The 10 Best Beaches in Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide's stretch of coastline includes many must-visit beaches
Adelaide's stretch of coastline includes many must-visit beaches | © Lyndon Pancho / 500px / Getty Images
Photo of Roam Generation
24 April 2020

Adelaide – Southern Australia’s stunning metropolis – is known for its neat rows of grapevines stretching over rolling hills, the perfect drop of red, old stone churches and a bustling festival scene. But the scenic city is also home to an impressive 30-kilometre-long coastline dotted with rugged limestone cliffs and powdery white sand beaches.

Glenelg

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Glenelg Beach
© Josie Withers / South Australia Media Library

Located only a 15-minute tram ride from the city centre, Glenelg is Adelaide’s most famous city beach. Long and sandy, the shore is popular among families as it’s also located near the Beachhouse amusement park. If you’re looking to spend a day filled with both relaxation and adventure, Glenelg is your go-to place. After soaking up the sun, pay a visit to the Moseley Beach Club, Adelaide’s first bar on the sand. Featuring a casual dining area, bar, live acoustic music and DJs, along with free entry and a kids corner, it’s the perfect place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. But if you’re in the mood for something a bit more thrilling, ride the iconic Ferris wheel towering over the promenade or slide down the heated water slides at the popular Beach House.

Brighton

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Brighton Beach Jetty
Brighton Beach Jetty | © Andrey Moisseyev / Alamy Stock Photo

With its laid-back vibe, seaside cafés, restaurants and pubs, it’s easy to spend the whole day at Brighton Beach. Laze about under the long jetty to escape the sun, search for shells or cool off with a dip in the ocean. If you’re an active beachgoer looking for adventure, this is the place to try your hand at stand up paddleboarding – a great way to increase your balance and tone up – or just an excuse to get in the water. Stand Up Paddle SA provides boards for hire and lessons and caters to everyone whether you’re a beginner looking to try something new or a professional interested in refining your technique. When you’ve had enough of the sand, take a stroll down the promenade, engage in some retail therapy or have a drink with the locals at the Surf Club as the sun sets over the horizon.

Henley Beach

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Henley Beach
© Josie Withers / South Australia Media Library

Perhaps one of Adelaide’s trendiest hangouts, the recently developed Henley Beach is an up-and-coming location with a thriving food scene, upscale seafood restaurants, well-known beachside pubs and stores promoting indie fashion. Easily accessible, the beach is located less than 20 minutes away from the Central Business District, slightly south of Semaphore. Swim in the clear water and walk in the fine sand and discover the uniqueness of this seaside suburb that is popular among swimmers, paddle boarders and walkers. Make sure you visit the regular festivals and markets that are held on the foreshore, providing visitors with endless entertainment.

Semaphore

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Semaphore Beach
© Michael Waterhouse / South Australia Media Library

If you are looking for a carnival-themed beach during the summer months, then Semaphore is the place to be. This historic hub is located in the western suburbs of Adelaide and is only 20 minutes away from the Central Business District. Perfect for families, Semaphore offers kids an iconic carousel and steam train, along with a large playground and skate park. Enjoy a picnic on the foreshore and walk along the vast beach backed by a wide strip of sand dunes. Drenched in history, you can learn about the city’s past by simply visiting the local ice cream parlours adjacent to the old library, catching a flick at the original Odeon Star Cinema or having a drink at the lively Semaphore Palais. This renovated surf lifesaving club was popular in the early 1900s and features a stunning deck overlooking the sand dunes.

Largs Bay

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A seaside town only a short distance from Port Adelaide, Largs Bay is home to the popular Largs Pier Hotel – a uniquely designed hotel dating back to 1882. If you’re into adventurous sports and an adrenaline junkie looking for an adventure, try your hand at kitesurfing – the Largs is the perfect location for that. When the wind picks up, you’ll be surrounded by locals who come out in droves to fly their kites and strap on their boards, screaming along the water while soaring through the air and performing incredible acrobatic manoeuvres. If this seems too scary, just relax and chat to the beach bums in the combi vans that are strumming their guitars. And as you’re taking in the view, contemplate if this simple life could be for you.

Maslin Beach

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Sunset at Maslin Beach near Adelaide, South Australia.  Maslin's is Australia's first official nude beach.
© Puffin's Pictures / Alamy
Sporting Australia’s first official legal nude beach, Maslin Beach is located approximately 40km (25mi) south of Adelaide and is a well-known haunt among the locals. The scenic drive is the perfect opportunity to observe the sights of the south – you won’t be disappointed. The stunning beach has been maintained in pristine condition and is one of the most picturesque beaches in the area. With rugged limestone cliffs towering over the beach, you’ll get a different experience from the beaches up in the north. If you’re feeling game, head to the southern end of the beach to join the nude bathers frolicking in their birthday suits. If you happen to be in the area during mid-January, you’ll be able to take part in the highly regarded naturist event, the Pilwarren Nude Games, which is held annually.

Southport

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South Australian Southport
© MillefloreImages / iStock

For those who can’t survive without riding a wave, or who just want to learn to surf, take a short trip down the Southern Expressway. Located approximately 30 minutes from the Central Business District, Southport at Port Noarlunga is Adelaide’s prime surfing location. With a fully manned surf lifesaving club, you won’t have to worry about being wiped away by the waves on your first attempt. For those who would rather kayak on calm protected waters, the Onkaparinga River is located just behind the massive sand dunes at Southport. As the river flows into the sea on the outgoing tide, jump on your board and enjoy the ride down the river as you try to spot the gulls and plovers hiding in the dunes.

Goolwa

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Sunrise, Goolwa
© Graham Scheer / The South Australia Media Gallery

Looking for a different beach experience? Make the hour-long drive south to Goolwa Beach and try your hand at cockling. Overlooking Encounter Bay, Goolwa is famous for its cockles that can be found on the beach between November and May, where the water meets the sand. With your feet buried, shuffle along until these little shelled delicacies make their way to the surface. Be sure to bring a bucket and a net to collect these sought after shellfish. After purging the cockles in seawater, why not add them to your favourite pasta dish?

Blowhole Beach

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Deep Creek Conservation Park
© Jirapan Phahsonchum / South Australia Media Library

Blowhole Beach is a secluded beach near the western edge of the Deep Creek Conservation Park, 100 kilometres (62mi) south of the Central Business District. Located in a steep valley, the beach is best accessible with a four-wheel drive, as the track is steep and rocky. Alternatively, you can walk 2km (1.2mi) to the beach from the Cobbler Hill car park. The pint-size beach is only 200 metres (656 feet) long, fringed by rocky outcrops on either side and sloping green hills to the rear. But with its turquoise waters, it’s not difficult to understand why it’s so popular. The stunning beach is perfect for adventurers or those who enjoy going off the beaten track. If you’re lucky, you may even see kangaroos grazing in the mid-afternoon sun.

Victor Harbor

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Victor Harbor Horse Drawn Tram
© Moisseyev / iStock

A visit to Adelaide is not complete without a visit to this well-known tourist destination. Victor Harbor is a relaxed seaside town with a rich marine history. Located only one hour from the Central Business District, Victor, as it’s more commonly known, has been a popular destination for holiday-makers for decades. Surrounded by beaches and home to a horse-drawn tram, you can easily spend a day in the area without even scratching the surface. Journey across the causeway to Granite Island, where you can hike around the perimeter, in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the wild penguins found on the island. Or stand atop cliffs as the waves crash into the rock walls below and feel the spray of the ocean on your face. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled as you look out to sea, as Victor is a popular place to sight whales in migration.

These recommendations were updated on April 24, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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