Beach in reach, Australia

We've scoured coasts, combed beaches and searched the shore in our hunt for the coolest seaside stays, where the hotels are never far from the water’s edge. Clifftop castles, beachy B&Bs and island idylls – you'll find them all here, alongside sandy resorts and Caribbean retreats. You just have to decide whether your idea of beach-bum heaven is skimming stones in Brighton, surfing in Santa Monica or scuba diving in the Seychelles…

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Mornington Peninsula, Victoria: two days

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria: two days

Combine culture and coast on the Mornington Peninsula, which offers mellow beaches, boutique wineries and inspiring art just 45 minutes drive from Melbourne. With three romantic rooms – African, Beach and Bush – and to-die-for breakfasts, Big Blue Backyard is blissful for shoreside strolls, swimming with dolphins or wallowing in hot springs. Pop to Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove for delicious dining, cellar-door tastings and outdoor sculpture. Arty distractions await at Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery and McClelland Sculpture Park & Gallery, too. For alfresco culture, wander the seaside Sorrento Portsea Artists Trail, where reproductions of artworks are displayed where they were painted.

Stay at Big Blue Backyard