The Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia offers a scenic coastal drive that is the perfect escape for those seeking breathtaking views and a relaxing day trip. The Route 31 Coastal Drive takes visitors through charming towns, stunning beaches, and along the picturesque coastline.
With stops at conservation parks, wineries, and seafood restaurants, this road trip is an ideal way to explore the region’s natural beauty while indulging in its culinary delights.
We will guide you through everything you need to know about taking on the Route 31 Coastal Drive on Fleurieu Peninsula.
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TL;DR? Here's the outline
We acknowledge that the Route 31 Coastal Drive is on the land of the Kaurna people.
What is the Route 31 Coastal Drive?
While it’s long been a route for car club cruises, now this is a new tourist drive showcasing 31km of the famed Fleurieu Peninsula coast. This area is renowned for its beautiful beaches.
It is one of the most popular areas for Adelaide locals to hit the sand, with wide beaches, glistening white sand and crystal clear water. It is home to some unique marine life, making it popular with snorkellers and divers too.
There’s plenty to do away from the beaches too, with restaurants and cafes, craft breweries and wineries, playgrounds and conservation parks to discover. Enjoy the cliff-top viewpoints and scenic walks.
You could do this coastal drive as its own day out from Adelaide, or it could be a scenic route from Adelaide to Victor Harbor.
You could also combine it with some time wine tasting in McLaren Vale, or as part of the drive down to Cape Jervis for the Kangaroo Island ferry.
How long do I need for the Route 31 Coastal Drive?
You could spend all day driving along Route 31 depending on where you stop and what you do there.
I would suggest you have at least two hours to allow plenty of time to enjoy the attractions along the way – more if you are stopping for lunch during the drive.
I did the drive on a cool, windy and wet day, not very conducive to time outside the car and took just under two hours, with only a brief coffee stop.
The rest of the time we were driving or out of the car (braving the weather) admiring the coastline.
Where is the Route 31 Coastal Drive?
The drive starts at O’Sullivans Beach and roughly follows the coastline south to Sellicks Beach. Travel from Adelaide via Dyson Road and look for the signs just before Gulfview Road, where you will turn off and head towards the coast.
Of course, you can drive the route in the opposite direction too. You will find the starting signs on Main South Road just after the NanHai Pu Tuo Temple as you are driving north.
Where to Stop Along the Drive
There are plenty of places to top along the Route 31 Coastal Drive. Here are some of the main ones, but don’t be afraid to stop and look around any area that takes your fancy.
If you are travelling with a dog, they will be allowed in most places, but do check the signs if you want to let them off the lead as the rules vary.
There tend to be different rules during daylight saving than there are in winter and for different parts of the same beach.
This is the first of the unique seaside villages and where you will first hit the coastline. Christies Beach is a beautiful and peaceful place to relax and unwind, with stunning views of the ocean and golden sandy beaches.
There are plenty of activities to enjoy, such as swimming, surfing, and fishing, as well as a range of cafes, restaurants, and shops to explore.
Christies Beach is home to CJ’s Bakery. They won Best Chocolate Donut in Australia in 2022 and have a huge range of other baked goods here too including vegan options on their menu.
It’s worth the short detour for a delicious morning tea – and while you’re there, take a look around at some of the street art along the main street.
This is where the Onkaparinga River meets the sea. Port Noarlunga is best known for the reef that sits at the end of the jetty. This area marks the start of the Encounter Marine Park that stretches south to the Coorong.
There are over 200 different species that call the Noarlunga Reef home so this is a popular place to snorkel and scuba dive.
Overlooking the jetty is Hortas, an award-winning seafood restaurant that cooks Australian and Portuguese-inspired dishes using local seafood.
They have the most amazing seafood platter and also cater for other dietary requirements such as gluten-free and vegan.
While in Port Noarlunga, call into Sauerbier House, a local art collective that is open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday. It has a diverse range of exhibitions showing throughout the year.
If you are travelling with kids, just a little further along the road is the Jubilee Park Adventure Playground. This will let them wear off some energy before the rest of the drive. It’s free to enter and there are toilets and BBQ facilities nearby.
A must on this drive is the viewpoint above the Onkaparinga River mouth. This is a popular location for photographers at sunset to get those beautiful colours of the red cliffs as the sun sinks into the ocean.
While the main McLaren Vale & Fleurieu Coast Visitor Centre is located in McLaren Vale, there is also an outlet here at the Port Noarlunga Arts Centre if you are after more information as you pass through.
You can browse the artwork here too, and pick up a unique souvenir to take home at the gift shop.
Continuing down along the Fleurieu coast you will next come to Moana, a popular location for surf schools thanks to the moderate waves. The beach here is patrolled over the summer, and it’s a great place for families to enjoy.
Moana is also the first beach that you can drive onto if you so choose, with access from Moana Crescent near the caravan park.
You will need to purchase a permit for car access to the beach at the entrance to the ramp if you are visiting in the summer. Find more information about the permits here.
You will also find the Moana Sands Conservation Park here. This site is of cultural significance to the local Kaurna people with artefacts dating back 6000 years having been found amongst the dunes.
Entry to the park is free and dogs are not allowed.
While not directly on the Route 31 Coastal Drive, I recommend a small detour to Maslin Beach. Famous for being Australia’s first nudist beach, it is also one of the most picturesque beaches along the coast.
Visit the lookout at the northern end of the beach to admire the layered cliffs. The red colouring contrasts beautifully with the white sand and blue water making this a great photo opportunity.
Oh, and if you are worried, the “clothing optional” section of the beach is at the southern end, so when accessing the beach, turn right if you would like to avoid it.
If you are driving Route 31 from Wednesday to Sunday, then Port Willunga is my recommendation for a lunch stop.
You will need to make a booking in advance, but it is worth it because the Star of Greece restaurant on the clifftops here is one of the best in the region. If you can’t get a lunch booking, you can drop into the adjoining Port Willy Kiosk instead.
At low tide, look to the right of the Star of Greece restaurant to find its namesake – the Star of Greece was an iron ship from Belfast, which was wrecked here in 1888 during a storm.
Now just some dark patches on the white sand, but you might just see one of the masts sticking up if the tide is low enough.
After lunch take a walk along the beach here at Port Willunga to see the old fishermen’s caves carved into the golden cliff faces. This is also another popular photo location with the remnants of the Willunga jetty sticking out of the waves.
Just a stone’s throw away from Port Willunga is Aldinga. Aldinga Beach is possibly the most popular beach over the summer holidays to drive onto.
It is one big long strip of beach that also includes Silver Sands and Sellicks Beach and on those hot beach days it can be completely full of cars and people.
Silver Sands is particularly known for its pristine white sand and crystal clear waters which are shallow and safe to swim in but have some moderate waves to surf further out.
Near the Silver Sands beach entry, you can find the Silver Sands Beach Club, an all-day eatery that over the summer has live music on the weekends and a coffee cart in the mornings.
Nearby you can also find the Aldinga Conservation Park (formerly the Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park) which is home to the diverse flora and fauna of the area.
There are some walking trails here to explore, and spring is a particularly good time for a walk when the park is in bloom.
If it’s nearing beer o’clock, you can call into the newest craft brewery on the Fleurieu and taste the local brew. Kick Back Brewing Company is open from Tuesday to Sunday for lunch, dinner, and beers.
Yes, there is another stunning beach here in Sellicks Beach and this is the spot to take those amazing photos of the cliffs disappearing into the distance towards the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula.
While it may look beautiful, the beach here is best for wind-surfers, kite-boarders and paragliding as it tends to be windier than the other nearby beaches.
Here you will start to find a few wineries, so you can take a look at which ones are open during your drive and pop in for some tasting. I recommend Sellick Hills Wines but you should contact them in advance to make sure they are open.
You can also stop in at Berg Herring Wines and do their Tasting Pod Experience (again it will need to be booked in advance)
Other Things to do Nearby
If you haven’t yet had enough of picturesque seaside villages on one of the best coastal drives in Australia, then you can continue down the coast to Normanville or Second Valley.
Even better, turn this scenic drive into the start of a longer Fleurieu Peninsula holiday.
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