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The best beaches in South Australia are waiting for you! As summer approaches, it is time to start thinking about the best places to visit. With over 4000 kilometres of coastline and plenty of hidden gems, it can be hard to decide where best to spend your beach days. To help you decide, here are 12 of the most beautiful beaches in South Australia that will make your next summer holidays ones to remember!
South Australia has some of the most secluded and arid landscapes in Australia, but if you prefer to spend your days basking in the sun, swimming, snorkelling or simply relaxing with a cold drink – South Australia has some of the best coastline to do this.
And you will easily find some breathtaking coastline to rival the famous Whitehaven Beach and Great Barrier Reef in Queensland or Bondi Beach in NSW.
If you’re planning a holiday in South Australia and looking for the best beaches, there are plenty to choose from!
The best beaches in South Australia are spread along its coast, each with their own unique features.
From quiet secluded spots where it’s just you and your family to more popular beaches that are worth fighting for your small corner of sand amongst the crowds for a quick dip or all-day stay!
This list is far from being an exhaustive list of the best South Australian beaches, but these are all beautiful beaches you won’t want to miss!
Contributed by Natalie from Curious Campers
Goolwa Beach is just over an hour south of Adelaide. It is an especially popular beach over summer. Holidaymakers flock here to do everything from take a cooling dip and make sandcastles to surf, boogie board and fish.
It is a long beach making it perfect for beach walks. It also has vehicle access (4WD only) so you can drive into the distance and secure your own secluded patch of sand.
The unique thing about Goolwa Beach is how close it is to the Murray River mouth.
The nearby lakes and estuaries are great places to explore. Kayaking, fishing, camping, 4WDing and cruises of Coorong National Park are all popular activities.
The local seals and pelicans can be spotted at several places around the Murray mouth if you’re lucky!
Back at the beach, Bombora Café right behind the sand is a popular place to grab some fish and chips. The local surf life-saving club also serves meals.
This is quite an exposed section of the coast, so heavy surf can roll in. Definitely swim between the flags when the surf is up.
Goolwa and nearby Middleton and Port Elliot all have caravan park accommodation. There are also a lot of holiday home rentals in the area, but make sure you book early over summer.
Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo Island
Contributed by Pauline from BeeLoved City
If you are looking for the most beautiful beaches in South Australia, Kangaroo Island will be the perfect destination.
It’s located in the southern part of the island, near Little Sahara and Flinders Chase National Park.
You can access it by car and won’t need to 4WD to get there however, it is a dirt road so you will need to drive carefully.
Once you reach Vivonne Bay, you’ll find a small car park where you can leave your car and a path down to the beach.
The sand is incredibly white and soft. You will be sheltered from the wind by the dunes behind which is perfect if you want to work on your tan!
But the thing that makes Vivonne Bay so beautiful is, without a doubt, the water. It’s so blue with crystal clear waters!
If you have some snorkelling gear, it will be a good place to bring it but keep in mind that some local fishing boats come to the bay from time to time.
If you are looking for activities, you will find plenty here! You can rent a kayak and hit the Hariett River or opt for a buggy tour in Little Sahara, all the way down to the bay! Or wander along the long jetty.
In terms of accommodation, you won’t find any hotels nearby but there are many holiday houses you can rent on Stayz or Airbnb.
Take a Kangaroo Island day tour if you are short on time, and visit Vivonne Bay, Seal Bay, Pennington Bay, Raptor Domain and Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park for the ultimate wildlife experience.
Contributed by Eloise from My Favourite Escapes
Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island is an extraordinary beach. You don’t go there for the white sand and views – even if they are stunning. Seal Bay is home to a large population of sea lions, and these cute inhabitants are the main reason Seal Bay is so famous.
Nature lovers of all ages and abilities can enjoy visiting this special beach.
But prepare your visit in advance not to miss the opportunity to experience one of the most memorable wildlife encounters you’ll ever get.
If you book a guided tour, a ranger will safely take you down to the beach, right at the heart of the sea lion colony. You’ll learn more about the seal lions and watch them with nothing between you and them.
If you’re lucky, a curious pup may even get closer to you!
You’ll have to buy a ticket from the onsite visitor centre to access Seal Bay. However, even those on a tight budget will think it’s worth it as the small fee is used for conservation purposes.
Glenelg is a popular Adelaide beachside suburb located just 9 kilometres drive from the city centre.
A historic tramline conveniently links the city to Glenelg and serves as an easy and fun way for visitors to arrive.
Famous for its vibrant atmosphere and beachy vibe, Glenelg has proven to be one of Adelaide’s favourite playgrounds, especially for families. With entertainment galore on offer in Glenelg from bike hire to cruises and dolphin spotting, there’s a great range of activities on offer.
Boutique shops, bohemian cafes and alfresco style restaurants all line the shorefront, which offers the perfect opportunity for a relaxing stroll with stop-offs for coffee or a meal with a view.
The Stanford hotel is one of the elegant accommodation choices in Glenelg, situated right at the seafront, and forms part of the iconic and unmistakeable Glenelg city-meets-the-beach skyline.
The biggest jewel in Glenelg’s crown is of course its stunning, wide sandy beach, which draws a crowd. This can be seen particularly in the evenings when you can be almost guaranteed a spectacular red and orange sunset to the sound of kids happily playing in the beachside playground.
Glenelg is a beautiful and unmissable part of the South Australian coastline.
Contributed by Gemma from Highlands 2 Hammocks
Greenly Beach is a hidden gem on the Eyre Peninsula located a 1-hour drive from Port Lincoln.
This beach is very remote with no amenities nearby, meaning you will need to be self-sufficient when you visit.
The easiest way to get here is by driving, which will also allow you to explore more of the incredible coastline on the Eyre Peninsula.
There are around 20 camping spots overlooking the beach making it the perfect place for those with a campervan to head off-grid and camp up with a stunning view over the beach. Sunset is particularly beautiful here.
Greenly Beach is perfect for those that enjoy the outdoors with Mount Greenly looking over the bay from 305 metres.
This beach is only accessible by foot and stretches around 600 metres around the coast.
If you enjoy getting in the sea, Greenly Beach is great for watersports, particularly surfing. At low tide, the rock pools will be revealed which is a great place to cool off with a swim after your hike on a calm day.
Ethel Wreck Beach
Contributed by Tamara from Travelling Tam
The Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park on the southernmost tip of the Yorke Peninsula is one of South Australia’s most lush coastal parks with an abundance of stunning rugged cliffs, fantastic wildlife and of course breathtaking beaches.
The tumultuous maritime and industrial history of South Australia can also be uncovered throughout the park.
There are abandoned townships, rusting trains and gypsum mining equipment in the bush – even shipwrecks, now magically taken over by nature.
One of the most famous beaches in the National Park is Ethel Wreck Beach, a 450m long sandy surf beach.
It’s named after the Norwegian ship, the Ethel, which washed ashore in 1904. Sticking out of the yellow-white sand, like whale bones, Ethel Wreck is a stand-out beach to visit which appeals to all ages.
If you like photography, you’ll not be able to resist snapping this photogenic landmark.
There is an abundance of fantastic camping grounds throughout Dhilba Guuranda Innes National Park and the Yorke Peninsula to base yourself.
However, if camping is not your thing, then there’s plenty of unique accommodation in South Australia, some within driving distance to the National Park, to make a trip to the Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park and Ethel Wreck Beach even more memorable.
A favourite South Australian beach is Hardwicke Bay located in the stunning Spencer Gulf side of the Yorke Peninsula. This sheltered beach is a perfect choice for families with shallow waters that make it a great option for younger kids to enjoy.
Here you will easily find your own space in the sand, as this excluded beach rarely gets too crowded.
Instead, you will find stretches of white sandy beaches and picturesque surroundings to enjoy the fine weather on one of South Australia’s best beaches.
Located 42km from Adelaide CBD, in the Fleurieu Peninsula, Maslin Beach is referred to as ‘Maslins’ by locals and is certainly one of the prettiest beaches in SA. The 3km long beach is the perfect spot for families and tourists to enjoy a picnic.
Although take care if visiting with the family that you don’t end up at the southern end of the beach where you will find the nude beach – famous for being Australia’s first nudist beach!
This is home to the annual Maslin Beach Nude Games in case you fancy yourself a nudist olympian! Or just some nude sunbathing…
The high cliffs that overlook Maslin Beach are an incredible vantage point.
Almonta Beach is easily one of the most picturesque beaches in South Australia – possibly even Australia wide!
The Eyre Peninsula is brimming with beautiful beaches and Almonta Beach in Coffin Bay National Park has incredibly white sand with calm waters and rugged bushland.
Your chance of spotting local wildlife is high with kangaroos, emus and lizards all making their home in the national park.
The best time to visit is during low tide so you can explore the rock pools and lagoon with their crystal clear water. This is perfect for snorkelling to see what marine life you can spot beneath the surface.
If you love fresh seafood, visit the Coffin Bay Oyster Farm for a tasting tour as part of a fun day tour to Coffin Bay for the freshest possible oysters straight from the ocean!
Horseshoe Bay may just be your next family beach destination. This seaside haven is extremely popular with tourists and locals alike, as one of South Australia’s favourite beaches.
Not only is it perfect for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving, there are also plenty of facilities to make it a perfect day trip with kids.
Here you will find fish and chips shops, a large picnic area, a playground and plenty more right along the beach foreshore.
What better way to spend a summer’s day than at Memory Cove? This picturesque spot on the tip of Lincoln National Park is not only beautiful but also offers the perfect balance of white sand and turquoise waters.
With its pristine beaches fringed with native bushland teeming with wildlife who knows what secrets they could be hiding!
If you have a 4WD, you can drive right onto the beach and may even spot some local kangaroos who come to say hello.
There is a limit of only 15 vehicles allowed per day though so you won’t end up finding your serenity disturbed by large crowds and endless vehicles.
Merdayerrah Sandpatch, Nullarbor Border
If you are headed on an Adelaide to Perth road trip, Merdayerrah Sandpatch is an essential beach stop you won’t want to miss. It also happens to be the westernmost beach in South Australia.
While this isn’t the best beach for swimming, it is an experienced surfer’s paradise.
What is most special about this secluded beach is the backdrop of the Nullarbor Plain and Bunda cliffs, which are breathtaking to see. The area provides a border to the magnificent coastline, Wilson Bluff.
The beach is 8.5km long, giving you plenty of space to explore on a beach walk, with sand dunes and rock platforms that are great for fishing too. Even in winter, this is a worthwhile stop!
Port Willunga Beach
Port Willunga is a small beach town and rural suburb of Adelaide, located on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. Port Willunga Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the south.
It’s a popular spot for beach walks along the squeaky white sand as you admire the golden cliffs, as well as swimming, fishing and boating.
The beach is a favourite for photos, with a backdrop of caves carved into the cliffs, created for fishermen to store their boats a long time ago. They now offer shade from the sun.
There is also a shipwreck directly in front of the caves, the Star of Greece, which can be a popular spot for snorkelling and diving during high tide. During low tide, parts of the hull are visible from the beach.
The Star Of Greece restaurant is a great fine dining restaurant for fresh seafood while you’re there!
South of the Port Willunga car park you will also find the ruins of an old jetty, “the sticks”, on the beach from its days of being a grain port.
Henley Beach is fast becoming one of Adelaide’s most popular beaches, located only 20 minutes from the CBD., making it one of the best beaches in Adelaide.
The beach is long and wide with golden sand, making it perfect for swimming, sunbathing, fishing and paddling.
Henley Square is located right on the beach with a Mediterranean vibe and loads of great restaurants, cafes and bars.
Kids will love the wave-shaped wooden seating that leads to the jetty and the fountains to splash in. There is also a large grassy area for picnics with the family.
Just a few minutes’ drive from Port Willunga and 30km south of Adelaide is the beautiful, family-friendly beach of Port Noarlunga.
The red sandstone cliffs, long jetty and reef make it one of the iconic diving destinations in South Australia.
The off-shore Port Noarlunga Reef is home to more than 200 species, as part of the Encounter Marine Park.
Divers can do the self-guided Aquatic Trail to really experience this magical underwater paradise.
Port Noarlunga is also a fantastic beach day trip for kayaking, swimming or enjoying a family day out on the sand!
There are many beaches in South Australia that offer endless opportunities for exploration. If you’re planning a vacation to the area, you will have plenty of choices for finding the best beaches in South Australia. We hope this guide helps you find the perfect beach destination!
First published December 2021.
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