Coastline to Kilcunda
The coastline east of San Remo offers fine opportunities for surfers, anglers, snorklers, birdwatchers and beachcombers who would find long ocean beaches and extensive rock platforms, although access to some of the beaches can be dangerous owing to the cliffs. South of San Remo is Griffith Point which is suitable for fishing, surfing, snorkelling and paddling at low tide. Between the two are Children's Beach, where families can enjoy sheltered bathing, and Bonwick's Beach. Just east of Griffith Point is Shelly Beach which is a good spot for beachcombers. Beyond that is Bore Beach. It can be accessed via Potters Hill Rd which runs south off the highway. Other side roads head south off the Bass Highway at other points east of San Remo to other beaches, such as Black Beach and the Punchbowl (an impressive blowhole). 3 km from San Remo are 'The Caves' where the sea passes under the cliffs for a distance of more than 183 metres.
Powlett River Reserve and Williamsons Beach
2 km east of Kilcunda, along the Bass Highway, is a signposted turnoff to a picnic reserve at the mouth of the Powlett River where a salt-marsh community of wetland birds can be found. Fishing, swimming and canoeing can be enjoyed in the river but the estuary is dangerous for swimmers.
Continuing east, a turnoff leads out to Williamsons Beach (suitable for fishing and experienced surfers but not swimmers).
George Bass Coastal Walk
The George Bass Coastal Walk (6 km one way) follows a strip of public land on the clifftops between Punchbowl and Kilcunda. There is an information shelter at the southern end of Punchbowl Rd which heads south off Phillip Island Tourist Road to the Punchbowl (an impressive blowhole).
Care must be taken as there are some electrified fences to keep cattle in and these must only be crossed where stiles are provided. These are outlined in a guiding map and pamphlet available from Parks Victoria (tel: 131 963). Moreover, be sure to wear sturdy shoes, a good sun hat and sunscreen as there is little shade in summer and the surface along the cliffline can be slippery and uneven.
Remnants of native vegetation cling stubbornly to the clifftops in spite of years of grazing. These include coastal tea-tree, white correa, coast beard-heath, sea box, coast banksia at Half Moon Bay and boobiallas along a creek just west of the bay.
From the clifftops, Southern right whales can be seen near the shore in winter. Seagulls utilise the updraughts caused by sea winds bouncing off the cliffs while nankeen kestrels and black-shouldered kites hunt in the farmlands.
Kilcunda, 11 km to the south, is a serene, salt marsh reserve, frequented by aquatic birds and surrounded by green hills. The Kilcunda Ridge Road offers pleasant views of the bay. After coal was discovered in the cliffs near the town, the Western Port Mining Company began excavations in 1871. Until the railway line was extended from Kilcunda to San Remo in 1883, the black coal was transported to San Remo by bullock teams. From there it was conveyed to Melbourne. A charming trestle railway bridge, built in 1910, still stands 2 km south of Kilcunda.
Kilcunda Beach is a white sandy strand surrounded by rolling hills. There are a few remnants from a coal mine which operated here from the 1870s, including a coal waste dump near the highway, an old steam winch, two mining tunnels through the cliff face and a trestle railway bridge (1910) which was part of the now dismantled line that connected Nyora and the coal mine at Wonthaggi. Kilcunda Beach is suitable for anglers and surfers though swimming is only recommended in the shallow waters near the shoreline. Horse rides along the ocean beach are available at the mouth of the Powlett River, on most days, with Victorian Horse Treks, tel: (03) 9782 2749 or (0417) 347 954.
Pelican feeding takes place on the San Remo foreshore, near the jetty, each day at 11.30 a.m.
Vietnam Veterans Museum
The Vietnam Veterans Museum is located on Phillip Island Road at San Remo. It is open Monday to Thursday from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m., from and Friday to Sunday from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (03) 5678 5999.
Fishing and Diving Charters
The waters around San Remo are very popular with anglers and divers. Charter services are available from Stuart Garner (tel: 03 5678 5346), San Remo Fishing and Diving Charters (tel: 03 5678 5426) and Bay Connections, tel: (03) 5678 5642.