Looking for a more intimate, weather proof and up close encounter with the penguins at Phillip Island? The VIP Underground Viewing Experience now allows visitors to view the little penguins up close at eye-level in comfort.
When: daily – the penguins arrive at sunset, times vary. Book here.
Where: 1019 Ventnor Rd, SUMMERLANDS
Cost: Underground Viewing Family pass $150, Adult $60, child $30 (check the website if you want to bundle with other Phillip Island experiences for a better price)
If you have watched the little penguins at Phillip Island make their beach landing you will know that while it’s an amazing phenomenon it’s also done in semi-darkness, the penguins are often at a distance and you are completely at the mercy of the elements (eg. rain, wind, hail, snow #jokingnotjoking). Not to mention the concert sized crowd and some wriggly kids (your own or someone else’s) struggling to wait patiently for what can feel like forever (especially if you got there early to get a good seat).
The new VIP seating platform is definitely a more comfortable and a closer to the penguins experience (and with a limit of 300 visitors it’s also a much smaller crowd than the general admission area).
But if you want to take it up a notch you need to book tickets for the Underground Viewing – which has a limit of 70 visitors, allowing you to see the penguins at eye level. It is located undercover in a temperature controlled space meaning you are not exposed to the elements while waiting for the little penguins to arrive!
The Penguins Plus VIP experience allows you full access to the general admission areas (if you want to see the penguins walk up from the beach then be sure to head down for a look) as well as the outside seating area upstairs (the night we visited the VIP outside seating was at capacity, but as soon as those guests began to leave we were welcome to head up and take their spots). And of course you can see the penguins making their way to their burrows all along the boardwalks back up to the visitors centre.
This was our first summer visit – meaning it wasn’t dark until 9pm. The penguins began to make their first appearances around 9pm, but it wasn’t until 9.10pm that a steady stream was walking by. Having recently experienced the general admission seats we didn’t need to return to see the little penguins make their beach landing – so by 9.45pm we made tracks for the carpark (and the drive back to Melbourne).
- Inside the Underground Viewing area there was room for the kids to move about – and no requirement for them to sit still (although the same photography policy is in place, ie no photography allowed, and also noise is supposed to be kept to a minimum).
- Inside the Underground Viewing we had our own Park Ranger to provide an introduction and briefing and we had access to a screen showing live footage from the beach of the penguins coming out of the water – it was night vision (so in black and white).
- Because there is a limit of 70 guests and enough room for everyone to have a spot at the window – you do not need to arrive early to get a good spot. We arrived at 8.45pm with time to get our bearings, listen to the briefing, partake in some of the catering and get ready at the window. (Note the window spot in the corner where you can see the outside seating is the best spot to view the very first penguins – after that any spot is perfect)
- You are welcome to take food and drink with you into the viewing area.
- The walk from the Visitors Centre to the Underground room is about 2 minutes long – so if the weather is awful you will still need appropriate clothing. The night we went it was chilly (as you can see from Charlie’s choice of clothing!) but inside it was warm enough for us to strip off our coats and hats.
- There are no toilets in the Underground Viewing room – but just up the path outside is the main outside toilet block.
- The staff we encountered were all friendly and helpful and keeping a sharp eye out on people trying to take sneaky photos (I was given special permission to take my few photos before the sun went down only).
- The Underground Viewing area is able to be accessed by wheelchairs and prams.
- The Underground Viewing tickets book out in advance so be sure to book well ahead online before you plan your visit!
Looking for other things to do on Phillip Island?
- Check out the WWF Antarctic Journey and the Nobbies
- Take an EcoBoat tour out to Seal Rock
- Visit Cape Woolamai
- Take a spin in the Go Karts at the GP Circuit
- Visit Churchill Island Heritage Farm
- Need some dining options? Here are three.
Disclaimer: Meetoo travelled to Phillip Island in December 2015 as guests of Phillip Island Nature Parks. All views are our own. All details were correct at time of publishing.