The Best Adelaide Beaches
Discover the Ultimate Seaside Escapes: A Guide to the Best Adelaide Beaches
The city of Adelaide is tucked between rolling hills and ocean waves with Adelaideans living next to some of Australia’s best beaches. Luckily, we don’t mind sharing! With 70km of coastline edging the city, there are plenty of beaches to visit in Adelaide. Whether you prefer soaking in the sun at Semaphore, sipping cocktails at Henley or snorkelling at Port Noarlunga there is no shortage of great beaches in Adelaide.
Where will you decide to spend the day or even the whole summer?
- Henley Beach
- Port Noarlunga
- Port Willunga
- Hallett Cove
- Sellicks Beach
Henley Beach is definitely one of the best beaches in Adelaide. This iconic location offers visitors a beautiful sandy beach with a picturesque jetty jutting out from the atmospheric Henley Square.
With a water fountain play area for kids as well as a great choice of dining options, Henley Square offers entertainment for all ages. Check out Coco Cacao for awesome coffee and vegan sweet treats.
The relaxed vibe and superb public facilities make Henley a family-friendly destination but it also comes alive at night when the music starts pumping at the Ramsgate Hotel.
On the sandy shores of Holdfast Bay, you will find Glenelg, Adelaide’s most popular city beach. With its beautiful foreshore and lively atmosphere, Glenelg Beach is where the action is.
Take a stroll down the lively Jetty Road which is filled with boutique shops and restaurants to suit all tastes. Try Good Slice for organic pizza made with flavoursome South Australian ingredients. Kids will enjoy the playground on the foreshore, the ferris wheel and the Beach House which is packed with arcade games, mini-golf, rides and waterslides. Get out on the water with a Twilight Coast Sightseeing Cruise or Dolphin Cruise both departing from Glenelg.
The most lively Adelaide beach, there is plenty of entertainment for the adults at Glenelg with bars such as The Grand, The Moseley and Jetty Bar coming alive for sunset or a Sunday sesh.
Glenelg is a fantastic place to relax, swim & explore and enjoy South Australia’s gorgeous coastline. Jump on the tram in the CBD and you’ll reach Glenelg in just 25 minutes.
Photo credit: Harry Parish
Brighton is another of the best beaches in Adelaide. The beautiful jetty is topped with coloured sails and is a gorgeous place for a leisurely stroll. Check out the Brighton Jetty Bakery for a large selection of vegan goodies.
On Sunday Brighton comes alive with the car boot market. Whether you want to sell your wares or pick up some handmade goods or fresh local produce, you are sure to find something to pique your interest at the Brighton Market.
COASTAL WALK & BIKE PATH
This Coastal Walk is a collaboration between 6 local councils to create a 70km walking and cycling path along Adelaide’s beautiful coastline from North Haven to Sellicks Beach. Most sections have been developed for walking and cycling and are accessible for wheelchairs and prams too.
North Haven to Semaphore- 7.2km
Semaphore to Grange – 7.6km
Grange to Henley Square – 2.0km
Henley Square to Glenelg – 7.5km
Glenelg to Brighton – 4.2km
Brighton to Hallett Cove – 8.8km
Hallett Cove to northern boundary of Port Stanvac – 2.5km
Southern boundary of Port Stanvac to Port Noarlunga – 3.6km
Port Noarlunga to Moana – 6.5km
Moana to Maslin Beach – 4.3km
Maslin Beach to Willunga – 4.1km
Willunga to Sellicks Beach – 9.1km
Here are sections you can walk and cycle today:
For more information about trails in South Australia check out Walking SA.
Southport Beach in Port Noarlunga is one of the most spectacular places in South Australia. The boardwalk which descends to the waterfront gives panoramic views of the Onkaparinga River meeting the ocean. The boardwalk itself is spectacular and is one of my favourite places to take great photos in Adelaide.
If the tide is right surfers flock to this Adelaide beach to ride the waves but generally the swell is pretty mellow so bodyboarding is a popular activity for kids. The Port Noarlunga reef is one of the best places to snorkel in South Australia and if you are lucky you might spot an elusive Leafy Sea Dragon.
Port Willunga has to be one of the most beautiful Adelaide beaches. The cliffs are made up of layers of vibrant red, orange, yellow and white and tell the story of millions of years of geological history. Gull Rock is a must-see feature, as well as the series of caves that have been carved into the rock. Originally they were used by fishermen to store their boats and fishing rods but now make a great place to escape the heat and have a picnic.
The most eye-catching feature at Port Willunga is the remains of a jetty which poke out from the waves. The jetty was originally constructed in 1853 when this area was one of the busiest ports in the colony of South Australia exporting wheat and other produce. The jetty was extended in the 1860s and the pylons that can be seen today are from this secondary build. You can’t go far on Instagram without seeing this iconic Adelaide beach so don’t miss this one!
Semaphore Beach is a hive of activity in the summer months with endless entertainment on offer. The vintage carousel is a favourite with the kids as well as the waterslides and mini-golf with the iconic 1920s Palais Hotel as a backdrop to this Adelaide beach.
The spectacular geological formations at Hallett Cove make this one of my top Adelaide beaches. The beach itself is covered in pebbles sprinkled with a few giant boulders which make an interesting change from the sandy beaches most commonly found along the coast.
The cliff tops are the base of a glacial lake that melted 270 million years ago, leaving boulders and sedimentary deposits. The formations are stunning and make this area a fascinating area to explore. On the cliff-tops, you can observe scrape marks from boulders moved in a glacier. Hallett Cove Conservation Park is recognised as the best record of Permian glaciation in Australia. The Park is well signed with information about Geology and wildlife so it’s a great educational activity too.
Grange & Tennyson Dunes
Grange is the perfect beach to visit to escape the crowds. Take a walk on the jetty and gaze back at the historic Grange Hotel. Just to the north of Grange, you will find the Tennyson Dunes which are a natural ecosystem and home to many birds, insects and plants. Surveys have found 56 plant species including sixteen endangered plant species and several more species so rare that they only grow in this area.
The Tennyson Dunes are cared for by Tennyson Dunes Group made up of conservation enthusiasts who volunteer their time to provide a safe sanctuary for all the flora and fauna and improve and share this valuable asset with the community. If you want to check out their work visit their Facebook page: Friends of the Tennyson Dunes.
The most unique feature of Semaphore is the maritime relic the ‘Sentinal of Semaphore’. This solid stone structure was built in 1875 for the purpose of ships to rate their chronometers, vital navigation instruments. Every day at 1 pm the black ball drops signalling to ships offshore the precise time. In 1992, the Tower was restored and a mechanism installed that operates the Semaphore Time Ball by an electric motor in this sequence:
– 12:55 pm, the ball is raised halfway up the 13.5-foot masthead.
– 12:57 pm, the ball is raised to the top of the mast.
– 1:00 pm, an electrical message is sent to the Semaphore tower, from the Adelaide observatory. On receiving the impulse, the ball falls the 13.5 feet, from the top to the base of the mast.
Another must-visit in Semaphore is one of Adelaide’s best vegan restaurants CRUX. Their vegan take on the beachside classic “fish & chips” is an absolute winner.
The southern Adelaide beaches really deliver the goods. The Fleurieu Peninsular offers some incredibly impressive cliffs and rock formations with Cactus Canyon at Sellicks beach. This location is a 45-minute drive from Adelaide but well worth the effort.
Port Willunga has to be the most photographed! The old jetty and the beach caves make this a go to for Instagram influencers. Glenelg is the most well-known Adelaide beach and has the most restaurants and hotels.
Glenelg! This is the place to be on a summers day! The crowds flock to Glenelg on a warm day but Henley Beach isn’t too far behind. Both have awesome restaurants and lively bars so you can’t go wrong with either.
Yes! You will see people braving the weather in all seasons to take a dip. The city beaches are generally pretty calm but take due care to not go beyond your abilities as a swimmer. The beaches down south get stronger waves and you will often see surfers out at Port Noarlunga and Moana.
Yes there are a variety of sharks that call South Australia home. The great white is the most fearsome and while it’s rare, they are sometimes spotted at Adelaide’s beaches. Other species include the Port Jackson shark, Wobbegong shark, Bronze whaler shark & the Gummy shark. Shark attacks are very rare but it’s good to be aware of the danger albeit very small.
Yes, they don’t often frequent the shallows along the coast of Adelaide but they are spotted on occasion, sometimes taking the opportunity to come and feed on a whale carcass. Check this page for the latest shark sightings.
Yes! Adelaide has some of the best beaches in the world. Port Noarlunga, Glenelg, Sellicks and Port Willunga will be sure to impress!
The closest beach to the Adelaide CBD is West Beach which you can reach in under 20 minutes in low traffic. Glenelg and Henley Beach are the easiest to reach by public transport be tram or bus.
Autumn and Spring are the best time for travelling in South Australia when you miss the scorching heat of summer and the cold days of winter. September – November or February – April is ideal and if you come in March you will catch the Adelaide Fringe Festival too.
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Enjoy all the Adelaide Beaches!
I hope you’ve enjoy all the magic that the Adelaide beaches have to offer. If you want more ideas for things to see and do in South Australia sign up to our mailing list so we can send out some great travel guides with even more inspiration!
Is your favourite beach on the list? Let me know in the comments!