With more than your average number of jetties, award-winning fish and chip joints and sprawling sand dunes, Adelaide beaches are some of the best in Australia. Rent kayaks for a paddle at Aldinga. Take a snap for Instagram at Port Willunga’s wooden wreck. Race down the Port Noarlunga boardwalk. Whether accessed by tram or car, these Adelaide beaches are photogenic, fuss-free and family-friendly. Over the summer holidays, work your way through our list of top family Adelaide beaches.
Perhaps the most famous of Adelaide beaches, Glenelg is loved for its proximity to the city. Catch a tram to Moseley Square, which opens onto the built-up, patrolled surf beach. Despite the usual crowds you’d expect at a city beach, there is plenty of room for you to stake out a patch of sand with your beach towel. There’s also ample space for beach cricket and beach volleyball. Don’t feel like making a splash? Then grab an icecream from Moseley Square, window shop at the boutiques along Jetty Road and check out the sailing boats moored at Marina Pier. Afterwards, you can test out the waterslides, carousels and dodgem cars of The Beachhouse.
Getting there: the tram from Adelaide CBD to Moseley Square takes about 35 minutes.
Brighton shares a similar vibe to neighbouring Glenelg. It even has its own Jetty Road. Its wide, sandy expanse, closed in by a rocky wall, is often less crowded. If you’re feeling hungry after a swim, enjoy yummy pub fare at Esplanade Hotel or a bread, pie or pastry from Brighton Jetty Bakery. The old-school charm of its British namesake can be found at Windsor Theatre. This 1925 cinema is veritable Brighton institution, and can be found just off the beach.
Getting there: Brighton Beach lies 15 kilometres and roughly 30 minutes south-east of the city centre. You can also walk about 5 kilometres or 1 hour along the seaside path from Glenelg Beach.
Henley might be known for its ritzy seafood restaurants, but families can easily slot in to its laidback vibe. Its seaside esplanade is popular with cyclists, joggers, prams and puppies. The grassy Henley Square was renovated a couple of years ago, offering lovely cafes and shaded seating. Like many Adelaide beaches, Henley has a lovely old wooden jetty perfect for photos.
Getting there: A little over 10 kilometres from the city centre, Henley Beach is about a 25 minute drive. A bus also runs to Henley from town. Feeling adventurous? You can walk in from the city along the River Torrens Linear Park Trail, or ride about 40 minutes along Linear Park cycleway from Adelaide Oval.
Long and wide, Semaphore Beach is fringed by sand dunes and a boulevard dotted with art deco architecture. There are loads of original pre-war buildings in the area including the town library and federal hotel. In fact, the Semaphore Palais is a 1920s bathing pavilion-turned-pub where you can grab a bite to eat. Or try and catch your own meal by going fishing or crabbing at the pier. A funfair is set up on the foreshore in summer, complete with a steam railway.
Getting there: Catch a bus to Semaphore Beach from North Adelaide.
Travel a bit further from the city and be rewarded with the surf and snorkel spots at Port Noarlunga. A reef shelters the beach from the worst of the swell. A long boardwalk stretches out to meet the reef, making for excellent snorkelling. Nearby Christies Beach is another option. Norfolk Pines grace the shore, which is encircled by rocky bluffs and a sea wall.
Getting there: Port Noarlunga is about 40 minutes’ drive from the city.
Aldinga and Sellicks
Just over an hour south of the city, Aldinga Beach is dog-friendly and car-friendly. Rent a kayak from Lou’s Shack and go for a paddle. If you’re lucky, you’ll paddle up close to a dolphin or two!
At nearby Sellicks Beach, you can also drive onto the sand for a small fee. It is so flat that you don’t even need a four-wheel drive. Snorkel in the shallows, follow the walking track atop the dunes and hills and explore the rock pools at the southern end. Make a day of it by tacking on a wine tasting at McLaren Vale.
Getting there: Aldinga is just over an hour south of the city by car. It is worth taking the car for easy access and to drive onto the beaches.
If you are willing to make the trip, Port Willunga beach is perfect at sunset. The skeletal remains of the old wooden jetty jut out from the sand. The waves are calm and the ocean is usually flat for a paddle with the littlies.
Getting there: Port Willunga is about 40 minutes to 1 hour’s drive.
Horseshoe Bay is one of Port Elliot’s primary calling cards. So is the Flying Fish Café, a famous fish and chip takeaway shop. 19th century buildings line the streets of Port Elliot, which are great for antique and fashion shopping. For more retail therapy, the Port Elliot Market is held on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month at Lakala Reserve. Pop over to Knights Beach for good surfing.
Getting there: another region best enjoyed by car, Port Elliot is 1-1.5 hours’ drive from the city.
In general, the stunning Fleurieu and Yorke peninsulas make for a lovely beach weekend away from Adelaide. Settle into the arty vibes of Fleurieu’s Normanville, with its white sands and convenient caravan park. Wallaroo and North beaches on the Yorke Peninsula lie about 2 hours from Adelaide.
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Sophie is a die-hard pasta lover, beach-goer and theatre fanatic hit hard with the travel bug. When exploring new places, Sophie loves straying from the beaten path and chatting with locals about the best places to grab a bite to eat.