It is not hard to see why Port Noarlunga Beach is one Adelaide’s best beaches. The long reef that runs parallel to the shore provides safe swimming and great snorkelling and diving.
The Port Noarlunga Jetty is a good fishing spot. Kayaking and stand up paddle boarding in the calm inner reef is also popular. Watching the reef surface and disappear below the water with the tide is a great way to pass some time.
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- Getting to Port Noarlunga Beach
- What does Port Noarlunga Beach look like?
- Port Noarlunga Reef Snorkel & Dive
- Fishing at Port Noarlunga Beach
- Port Noarlunga Beach FAQ’s
- Neighbouring Beaches
- Nearby Attractions
Getting to Port Noarlunga Beach
Port Noarlunga is 35 – 40 minutes from the centre of Adelaide in South Australia. If you have your own transport, the easiest way to get there is along the Southern Express Way. Take the Beach Road exit and drive west until you see the coast then turn left and follow the Esplanade until you see the reef and Port Noarlunga Jetty.
Port Noarlunga Beach Parking
If you follow The Esplanade down the hill, past the jetty and veer left up Saltfleet Street you will get to a large car park. When that car park is full, we have found carparks along The Esplanade up the hill. Parking is free at Port Noarlunga Beach.
From the main car park, you can either stay up a level and get views of the beach from some viewing platforms and access the sand from some stairs. Or you can avoid the stairs and walk down a path towards the beach and jetty. It is about 100m from the car park to the beach and jetty. You will often see scuba divers getting kitted up in the reserve next to the car park.
What does Port Noarlunga Beach look like?
Nowhere else in Adelaide is there anything like the Port Noarlunga Beach with a reef so close to shore. The remnants of an ancient sand dune, the Port Noarlunga Reef Aquatic Reserve stretches for about 1.5km either side of the Port Noarlunga Jetty. The Port Noarlunga Jetty extends right out to the reef and even at high tide you can still spot where the reef is.
There is plenty of sand on the beach at Noarlunga but for all the activity at the beach, it is reasonably undeveloped. There is a small café just near the jetty, but there aren’t the same number of places to eat that you find at Glenelg or Henley Beach.
You will have to walk 5 minutes to the main street for more shops. There are plenty of viewing areas on the foreshore to take in the views of the beach, jetty and reef.
Port Noarlunga Reef Snorkel & Dive
As much as Port Noarlunga is a good place to cool off in summer, the Port Noarlunga Reef Sanctuary Zone is best known as a snorkelling spot or scuba diving site. We have snorkelled and dived here many times; you never know what you might see. The best snorkelling is at low tide on the inside of the reef. As well as big schools of fish near the jetty, you can make your way north or south along the reef
There is a gap in the reef about 100m south of the jetty that lets you get to the outer reef. As well as being deeper, conditions on the other reef can also be rougher. This is a popular area for divers. Snorkellers will want a calm day to explore the outer reef.
There is easy access to the reef from the jetty. Junior snorkellers will also spot fish inside the reef around the jetty and at a few smaller rock bommies closer to shore. Common fish seen at around the reef include old wives, bullseyes, colourful little cowfish and zebra fish. You might also see stingrays and Port Jackson sharks. The last time we dived here we spotted a huge spider crab under the jetty – it looked like something from outer space!
Fishing at Port Noarlunga Beach
Even though the reef is a sanctuary zone, you can still fish along most of Port Noarlunga Jetty. The sanctuary zone starts about three quarters of the way along the jetty so you can’t cast a line in beyond there.
When the weather is bad, fish often move inside the reef for shelter so don’t be surprised to see people fishing here even if it is wet and blowing a gale.
There is a bait vending machine at the start of the jetty which dispenses everything from pilchards and squid to prawns and cockles. In winter salmon and mullet are popular targets. Squid and garfish can be caught here year round.
Port Noarlunga Beach FAQ’s
Facilities at Port Noarlunga Beach:
- Beach shower
- Toilets and change area are right behind the café
- Mama’s Beach Hut Café is great for snacks and drinks
- Just a couple of minutes from the carpark you can walk away from the beach and get to Royal Copenhagen Ice Cream, Port Noarlunga Fish and Chips, the Port Noarlunga Hotel and the Flour Store Café.
Is Port Noarlunga Beach Safe for swimming?
Port Noarlunga Beach is one of the safest beaches in Adelaide. The reef provides protection from waves, and you do not get rips at Port Noarlunga Beach. Over summer, Port Noarlunga Surf Life Saving Club also patrol the beach on weekends and public holidays.
Swimming near the reef can be more hazardous. The water directly around the reef can be rough particularly on the outside of the reef. On a calm day you can swim up onto the reef. We have snorkelled on the outside of the reef, and it was pretty bouncy. It certainly made us appreciate how much protection the reef provides!
Can you take your dog to Port Noarlunga Beach?
So long as your dog can be controlled, they can run around off leash at Port Noarlunga Beach. They must be on leash during daylight savings between 10.00am and 8.00pm. Dogs are not permitted on Port Noarlunga Jetty at any time.
Dogs can be off leash any time at the southern end of Noarlunga Beach (near the Onkaparinga River mouth).
Can you drive onto Port Noarlunga Beach?
There is no access for cars to drive and park on Port Noarlunga Beach.
There are two contrasting Beaches either side of Noarlunga Beach.
To the north, around the other side of Witton Bluff, you get to Christies Beach. This is a lovely spot with a few facilities you don’t get at Port Noarlunga. There is a more traditional esplanade here with good walking/cycling paths, plenty of seating and parking and at the southern end of the beach is a small playground. Conditions here are also quite protected and good for families.
Southport Beach is south of Noarlunga Beach and is quite different to both Port Noarlunga and Christies Beach. Gone is the protection of the reef. You also have the mouth of the Onkaparinga River here. There is a great lookout above the beach where you see the river mouth and Noarlunga Reef. It is a great spot for surfing, fishing and kayaking. Be careful swimming, the combination of the river and waves can create rips and currents.
- Hallett Cove Boardwalk – 16 minutes – On the 2km Glacial Hike see where retreating ice sheets gouged rocks, the amazing Sugarloaf rock feature and stunning cliff top views of the coast.
- McLaren Vale Wineries – 18 minutes – One of the best things about Adelaide is you can go from the coast to a top wine region in under 20 minutes. Go to a McLaren Vale winery for lunch then head to the coast for sunset.
- Onkaparinga River National Park – 25 minutes – Explore the hiking trails, mountain bike paths, great views and wildlife.
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