Bombora's Kiosk, Torquay.
Looking for toes-in-the-sand eating at a beach that's safe for kids and with enough room to squeeze an umbrella on the hottest summer day? On the shores of Fisherman's Beach, Bomboras Kiosk is run by a couple of surfers with a talent for fine coffee and an eye for easy eats. Order the littlies fish and chips and tuck in to a superfood salad. Coffee is by Gravity, milkshakes are thick and cold, and the ocean just 10 steps away.
Details: Fisherman's Beach, The Esplanade, Torquay; 5264 7881; bomboras.com.au
Swing Bridge Cafe, Lorne.
Lorne Swing Bridge Cafe
Sandwiched between Erskine River and the ocean at the foot of the historic swing bridge, the Swing Bridge Cafe is the antidote to hectic crowds on the main strip. It's not simply the quietude nor the proximity to the water that thrills: the kitchen turns out good-as-mum-makes, wholesome plates. Think sausage rolls flecked with carrot and broccoli served with housemade tomato relish, caramelised onion topping Birregurra bangers, or apple and rhubarb pancakes.
Somers General Store, Somers.
Details: 30 Great Ocean Road, Lorne; 0408 895 022
Somers General Store
Raw treats from Raw on Rye.
Beautifully refurbished, the Somers General Store makes the most of its beachside position with an expansive deck looking over garden and sea. The ideal spot for a classic Istra ham-stuffed croque monsieur or an elegant lunch: perhaps beef tartare with local quail eggs, salad of house-cured trout, garden herbs and shaved fennel or a crunchy baguette encasing slow-cooked lamb shoulder. Local wines are a feature, and it's popular for Saturday night dinners and summer celebrations.
Details: 2 The Boulevard, Somers; somersgeneralstore.com
Raw On Rye
If being within cooee of a sandy beach isn't reason enough to follow through on healthy lifestyle promises, then Raw on Rye's choc liquorice cheesecake should aid your cause: like everything else in this eclectic seaside eatery, it's primarily vegan, raw and free of sugar and gluten. Come for colourful raw pizza topped with tomato, basil, "nut cheese" and olives, or seasonal fruit waffles. There is a changing roster of salads and desserts along with a huge range of teas, chai and coffee.
Details: 2347 Point Nepean Road, Rye; 0418 940 653
Kilcunda General Store
Surfers at Kilcunda break must smell the burgers as they're paddling in, so close is Kilcunda General Store to the waves. Certainly they've become the hungry regular's go-to: think beef patty stacked on Turkish crammed with beetroot, caramelised onion, cheese, egg, bacon, chutney and mayo, and hand-cut, twice-cooked chips - and all of it made in-house. Offerings include a herby falafel salad, the famed breakfast avo stack and a range of artisan foods perfect for picnics.
Details: 3535 Bass Highway, Kilcunda; 5678 7390