomes hilly, culminating in the central hilly landscapes of Boneo, Main Ridge, Red Hill Tuerong and Moorooduc. The highest point, Arthurs Seat, located unusually close to the shoreline, stands at 305m above sea level. The peninsula hosts around 190 km of coastline.
There is plenty to explore on the Mornington Peninsula. Surf's up on the south-west coastline at Bass Strait, Gunnamatta, Sorrento, Portsea and First Reef at Point Leo Surf Beaches. A remarkable variety of snorkel & scuba diving environments with dolphins or swimming with seals, including wrecks, reefs, drift dives, scallop dives, seal dives and wall dives, particularly at Mornington Pier, Rye Pier, Blairgowrie Pier, Portsea Pier & Portsea Hole and Flinders Pier. Or the exhilaration of horse-riding along the sands of wind-swept Gunnamatta Beach. If you're up for some thrills, how about hang gliding on the steep cliffs of the south-west coastlines, articularly near Portsea, Rye and Sorento. Try your hand at some sailing at various locations on the shores of Port Phillip and Western Port including Somers, Balnarring Beach, Safety Beach and many others. Or a bit of hobbie fishing off piers and in beaches on Port Phillip
Wealthier visitors to the peninsula usually own beach houses on large properties or with extensive views or beach access and as a result, there are very few established commercial hotels. There are however, many smaller motels priced to suit families and middle income earners. Large shared beach houses are also popular, although perhaps the most popular form of accommodation lie in the many caravan parks and camping grounds where many visitors own or rent on-site caravans and annexes or camp in tents. Camping is particularly popular on foreshore reserves where camping is permitted. Some visitors continuously book particular sites and many camping grounds have been camped on by the same family for 2 or 3 generations. For the unestablished tourist, these camping grounds must be booked anywhere from 1 to 5 years in advance for foreshore sites, while further inland sites are more easily available with at most a 3 to 6 month wait. It is estimated that around 30–40% of the houses on the peninsula are not owned by permanent residents reflecting the popularity of owned beach houses. Most of these 'beach houses' are owned by residents of Melbourne.
The Mornington Peninsula has an enviable reputation for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (closely followed by Shiraz, Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot).