The Sorrento pier was constructed in 1870 mainly for vessels engaged in transporting lime to Melbourne.

By 1886 the regular steamship service was capable of carrying well over 3,000 passengers a day on the paddle steamers Ozone, Hygeia and Weeroona. Over 4,000 trippers were known to arrive on some days. Many would then take the steam or horse-drawn tram to the Ocean Beach.