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Through the Lens: Visit Melbourne's Best Beach Cafes

Updated on October 16, 2013

My Favourite Bayside Cafes Around Melbourne

Melbourne is known for great coffee, beautiful beaches and wonderful food. The bayside area has some wonderful cafes which are right on the beach and still close to the city.

Each cafe has it's own personality, but they have two things in common: good food and great views. Melbourne takes its cafe culture very seriously, and premium coffee is the essential starting point for any cafe here.

My business partner and I occasionally need to get out of our working routine and shake things up a bit. When that happens, we take our laptops and journals and head off to one of these cafes. Which one we go to depends on our mood, as each beach cafe has a different personality.

We start with a coffee and English breakfast tea, and decide whether to order from the breakfast menu or wait for lunch. The changing mood of the bay invites you linger and watch the water, the sky and indulge in some people-watching.

For the Squidoo "Through the Lens" quest, I've chosen to share my three favourite cafes of Melbourne's bayside with you. These are the cafes I use most frequently, and I enjoy them for the view as well as for their great coffee.

All images are é 2013 Frances: Ordinary Woman Press P/L

Sandbar Beach Cafe - On the Beach at Middle Park

Sandbar Beach Cafe
Sandbar Beach Cafe

Sandbar Beach Cafe is on Beaconsfield Parade in Middle Park. Recently renovated, it has an indoor dining area with floor to ceiling glass facing the beach, so you can enjoy the view regardless of the weather.

In good traffic, Sandbar is about ten minutes by car from the Southbank side of the city. There is metered parking on the beach side of Beaconsfield Parade, and free timed parking strips on the other side of the road. If you take the 112 Metro Tram from Crown Casino, a 12 minute trip takes you to the corner of Danks and Mills Streets, which is a two minute walk to Sandbar.

The outdoor deck area is delightful, with bluestone walls on each end of the deck. This creates a micro-climate and reduces the effect of the wind, as well as creating a kind of tunnel vision view which focuses your attention on the view over the bay. The deck has big rustic timber benches as well as smaller cafe tables.

The service is friendly and the menu has a wide variety of options, with a full breakfast menu till midday as well as lunch and dinner menus. It is the more upmarket of the three cafes, and the smallest in terms of total seating capacity.

The best part is that from the deck, you step straight onto the sandy beach, and that tunnel vision effect created by the bluestone walls makes you feel like you could be on any beach, anywhere in the world.

How to get there: Sandbar Beach Cafe

A marker -
Sandbar Beach Cafe, 175B Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park VIC 3206, Australia
get directions

Enjoy Your Coffee Then Dig Your Toes in the Sand at Middle Park Beach - Sandbar is the Best Cafe for: Casual Elegance and Direct Beach Access

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The floor to ceiling windows look straight out onto the water, and you can step straight from the deck onto the sand.Bluestone walls frame the deck, which means you are less likely to get sand blown into your soup!The water's edge view to St KildaLooking back towards South Melbourne and Station Pier, where the Spirit of Tasmania docksWeekday lunch on the deck. It's winter, but the sun is out and the locals make the most of itThe view straight out over the calm waters of the Port Philip BayThe benches on the deck are delightfully rusticLunchIt wouldn't be Melbourne if you didn't see something a little out of the ordinaryA good space to work, a nook with a bluestone wall at your backWrap up the afternoon with a coffee; latte and cappucino
The floor to ceiling windows look straight out onto the water, and you can step straight from the deck onto the sand.
The floor to ceiling windows look straight out onto the water, and you can step straight from the deck onto the sand.
Bluestone walls frame the deck, which means you are less likely to get sand blown into your soup!
Bluestone walls frame the deck, which means you are less likely to get sand blown into your soup!
The water's edge view to St Kilda
The water's edge view to St Kilda
Looking back towards South Melbourne and Station Pier, where the Spirit of Tasmania docks
Looking back towards South Melbourne and Station Pier, where the Spirit of Tasmania docks
Weekday lunch on the deck. It's winter, but the sun is out and the locals make the most of it
Weekday lunch on the deck. It's winter, but the sun is out and the locals make the most of it
The view straight out over the calm waters of the Port Philip Bay
The view straight out over the calm waters of the Port Philip Bay
The benches on the deck are delightfully rustic
The benches on the deck are delightfully rustic
Lunch
Lunch
It wouldn't be Melbourne if you didn't see something a little out of the ordinary
It wouldn't be Melbourne if you didn't see something a little out of the ordinary
A good space to work, a nook with a bluestone wall at your back
A good space to work, a nook with a bluestone wall at your back
Wrap up the afternoon with a coffee; latte and cappucino
Wrap up the afternoon with a coffee; latte and cappucino
Canon PowerShot A2500 16MP Digital Camera with 5x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 2.7-Inch LCD (Red)
Canon PowerShot A2500 16MP Digital Camera with 5x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 2.7-Inch LCD (Red)

The Rickett's Point Photos:

Most of the photos at Rickett's Point were taken with this Powershot. I think Canon's PowerShot range beats the Nikon compacts; that's just my personal preference.

I find this camera so easy to use. I haven't even looked at the manual, it's so intuitive.

Small enough to carry anywhere, it spends about half it's life in my purse :)

 
Nikon D80 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera Kit with 18-135mm AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens
Nikon D80 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera Kit with 18-135mm AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens

The Beachcomber Photos:This my current DSLR camera.

I've had this for nearly 7 years and I don't have a bad thing to say about it. It never misses a beat.

The shots of the AFL guys, the horse and the model were all taken on the same day with this camera.

 

Beachcomber Cafe - St Kilda Beachfront Favourite

Beachcomber is one of those places where you never know what you'll see, and if you are there often enough, you'll see pretty much everything! It's a very casual beach side cafe right on the famous St Kilda Beach in the St Kilda Sea Baths complex on Jacka Boulevard.

When I say casual, I mean it. In summer it's normal for people to spend time swimming and sunbathing on the beach in front of the restaurant, then to take an outdoor table wearing a bikini with a pair of shorts or a sundress thrown over the top. It's open late and is a great spot for a cool drink on a hot summer night. With two large outdoor seating areas as well as the indoor restaurant and a take away ice cream and juice bar on the street-front, it really buzzes in summer.

Because it can get so busy in summer, service times can slow down. On the plus side, many of the summer staff are seasonal backpackers working their way around the country and that international flavour adds a lot of character.

In winter it's a haven for mums with babies in prams catching up over skinny lattes. There is a steady lunch crowd and it is popular for casual business meetings. With the increase in office-less and laptop-based freelance workers, Beachcomber makes an ideal meeting place since it's close to the city and the busy St KIlda Road office precinct, easy to get to by public transport, has on-site car parking and wi-fi.

When my business partner and I were working on our first book, Beachcomber was the place we would go for brainstorming sessions. We'd take along our laptops, some journals and pens, and make the most of having such a scenic place to work.

There is paid parking on-site, and the cafe has a limited number of free parking vouchers for diners.

St Kilda is one of Melbourne's oldest suburbs and is full of characters. On any given day you might see jet-skiers, stand-up paddle-boarders, boats and yachts coming and going from the nearby marina or dolphins playing in the bay. We've even spotted a lost Little Penguin that waddled up the beach, having missed the road signs to the Little Penguin colony at the end of St Kilda Pier. Sometimes we had days at Beachcomber when we were just so boggled by what was happening on St Kilda Beach in front of us that we would put our laptops aside and just gawk. Flip through the photo gallery below and you'll see what I mean ;)

How to get there: Beachcomber Cafe

A marker -
St Kilda Sea Baths Beachcomber Cafe, Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda, Victoria, Australia
get directions

Beachcomber Cafe: outdoor seating areas looking over St Kilda Beach - Best Cafe for: People-Watching!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Beachcomber at St Kilda Sea BathsThe cafe fronts onto the St Kilda boardwalk which is prime people watching real estateThe iconic orange umbrellas - when you tell someone you'll meet them at Beachcomber, tell them to look for the orange umbrellasAll we need here is Cap'n Jack SparrowThe St Kilda boardwalkSt Kilda Beach in summer - head straight from the sand, into the cafeIn St Kilda, it takes something special to draw a crowd like this. Especially with the Victoria Police stopping to keep an eye on thingsAnd this is what the fuss is about - the AFL's Collingwood football team take a post-training dip in the seaThe Collingwood boys heading back into the gym facilities at the St Kilda Sea Baths. No, I can't imagine why they stop traffic either.Even for St Kilda, this falls into the category of "something you don't see every day". A man on a horse on the St Kilda boardwalkNo relation to the Old Spice Guy ("I'm on a horse!"). But the horse has dressed up for the outing with full saddle blingA motorised paraglider flies along the water's edgeA photo shoot for a local Target catalogueThe scenery is delightful and the people watching can be quite rewarding ;)
Beachcomber at St Kilda Sea Baths
Beachcomber at St Kilda Sea Baths
The cafe fronts onto the St Kilda boardwalk which is prime people watching real estate
The cafe fronts onto the St Kilda boardwalk which is prime people watching real estate
The iconic orange umbrellas - when you tell someone you'll meet them at Beachcomber, tell them to look for the orange umbrellas
The iconic orange umbrellas - when you tell someone you'll meet them at Beachcomber, tell them to look for the orange umbrellas
All we need here is Cap'n Jack Sparrow
All we need here is Cap'n Jack Sparrow
The St Kilda boardwalk
The St Kilda boardwalk
St Kilda Beach in summer - head straight from the sand, into the cafe
St Kilda Beach in summer - head straight from the sand, into the cafe
In St Kilda, it takes something special to draw a crowd like this. Especially with the Victoria Police stopping to keep an eye on things
In St Kilda, it takes something special to draw a crowd like this. Especially with the Victoria Police stopping to keep an eye on things
And this is what the fuss is about - the AFL's Collingwood football team take a post-training dip in the sea
And this is what the fuss is about - the AFL's Collingwood football team take a post-training dip in the sea
The Collingwood boys heading back into the gym facilities at the St Kilda Sea Baths. No, I can't imagine why they stop traffic either.
The Collingwood boys heading back into the gym facilities at the St Kilda Sea Baths. No, I can't imagine why they stop traffic either.
Even for St Kilda, this falls into the category of "something you don't see every day". A man on a horse on the St Kilda boardwalk
Even for St Kilda, this falls into the category of "something you don't see every day". A man on a horse on the St Kilda boardwalk
No relation to the Old Spice Guy ("I'm on a horse!"). But the horse has dressed up for the outing with full saddle bling
No relation to the Old Spice Guy ("I'm on a horse!"). But the horse has dressed up for the outing with full saddle bling
A motorised paraglider flies along the water's edge
A motorised paraglider flies along the water's edge
A photo shoot for a local Target catalogue
A photo shoot for a local Target catalogue
The scenery is delightful and the people watching can be quite rewarding ;)
The scenery is delightful and the people watching can be quite rewarding ;)

Rickett's Point Teahouse - A cafe at the edge of a Marine Sanctuary

Rickett's Point
Rickett's Point

Rickett's Point is further south-east around the bay, an easy 20 minute drive along scenic beachfront from St Kilda. Focusing on breakfast and lunch, it doesn't have a dinner service and operates with a loose closing time, usually around 4 pm but often open later in summer.

The cafe is very family friendly and is popular with locals and tourists. It's not uncommon to see three generations of a family having a leisurely weekend lunch here. It's also a dog-friendly cafe, and plenty of locals tie their dogs beside the deck when they stop to have a coffee. Like Sandbar and Beachcomber, it has an indoor dining area as well as a deck, which can be full enclosed with zip-down transparent cafe blinds in windy weather. This makes it a picturesque lunch venue during winter.

Unlike Sandbar, you can't step straight onto the sand at Rickett's Point. The sand starts only a few metres from the edge of the deck, but you have to cross a beachfront walking path and go through a fenced walkway. The beach here slopes very gently so the beach is wide at low tide, with rock pools and sandbars creating small tidal pools that kids love to play in.

The Rickett's Point Marine Sanctuary attracts pelicans, black swans, albatross, rosellas and a number of other birds I can't begin to name. With the cafe being tucked into a curved of the beach and surrounded by beach flora, it is a tranquil spot that feels like it is well away from the city, and the beach itself has that magical "big sky" feeling.

Rickett's Point Teahouse at the Marine Sanctuary - Best Cafe for: Relaxed family friendly dining and bird-watching

Click thumbnail to view full-size
On the site of the original Rickett's Point Teahouse, the current cafe still serves Devonshire scones and has a takeaway ice cream barLunch: Tandoori Chicken Salad and Crumbed CalamariThe beach view of the cafe; the white umbrellas are actually sealed in between with clear PVC to let in light, but no rain.Looking north towards the cafe from the rockpoolsRickett's Point is one of those places which has a panoramic, big-sky feeling to itThis photo taken from the deck shows how close the beach isParts of the walking path along the beach have a delightfully isolated rural feelThe walking path winds north along the beach to the next beach along, which is an off-leash dog-friendly beachPelicans are a regular sight at Rickett's PointRickett's Point is a safe beach and a haven for kite surfingThe marine sanctuary is frequented by snorkellers and kayakersThe rockpools in summer offer a world of explorationLooking south towards the Mornington Peninsula, the rockpools are full of sea snails and tiny crabs at low tideThere is no feeling quite like the sand sifting beneath your toes as the water ripples over your feet
On the site of the original Rickett's Point Teahouse, the current cafe still serves Devonshire scones and has a takeaway ice cream bar
On the site of the original Rickett's Point Teahouse, the current cafe still serves Devonshire scones and has a takeaway ice cream bar
Lunch: Tandoori Chicken Salad and Crumbed Calamari
Lunch: Tandoori Chicken Salad and Crumbed Calamari
The beach view of the cafe; the white umbrellas are actually sealed in between with clear PVC to let in light, but no rain.
The beach view of the cafe; the white umbrellas are actually sealed in between with clear PVC to let in light, but no rain.
Looking north towards the cafe from the rockpools
Looking north towards the cafe from the rockpools
Rickett's Point is one of those places which has a panoramic, big-sky feeling to it
Rickett's Point is one of those places which has a panoramic, big-sky feeling to it
This photo taken from the deck shows how close the beach is
This photo taken from the deck shows how close the beach is
Parts of the walking path along the beach have a delightfully isolated rural feel
Parts of the walking path along the beach have a delightfully isolated rural feel
The walking path winds north along the beach to the next beach along, which is an off-leash dog-friendly beach
The walking path winds north along the beach to the next beach along, which is an off-leash dog-friendly beach
Pelicans are a regular sight at Rickett's Point
Pelicans are a regular sight at Rickett's Point
Rickett's Point is a safe beach and a haven for kite surfing
Rickett's Point is a safe beach and a haven for kite surfing
The marine sanctuary is frequented by snorkellers and kayakers
The marine sanctuary is frequented by snorkellers and kayakers
The rockpools in summer offer a world of exploration
The rockpools in summer offer a world of exploration
Looking south towards the Mornington Peninsula, the rockpools are full of sea snails and tiny crabs at low tide
Looking south towards the Mornington Peninsula, the rockpools are full of sea snails and tiny crabs at low tide
There is no feeling quite like the sand sifting beneath your toes as the water ripples over your feet
There is no feeling quite like the sand sifting beneath your toes as the water ripples over your feet

What's Your Style?

Aside from good food and coffee, what do you look for in a cafe?

See results

Would you like to find out more about Melbourne's best spots? - Guide books abound, but this one is good!

Wallpaper* City Guide Melbourne 2012 (Wallpaper City Guides)
Wallpaper* City Guide Melbourne 2012 (Wallpaper City Guides)

Compact and full of details of where to find the really good stuff in Melbourne.

 

Walk on the Beach

After your visit, take off your shoes and wander along the water's edge. That's your green light reason for having that slice of cake with your coffee as you enjoy the view :)

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Does Melbourne's Beachside Cafe Culture Appeal to You?

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    • FrancesWrites profile image
      Author

      FrancesWrites 3 years ago

      @anonymous: Maybe next time?

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      been to Melbourne but wasn't able to visit the beach :)

    • FrancesWrites profile image
      Author

      FrancesWrites 3 years ago

      @flinnie lm: Thanks flinnie!

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 3 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi I enjoyed your tour of Melbourne beach cafes. Look like a fun place to visit.

    • FrancesWrites profile image
      Author

      FrancesWrites 3 years ago

      @wildbluefrontier: I think they're pretty cool :) Thanks for visiting and commenting!

    • wildbluefrontier profile image

      Nathan M 3 years ago from Tucson

      These cafes look to be a neat place to visit. Thanks for the tour.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Wow, would love to have a drink at any of those cafes!

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 3 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      I like the rustic benches of the first place, too. When I'm traveling, I like to find cafes with comfortable seating so I can plug in my laptop and use the web for a while without my back hurting in a hard chair or bench.

    • profile image

      BarbaraCasey 3 years ago

      What a lovely tour around your beach cafes. Great lens.

    • FrancesWrites profile image
      Author

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @Namsak: It makes a warm change from bonnie Scotland :)

    • FrancesWrites profile image
      Author

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @rob-hemphill: I'm sure you'd love it, the city has changed a lot in the last 30 years. Busier, but lots of things to do and see.

    • profile image

      LaidBackGuy 4 years ago

      Melbourne is a great city - spent some time there earlier this year. I think it keeps coming in at no. 1 for 'the world's most liveable cities'. Not hard to see why. ;-)

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 4 years ago from Colorado

      I am so there! Beam me up, Scotty.

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 4 years ago from Ireland

      It sure does! It's over 30 years since I was in Melbourne and I loved every minute of it. Would love to visit again one day.

    • profile image

      Namsak 4 years ago

      Very nice beach, maybe I shall visit one day.

    • FrancesWrites profile image
      Author

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @Fufurinha47: A view is always a big bonus :)

    • FrancesWrites profile image
      Author

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @Elsie Hagley: The first week of spring is on us southern hemisphere people now, so it will be warming up fast!

    • FrancesWrites profile image
      Author

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @TipsForMoms: Sandbar is lovely. The indoor area is raised a few steps above the deck, too, which means the ocean view from indoors isn't obscured by outdoor diners.

    • FrancesWrites profile image
      Author

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @merfzel: Thank you merfzel :)

    • FrancesWrites profile image
      Author

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @SusanDeppner: Thank you Susan :D

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Great pictures!

    • Fufurinha47 profile image

      Beatriz 4 years ago from Portugal

      I love being on a good cafe with my friends. And around the beach is always better.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Looks like a nice place to be on the beach, it will be a bit warmer than it is this evening in NZ.

      I like the photos, nice and clear.

    • TipsForMoms profile image

      TipsForMoms 4 years ago

      The cafes sound wonderful. I especially love the one with the floor to ceiling glass. Nice lens!

    • merfzel profile image

      merfzel 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Excellent lens... LOVE the close up pic of the sunglasses with the reflection! I really wish I was on the beach right now.