Best Beaches in Adelaide (plus 1 bonus tip)

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Did you know Adelaide has stunning beaches only 15 minutes drive from the city centre? ... and they are FAB!

These hidden gems are every bit as magnificent as those in tropical Queensland but they’re arguably less well-known. It’s not an easy task deciding which are the best beaches in Adelaide. We tried it anyway. 

best beachs in adelaide

The best beaches in Adelaide are blindingly white, the sand is so soft it feels like walking on powder. The beach is wide and gently shelving into the turquoise St Vincent Gulf, perfect for a family getaway or a beach break on your South Australia road trip

The towns behind the beaches are abuzz with the voices of people in beachside restaurants and cafes, children playing and the odd busker playing a tune. It’s the true beach life.

A quick 20 minutes drive from central Adelaide by tram, bus or car, it’s just a hop, skip and jump from the bustling city to relaxing beach life. You can even get to the beach by bike!

The Adelaide beaches are really one long stretch of beach that’s divided into sections. The complete beach is about 30 kms | 18.5 miles long. The Esplanade, the pathway along the beach, connects all beaches and suburbs South to North.

Each of these beach sections and suburbs has its very own personality. Some are a bit more family-friendly while others appeal to the wind- and kitesurfers among us. Those who like long walks on the beach will be very happy at the end of the day, too. 

Let’s break it down into more detail and look at some of the best beaches in Adelaide:


These are the 5 best beaches in Adelaide 

Adelaide Beaches

Glenelg Beach

As the most famous and popular, Glenelg Beach is the poster child of the Adelaide Beaches for all things fun. 

The wide and shallow beach with its white sand and shady picnic spots is a great place for families to set up camp for the day and let the kids build sandcastles safely. When the sun gets too hot, take the kids to The Beachhouse for the waterslides, a round of mini-golf, arcade games or bumper cars. The Foreshore playground is another great place to keep the kids happy and occupied. 

The fun doesn’t stop there, though. There is also plenty to do for adults in Glenelg Beach. After an exhausting day of shopping in the busy coastal mall and along Jetty Road, it’s time to wind down. As Australia’s only official bar right on the beach, The Moseley is your place to be for a delicious sundowner, feet in the sand. 

For an extra memorable experience, we recommend the dolphin cruise. Leaving from Glenelg Beach, Temptation Sailing doesn’t only guarantee dolphin sightings on its designated tours, you can even get up close and swim with them! 

South-West of Adelaide

How to get to Glenelg Beach:
By tram: The GLNELG tram takes you from Victoria Square to Glenelg every 10 minutes. The ride itself takes about 30 minutes.

By car: Approximately 11kms | 7 miles and about 25 minutes drive

Best for: 
Fun seekers of all ages, shopaholics and gourmets

Glenelg Beach Adelaide

Brighton Beach Adelaide

Brighton Beach Adelaide’s long jetty protrudes out into the ocean, inviting hobby fishers to rise with the sun to try and catch today’s lunch. Named after the famous beach in South England, the South Australian version is just as charming and bustling with beach-goers.

Jetty Road near the beach is the best place to go if you’re hungry or want to do some window and actual shopping. The many restaurants, cafes and little boutiques leave you spoilt for choice. The best place to watch the sunset over a pint is at the Esplanade Hotel.

From Brighton Beach, it’s a lovely 50 minutes walk along the Esplanade on the beach, past West Beach up to Glenelg. On a lovely day when it’s not too hot, combining Brighton with Glenelg Beach makes for a perfect day trip.

South of Glenelg Beach

How to get to Brighton Beach:
By tram: The SEAFRD tram from Adelaide Railway Station takes you to Brighton Beach every 15 minutes. The ride takes approximately 25 minutes.

By car: Approximately 15kms | 9 miles and about 30 minutes drive

Best for: 

Brighton Beach

Henley Beach

Almost a straight line from the city, Henley Beach is the closest of the Adelaide beaches. Just a 15-minute drive by car and you’re there. Keep driving and you’d end up in the ocean (but please don’t). 

Henley Beach is not only popular for its white sand beach and gentle surf, the entertainment factor is high in Henley. You are absolutely spoilt for choice in terms of beachfront dining, live entertainment and water fountains for the kids to play in. 

Henley Square is the hotspot of it all. The square hosts an abundance of cafes, restaurants and shops. For fresh Italian pasta and pizzas, head to Seamore’s, an eclectic restaurant with a hint of nostalgia in a historic building, overlooking the ocean. It’s also a great spot to watch the sunset from their terrace. 

The water play is the heart of Henley Square. Kids love to jump and splash in the very shallow water which will entertain them for ages and gives you time to sit back and relax. The funky wavey looking benches between the square and the beach are not only a great place to sit, but also great fun for the kids to climb on. 

West of Adelaide city, almost in a straight line from the CBD

Getting to Henley Beach:
By bus: Bus H30 leaves every 15 minutes from Currie Street and takes about 40 minutes to get you to the beach.

By car: Faster than going by bus is taking the car to Henley Beach. It’s about 12kms | 7 miles and 20 minutes drive from Adelaide. 

By bike: You can also hire a bike and ride to Henley Beach! Starting at the Adelaide Oval, follow the River Torrens Linear Park Trail for about 13 kms | 8 miles until you reach the beach at Henley Beach South. The square is another 2 kms | 1.5 miles along the Esplanade from there. 

Best for: 
Gourmets and families

Henley Beach

West Beach

Laid-back and more quiet, with a whiff of adventure and sports: This sums up West Beach pretty well. Tucked between the two most popular beaches in Adelaide, Glenelg and Henley, West Beach enjoys an amazing location without being overcrowded. 

People looking for a quiet beach day without much fuss will love West Beach, just as much as the kitesurfers do. The combination of side shore winds and shallow waters makes West Beach perfect to learn kitesurfing.

To mingle with the locals and be active at the same time, join one of the weekly group runs or bike rides that start and end in West Beach. 

If teeing off a little white ball in a big Green is more your thing, you’ll enjoy West Beach Parks Golf. You can work on your handicap on two golf courses (one with 18 and the other with 15 holes) and practise your swing at the driving range. Or, if you’ve never played real golf before, there’s also a mini-golf course.

Right next to the mini-golf course is West Beach Mega Adventure. This high ropes park of the crazy sort really puts your vertigo to the test. To complete the course, you not only need to overcome the ‘typical’ high ropes obstacles like log walks but even crazier ones like riding the wrecking ball and pulling a boat from one tower to the next, all in dizzy heights! 

Come to think of it, the only quiet part of West Beach might just be the beach itself...

Between Glenelg and Henley Beach

Getting to West Beach:
By bus: As you’d have to change busses and travel for almost an hour, it’s better to get to West Beach by car or bike.

By car: Approximately 10kms | 6.5 miles and about 20 minutes drive

By bike: Like getting to Henley Beach, start at the Oval and ride along the River Torrens Linear Park Trail for about 13 kms | 8 miles, until you reach the beach at Henley Beach South. From there, head south along the Esplanade for another 2 kms / 1.5 miles.

Best for:
Golfers, Kitesurfers, Adrenaline Junkies

West Beach

Semaphore Beach

Of the beaches we’re looking at today, Semaphore Beach is the northernmost. While still only a short way from Adelaide city, it feels a world away from the hustle and bustle. The beach is wide and gently shelving. 

Families love to come to Semaphore for the shallow water and the little luna park with mini-golf and Ferris wheel, located on the Esplanade. 

You can also enjoy sitting in one of the many restaurants flanking the Esplanade, strolling along the water and past the beautifully preserved Art Deco Buildings.

It can get quite windy at Semaphore Beach at times, making it one of the best beaches in Adelaide for kiteboarding and windsurfing. 

Northwest of Adelaide CBD

Getting to Semaphore Beach:
By bus: Bus number 157 leaves Adelaide for Semaphore Beach every 30 minutes and takes about 1 hour to reach the beach.

By car: Faster than the bus is taking the car. Approximately 17 kms | 10 miles and 30 minutes drive

Best for:
Families and kitesurfers

Semaphore Beach

Port Adelaide

While not technically a beach, we didn’t want to miss out on mentioning Port Adelaide. Industrial-looking with red brick houses, fishing boats and graffiti, it is an up-and-coming area with European flair and trendy restaurants. You can also find the Maritime Museum there as well as the National Railway Museum. Nature lovers will savour exploring the mangrove forest on a kayak tour to the Dolphin Sanctuary.

Northwest of Adelaide near Semaphore Beach

Getting to Port Adelaide:
By bus: From Currie Street, it will take around 35 minutes to Port Adelaide

By car: Approximately 14 kms | 8.5 miles and 25 minutes drive

Best for:
History buffs, gourmets

Port Adelaide

Those five are only some of the best beaches in Adelaide. To fully explore all the Adelaide beaches and other amazing beaches in South Australia, as well as everything else this diverse state has to offer, it’s best to hire a car. At First Light Travel, we know all the best spots to visit during your South Australia road trip. Just ask us, we’re happy to help.

Start planning now! Check out our South Australia self-drive itineraries here


Alexandra Diethelm
Submitted by
Alexandra Diethelm
: 4 Jun 2021 (Last updated: 27 Jul 2021)

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