By Aimee Knight
Henley has its historic jetty, Brighton boasts pristine sands, and Semaphore pumps with a summer carnival spirit. But South Australia’s coastlines are peppered with secluded beaches too. Discover marine life, hot surfing spots and untouched sand, stretching as far as the eye can see. Best of all, you’ll probably have these spots all to yourself.
Second Valley Beach
Good things come in small packages, and despite its petite size, Second Valley Beach delivers all the sun, sand and serenity you could ask for. On the lush Fleurieu Peninsula, about 90 minutes drive from Adelaide’s CBD, this beach is a top spot to explore rock pools, try your hand at crabbing, and scuba dive to catch a glimpse of South Australia’s marine emblem, the leafy sea dragon. Second Valley is a prime place to pull over en route to Kangaroo Island.
Photo: Lachlan Swan
Speaking of Kangaroo Island, Wheatons Beach is an uncut gem nestled on the island’s southern coast. At the southern end of D'Estrees Bay, on the edge of Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park, this beach can be accessed via a self-guided nature drive. Campgrounds and surf breaks are dotted across the beach’s rugged perimeter, where budding ornithologists will rejoice in the area’s diverse birdlife. Take a stroll to nearby Tadpole Cove to see fascinating rock formations, or sit back and soak up the tranquillity.
Paradise awaits at Lincoln National Park, home to Memory Cove. This isolated nook offers gleaming sands, dense vegetation and turquoise waters to a select few daily visitors. Fifty kilometres south of Port Lincoln, the protected area is being restored to pre-European conditions. Only 15 vehicles are permitted to enter the area each day, and a gate key and permit are required (which can be collected from the Port Lincoln Visitor Information Centre). Rest assured, this pearl of the Eyre Peninsula is worth the effort. You’ll remember Memory Cove for a lifetime.
Photo: Robert Lang
While Horseshoe Bay in Port Elliot attracts crowds year round, Ladies Beach is a serene spot ideal for swimming and sunbathing. Surrounded by rocks that form a breakwater, Ladies Beach has calmer waters and was previously used as a women’s bathing pool (hence the name). There is plenty to explore on and offshore, with rock pools strewn across the beach’s 60 metres, and snorkelling opportunities abound around the breakwater. Pack your camera to capture some of South Australia’s most attractive coast.
Less than four hours from Adelaide – via Port Wakefield, Ardrossan and Minlaton – Gym Beach sits on the “foot” of the Southern Yorke Peninsula. Nearby Marion Bay is a popular tourist town, but spectacular Gym Beach is comparatively quiet, with just five campsites available for hire. Cast a line off the rocks and you might spy a sunbaking sea lion or a pod of bottlenose dolphins passing by. Bring your beach umbrella and schedule your visit for April or May to stretch your summer out that little bit longer.
Photo: Brooke Liebelt
Half an hour’s drive from Streaky Bay on the Western Eyre Peninsula, Smooth Pool is tucked away at the base of a stark granite cliff. As the name suggests, its waters are calm and shallow, which makes it a snorkeller’s delight and an aquamarine playground for all ages. Be sure to explore the seaside sights of Streaky too.
Rumoured to be South Australia’s favourite seaside town, Robe boasts the Limestone Coast’s best kept secret: Long Beach. Its green-blue waters offer a great escape from the summer heat, with small to moderate swells that are perfect for beginner surfers. More experienced surfers may want to jump in the car and head for the larger waves further north – here, driving is permitted all along the shore. Pack the 4WD with your boards and a BBQ bucket, surf the day away, then watch the sun set over the Great Australian Bight, snag in hand.
Photo: Adam Bruzzone
The call of the wild roars through Kangaroo Island’s Ravine des Casoars – and if you’re up to the task, a challenging trek follows the ravine to the remote West Bay beach in Flinders Chase National Park. After passing dunes, caves and occasionally punishing waves, you can share your accomplishment with the stingrays that lap about the shallows.
Virgin Australia flies to Adelaide from all major Australian cities. Most major hire car companies are located at Adelaide Airport.