A day at the beach is a quintessential Australian experience. In Adelaide, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy a full beach day (and hopefully many of them). A few of the best beaches in Adelaide are just minutes from the city center, and as a born-and-bred Adelaidean, I’ll tell you why they’re some of my favorites!
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The 9 Best Beaches in Adelaide
Adelaide’s most famous and iconic beach, just 20 minutes from the CBD.
Glenelg is the most well-known of Adelaide’s metropolitan beaches and is only a short drive from the city center. Like other beaches in Adelaide, it’s known for its clear, calm water and soft sand, though it does get extremely busy in the summer.
On the other side of the Glenelg foreshore, you have Jetty Road, a strip of bars, restaurants, and gelato shops.
If you’re staying nearby, you’ll have everything you need provided on Jetty Road, from supermarkets to pharmacies to gift shops where you can stock up on Aussie souvenirs.
Jetty Road has a cinema, while Moseley Square just steps from the beach is home to The Moseley Bar & Kitchen. Glenelg is also home to the Moseley Beach Club and The Beachouse amusement center, the latter of which makes it one of the best beaches in Adelaide for families.
Apart from the fact that there’s so much to do at Glenelg, the beach is famous for its connection to one of Australia’s most infamous cold cases: the disappearance of the three Beaumont Children, who went missing from Glenelg Beach on Australia Day in 1966 (via ABC).
2. Henley Beach
A trendy city beach home to restaurants, brunch spots, and a bustling square.
Perhaps a close second to Glenelg in terms of popularity, Henley Beach is another trendy beach just 15 minutes from the Adelaide CBD. It’s well-known for the restaurants and cafes that line Henley Square, including Estia, Thai Orchid, and Stella Restaurant.
The nightlife at Henley Beach is also among the best that Adelaide’s coastal suburbs have to offer. Above Melt Henley pizzeria you’ll find West, a rooftop bar with supreme views of the ocean, the laidback Ramsgate Hotel, and Bacchus Bar, which offers live music by the water.
Henley Beach is also one of the best places in Adelaide to get ice cream, with vendors like Royal Copenhagen, local brand Cibo, 48 Flavors, and Bottega Gelateria all within a five-minute walk from the beach.
The beach itself features gentle water, perfect for swimming, and a picturesque jetty. There’s a supermarket and pharmacy in Henley Square Pavilion, plus several stores and take-out shops for anything you might need.
Interestingly, the Pavilion was named after a three-story pavilion that stood in Henley Square in the early 20th century (via Henley Square Pavilion).
With an abundance of food choices nearby, many people opt to stay at Henley all day in the summer and watch the sunset, and there’s a popular walking trail along the foreshore that takes you north to Grange Beach.
3. West Beach
Directly to the west of the city center, West Beach is one of Adelaide’s premiere destinations for swimming and beach walks.
West Beach is another city beach, directly to the south of Henley, that has fewer restaurants and establishments than its more popular counterparts. However, it is home to the BIG4 Holiday Park, which provides holiday accommodation.
The park offers several activities for kids, including a games room, a playground and jumping pillows, and a zero-depth water play area. You’ll also find a golf course nearby, and The Big Wedgie Inflatable Water Park.
The beach, meanwhile, is popular for aquatic activities such as kitesurfing and paddle boarding.
Dogs are welcome on the beach and can be taken off the lead after 8 p.m. during daylight savings, and many pet owners are drawn to this area because it’s slightly quieter than Henley and Glenelg, while still being super close to the city.
A popular beach only minutes from the city, characterized by an idyllic pier and gentle water.
On the other side of Henley Beach, to the north, lies Grange. Like West Beach, Grange tends to be slightly less busy than Henley and Glenelg, making it a great choice for those looking for some peace and quiet.
The water is known to be particularly calm, too, so it’s also a wonderful beach for families and nervous swimmers (via Y Adelaide).
There are a few places to eat at Grange, including the Grange Hotel, the Grange Jetty Café, Wok on the Water, and Smash House by Barry’s Burgers. Nearby, there’s also a golf course and the Grange Recreation Reserve.
Those interested in local history can visit the Charles Sturt Museum, which details the life of British explorer Charles Napier Sturt, who was the first European to chart the Murray River (via Charles Sturt University).
One of Adelaide’s quieter family-friendly beaches where you’re guaranteed a peaceful swim.
Brighton Beach is located to the south of Glenelg and is sometimes thought of as a gateway to the beaches of the southern suburbs.
This is another family-friendly location that is quieter than the more popular beaches, but still a favorite among families. It’s particularly known for having safe water, and like the other Adelaide beaches, a large expanse of firm golden sand.
Some find Brighton to be one of the best beaches in Adelaide for surfing, however, you won’t find waves here as you would at more well-known surf beaches in Australia (via My Adelaide Life).
You’ll find a selection of eateries around Brighton, including the Esplanade Hotel. Like Glenelg, Brighton has its own pier and Jetty Road, which runs off the foreshore.
There are several food establishments to check out here, from the iconic Brighton Jetty Bakery to The Alchemists’ Kitchen. As is the case with other beaches in the area, there’s also the chance for takeaway fish and chips to eat on the beach.
Nestled by Port Adelaide, Semaphore is a historic beach with a lively strip and foreshore attractions.
Semaphore is one of the most popular metropolitan beaches located to the north of the CBD. It’s a stone’s throw from Port Adelaide, a heritage suburb with a fascinating history.
The original Port Adelaide area was actually once referred to as Port Misery because the landing conditions for transporting both freight and passengers were so poor (via Environment SA).
But today, the area should definitely be on your Adelaide bucket list! Semaphore is close to popular Port Adelaide attractions such as the Maritime Museum, the Port Adelaide Lighthouse, and the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary.
The Semaphore Summer Carnival also makes this beach a must for families. It runs during the summer on the Semaphore Esplanade and offers carnival amusements, food, and rides for guests of all ages.
There are lots of places to eat and grab an ice cream along Semaphore Road, with one of the most famous establishments in the area being the Palais Hotel.
The water can be incredibly gentle at Semaphore, while there’s a natural sand build-up in the area. This has led to local debates about whether the sand should be taken and used on beaches further south (via InDaily).
Semaphore is also one of the best beaches in Adelaide for snorkeling, and a range of marine life has been spotted there, from seals to dolphins.
7. Aldinga and Silver Sands
Prime rural beaches less than an hour from Adelaide City.
Of the southern beaches, Aldinga and the nearby Silver Sands are among the most popular. These beaches have a distinctly rural feel compared to the metropolitan beaches.
More facilities and eateries have popped up over the years to meet the demand, particularly around Silver Sands, but they feel much more peaceful than the likes of Henley and Glenelg.
Note that the atmosphere is slightly more bustling on state-wide summer holidays, such as Australia Day or Boxing Day. The local newspaper Onkaparinga Now reports that police sometimes resort to denying vehicles access to the beaches when they become too full.
At Silver Sands, you’ll find the Silver Sands Beach Club, and the seasonal pop-up of the popular local pizza establishment Pizzateca, which is open year-round in nearby McLaren Vale (via Glam Adelaide).
Aldinga is home to the Pearl restaurant, plus a few accommodation options, but the charm of these beaches is definitely their natural beauty.
Aldinga and Silver Sands both feature long, wide stretches of pristine sand and blue water where the waves and current are slightly more powerful than they are further north.
Surrounding the beach are the rolling hills of South Australia’s regional wine country, with the attractions of McLaren Vale just 10 minutes away.
8. Port Noarlunga and Seaford
Picturesque beaches ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and other aquatic activities.
Port Noarlunga and Seaford are two more stunning southern beaches whose views really need to be seen to be believed.
They don’t tend to get as busy as Aldinga and Silver Sands over the summer, so they can be great options if you’re looking for picturesque rural beauty without the cars and cars of people.
In particular, Port Noarlunga is a top spot for swimming and boating, with kayak rentals being offered at the beach. With over 200 species of marine plants and animals to see, and more than 50 species of fish, it’s another one of the best beaches in Adelaide for snorkeling and viewing marine life (via Adelaide AZ).
There are plenty of other activities to keep you and the family busy nearby, too, including the Onkaparinga River National Park, which is a haven of hiking trails, rock pools, and lookouts with impeccable views (via South Australia.com).
These areas are home to several eateries, though you might need to drive to some of them, as they’re located a short distance from the foreshore. Offering up picturesque views of the sea, Hortas Seafood is one restaurant you should definitely check out!
9. Maslin Beach
A stunning, laidback beach for swimming and sunbathing in your birthday suit.
Maslin Beach is infamous for being Adelaide’s signature nudist beach (in fact, it was the first nudist beach in Australia, per Australia Travel Questions). But don’t write this one off immediately if you want to avoid naked beach-goers.
Only a particular section of the beach permits nudity, so you can still visit without having to step out of your comfort zone. Those who want to stay in their bathing suits and steer clear of naked strangers can stay in the northern area of the beach (via City of Onkaparinga).
And with supreme ocean views to match that of Aldinga and Port Noarlunga, it’s well worth the visit! Being another rural beach, there aren’t too many facilities nearby, though.
Rather than the restaurants and shops that you’ll find at the metropolitan beaches, there are majestic views of the South Australian countryside in one direction, and the horizon of the Gulf St. Vincent in the other.
FAQs About Best Beaches In Adelaide
What part of Adelaide has the best beaches?
Some of the best beaches in Adelaide are located to the south-west of the city center. They’re a quick drive down the Southern Expressway, just over half an hour from the CBD.
Typically, these beaches are thought of as being world-class because of their large expanses of golden, untainted sand and clear blue water. As they’re a little further out of the city than the western beaches, they’re often destinations for day trips.
Another reason why these beaches tend to be extremely popular is because vehicle access is granted on Aldinga, Moana, Sellicks, and Silver Sands beaches between 5:30 a.m., and midnight.
Which beach has the clearest water in Adelaide?
When it comes to finding a beach with crystal-clear water near Adelaide, you may have to venture out a little into rural South Australia.
A beach that’s known nationally for its stunning turquoise water is Vivonne Bay on Kangaroo Island, which is around a 2-hour car ride and 40-minute ferry ride from the Adelaide CBD.
Other beaches in South Australia with Maldives-reminiscent water include Hardwicke Bay on the Yorke Peninsula and Almonta Beach and Memory Cove, both on the Eyre Peninsula.
Do people swim in Adelaide beaches?
Adelaide beaches are absolutely for swimming in. As the city beaches and those to the south connect to the Gulf St. Vincent, the waves and current are never too strong (though there tends to be more action in the southern beaches!). The water is also clean and safe for swimming.
Being in Australia, Adelaide naturally has precautions in place when it comes to marine life. Sharks are a major concern for a lot of people traveling to Adelaide during the summer, but the chances of being attacked are actually relatively low.
There are three types of sharks that are found on South Australian coastlines: the Dusky Shark, the Bronze Whaler Shark, and most concerningly, the Great White Shark.
However, popular Adelaide beaches are patrolled by surf lifesavers and helicopter patrols. Swimmers are advised to swim in between the flags and are alerted straight away when there’s a shark sighting.