Through the Lens: Visit Melbourne's Best Beach Cafes
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 ÃÂ© 2013 Frances: Ordinary Woman Press P/L
Sandbar Beach Cafe - On the Beach at Middle Park
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
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 AccessClick thumbnail to view full-size
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 :)
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
Beachcomber Cafe: outdoor seating areas looking over St Kilda Beach - Best Cafe for: People-Watching!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Rickett's Point Teahouse - A cafe at the edge of a Marine Sanctuary
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-watchingClick thumbnail to view full-size
What's Your Style?
Aside from good food and coffee, what do you look for in a cafe?
Would you like to find out more about Melbourne's best spots? - Guide books abound, but this one is good!
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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