Adelaide has over 20 beaches along its metropolitan coastline. They’re all great places to cool off, perfect for long walks and turn on beautiful sunsets. But which is the best beach in Adelaide?
Adelaide’s beaches each have their own unique personality. From a humming café and restaurant scene to colourful sea cliffs or great snorkelling, choosing the best beach will depend on your mood.
Check out this ultimate guide to Adelaide beaches as we work our way south along the coast.
north haven beach
Nestled between two breakwaters, North Haven is the most northern of Adelaide’s Beaches. The benefit of the breakwaters is that the beach is described by Surf Life Saving Australia as the safest beach on the Adelaide Metropolitan coastline. At just over one kilometre long there is plenty of room to enjoy the calm conditions.
North Haven is part of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary so keep an eye out and you might spot a bottlenose dolphin cruising offshore. The breakwaters are popular fishing spots. There was some seagrass on the beach when we visited but when that isn’t there, North Haven has beautiful white sand. There is a toilet block and big car park next to the Surf Life Saving Club.
largs bay beach
A pattern with Adelaide Beaches is that you often find pairings of busy, high energy beaches with ones that are quieter and easier going. This is the case here with Largs ignoring the hubbub of Semaphore up the road and just getting on with the business of being a beautiful beach.
The iconic Largs Pier Hotel stands watch over a long jetty. There was a bit of seaweed around the day we visited but how much you get will depend on the season. Near the start of the jetty you’ll find the Largs Bay Kiosk – look for the yellow and blue roof. There is also a playground, toilet block and plenty of parking.
Semaphore Beach has something for everyone. Because the jetty has to reach across an abundance of fine white sand, it feels like it goes on for ever. The only thing more impressive than the beach and jetty is the expansive esplanade that has everything from a waterslide and mini golf complex to outdoor fitness gear, skate ramps and a basketball court.
There are grass reserves, playgrounds, picnic and BBQ facilities, toilets and plenty of parking. The spacious reserves host a range of events throughout the year including the Semaphore Greek Festival in January and the Kite Festival each Easter.
Between Semaphore Road, Noonies Beach Café and the Palais Hotel you’ll have no problem finding something to eat or drink. The area has several historic landmarks including Time Ball Tower, the Clock Tower and the HMAS Protector Gun.
The path between Semaphore and Largs is popular with walkers and cyclists. Train enthusiasts can check out the Semaphore and Fort Glanville Tourist Railway too. Like we said, Semaphore really has a bit if everything!
The main feature of Tennyson is not the beach, as nice as it is. Tennyson is unique for its sand dunes that make up the Tennyson Dunes Conservation Park. Along much of the coast, the dunes have been replaced by seawalls. Here you can see the shoreline in a more natural state.
The park contains several rare and endangered plant and animal species. A 1.5 kilometre path takes you through the dunes where you can spot a range of birds and reptiles. To get the most from the area, you can down load the Tennyson Dunes Discovery Trail audio app.
Grange is another example of the Yin and Yang of Adelaide’s beaches. With showy Henley Beach just up the road – see below – it pays to offer a contrast and Grange does just that. There is a wonderful air of relaxed refinement here. The beachfront is less developed with remnants of the dunes still visible.
Between the dunes, the jetty and the wide beach, Grange is the perfect place to relax. If you get thirsty the Grange Hotel overlooks the beach and is a great spot for dinner. For something lighter there is the Grange Café. In the Grange Reserve you’ll find a park, playground, BBQs and toilets.
Cool, hip, cosmopolitan… call it what you like but Henley is one of Adelaide’s go to beaches. The centrepiece is Henley Square. The square is surrounded by cafés, restaurants, and bars. Outside, waves of wooden seating and manicured lawns are a great place to relax and stare at the sea.
Everything is done with a touch of class here from the ornate beach showers to the overhead lighting and sculptures. In summer, the place positively hums. You’ll need to get there early to secure a spot on the lawn. Parking can be a bit tricky in peak season too.
The beach isn’t bad either. On a sunny day the water is as turquoise as anywhere on the coast. The jetty is a popular fishing spot and the sand is white and fine.
West Beach has a busy boat ramp at one end and the mouth of the River Torrens at the other. In between is a beautiful beach with a secluded feel as for much of its length a sand dune separates the shoreline from civilisation.
If you ever wanted to try kiteboarding, the team at Kiteboarding School Adelaide can get up up,up and away. Harold and Cynthia Anderson Reserve right behind the beach has a playground, BBQ facilities, grassed areas, toilets and plenty of parking.
The Linear Park and Coast bike trails are both in the area and are a safe spot for cyclists. For a bite to eat try the Beach Break Café right on the beach near the Henley Sailing Club. The popular and family friendly West Beach Caravan Park is right behind the beach. Kids will also enjoy West Beach Mini Golf and the Mega Adventure climbing park at the boat ramp end of the beach on Military Road.
Adelaide’s most popular beach is also its most developed. There are apartment blocks and a hotel on the foreshore. Pubs, cafes, restaurants and ice cream shops are all nearby too. The Beachouse with its waterslides, bumper boats, dodgems, minigolf etc. also sits metres from the shore.
Glenelg Beach is linked to the city by the Glenelg Tram; a direct and convenient way to get to and from the coast. There is a large plaza and busy esplanade where you can relax, walk, ride or skate.
Oh, and there is a beautiful beach here too. There is heaps of lovely fine sand. Due to its popularity the sand is clean and well looked after. The Glenelg Jetty is always full of people out for stroll, fishing or taking in the views.
Families, couples, young and old all mix as one at Glenelg. If you like to be where the action is on a hot summer day, Glenelg is the beach for you.
This is a lovely beach. Despite having two of Adelaide’s busier beaches either side of it, Somerton manages to maintain a chilled vibe. Less developed than its neighbours, Somerton is all about the beach and it doesn’t disappoint. The water laps invitingly along the clean, white sandy shore.
There is a café called The Kiosk which is a great spot to grab breakfast or lunch. John Miller Reserve on the Esplanade has toilets, a shaded playground and training equipment, a basketball hoop and picnic and BBQ facilities.
A walkway in front of the beach is popular with walkers and cyclists. If you want a beach where you can sit and watch the world go by, Somerton is a pretty nice choice.
This is one of Adelaide’s most popular beaches. No matter the season, there are always people on the beach, enjoying views from the jetty and running, cycling and walking along the foreshore.
Like Seacliff up the road, you can hire stand up paddleboards here. Brighton is also a great base if you like long walks to neighbouring beaches. Near by Jetty Road is full of coffee shops, restaurants, cafes and retail shopping.
The Esplanade Hotel and Brighton Surf Life Saving Club both offer meals and drinks with views of the water. Bindarra Reserve next to the surf club has a shaded area, playground, BBQ and picnic area and toilets.
Compared to its busy neighbour at Brighton, Seacliff has a more relaxed atmosphere. There is always lots going, it just seems to happen at a more laid-back pace. There is access here for boats to launch from the beach. At low tide there is an exposed reef and rock pools to explore at the southern end of the beach. We always see people fishing and kayaking at Seacliff too.
A small sand dune runs along the foreshore and is dotted with sculptures. Stand up paddle boards are available for hire and there is a wide path for you to walk or cycle along. There are plenty of reserves along the foreshore where you can a picnic or BBQ.
From here you can also do a spectacular walk to Hallett Cove on a coastal walkway. The Seacliff Beach Hotel right on the beachfront, is a great spot for dinner and sunset viewing.
HALLETt COVE CONSERVATION PARK
The beach here is okay. It’s not the widest, longest or prettiest of the Adelaide Beaches but that doesn’t matter. You come here for the stunning Hallett Cove Conservation Park. The park is a window into the past when retreating ice sheets shaped the coastline.
The 2km circuit takes you past several geological features of international significance. The highlight is the multicolour dome known as The Sugarloaf. Beyond the conservation Park, you can continue along a clifftop boardwalk to Seacliff.
This 10km return walk is both spectacular and, at times, challenging. The coastal scenery changes around every corner and some of the staircases that take in and out of steep gullies will leave even seasoned walkers a little breathless. The stairs also provide beach access.
There are toilets and plenty of parking adjacent to Hallett Cove Beach. Grand Central Avenue Reserve and Heron Way Reserve are nice places to relax overlooking the beach when you want to rest your feet.
O’SULLIVAN BEACH & BOAT RAMP
Probably better known for its boat ramp than its beach, it would be fair to say that O’Sullivan Beach is not one of Adelaide’s go to beaches on a hot summer’s day. Dogs can run off lead here and there is a public toilet.
Rather than a bustling tree lined esplanade or spectacular cliff face, the beach is backed by a sewerage treatment plant. But, if you’re after a quiet beach frequented mostly by a few locals, this might be the one for you.
There is a fantastic family atmosphere at Christies Beach. Christies is a beautiful long white beach set in front of an esplanade lined with Norfolk Pines. The beach has multiple access points, public toilets and plenty of parking along the foreshore.
If you just want to look at the beach and not get sand between your toes, there is a bike/pedestrian path running the length of the Esplanade. Rotary Park, on the corner of the Esplanade and Beach Road has a great playground. There are also grass reserves along much of the esplanade with picnic facilities.
For somewhere to stay, the Christies Beach Tourist Park is right on the beach.
PORT NOARLUNGA beach
This is one of Adelaide’s most popular beaches. It is best known for the long reef that runs parallel to the shore and appears and disappears with the tide. There is a long jetty extending almost out to the reef.
You’ll see everyone at Noarlunga from divers and snorkellers to fishers, families and crazy jetty-jumping teens. It is the mix of people that gives the beach such a great vibe – there is always something going on.
The great atmosphere makes a meal from Jimmy’s Fish and Chips taste that bit better. For more refined dining, try Hortas with its beachfront views.
If you want a beach with a different look, you want to come to Southport. The beach runs right up to the mouth of the Onkaparinga river. The result is a long finger of sand with the river on one side and the sea on the other.
Access to the beach is via a footbridge across the river. There are a few carparks directly opposite the bridge and a larger carpark at the top of the bluff. It is short walk to the bridge from the top carpark, but the payoff is the views of the river, beach and cliffs.
As you walk down to the bridge you get the odd view of surfers catching waves in the open water, and on the other side of the sand hill, people fishing and kayaking in the river.
Be aware that the combination of the river mouth and sand bars can create rips and currents so play it safe and swim between the flags.
The beach around here is also known as the Mid Coast Surf Reserve so no guessing what this spot is popular for. Even if surfing isn’t your thing, this is a lovely beach. Less crowded than the beaches around it, Seaford is great for a walk exploring the exposed reef or maybe even a snorkel.
There are several access points off the Esplanade and plenty of parking. Jack Holder Reserve and the lookout there provide great views of the coastline. Whether you walk along the beach or go for a bike ride or stroll along the top of the cliffs, it is a lovely place to relax.
Moana is a long, wide beach where, for a small fee, you can drive onto the sand and set up for the day. The generally small surf is perfect for small boogie boarders to get out and play in the waves. It is a beautiful setting with the red cliffs of Ochre Point in the distance.
The Moana Sands Conservation Park right behind the beach is a great place to explore. This ‘living museum’ displays the areas cultural and natural history. For somewhere to stay, the Moana Beach Tourist park is just metres from the beach. The Esplanade has a bike/pedestrian path and the for a snack make sure you try the very cool Deep Blue Café.
maslins beach *Editors Pick*
Maslin Beach has long been Adelaide’s official nude beach. If getting your kit off is your thing, go to the southern end of the beach. There is a separate carpark and beach access. But, there is a lot more to Maslin Beach than an all over tan.
We love it here because it is one of the most beautiful beaches in Adelaide. Fringed by spectacular yellow and orange cliffs at one end and sand hills at the other, it is a lovely setting for long walks, watching the sun go down or having a swim.
At the northern end there are two carparks, toilets and a look out from the top of the sand hills. Dogs can run off lead north of the car parks. Just back from the beach, Frank Hilton Reserve has BBQs, a playground, outdoor fitness gear and picnic facilities. If you really like the area, Port Willunga Big 4 caravan Park is just a couple of minutes from the beach too.
port willunga beach *Editors Pick *
This is one of our favourite Adelaide Beaches. In summer, the white sand and clear turquoise water looks like something from a tropical island. The beach sits in front of tall honeycomb yellow cliffs. At low tide there are rock pools to explore at the southern end of the beach.
Port Willunga is also rich in history, the remains of which add a lot of character to the beach. Pylons stick out of the sand where a jetty used to be. There are also caves carved into the face of the cliff where fisherman once stored their gear.
Most notably, at the northern end of the beach, approx. 150 metres from shore lies the wreck of the Star of Greece. The boat came to grief in a storm and is now a popular dive and snorkel site. An excellent café sits atop the cliffs bearing the ships name as a tribute to the disaster that happened so close to shore.
This is another wide, drive on beach (a small fee might apply in summer). Dogs are allowed off leash north of the drive on point. With kilometres of beach in either direction it is a great spot for a long walk on the sand. There is also a café and toilets near where you drive on.
Further north along the beach is the Aldinga Reef Aquatic Reserve. At low tide you can walk on the exposed reef and explore the rock pools. When the tide comes in the reef is one of the top snorkelling and dive locations in Adelaide.
Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park is right behind the beach has several walking trails. The area is rich in bird and animal life and with its sand dunes and coastal vegetation still has a very beachy feel.
silver sands beach
If kilometres of fine clean sand and a big sky are your thing, you’ll love Silver Sands Beach. You can drive onto the beach here and head south towards Sellicks Beach. There is plenty of room to find your own quiet patch of sand.
This is a great family beach. The surf is usually benign, and the water crystal clear. The dog can run off leash and you can set your shelter up for the day. The views back toward Sellicks are wonderful and the sunsets spectacular.
Sellicks is the southernmost beach along the Adelaide coastline and it is one laid back, beautiful place. You can drive onto the beach – there might be a small charge for this in summer – and set up for the day or launch a boat.
Dogs can also run off-leash here. Sellicks Beach is a popular fishing spot. With its red cliffs and rolling hills in the background it’s not a bad place to wet a line. The cliffs glow red when the sun hits them in the late afternoon. There is a picnic and BBQ area overlooking the beach. A general store and publics toilets are nearby too.