Best Beaches in Adelaide

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Looking for the best beaches in Adelaide? I thought I would be able to tell you the very best one to enjoy, but it’s too hard – they are all great. Take a look at this list and pick any one of them to visit while you are here.

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Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, is well-known for its beautiful beaches ranging from the calm waters of Brighton Beach to the rock pools of Aldinga Beach.

The Adelaide shoreline stretches from North Haven to Sellicks Beach and beyond and offers an envious selection of city beaches. Most of these central Adelaide beaches are just a short drive, no more than 30 minutes, from the city.

Whether you are planning a day on the sand, hoping to spot some marine life, or just looking to unwind, Adelaide beaches have something to offer for everyone.

In addition to the popular beaches such as Glenelg Beach and Henley Beach, Adelaide is also home to some underrated yet stunning beaches like Christies Beach and Moana Beach.

Regardless of whether you are a local or a visitor looking to explore the best Adelaide beaches, this comprehensive guide will help you discover the coastal gems of Adelaide.

A jetty at sunset with lots of people on it
Photo credit: Ben Goode, Largs Bay Jetty, Adelaide

Introduction to Adelaide’s Coastal Gems

Adelaide’s coastal line is studded with magnificent beaches, each boasting unique characteristics and attractions.

Some beaches like Semaphore Beach and Grange Beach are known for their vibrant beach culture and bustling Jetty Road lined with shops and eateries.

On the other hand, beaches such as Port Willunga and Rapid Bay are cherished for their tranquil settings and abundant natural beauty.

Many of these beach locations also provide amenities such as a car park, boat ramp, sailing or surf club, and even a caravan park for those planning a longer stay.

The Onkaparinga River, located near some of these beaches, offers additional recreational activities like kayaking and fishing.

The Beach Culture in Adelaide

Beach culture in Adelaide is synonymous with an active outdoor lifestyle. Be it building sandcastles in winter or cooling off in the salty water on a hot summer day, Adelaide’s beaches are always buzzing with activities.

A day at any of Adelaide’s beaches promises plenty of sun and surf, making it a favourite pastime for both locals and tourists alike.

Many prefer a laid-back evening of fish and chips on the beach during daylight savings, while others enjoy engaging in water sports or exploring the marine life.

From Semaphore Road’s bustling shops and cafes near Semaphore Beach to the lively atmosphere of West Beach, there’s something for everyone when it comes to beach culture in Adelaide.

If you are concerned about swimming under the watchful eyes of the surf lifesavers, many of Adelaide’s beaches have surf clubs and are patrolled during the summer.

The Best Beaches in Adelaide

I know I said I couldn’t choose the best of Adelaide’s beaches, so instead, I have come up with some the locals tend to love.

Adelaide is home to several top-rated beaches known for their scenic beauty, recreational activities, and convenient facilities. Some of the most popular ones include Glenelg Beach, Henley Beach, Brighton Beach, and Christies Beach.

Each of these beaches offers a unique experience, be it the lively vibe of Jetty Road near Glenelg Beach, the scenic beauty of Henley Beach, or the relaxing atmosphere at Brighton Beach.

Glenelg Beach

A beach club with striped blue and white umbrellas on the sand
Photo credit: South Australian Tourism Commission, Glenelg, Adelaide

Just a 20-minute tram ride from the city, Glenelg Beach is Adelaide’s most famous beach – it is also the most popular metropolitan beach.

It’s a favourite amongst families, boasting vast sandy shores, easy accessibility, and a bustling coastal mall.

The lovely beach also serves as the gateway to a vibrant mix of clothing boutiques, restaurants, and quality beach bars.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day on the sand beach or a bite to eat at one of the many eateries, Glenelg Beach has something for everyone.

Things to Do at Glenelg Beach

One of the key highlights of Glenelg Beach is its tram from the city, providing an easy and scenic route to the beach.

Once there, you can explore the various clothing boutiques and restaurants lined along the coastal mall. From stylish fashion to delicious food, there’s plenty to keep you entertained.

And if relaxation is your aim, Glenelg Beach has you covered. With ample picnic areas and spots for casual dining, you can enjoy a leisurely day by the sea.

You could even take an evening stroll along the iconic Glenelg Jetty, taking in the stunning ocean views.

A summer visit to Glenelg Beach is not complete without a ride on its iconic ferris wheel, offering breathtaking views of the ocean and a cocktail at the Moseley Beach Club, right on the sand.

Henley Beach

A group of people sitting on a beach
Photo credit: South Australian Tourism Commission, Henley Beach, Adelaide

Another coastal gem that’s just a short 20 minute drive from Adelaide is Henley Beach. Known for its flat sands and tranquil waters, it’s the perfect place for a quick dip or a leisurely walk along the shoreline.

The beach is also home to a bustling precinct, Seaview Road, filled with cafes and restaurants, making it the ideal spot for a seafood dinner while enjoying the picturesque Adelaidean sunsets.

Enjoying the Scenic Beauty of Henley Beach

Henley Beach offers more than just a beautiful coastline. The Seaview Road precinct, a bustling hub of cafes and restaurants, gives you the chance to indulge in some fantastic food while soaking up the beach atmosphere.

Whether you’re craving a light snack or a full seafood dinner, the options are plentiful.

Beyond the food, the beach itself is a sight to behold. The flat sands provide a perfect canvas for a leisurely walk, while the expansive blue waters offer the perfect backdrop for a relaxing day out.

Whether you’re a local or a tourist, enjoying the scenic beauty of Henley Beach is a must-do when in Adelaide.

Semaphore Beach

Three people walking along a jetty into the sunset
Photo credit: Michael Waterhouse Photography, Semaphore Beach, Adelaide

Semaphore Beach is a haven for beachgoers and fishing enthusiasts alike, and just happens to be my favourite. Yes, it’s close to where I live, but I also love that it is less busy than Glenelg or Henley, but still has plenty to do.

From its expansive fine white sand beach to the lengthy jetty, this beach offers something for everyone. The esplanade is home to a variety of amenities, including a large playground, skate ramps, and a basketball court.

The beach also boasts grass reserves, picnic facilities, and plenty of parking.

Activities to Try at Semaphore Beach

Semaphore Beach is a hotspot for water activities and leisure pursuits. It’s a great place for a dip in the ocean, sandcastle building, or beach volleyball.

Alternatively, you can rent a bike and explore the coastline, or take a leisurely stroll along the pier.

For those who love fishing, the jetty is a favourite spot for locals and tourists alike. Alternatively, you can enjoy a picnic on the beach or taste the local cuisine at one of the many nearby cafes.

With so many activities to choose from, there’s never a dull moment at Semaphore Beach.

During summer, the foreshore is scattered with carnival rides and sideshows, making it a perfect family outing. A visit to Semaphore Beach is not complete without a ride on the historic carousel, great fun for both adults and kids alike.

Maslin Beach

A long curved beach, with only a few people on it
Photo credit: Tourism Australia, Maslin Beach, Fleurieu Peninsula

Maslin Beach, located 40 minutes from the city, is one of the most unique beaches in Adelaide. Its rugged ochre cliffs and clear waters draw in beach-goers of all kinds, including those who prefer to sunbathe in the nude.

In fact, this beach proudly holds the title of being Australia’s first official nude beach. Don’t worry though, if a nudist beach is not your thing, stay at the northern end of the beach instead.

Exploring the Unique Maslin Beach

Whether you prefer to keep your swimsuit on or off, Maslin Beach offers a unique beach experience. The beach is divided into two sections, one for public bathing and the other, a 3km stretch of sand reserved for nude bathing.

This unique aspect, combined with the stunning natural beauty of the area, makes Maslin a must-visit spot on your Adelaide beach adventure.

Aside from sunbathing, there are other activities to enjoy. You could take a refreshing dip in the ocean, have a picnic with a view, or join in the annual Pilwarren Maslin Beach Nude Games.

This event, organised by Tourism Australia, celebrates the beach’s nudist tradition with a day of fun and games.

Brighton Beach

A surf lifesaving tower and a jetty at night
Photo credit: KaZKaptureZ, Brighton Jetty, Adelaide

A 25-minute drive from Adelaide city centre will bring you to Brighton Beach. Popular for its long stretches of sand, beautiful ocean views, and the iconic Esplanade Hotel, it’s a favourite among city-dwellers.

Whether you’re up for a beach walk or a relaxing day under the jetty, Brighton Beach has something for everyone.

Relaxing at Brighton Beach

Relaxation is the name of the game at Brighton Beach. You can lay back on the sand, take a leisurely stroll along the esplanade, or sit under the jetty for some shade.

The impressive ocean view is a soothing sight that adds to the calming atmosphere of the beach.

When it’s time for a meal, head to the Esplanade Hotel. Filled with beach-goers and offering impressive ocean views, the hotel serves delicious food that complements the beach vibe perfectly.

After a day at Brighton Beach, you’ll leave feeling rejuvenated and ready for more Adelaide adventures.

Look out for the Brighton Jetty Sculpture Trail for two weeks each January where the foreshore is dotted with all sorts of sculptures. It’s always worth a sunset walk along the esplanade to take a look.

Underrated yet Beautiful Beaches in Adelaide

I’ve already said that Adelaide is known for its beautiful sandy beaches. As well as the popular, bustling beaches that are well-known to locals and tourists alike, there are also some lesser-known gems.

These underrated yet beautiful Adelaide beaches offer a quieter, more relaxed beach experience. Whether you want to explore rock pools, enjoy a scenic picnic, or launch a boat from one of the boat ramps, there’s something for everyone.

Aldinga Beach

A car parked on a beach. Two people are sitting near it in deck chairs with a big fishing rod
Photo credit: South Australian Tourism Commission/Adam Bruzzone, Silver Sands Beach, Fleurieu Peninsula

Aldinga Beach, situated in the south of Adelaide, is one of those hidden gems. This beach offers a unique experience as it is one of the few beaches in Australia where you can drive your car onto the beach.

This makes it an ideal location for families with lots of beach gear or those who find walking on soft sand challenging.

With its wide, expansive shoreline, Aldinga Beach is a great spot for long walks, beach games, or just relaxing in the sun. It can get very busy on weekends if the weather is warm, but that just shows how great this beach is.

Why Visit Aldinga Beach

So, why should you visit Aldinga Beach? The answer is simple: it offers an unparalleled beach experience. Here, you have the freedom to drive your car directly onto the sand, making it easier to set up a beach base for the day.

The beach also features an aquatic reserve, where you can explore the fascinating rock pools at low tide. And, if you’re lucky, you might even spot some local wildlife in the adjacent Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park.

Moreover, Aldinga Beach has a charming beachy feel to it, despite being less frequented than other Adelaide beaches. It’s a place where you can truly unwind, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

So, pack up your car and head down to Aldinga Beach for a unique beach experience.

Port Noarlunga

A plate of seafood on a balcony with the ocean beyond
Photo credit: Hortas Restaurant, Hortas Restaurant, Fleurieu Peninsula

Located a short drive from Adelaide, Port Noarlunga is another underrated beauty. This beach is known for its natural marine reserve, enclosed reef and towering sandstone cliffs.

A hotspot for surfing and body boarding, it’s also a great place for families as the swells are rarely too rough. Port Noarlunga offers the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation.

Sightseeing at Port Noarlunga Beach

When it comes to sightseeing at Port Noarlunga Beach, there’s plenty to see and do. From the dramatic sandstone cliffs to the enclosed reef, the natural beauty of this beach is captivating.

Don’t forget to bring your snorkelling gear, as the Port Noarlunga Reef and Aquatic Reserve is teeming with marine life and is one of the best places in Adelaide for snorkelling.

Whether you’re an underwater enthusiast or a beach lover, you’re sure to be enchanted by the beauty of Port Noarlunga Beach.

After a day of beach activities, you can grab a bite at one of the local eateries. From fresh seafood to classic fish and chips, there’s something to satisfy every palate.

Port Noarlunga is not just a beach, but a destination offering a complete beach experience.

A stay at the Coast Motel and Apartments, located nearby, completes the Port Noarlunga experience with its stylish interiors and warm hospitality.

Christies Beach

A man holding a surf board walking away from the camera
Photo credit: Luke Greaves, Seaford, Adelaide

Christies Beach, located a bit further from the city centre, presents a delightful blend of serenity and thrill.

While it’s popular among surfers and bodyboarders, the beach is also a haven for families seeking a relaxed getaway. The swells at Christies Beach are seldom too rough, ensuring a safe and fun experience for all.

Reasons to Visit Christies Beach

One of the compelling reasons to visit Christies Beach is its suitability for various water sports, including surfing and bodyboarding. The waves are just right, making it an excellent choice for both beginners and seasoned enthusiasts.

Additionally, the beach is perfect for leisurely strolls and picnics, allowing visitors to unwind and relish the coastal beauty.

After an exhilarating day at the beach, visitors can indulge in a comforting cup of tea at the local cafes. The award-winning Hortas is a favourite among locals and tourists alike, known for its commendable service and delectable cuisine.

Seacliff Beach

A golden sunset at Seacliff Beach. Many people are scattered along the beach enjoying the warm evening

Seacliff Beach is a hidden gem in Adelaide with a beautifully curving coastline that offers a safe and sheltered place for swimmers.

Its tranquil ambience combined with the opportunity to spot dolphins makes it an unforgettable beach destination.

The Charm of Seacliff Beach

The charm of Seacliff Beach lies in its pristine beauty and the abundance of marine life. Known as a valley beach, it presents a unique landscape that is simply captivating.

Visitors can explore the beach on a stand-up paddleboard, providing a different perspective of the surrounds.

Seacliff Beach is also a popular spot for dolphin watching. The sight of these playful creatures frolicking in the waters adds a magical touch to your beach visit.

Sit on the upper deck of the Seacliff & Brighton Yacht Club, and enjoy a drink as you scan the ocean.

Whether you prefer a quiet sunbath or an adventurous exploration, Seacliff Beach promises an enriching experience.

Other Adelaide Beaches

There are over twenty beaches in total along the 70km of the Adelaide metropolitan coastline. All of them offer pristine sand, calm waters and plenty of space.

Even if you go to one not listed above, you will be sure to have a fantastic beach day.

Planning Your Adelaide Beach Visit

Planning your Adelaide beach visit can greatly enhance your experience. The best time to visit Adelaide beaches is during the months of March to May and September to November.

During these periods, the weather is favourable, allowing you to spend most of your day at the beach without any discomfort.

The Adelaide beaches are free of charge all year round. That also means that, with the exception of the Moseley Beach Club at Glenelg in summer, you will not find loungers or umbrellas ready to hire, you will need to bring your own.

Remember to carry all the essentials, such as sunscreen, beach towels, and a beach umbrella. If you’re planning to swim, don’t forget your swimming gear.

This ultimate guide aims to ensure that you have a memorable Adelaide beach experience, from choosing the right beach to making the most of your visit.

Best Season to Visit Adelaide Beaches

Adelaide’s beaches are a delight to visit, with their grassy foreshore, beautifully preserved art deco buildings, and historic pubs.

The best time to experience them is from March to May or September to November. This is when the weather is favourable, offering a pleasant beach day without the worry of sunburn.

From December to February is great too, but an early morning or late afternoon visit to the beach may be best to avoid the burning heat of the middle of the day.

The famous Glenelg Beach is easily accessible from the city. Just hop on the tram and you’ll be there in no time. The end of the line stop is literally metres from the sand.

Another hotspot, Maslin Beach, is also a great choice during these seasons. Known for its freedom and openness, it allows for nude sunbathing.

These months also provide a great opportunity to enjoy some delicious pub food at the historic pubs, rounding off your beach trip in a memorable way.

Don’t completely discount the beaches in winter. Rug up and take a walk and be invigorated by the sea breezes, then make your way to a nearby cafe for a delicious hot chocolate.

Looking through a cafe window to tables with yellow and white striped umbrellas and the beach beyond
Photo credit: Food & Wine Collective, SeaSalt, Adelaide

Tips for a Memorable Adelaide Beach Experience

A day at an Adelaide beach is always worth the effort. Most of the central beaches are less than a 30-minute drive from the city, making them perfect for a day trip.

You can make it an all-day affair with plenty of sun and surf, or plan for an early dinner of fish & chips on the beach during daylight savings.

As an alternative, consider the southern beaches that are about an hour away. They offer a fantastic road trip opportunity, adding to the overall beach experience.

Regardless of the season, it’s important to stay prepared. Pack essentials like sunblock, beach towels, and a picnic basket filled with snacks and refreshments. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the scenic beauty of Adelaide’s beaches.

Whether you’re building sandcastles in winter or cooling off in the salty water on a hot summer day, these tips will ensure your Adelaide beach experience is unforgettable.

Wrapping Up the Adelaide Beach Adventure

Adelaide, with its stunning coastline, offers a beach adventure that is truly hard to match.

Most of the city’s major beaches are conveniently located less than 30 minutes away from the heart of the city, making it easy for locals and tourists alike to enjoy the sun, sand, and surf.

Whether you plan to build sandcastles in the winter or cool off in the salty water during a hot summer day, a trip to any of Adelaide’s beaches is always worth the effort.

Among the beaches that are often overlooked, yet worth a visit, is the lovely Largs Bay beach. Known for its sailing club and gentle surf, it makes for an ideal spot for a quiet, relaxing day by the sea.

Don’t forget to time your visit to enjoy a classic Australian dinner of fish & chips on the beach during daylight savings.

The memories of the sun setting over the water as you enjoy your meal are sure to stay with you long after your Adelaide beach adventure.

Further afield, about an hour’s drive from the city, you’ll find the spectacular southern beaches such as Goolwa Beach. Its breathtaking beauty is well worth the journey and should not be missed.

Regardless of which beach or beaches you choose to explore, they all promise an unforgettable experience.

So, whether you’re a fan of sunbathing, water sports, or simply enjoying the beauty of nature, Adelaide’s beaches have something for everyone.

See why I can’t choose the best beach in Adelaide?

Three surf lifesavers on a beach
Photo credit: City of Holdfast Bay, Glenelg, Adelaide

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the best beaches to visit in Adelaide?

A: Some popular beaches in Adelaide include Glenelg Beach, Henley Beach, and Brighton Beach.

Q: Are the beaches in Adelaide suitable for swimming?

A: Yes, the beaches in Adelaide are generally safe for swimming. However, it is always advised to check for any specific warnings or conditions before entering the water.

Q: Are there any facilities available at the beaches?

A: Most of the beaches in Adelaide have facilities such as public toilets, cafes, and picnic areas. Some beaches may also have lifeguards on duty during peak times.

Q: Can I bring my pet to the beaches in Adelaide?

A: It depends on the beach. Some beaches have designated areas where dogs are allowed, while others may have restrictions. It is best to check the beach regulations before bringing your pet.

Q: Are there any water sports activities available at the beaches?

A: Yes, many beaches in Adelaide offer water sports activities such as surfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking. Some beaches also have equipment available for hire.

Q: Is there parking available near the beaches?

A: Yes, most of the beaches in Adelaide have parking areas nearby. However, during peak times, parking may be limited, so it is advisable to arrive early or consider using public transportation.

Q: How far is it from the Adelaide city centre to the beach?

A: The closest beach to the Adelaide city centre is Henley Beach, about 10km away. It will take around 20 minutes to reach by car and a little over thirty minutes by public transport.

Q: Can you list all the Adelaide beaches

Aldinga Beach
Brighton Beach
Christies Beach
Glenelg Beach
Grange Beach
Hallett Cove Beach
Henley Beach
Largs Bay

Maslin Beach
Moana Beach
North Haven Beach
O’Sullivan Beach
Port Noarlunga
Port Wilunga
Seacliff Beach
Sellicks Beach

Semaphore Beach
Silver Sands Beach
Somerton Beach
Southport Beach
Tennyson Beach
West Beach

Before you go…
Read these posts next
Weekend Getaways from Adelaide
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The Ultimate List of What to Do on Kangaroo Island

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About the author

Josie Kelsh is South Australian, born and bred, living here for her whole life. Travelling all over the world has shown her exactly how amazing South Australia is to live and travel in and she uses her passion to show it to you the way a local sees it.