10 must-visit beaches in South Australia

written by Cliona Elliott November 6, 2023
The sticks at Port Willunga Beach at golden hour

Grab a pen, because these South Australian beaches are about to be scribbled on your bucket list if they aren’t already.

If you name the first three Australian beaches that come to mind, there’s a good chance you’ll say Bondi, Byron Bay or Whitehaven Beach. But what about Stokes Bay or Memory Cove? South Australia is blessed with seriously beautiful beaches — people just don’t know about them… yet.

From the brilliantly blue coast of the Eyre Peninsula to secluded coves on Kangaroo Island, here are 10 must-visit beaches in South Australia.

1. Almonta Beach, Eyre Peninsula

Two people walking along the shoreline at Almonta Beach

Almonta Beach in Coffin Bay National Park is nothing short of spectacular. Imagine bright blue waters that beg you to swim, wind-whipped sand dunes and fringing bushland home to abundant native wildlife including kangaroos, emus and goannas. After relaxing on the beach, head to Coffin Bay to visit an oyster farm where you can pluck and shuck your own oysters straight from the water. (Chefs kiss.)

2. Glenelg Beach, Adelaide

People walking along the jetty at Glenelg Beach at sunset

You can’t visit the South Australian capital and not visit its favourite city beach. Glenelg is just 11 kilometres from the CBD and is a popular hang-out for city dwellers. It’s a great spot to relax or take a refreshing dip after exploring the city. Or head down to enjoy a drink in the sun or grab a bite at one of the many restaurants along the bustling Jetty Road precinct.

3. Maslin Beach, Fleurieu Peninsula

A scenic view of Maslin Beach on a clear day

Nicknamed ‘Maslins’ by the locals, this vast, golden beach is loved by many. It’s flanked by tall cliffs and sand dunes that glow during golden hour, and the calm waters are great for swimming. The sunsets here are also stunning.

Maslin Beach is famous for being Australia’s first official nudist beach. And here’s a fun fact for you: it’s also home to the annual Pilwarren Maslin Nude Games — think tug of war and frisbee throwing… but in your birthday suit. Note: nudity is restricted to certain areas of the beach.

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4. Port Willunga, Fleurieu Peninsula

Golden hour at Port Willunga Beach

Port Willunga is one of South Australia’s most photographed beaches, and for good reason. It has squeaky white sand sheltered by towering cliffs and (very Instagrammable) remains of an 1850s jetty known as ‘the sticks’. It feels a million miles from Adelaide despite being just an hour’s drive away. The beach is also the site of one of South Australia’s worst shipwrecks — the Star of Greece which sunk during a storm in 1888 — and you can snorkel it at low tide.

5. Carrickalinga Beach, Fleurieu Peninsula

Beach-goers swimming and sunbathing on Carrickalinga Beach

Carrickalinga is another gem on the Fleurieu Peninsula. With great water visibility and rockpools that emerge at low tide, it’s a great beach to get your dose of vitamin sea. If you get fidgety sunbathing, you can explore the walking trails between Carrickalinga and Normanville where you’ll be treated to gorgeous views over Yankalilla and Roma Mitchell Bay.

6. Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo Island

People walking on the jetty at Vivonne Bay

Vivonne Bay has everything a ‘best beach’ should have: six kilometres of chalk-white sand and sky-blue waters fringed by untouched coastal bushland. On a clear, sunny day, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were on a beach in the Philippines. There’s not much to do here other than sprawl on the sand with a good book, have a barbeque on the jetty or try to spot dolphins playing in the surf… it’s a hard life!

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7. Cactus Beach, Penong

Great surfing waves rolling into Cactus Beach

Cactus Beach is still a bit of a hidden spot, and the locals would like to keep it that way, so shhh. The beach is tucked away in a remote area near Penong, but it’s well worth it if you want to watch surfers riding some of Australia’s best waves. Getting there is half the fun, as you’ll drive on a dusty road that cuts through Lake Macdonnell — South Australia’s famous pink lake.

8. Memory Cove, Eyre Peninsula 

Located at the edge of Lincoln National Park where dense bushland makes way for sugar-white sand, this hidden cove will etch itself firmly in your memory. Its remote location is also perfect if you prefer not to share the beach with throngs of tourists. Kangaroos, however, are a different story; the local roos like it here too, so don’t be alarmed if they relax alongside you!

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9. Emu Bay, Kangaroo Island

An aerial view of Emu Bay with amazing water visibility

Emu Bay Beach is another must-visit spot on Kangaroo Island. It has four kilometres of white sand and a jetty for fishing. It’s also one of the few beaches on the island with vehicle access, so you could pack your car with supplies and drive down to make a day of it. It rarely gets crowded here, making it an excellent spot for some rest and relaxation.

10. Stokes Bay, Kangaroo Island

Talk about saving the best for last. You know a beach is worth visiting when it topped Tourism Australia’s 2023 list of Best Australian Beaches. Getting to this serene beach is an adventure in itself, as the path takes you through a headland of caves and boulders. But keep following the signs and you’ll eventually be greeted with impossibly blue water. There’s also a huge natural rock pool perfect for swimming/floating.

Discover the hype about these beaches on one of Intrepid’s South Australia tours. 

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