If you love penguins and want to see them in their natural environment (and not in a zoo) in Melbourne, then head down to St Kilda Beach. The St Kilda Penguin Colony is right in the heart of the city and is really easy to visit.
Although the penguins are visible at St. Kilda all year round, they’re more prominent between August and April.
How To Get To The Penguin Colony at St Kilda
The Penguin Colony is located at the breakwater of the St Kilda Pier. To get to the pier, make your way down to St. Kilda. Once you reach St Kilda Beach, walk along the promenade and look for the pier sticking out into the sea. At the pier, you’ll see the signs for the Penguin Colony. Walk down till you reach the kiosk on the pier.
The penguin colony is right behind the kiosk.
There is no entrance fee to see the penguins at St. Kilda as the pier is open to the public all year round. Click here to open the location of the Penguin Colony in Google Maps.
What time do penguins come in St. Kilda?
The penguins come out of the rocks at the St Kilda Penguin Colony around sunset. We were in Melbourne in December. And with long summer days, the sun usually sets at 9 PM. We reached the penguin colony at 8:30 PM, just as the penguins were beginning to emerge.
Of course, as a photographer not only was I fascinated by the wild penguins, but also the gorgeous sunset that can be seen from St. Kilda. It’s a sight that you wouldn’t want to miss.
Best place to spot the penguins at St. Kilda?
At first it might be difficult to spot the penguins because they blend in with their surrounding rocks. But keep an eye on the outer wall of the breakwater, towards the sea. That’s where they usually surface first.
You’ll also notice a boardwalk facing the pier where most of the people stand. Wait till the sun sets, and you’ll see many penguins emerge from under the platform.
I was fortunate enough to get this picture of the penguins against Melbourne’s central business district.
What species of penguins are at St. Kilda?
The penguins at St. Kilda are called Little Penguins, or Fairy Penguins, or Blue Penguins. Here’s a fun infographic to help you with your knowledge on penguins.
Little Penguins are one of the 18 species of penguins in the world. As the name suggests, the Little Penguins are the smallest of all penguin species and are found only in Australia and New Zealand. They have dark blue feathers (that can appear grey to the human eye) on their back, white feathers on the front and pink feet. During the summer months, the adult penguins spend the entire day at sea in search of food and return on shore at dusk to feed their young.
One of the volunteers informed us that this colony is a breakaway colony from the main penguin colony that’s on Phillip Island. Some of these penguins also swim between the two colonies. In fact, most visitors go Phillip Island to see the penguins. Unfortunately, we didn’t have an extra day to spend at Phillip Island, but here’s all the info you need about the Penguin Colony on Phillip Island.
Phillip Island, Melbourne
Phillip Island is one of the most popular day-trips from Melbourne. It is home to an incredible array of wildlife that includes koalas, fur seals, and penguins. The penguin colony on Phillip Island is home to some 30,000 Little Penguins. There’s also a fairly large fur seal colony on The Nobbies Centre on Phillip Island.
One of the most popular attractions on Phillip Island is the Penguin Parade. Each day hundreds of visitors come to Phillip Island to witness Little Penguins waddle back home after a day of swimming and fishing.
The main penguin viewing area at Summerland Beach has tiered seating with a 180 degree view of the Little Penguins on parade. Visitors can also enjoy Little Penguins around their burrows from elevated timber boardwalks. Watching the penguins return home against the sunset is an amazing experience!
Discounted Penguin Parade Tickets
If you plan to attend the Penguin Parade, I highly recommend that you purchase your ticket beforehand. Penguin Parade tickets can be purchased online at a discount, as opposed to paying full price on arrival.
Penguin Parade Deals
However, if you plan on spending the day at Phillip Island, I would recommend the combo-ticket that covers more attractions. And you can also purchase a full-day tour of Phillip Island that includes a pick-up and drop. Feel free to pick any of these awesome deals.
Phillip Island Combo Ticket
- Watch the famous penguin parade during sunset, upgrade for an even better view
- See koalas up close in their natural habitat on the treetops walk
- Step back in time at the historic Churchill Heritage Farm and learn about different farming activities
- Take a fun and interactive virtual journey into the wonderful world of the Southern Ocean and Antarctica
- See up to 8,000 fur seals at Seal Rocks while enjoying the fun and adventure of a high speed boat ride
Phillip Island Day Tour
- Hotel pick-up and drop back to Melbourne CBD
- Visit the famous Brighton Beach Boxes and watch Phillip Island’s famous Penguin Parade
- Hand feed kangaroos, wallabies, emus and more
- Stroll the coastal boardwalk for stunning panoramic views of the Nobbies and Seal Rocks
- Get a better view of the Penguin Parade with the ‘Penguin Plus’ package or the Guided Ranger Tour limited to 10 guests
- Enjoy APP audio guides on board catering for Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Arabic, French, and several other languages
Accommodation on Phillip Island
Finally, you can also spend the night at Phillip Island after enjoying the Penguin Parade. These are your options for spending the night at Phillip Island.
I hope you found this post on where to see wild penguins in Melbourne helpful. Remember to share this post on a social media platform of your choice, and don’t forget to check out my photos from Melbourne.