While it may be known as the ‘City of Churches’, Adelaide’s endless stretch of sun, sand and surf proves there’s room for more than one holy trinity in this history-filled town. Skip the spires and steeples and head to the shore, where sheer limestone cliffs, sparkling blue waters and offshore islands make up one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world.
Best for: Day-to-night bar crawls; Distance to CBD: 10 kilometres.
As well known for its picturesque jetty and towering pine trees as it is for its vibrant nightlife, it’s no wonder this trendy beachside ‘burb tops the list of Adelaide’s best beaches year after year. An easy, 20-minute drive from the heart of the city, the white sand, safe swimming and waterfront bars at this inner-city oasis make it a popular choice for locals and tourists alike – not to mention the pod of bottlenose dolphins that call its shores home.
Best for: Picnics and long lunches; Distance to CBD: 12 kilometres.
Just 15 minutes farther north from Glenelg’s bustling party scene, Henley Beach is home to the same spectacular coastline with half the crowds. Make the most of the extra towel space and pack a shore-side picnic, or, grab all your long lunch essentials at the supermarket across the road. Not one to dine in the sand? No problem. Opt for a bottle of bubbles and a-la-carte fare at one of the upscale pubs just steps from the sea.
Best for: Near-empty beaches; Distance to CBD: 150 kilometres.
Surrounded by more than 700 kilometres of secluded coastline, you’ll have no trouble finding a stretch of sand to call your own on the Yorke Peninsula – provided you’re willing to make the two hour trek from Adelaide. Luckily, this southern offshoot’s twin shores are riddled with fishing holes, tidal pools and prime crabbing grounds, making it more than worth the extra mileage from the city’s bustling CBD.
Best for: Catching a wave; Distance to CBD: 32 kilometres.
Voted South Australia’s most beautiful beach in 2009, the consistent surf conditions at this postcard-worthy inlet prove it’s more than just a pretty face. Suitable for board-riders of all skill levels, this dune-backed beach is just as reliable for a refreshing swim or a day in the sun as it is for hanging ten. If you do decide to paddle out, be mindful of the powerful rips and strong tidal currents that Adelaide’s west-facing beaches have become known for.
Best for: Sunbathing au naturel; Distance to CBD: 40 kilometres.
Australia’s first-ever nude beach, Maslin is a can’t-miss destination if your idea of reconnecting with nature sees you frolicking in the surf and soaking up the sun sans bathers. If you’re really not shy about bearing all, be sure to visit during the annual Maslin Beach Nude Games.
Best for: A little bit of everything; Distance to CBD: 46 kilometres.
A true all-rounder when it comes to sun, surf and sand, this near-perfect beach delivers ideal conditions for outdoor activities of all kinds. Go off-road and cruise the golden sand in a 4WD or head offshore and explore the ‘Aldinga drop off’ – an underwater cliff edge that plunges 20 metres into a basin of colourful sea life below. Whether your group wants to dive, surf, swim or drive, this little grin of sand is guaranteed to keep everyone smiling.
Best for: Animal encounters; Distance to CBD: 83 kilometres.
Simply ‘Victor’ to locals in the know, this quaint coastal town has a lot more to offer than just sand and surf. Walk across the ocean on a pedestrian causeway and you’ll reach Granite Island, where a colony of little penguins waddle to-and-fro at sunrise and sunset. While you make your way back to the mainland, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for friendly fur seals bobbing alongside the footpath and flocks of migrating seabirds gliding overhead.
Best for: A weekend escape; Distance to CBD: 107 kilometres.
Got enough time on your hands to turn your beach day into an overnight getaway? Make a beeline for Kangaroo Island, where a seemingly endless string of coastline has created a mecca for swimmers, surfers and sunbathers alike. Embark on the 45-minute ferry ride from Cape Jervis and you’ll be rewarded with more than 50 pristine beaches to waste away a weekend, from the calm, aquamarine waters of Vivonne Bay to the crashing surf of the island’s south coast.
Can you feel the beaches beckoning? Pick up a car hire in Adelaide and get ready to sink your toes into the sand on South Australia’s sunny coastline.