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Sorrento’s commercial centre is located at the bay end of Ocean Beach Road. This wide, attractive boulevard features a variety of shops, restaurants and cafes with its major landmark being the multi-storey Continental Hotel which was built out of limestone in 1875. Other historic hotels include Koonya Hotel (1878) overlooking the foreshore and Hotel Sorrento (1871) on nearby Hotham Road.
The crescent-shaped Sorrento Front Beach is flanked by an attractive foreshore area with lawns, shelters and English trees, plus a couple of small jetties. The sheltered waters make it ideal for swimming and other water activities.
At the western end of Sorrento Front Beach is Policemans Point and the Sorrento Pier which is used by a passenger and car ferry which links Sorrento to Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula. Climb the steps up the cliff face behind the Esplanade for spectacular views above Policemans Point where you catch watch the ferries come and go, and enjoy scenic views of Sorrento Front Beach. There’s also the restored railway platform which was used by the Sorrento Steam Tram between 1890 and 1921 to carry holidaymakers arriving by ferry from Melbourne to the ocean beach.
Sorrento was the site of Victoria’s first official European settlement which was established by Lieutenant-Colonel David Collins in 1803. A monument honouring this historic event has been erected at Eastern Sister which is located near the south-eastern end of Sorrento’s bay coastline. There is an elevated coastal walkway which leads to an information centre and several lookouts which provide scenic views across beach and bay.
At the north-western end of Sorrento’s bay coastline is Point King where Lieutenant Murray, on his exploration of Port Phillip in 1802, raised the Union Jack and claimed the land for the British. There is a monument to commemorate this event and a scenic coastal track from which splendid views along the coast in all directions can be enjoyed.
Sorrento Historic Park, located on Point Nepean Road overlooking the bay, is a lush oasis which was first established in 1870. It features European trees, colourful garden beds, extensive lawns, BBQ facilities, a rotunda, children’s playground and walking tracks. Scenic views of Policemans Point, the surrounding beaches and across the bay can be enjoyed from the park which extends to the cliff tops.
The main point of access to Sorrento’s ocean beach is from the southern end of Ocean Beach Road. The coastline here consists of stretches of sandy beach which back onto sand dunes and rocky cliffs. At the main car park is a cafe, the local surf lifesaving club and several walking tracks. There are two main lookouts accessed via these tracks – Coppins Lookout which provides views over the ocean beach and out to sea, while Websters Lookout overlooks the residential areas of Sorrento and Port Phillip in the distance. Steps descend the cliff face near Coppins Lookout and lead to rocky ocean platforms and stretches of sandy beach.
Another scenic area to explore along the ocean coastline is Diamond Bay. Some spectacular views can be enjoyed of the coastline here with its many rocky outcrops and sandy beaches. It is protected by the Mornington Peninsula National Park where there are several walking tracks and stairways providing access to the beach below.