A bayside bargain ... Beach Bites in Altona. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
Fish and chips with a twist
This is always going to be a controversial one – everyone will have their stalwart chipper - but Beach Bites in Altona is not only a total bargain, but an absolute find for its variations on the usual. Sure you get excellent chips, but you also get poutine. They serve chowder topped with a floating pillow of fried bread. There are sweet, salty kumara fritters, the burgers are made and pressed to order, you can even take away some kina (sea urchin). Plus, as it's run by New Zealanders, you'll find Kiwi soft drinks in the cabinet and a “fush and chups” pack on the blackboard.
Details: 137 Esplanade, Altona, 9398 1444
Accessory: Kites. Altona's quiet, pine tree-fringed beach is a popular spot for kiting and kitesurfing lessons.
I scream, you scream…
Again, controversy is going to reign but for sheer volume of choice, Williamstown has got it in spades along Nelson Place by the bay. iScream is a cute and colourful parlour twirling frozen yoghurt as well as ice-cream. Williamstown Ice Cream Shoppe boasts more than 100 ice-cream flavours (including Red Bull and red velvet dough) as well as triple-choc-coated cones and a popping candy dip. Capriccio is a neat gelataria boasting a cabinet that looks like a creamy, chocolate-drenched version of the Dolomites.
Details: iScream, 225 Nelson Place; Williamstown Ice Cream Shoppe, 199 Nelson Place, 9399 9594; Capriccio, 171 Nelson Place, 9397 0887
Accessory: Kids. This is a family-friendly beach with nearby play equipment. Basically, you need the kids as an excuse to try all the ice-cream spots.
There's nothing nicer than a brisk walk by the beach to start your day – but a zesty Lebanese breakfast of hummus, falafel and labne or a brekkie pizza with haloumi and roast tomato comes a close second. Mr Lawrence is a lovely, airy new restaurant in the bright white Art Deco London Hotel, where you can sit outside with a view of the bay, the Spirit of Tasmania and a plate of happy.
Details: 92 Beach St, Port Melbourne, 9077 4992
Accessory: Canine. Both Port Melbourne Beach and Sandridge Beach has areas where you can and your dog can go for a run.
For the Melburnians who don't want to burn, NSHRY (pronounced noshery) in Albert Park is as close as you can get to eating on the beach without those UV rays giving you a beating. This spunky glass box, perched between the footpath and the sand, has a lush, slightly Japanese-influenced menu (the umami burger is sensational). They serve coffee and they're licensed too, so it's perfect for a long black or a long neck, all while keeping your complexion peachy and pale.
Details: 129A Beaconsfield Pde, Albert Park, 9682 1077
Accessory: Two wheels. Bikes or blades, the beachside paths along this foreshore are a smooth ride.
If you want to enjoy an icy beer by the water without getting sand in your can, head to True South, a slick microbrewery in a renovated Art Deco garage overlooking Half Moon Bay. Beer aficionados will have their work cut out for them deciding between season, single batch or regular brews, or maybe a tasting wheel, while cider lovers have an easier time of it with the bright, refreshing Little Miss Muffet. There's an Argentinian menu – with good drinking snacks - to dine on too.
Details: 298 Beach Rd, Black Rock, 1300 878 360
Accessory: Drawing pad and pastels. This area has some amazing terracotta-coloured bluffs that contrast vibrantly against the blue of the water, inspiring many a weekend artist.
Pick up a picnic
If you work it right, a beachside picnic is about as glamorous as it gets (just don't go when it's windy or sandwiches take on a whole new meaning). Shake out a blanket, pop up that striped umbrella and feast from a basket of baguettes, smoked salmon rillettes, oozy cheeses, cornichons and champagne, courtesy of the beachside Little French Deli.
Details: 524 Nepean Hwy, Bonbeach, 9776 0855
Accessory: Your bowling arm. After a lush picnic, pad a little further down the highway for a civilised round of lawn bowls at the beachside Carrum Bowling Club (716 Nepean Hwy).
Coffee by the bay
Vintage shoppers will be lured into a large treasure trove called Felix – and coffee lovers should follow suit, stat. Inside you'll find a gorgeous café called The Alley, with cosy couches, laminex tables and a pink flamingo mural in the plant-filled alley outside. Come here for knock-out coffee – espresso, pour overs and aeropresses - from local roasters Escobean and Little Rebel, as well as house-baked treats like big, rustic scones and locally sourced savoury dishes like a zippy Black Russian tomato bruschetta.
Details: 167 Point Nepean Rd, Dromana. 5981 4624
Accessory: Tent. This holiday beach, with its atmospheric ti-trees, has designated camping areas along the way.