Moderately hazardous: 4-6
Highly hazardous: 7-8
Extremely hazardous: 9-10
Portsea Beach is one of Victoria's most popular and infamous beaches, being the site of regular ironman contests, but also near the spot where Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared in the surf in 1967. Portsea is a popular summer beach with extensive parking areas in the dunes, all of which provide a good view of the beach, its wide surf zone and many rips and reefs. So take a good look before you go down and enter the surf.
The beach is 2.5 km long, with extensive intertidal calcarenite rock platforms and reefs forming the boundaries, together with smaller reefs and rocks outcropping along the beach. It faces the south-west and receives the full force of the south-west waves and westerly winds. The waves average 1.8 m and combine with the finer sand and reefs to produce a 200 m wide surf zone, containing rip dominated inner and outer bars. Rips occur every 300 m along the inner bar, with strong permanent rips against major reefs. One permanent rip to the right of the surf club is known as Huey's Reef.
The Portsea Back Beach Road provides good access to the car parks and lookout above the beach, with a steep walk down to the beach and surf lifesaving club. The club was founded in 1949 and averages 143 rescues a year, the highest in Victoria.
A popular summer beach, however definitely stay on the bar and between the flags, and clear of the rips, rocks and reefs, particularly at low tide when the rips intensify.
A popular surfing spot in summer, when Portsea is overrun with holiday makers. The beach breaks occur over the bars and reefs, with best conditions during low to moderate swell and northerly winds.
A popular spot for beach and rock fishing, with deep rip holes a permanent feature, together with rocks and reef along the beach.
One of Victoria's better known and most popular summer beaches, however also one of its most potentially hazardous. Best suited for experienced bathers and surfers.
- Formal parking area