South Australian Beaches
Adelaide has an envious selection of city beaches stretching from North Haven all the way down to Sellicks Beach and beyond in the south.
Most of Adelaide’s central beaches are less than 30 minutes drive from the city, with the spectacular southern beaches about an hour away. Planning a day on the sand is always worth the effort, be it rugging up in winter to build sand castles or cooling off in the salty water on a hot summer day.
Whether it’s an all day affair with plenty of sun and surf or an early dinner of fish & chips on the beach during daylight savings, nothing beats an Australian summer by the water.
Local Adelaide Beaches
Gulf Point Drive, North Haven | map
The North Haven coastline is 1.2 kilometres of sandy beach situated between two breakwaters. Located 20 kilometres north of Adelaide, the calm waters of North Haven Beach make it a family friendly, safe swimming beach with no rips and currents. Situated behind the beach is the North Haven Surf Life Saving Club and you’ll also find the Gulf Point Marina and Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia here.
Semaphore Beach has stunning white sand, a bright yellow lookout tower, a jetty and is framed by low sand dunes. Only 20 minutes from the city, it’s great for swimming, but you’ll also find kite-surfers and windsurfers out on the water. The Semaphore foreshore features a huge expanse of lawn area and is where you will find the Semaphore to Fort Glanville Steam Train. Semaphore also has a vintage carousel and waterslide complex.
Esplanade (off Military Road), Grange | map
Grange is located just north of Henley Beach and is about a 20 minute drive from the city. Known for breathtaking sunsets and ideal for swimming and fishing, there is a jetty for fishing and the beach is patrolled by Grange Surf Life Saving Club. You can walk the coastal path all the way from Grange Beach down to Henley Beach and you can also explore the Tennyson Dunes, just north of Grange.
Seaview Road, off Henley Beach Road, Henley Beach | map
There’s always plenty to do at family friendly Henley Beach, just 20 minutes from the city. The beach has a jetty and plenty of room for everyone at both ends of the beach. Henley Square on the foreshore is a popular destination for locals and visitors with a great variety of restaurants, cafes, bars and retail stores. Kids love the water fountains and the uniquely designed wave-shaped timber seats are the perfect spot to relax. There’s a large grassed area on the foreshore to enjoy your fish & chips or a picnic and at night the overhead lights add an extra sparkle.
Henley Beach Road, West Beach | map
West Beach is generally quieter than it’s more well known neighbours and is also just 20 minutes from the city of Adelaide and 5 minutes from the airport. Patrolled by West Beach Surf Lifesaving Club, you can swim, learn kite boarding or hire a stand up paddle board and beach chairs. There are some great cafes and restaurants nearby, and for accommodation you can’t go past Big 4 West Beach Parks and West Beach Parks Resort. For some extra activities check out Mega Adventure Park.
Esplanade/Jetty Road, Glenelg (end of Anzac Hwy) | map
Glenelg is often referred to as Adelaide’s most popular beach and is only 20 minutes from the city and about 10 minutes from the airport. You can also catch the tram to Glenelg. The wide sandy beach is perfect for families, plus there is a jetty, grassy areas and plenty of shade. The Glenelg foreshore also features a fabulous natural playspace for kids and Moseley Square’s popular water fountains are always a hit to cool off on hot days.
Jetty Road in Glenelg is a one kilometre shopping strip with a huge range of restaurants, bars, cafes, boutiques and salons. You can go to the movies, art galleries and there are numerous accommodation options. Glenelg is also home to The Beachouse.
Esplanade/Jetty Road, Brighton | map
Brighton Beach is a little south of Glenelg and features a long jetty and sandy beach which is patrolled by the Brighton Surf Lifesaving Club during summer. Brighton’s Jetty Road features gorgeous shops, cafés and restaurants. At the beach end of Jetty Road is a grand memorial to Australian soldiers who fought in the World War I. Events that occur each year include The Brighton Jetty Classic and the Brighton Jetty Classic Sculptures.
Esplanade, Seacliff | map
Seacliff beach is a hidden gem for locals and generally a little quieter than Brighton and Glenelg. You can usually hire stand up paddle boards near the Seacliff Surf Lifesaving Club. There are some fabulous family friendly foreshore parks and reserves near by too with grassed areas perfect for picnics, many equipped with BBQ facilities, playgrounds and public toilets, such as Angus Neill Reserve. For a meal or snack you can’t go past the The Seacliff Beach Hotel.
Beaches on the Fleurieu Peninsula
Esplanade (off Beach Road or Gulfview Road), Christies Beach | map
Christies Beach is a popular family beach on the Fleurieu Peninsula, 32 kilometres from Adelaide. Allowing for safe swimming for all ages, there is a large foreshore reserve for picnics and outdoor play and an all-season boat ramp at nearby O’Sullivan Beach for boating.
Esplanade (off Commercial Road), Port Noarlunga | map
Home to the 1.6km long Port Noarlunga reef and aquatic reserve, Port Noarlunga is an old port township 33 kilometres from Adelaide. The jetty is a popular fishing spot as is the southern beach at the mouth of the Onkaparinga River. Kids will love the nearby Jubilee Adventure Playground.
Moana is one of the few South Australian beaches where you are permitted to drive vehicles onto the beach during the summer months. Perfect for summer swimming, body surfing, boogie boarding, year-round fishing and snorkelling. You’ll notice the Norfolk Island pines along the foreshore of Moana before you reach the ocean, named via a competition held in 1927 where ‘Moana’ was the winning entry as it translates to ‘ocean’ in the Maori indigenous language. Read our review here (map)
44 kilometres from Adelaide, Aldinga Beach, like Moana and Sellicks, is one of the beaches in South Australia where vehicles are permitted to drive onto the sand, making it much easier to set up for the day using the shade of the car. Aldinga beach is renowned for its safe swimming and great surf, perfect for boogie boards and body surfing, as well as scuba diving and snorkelling. An aquatic reserve established to protect a rare reef formation features an underwater trail, including a spectacular drop-off, and there is also a boat ramp.(map)
Port Willunga, 46 kilometres from Adelaide, is picture postcard perfect and framed by towering cliffs. The soft sandy beach is wide and long, ideal for long walks and spending time splashing in the waves. (map)
The breathtaking hills of Sellicks Hill Range overlooking Gulf St Vincent create a stunning backdrop to Sellicks Beach. Just over 50 kilometres from Adelaide, the flat sandy beach is extremely popular during the summer months, especially during school holidays. Another beach you are permitted to drive on, it’s perfect for families and the ideal spot to set up for the day. Read our review here. (map)
Located 76 kilometres from Adelaide, Normanville is the largest coastal settlement on the Fleurieu Coast. The beautiful beach is 7.3 kilometres long and is a patrolled by the Normanville Surf Life Saving Club during the summer. Other beaches nearby include Carrickalinga, Yankalilla Bay, Cape Jervis and Second Valley. Read our review here.
With fabulous views over Roma Mitchell Bay and Yankalilla Bay, Carrickalinga features a stunning white sandy beach, crystal clear waters and rock pools ideal for exploring. Located 79 kilometres from Adelaide, be sure to check out family friendly Forktree Brewing (935 Forktree Road, Carrickalinga) while in the area.
Second Valley is a small town with a caravan park and is extremely popular during the summer months. The beach offers amazing views of the coastline and unique geological formations and is a popular spot for swimming, jetty fishing, snorkelling and scuba diving. There is a small car park leading to the jetty with the two small beaches to either side. There are public toilets near the car park and Second Valley Jetty Store is within walking distance for drinks, takeaway and ice creams. (map)
Situated 105 kilometres south of Adelaide between long sandy beaches and towering cliffs, you will find this little piece of paradise via a steeply descending road from the main Normanville-Cape Jervis Road. Just along from Second Valley, Rapid Bay is well known for its very long jetty and usually has calm and relatively safe surf, but has deep water right off both beaches. It is an unpatrolled beach with a basic camping site, and is ideal for those who love to dive and snorkel around the local shipwrecks featuring amazing marine life, including the famed Leafy Sea dragon. (map)
Generations of South Australians have spent their summer holidays at Victor Harbor, 83 kilometres south of Adelaide. There is so much to see and do here, from endless days at the beach to coastal walks and whale watching (May to October). Tourist attractions include the horse-drawn tram to Granite Island, SA Whale Centre, Encounter Bay and Hindmarsh Falls, and magical views from the Bluff. This coastline has some of South Australia’s best surf beaches, such as Waitpinga, Parsons, Chiton Rocks and Dump Beach. Read more about Victor Harbor here.
Port Elliott, Middleton, Goolwa
The family friendly Horseshoe Bay is the main drawcard in Port Elliot, which is a protected little cove surrounded by several little islands just off shore. There is a restaurant, cafe, playground and plenty of grass and shade. This seaside village has fabulous cafés, pubs and gift shops along with the region’s most popular bakery. The Cockle Train passes through on its way between Goolwa and Victor Harbor. Port Elliot is 85 kilometres south of Adelaide. Read our review here.
There’s a saying on the island that if you are visiting a beach and there are already people there, just move on to the next one and enjoy a whole beach to yourself! This is largely true. You may find a couple of campers about, or one or two other families and several fishing boats, but it is quite easy to have an entire stretch of beach to yourself on the island. Our favourite K.I. beaches include Stokes Bay, Western River Cove, Snellings Beach, Island Beach, Emu Bay and Vivonne Bay. Read our Kangaroo Island Review.
Beaches on the Yorke Peninsula
Flaherty’s Beach is an absolutely stunning beach to visit on the Yorke Peninsula. With perfectly clear shallow water for miles, it’s perfect for families, especially if you have little ones. It sits between Hardwicke Bay and Point Turton (just before Point Turton, not far from Warooka). Read our review here
Moonta Bay Beach
Moonta Bay Beach is a great family beach, especially for little kids, with shallow water for quite a long way when the tide is in. It also has a shark net protective swimming zone and pontoon within this area. Be aware though that the long jetty is only fenced on both sides about half way, then beyond that in the deep area it’s only fenced along one side, with the other side open for fishing. Don’t go letting your kids race ahead along the jetty! Read our review of Moonta here.
Wallaroo is a port town on the western side of Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, 160 kilometres northwest of Adelaide. There are three beaches here – Office Beach (first picture below), which is next to the Wallaroo Beachfront Tourist Park, Sailing Club Beach and beautiful North Beach (second picture below), which is next to the Wallaroo Holiday Park. (map)
Dolphin Beach – Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park
South Australia’s Dolphin Beach on the Yorke Peninsula is a curving 800m long, north facing beach, which receives usually low waves and has a moderately steep reflective beach face and no surf.
It’s so important to stay close to kids at the beach and keep them safe. The Surf Lifesaving SA website has some fantastic resources for everyone. You can find out what hazards are to be found at particular beaches and info about how to keep safe while you’re at the beach.
Tell us where your favourite SA beach is in the comments below.
At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.
All photos by Play & Go
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