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The Rip Marine National Park Cruise from Sorrento

Escape the crowds on a fast RIB boat ride and explore the waterways and coast that welcomed the first settlers in 1803 to establish the city of Melbourne. Encounter seabirds, seals, whales and dolphins and see the only black lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere.

Ideal for Bird, Seal, Whale & Dolphin Watching and Wildlife Photography

Adventurous Nature Escape and Rich History Cruise

Fun, Swift and Stable RIB Boat Ride

Small Group Tour up to 12x Children/Adults From $59

Visit Internationally Significant Bird Habitat

Ethical Sustainability Focused Guided Cruise

1.5 Hour Tour

Available Daily

From Sorrento Pier, Esplanade, Sorrento VIC 3943.
Enquire for additional services.

Details & Itinerary

  • Avoid the crowds on our 6-12 passenger RIB boats, with plenty of one-on-one to ask questions and a more personalised tour experience
  • Enjoy an adventurous, informative and educational cruise whilst visiting this spectacular region to see abundant and diverse marine and birdlife
  • Immerse in fascinating history and explore the entry to the bay, imagining the arrival of the first settlers

FAST AND FUN RIB BOAT!

You are guaranteed to have a good time on one of our fun, swift and stable rigid inflatable boats (RIB) during a WaterMaarq tour. With no crowds, no hassle and almost no sea-sickness, enjoy a zoom across the bay from Sorrento with less time in transit and more time to explore the gorgeous coastline of the Point Nepean National Park and the natural features of the Port Phillip Heads Marine Park region. 

EXPERT GUIDES

Enjoy exploring the diversity of the southern region of Port Phillip Bay. Cruise by the immaculate hilltop homes, savour the colourful beach-boxes and travel the length of the Ticonderoga Dolphin Sanctuary as we explore the bay and observe the diverse sea life. You’ll feel like you’re with friends as your guide shares local insights and knowledge about our local marine species and the historic icons dotted across the lands. You’ll see unique features that are unequalled, including the cliffs leading to Point Nepean and the original defence forts precinct built to guard the entrance to Port Phillip Bay, known as The Rip. The Rip is where the waters of the bay meet the seas of Bass Strait. Here you’ll cross the very first point our earliest settlers would have seen after their months long ship’s journey.

As Victoria’s Number One Adventure Tourism operators we are experts in taking adventurers from fear to fun with our marine science and outdoor education trained guides by your side.

Join the award-winning WaterMaarq on a 1.5-hour boat cruise and enjoy it for yourself. See guest reviews on TripAdvisor.

WORLD OF COLOUR

At any time of year you’re likely to see the display of gannets diving as they feed, fur seals playing on the surface, crested terns in sharp flight, nesting cormorants, or a pod of bottlenose dolphins jump, ride the waves and frolic about.

During the summer months, the migratory shearwater birds congregate en masse at the waters at the heads, thousands upon thousands of birds rafting together on the surface.

Australian Fur Seals, once hunted excessively for their pelts, are now fully protected and enjoy resting on Chinaman’s Hat, a man-made haul out platform in the bay. Here the seals get out of the water and rest after days of fishing. Seeing them up close you will be mesmerised by their presence, agility and adore their features.

From around June through to August (winter), along the southern coast of Victoria, our waters are home to the migration passages of whales. Sightings of Humpback, Southern Right and Killer whales (Orca) are increasing year on year. Visits into Port Phillip Bay are becoming more frequent and it’s possible to gain some amazing sightings.

Any other day seals, seabirds including gannets, pelicans, shy albatross or white-faced storm petrels may greet you out on or above the water.

Passing by protected marine parks and one of only 64 Ramsar wetlands in Australia, you’ll enjoy 360 degree views from our open vessel. Through sharing and developing understanding, we hope to aid protection and conservation of our significant nature and wildlife.

The local population of bottlenose dolphins are significant to our area and it’s always an exciting moment when they choose to interact with us. They don’t always appear, but when they do we enjoy the unique opportunity to observe their distinct behaviours, appreciating their size and the incredible look in their eyes as they often look up at you above the surface.

Visit a new world of colour on this fun boat cruise from the pretty seaside town of Sorrento, near Melbourne.

 

Schedule

The indicative 9am tour schedule is as follows:

8:45am At least 15-minutes before scheduled departure, meet at the end of Sorrento Pier where our guide will greet you and conduct the welcome and safety briefing

9:00am Scheduled departure time – leave the pier and zoom away from Sorrento on board our fun RIB boat

9:15am Arrive at our first stop after watching in awe as the beautiful cliff-top homes pass by

9:40am Cruise the Ticonderoga Bay Dolphin Sanctuary, looking out for dolphin sightings and making way to The Rip

10:00am Travelling via the lighthouse, arrive at Popes Eye Marine Park to view the spectacular Australasian Gannets

10:15am Zoom on a quick transit to the seal haul-out platform and watch the spectacle of the Australian Fur Seals as they play about

10:30am Power down the engines on return at Sorrento Pier

10:35am-10:40am Disembark and swap stories and photos!

What You Should Bring

Warm layers are recommended as the temperature can vary throughout the day and drop in the afternoon and evening. As the vessel is open, you are recommended to wear clothing that may get wet from occasional spray, including shoes. Small bag with drink bottle, camera, hat, sunglasses, warm clothing. 

Best Things About This Boat Cruise

A super fun 1.5-hour boat ride in the southern part of Port Phillip Bay for just 12 guests. We’ll visit the beautiful Point Nepean National Park coastline and travel all the way to The Port Phillip Heads, also known as The Rip. Along the way amazing species of birds may be viewed, including the Australasian Gannets at Popes Eye Marine Park. The only black lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere emerges into view on the hill during the tour, one of only three in the world. During transit, dolphins may appear but you’ll always remember the delight of watching the Australian Fur Seals frolic about.

Frequently Asked

When do we arrive?
Be at the pier 15-minutes before departure. Allow plenty of time to find parking and make your way out to the end of the pier. At the pier you will be greeted and then welcomed aboard the tour vessel.

Where do we meet?
See the travel directions and details here. Please be aware that tours depart at the scheduled time and will not be delayed for guests arriving late, in which case tour guests will be deemed a no-show and all fees forfeited.

What does the tour involve?
Hosted by your expert guide, you’ll enjoy a swift ride to take in the many highlights of the bay. Enjoy plenty of one-on-one time to ask questions and receive tips and advice about the local Mornington Peninsula region and the exquisite temperate marine life of our gorgeous Port Phillip Bay. Enjoy fantastic sights and incredible wildlife photography captures.

Can anyone join?
Yes, it’s ideal for new and seasoned adventurers, families and anyone who wants a first hand look at our local environment. All you need is an interest in the outdoors and keen spirit for adventure.

Will I get seasick?
Our Rigid Inflatable Boats are the same as the ones the Navy, Search and Rescue, Water Police, Fisheries and Coastguard operators use around the world. We call them the rally cars of the sea because of the sure-footed, stable and capable handling they have in all kinds of conditions.

Seasickness does not happen often on a RIB boat, they are open so you feel the fresh air, and the boat sits close to the water surface. If you’re worried about seasickness, we recommend talking with your local pharmacist or doctor about the various remedies available and follow their advice for taking precautions.

How cold are the conditions?

The Bay waters here on the Mornington Peninsula are beautiful with sandy beaches and exposed coastal cliffs. The air temperature is generally cooler on the water than on land and the wind chill of the open style vessel can at times reduce the temperature significantly. Always dress appropriately for the conditions and plan to be cooler than on land. 

When is the best time to see dolphins?

The best time to see dolphins is when you’re out on tour! The local population of bottlenose dolphins (also referred to as Burrunan dolphins) are a geographically significant small population that reside in Port Phillip Bay. Their feeding and rest habits govern their movements, which are also influenced by the season, the time of day, the tide direction and flow, as well as the prevailing sea conditions, so the best time to see them is when they choose to interact, because it’s a genuine and authentic interaction.

Our experience and insights enable us to have the highest chance of dolphin sightings, and even though sometimes they choose not to appear, or their behaviour prevents an interaction, when they do appear you’ll know it’s the best authentic interaction you can enjoy.

Are marine wildlife and birdlife sightings and encounters guaranteed?

Port Phillip Bay and the Great Southern Reef marine and bird life provide the most amazing opportunity to view an incredible array of species.

The bottlenose dolphins do not always appear, even though they appear quite often, because of their feeding and resting habits which influence their movements around the southern part of Port Phillip Bay, so it’s not possible to provide a sighting guarantee. At certain times of the year you might see an eel swim by as it takes off on its long journey into warmer waters up north, however this  is quite rare and may only occur once or twice per year.

Whales including Humpback, Southern Right and Orca transit the region from May-September however do not often visit the inner part of the bay. 

Animals such as the Australian Fur Seals are a guaranteed sighting as they haul-out onto specific locations in Port Phillip Bay to rest, so you can be confident you’ll see them.

These are all the reasons why every hour and every day is an exciting adventure in Port Phillip Bay, it’s a true wildlife experience and you never know exactly which amazing marine life interaction you’re going to have in the moment. And it’s exactly what we love about our tours and what keeps us thriving and fascinated by the waters at our doorstep. We hope you’ll appreciate and love it for these reasons too! 

Featured Marine Wildlife 

In first place for building guest’s excitement levels are the Australian Fur Seals. Once upon a time hunted extensively for their pelt (fur), the Sealing industry almost wiped them out with only a few hundred individuals left in the population which meant the industry became unviable. Fortunately protections were put in place and nowadays these fully-protected local marine animals that can hold their breath for longer than five minutes, dive deeper than 100m and that can sleep both in the water and on land, number in their thousands and swim playfully with humans. 

Everyone’s favourite is of course the bottlenose dolphin (scientific name: Tursiops truncatas) and these ever-smiling species are often affectionately referred to as Flipper due to the old television show featuring the very entertaining lead dolphin character. A protected species in our bay, WaterMaarq tours operate under strict permit conditions to provide dolphin watching and swim tours. They’re commonly seen in groups or pods from two to up to thirty individuals on tour. They’re not only incredibly smart and social animals, they’re also very fast swimmers, achieving speeds up to 40km/h. A wonderful sight on tour, their presence always brings a smile to everyone on board.

Other species to look for:

  • Humpback Whales
  • Australasian Gannets 
  • Crested Terns
  • Ruddy Turnstones
  • Shy Albatross
  • Southern short-fin eel – rare sightings occur in Autumn as they migrate from freshwater to the open sea to breed

World Leading Conservation at Popes Eye

The State of Victoria became a world leader in marine conservation when, after 11 years of investigation, community consultation and debate, it established a system of highly-protected marine national parks and sanctuaries in June 2002. 

Marine national parks are highly protected areas that conserve unique marine habitats in their natural state, and provide an insurance policy against environmental impacts. Victoria’s marine areas include rocky reefs, sponge gardens, towering kelp forests, sandy seafloors, seagrass meadows, mangroves and saltmarsh.

Popes Eye as part of the 3580ha Port Phillip Heads Marine Park network is highly protected and reserved for conservation and protection of marine biodiversity and natural processes, maintenance of scientific reference areas and the opportunity to observe Nature in its true form. It provides a core example and the combination of outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values. 

Great Southern Reef

Extending around Australia’s southern coastline is a series of reefs holding some of the most productive ecosystems on the planet. The Great Southern Reef features extensive kelp seaweed forests that support many marine species that are not found anywhere else on Earth. Unique fish, sponges, crustaceans, starfish, urchins, snails, shellfish and nudibranchs, as well as world famed rock lobster and abalone. Let’s not forget the amazing weedy seadragon too!

It is a truly unique ecosystem. The kelp beds provide the ecologicial foundation to the string of rocky reefs that extend across southern Australia. Quite different to tropical coral reef, the main feature is the extensive kelp seaweed, some of which can grow up to 1-metre in length in a single day. Kelp is critical to the health of the marine life it provides home to. It’s also under threat though, warming sea temperatures and the spread of sea urchins damage the kelp and therefore the habitat and life of the fish, abalone, molluscs and seadragons that so depend on it.

1.5hr The Rip Marine National Park Boat Cruise from Sorrento

The Rip Marine National Park Wildlife and Eco Adventure boat cruise departs from Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula. Enjoy abundant bird life, seal watching and immerse in first settler and maritime history. It’s an easy drive from Melbourne or take the ferry from Queenscliff.

 

Tour Details

Drive yourself to Sorrento and join our 1.5hr RIB Boat Cruise.

Getting There

By Car

From Melbourne you’ll need to drive around 90 minutes south to Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula (allow 2 hours in summer, sometimes longer). Once you’re in Sorrento, you should park near the ferry terminal. Make your way to the Sorrento Pier (at the end of the Esplanade).

More Transport Options

Please click here see our detailed directions and additional travel information.

Sorrento Pier address: Esplanade, Sorrento VIC 3943

Things to Bring

Make sure you dress warmly for the tour, warm jackets, hats, beanies and good footwear are recommended. Warm layers are recommended as the temperature can vary throughout the day and drop in the afternoon and evening. As the vessel is open, you are recommended to wear clothing that may get wet from occasional spray, including shoes. Small bag with drink bottle, camera, hat, sunglasses, warm clothing. 

Departures
Regular tour departure times at 9am.
Winter Tours: 11am and 1pm (June-August).
Please contact us with your special requests.

Tour Duration
1.5 Hours. Allow 2 hours in total for check-in and disembarking.

Prices
The Rip Sightseeing and Wildlife Cruise
Adult: $79pp
Child: $59pp

*Children (5-14) must be accompanied by an adult

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Things to Know

  • It is recommended that you book at least one week in advance of your preferred date to book the best time and day for your tour and avoid missing out
  • Port Phillip Bay has regular changing conditions, tide and sea levels and your tour will be optimised for the best experience in line with the forecast and prevailing conditions
  • Guests must be physically fit and have sufficient mobility to enter and exit the boat
  • Passengers with back, neck, shoulder or heart conditions, those who are pregnant or who have injuries/conditions that may cause a risk to their health are advised to not do these tours, or do so at their own risk
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before tour departure time. Tours depart at the scheduled time and late arrivals will be deemed a no-show and all tour fees forfeited
  • Dolphins and whales may appear on tour, but as they are wild animals do not always appear, and therefore sightings cannot be guaranteed 
  • Tour times may be altered or cancelled due to sea conditions and we will use all reasonable endeavours to provide 24 hours notice
  • We reserve the right to substitute the tour vessel 

 

Click the Map for Directions

Bookings and Cancellations

Bookings are essential as places are subject to availability. Tours operate daily except Christmas Day and selected public holidays.

Full payment for your tour is required at the time of booking.  100% cancellation fee applies for no-show or cancellations within 24 hours of departure, 50% for cancellations within 48 hours of departure.

     

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