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The Best Phillip Island Tour from Melbourne – My Honest Review!

The Best Phillip Island Tour from Melbourne – My Honest Review!

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What could be better than petting koalas and watching tiny penguins waddle across a beach? Short answer: nothing. 

Being born and raised in Perth, I’ve visited Melbourne many times, and going to Phillip Island to see the penguins has always been on my bucket list. This island is known as one of the best places in Victoria to see wildlife, so when we finally went, it’s safe to say that I had high expectations! 

We wanted to see as much of Phillip Island as possible, including the famous Penguin Parade, so we booked this specific tour. But was it worth it, or is there a better option? In this blog, I’ll share everything I did and didn’t like about the experience, and let you know what to expect.

What Phillip Island Tour did I do from Melbourne?

Daniel smiles with a koala at the moonlit sanctuary on phillip island during a go west penguin tour near melbourne australia
Koala cuddles at the Moonlit Sanctuary!
Penguins walk down a path on phillip Island during a go west penguin tour near melbourne australia
Penguins on parade!

Bailey and I took this tour of Phillip Island. We chose it partly because it’s run by a reputable company who we’ve done several tours with before, and also because it has thousands of 5-star reviews – you can read some of those reviews here! We also liked the look of the itinerary, because there are stops to see the famous Brighton Bathing Boxes, as well as lots of opportunities to spot wildlife. 

We were excited to go and see kangaroos and koalas at the Moonlit Sanctuary Conservation Park on the way to Phillip Island, and we also wanted a tour that explores Phillip Island in depth. Of course, the thing we were most jazzed about was the penguin waddle, when the island’s Little Penguins make their way across the beach at sunset. 

We also just wanted a relaxed day out, rather than having to try to plan it all and drive ourselves, especially since Phillip Island is almost 2 hours outside of Melbourne. 

What I loved about the tour 

Bailey and Daniel smile at the brighton bathing boxes on a go west penguin tour to phillip island
The famous Brighton Bathing Boxes!
Feeding a wallaby at the moonlit sanctuary on phillip island during a go west tour near melbourne australia
You can feed Wallabies at the Moonlit Sanctuary!

Well-organized tour

We wrote a review of Go West Tours Melbourne here, but we found their tours have great itineraries and are really well planned. There were lots of stops along the way to break up the driving, so we weren’t stuck inside the tour bus the whole time. We thought that the meal breaks were great, too, and very well-timed. We felt like we got to see everything we wanted to, without feeling rushed at all!

The penguins!

It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, these adorable little guys were a highlight. While on a special viewing platform on Phillip Island at sunset, we got to watch the famous “Penguin Parade.” That’s where hundreds of little penguins waddle out of the ocean to find their burrows back on land for the night.

Amazing guide

We had such a great time with our guide, Terry. He was so funny and entertaining, but still really informative. We learned a lot and didn’t get bored of all the commentary because it was interesting. 

Lots of free time

We really appreciated how much free time there was on this tour. We don’t like feeling as though we’re being herded around like cattle, and it’s always nice to have some freedom and independence on a tour.

Bailey walks on the nobbies on phillip island on a go west penguin tour near melbourne australia
Walking The Nobbies before seeing penguins
Many penguins walk down a path on phillip Island during a go west penguin tour near melbourne australia
Look at how many there are!

The price 

The tour costs $175 AUD per person, which is cheap considering that it costs $30 AUD just to see the penguins, and another $32 AUD to visit Moonlit Sanctuary, without transport or anything extra! This is a competitive price for a full-day tour in Melbourne, and given how fantastic our experience was, we felt that it was worth it. 

Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park

We stopped at Moonlit Sanctuary on the way to Phillip Island, and we were so impressed with it. We got to explore the bushland environment while spotting iconic Aussie creatures, like emus and kookaburras. But better yet, we were able to interact with them! We got to pet koalas (we did have to pay extra for that), and hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies, which was an experience that put a smile on our faces.

Brighton Bathing Boxes

You’ve probably seen beach huts before, but nothing compares to the famous Brighton Bathing Boxes! We couldn’t resist the chance to snap some photos with these colorful huts along Brighton beachfront. They’re said to be worth over half a million Australian dollars each, and we loved the chance to see them.

Fantastic Reviews

Before we even booked the tour, we had a good idea of how much we were going to like it. Why? Well, 2,000 positive reviews don’t lie! You can check out all the reviews here including this one below:  

We had an amazing experience in Melbourne on a tour that I couldn’t miss! The penguin parade was incredibly adorable, and I was impressed by how respectful the park was towards the penguins and their environment. But what made the whole experience truly special was our guide, Bree. Her energy, knowledge, and witty guidance were amazing and added so much to the whole story for me.

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

Related Read: For another epic experience, read our review of the Spirit of Melbourne Dinner Cruise!

What I didn’t like about the tour

The go west tour bus in melbourne australia
The bus was pretty old

Old buses

Honestly, the tour buses could have been more comfortable. To be fair, we were squished at the back, which didn’t help! At least there were plenty of stops so that we were able to get out and stretch our legs.

Busy restaurants at the stops

When we stopped for food, some of the cafes and restaurants were very busy, so we couldn’t go to the places we wanted to. Although this was a little annoying, it wasn’t really the tour company’s fault. In fact, it wasn’t a big deal as we found other options, so it’s not like we went hungry. 

What did the tour include/not include?

A picture of salad dinners in the town of Cowes during a go west penguin tour to phillip island near melbourne australia
Dinner in Cowes isn’t included, but it’s delicious!
Bailey smiles with a glass of wine in the town of Cowes during a go west penguin tour to phillip island near melbourne australia

The tour included hotel pickup and drop-off in Melbourne, our wonderful guide, and entry to the Moonlit Sanctuary and the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island. So all in all, we felt like it was a pretty generous deal.

While it included admission to the Moonlit Sanctuary, there were a couple of things that weren’t included here. We had to pay for pellets to feed the kangaroos and wallabies, which cost $3 AUD per container. This is optional, but of course, we wanted to feed them!

Also, the tour didn’t include any of the extra experiences available at the sanctuary. Our guide just let us know when we started the tour what was available and the time we should book for. We booked the koala encounter (and loved it!) and I’d say that’s the most popular option. However, a lot of people on our tour also took the Dingo Walk. These extras are around $30-$40 AUD per person.

The tour didn’t include food and drink, so you could bring your own but we just bought some at the stops on the day.

Related Read: Another one of our favorite memories from our recent trip was swimming with wild dolphins in Perth and you can too!

Would I do this tour again?

Bailey sits on the beach of penguin watchout on phillip island with other people on a go west penguin tour near melbourne australia

Yes, we loved it! It ranks highly on our list of the best tours in Melbourne and we were honestly surprised at just how beautiful Phillip Island is. We also had amazing guides show us around the island and Moonlit Sanctuary, which made it all so much better. Seeing the Penguin Parade was definitely a highlight too!

This tour was one of the top wildlife encounters we’ve ever had in Australia, which is really saying something! We think that visiting Phillip Island is a must-do while you’re in Melbourne, and you can certainly trust this tour to deliver a fantastic day. 

Where to Stay in Melbourne

The Langham Melbourne room
Photo credit: The Langham Melbourne

If you’re planning to visit Melbourne, let us help you find a great place to stay. There’s something to fit every budget, so check out our top picks from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Here’s what you need to know!

The Langham Melbourne – $$$

For an elegant stay – think marble staircases, fountains, and chandeliers – The Langham Melbourne is the perfect place. The hotel is in the middle of Melbourne overlooking the Yarra River. You’ll get beautiful city views from the hotel’s restaurant and from the indoor pool. It’s also within walking distance of a number of top attractions.

Rooms here start at $300 – $400 AUD per night. Check availability and reserve a room here.

Grand Hotel Melbourne – $$

Stay in the Melbourne Central Business District at this historic hotel that has plenty of character. The studios and apartments at the Grand Hotel Melbourne give you more space than a typical hotel and even include a kitchen. You can also take advantage of the heated indoor pool and the fitness center with a sauna. Plus, it’s just a few minutes’ walk to Crown Casino, Southbank, Docklands, and more.

A studio starts at around $200 AUD per night and can be reserved through here.

Space Hotel – $

You don’t have to sacrifice style for money at this hostel. The Space Hotel is a modern hostel with lots of extra guest amenities like a gym, a hot tub, and even a mini-theater. You can head to the rooftop terrace to relax and enjoy the views. The hostel is conveniently located in the Central Business District and is not far from the Queen Victoria Market and Chinatown.

Accommodation options include both private rooms and shared dorm rooms. A bed in a dorm starts at $55 AUD and private rooms begin at $100 AUD. You can reserve a spot in advance through or

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey on the Go West Tour bus to Phillip Island during a Penguin tour near Melbourne Australia
Thanks for reading!

I hope our review of this Phillip Island tour has been helpful! Overall, we really enjoyed this experience and it was a fun excursion from Melbourne. The time flew by and we got to see so many sights (and animals!) in one day.

If you found this review helpful, have a look through our guides about Australia for more travel inspiration and tips. Here are a few other blogs to help with your trip planning:

25 Things to do in Melbourne for First-Time Visitors

Great Ocean Road Tours from Melbourne – the 5 BEST Tours for this Scenic Drive!

35 FUN Things to do in Perth, WA

5 BEST Pinnacles Tours from Perth – By a Local!