With one of the state’s most stunning stretches of coastline, choose your own aquatic adventure or soothe the soul with a superb collection of beaches.
The region is home to pristine beaches and coastal nodes, each with their own unique rugged coastline and seaside charm. Whether you’re a keen surfer, love your snorkelling or scuba diving, or simply want to stroll and soak up the sun on the sand, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
“It’s a beautiful location by the coast, and only 40 minutes from the city,” says Cheryl Buck, owner of Surf Culture Australia Surf School. “There’s easy access to waves year round and often you see dolphins swimming.” Cheryl runs private and group surf lessons from beginners to advanced and introduces visitors to the top surf breaks of the region.
The beach calling has also recently lured Julian Foale, owner of paddle-board business SUP Down South. Julian and his family offer lessons and board hire from Port Willunga, one of the region’s most popular beaches. “Paddleboarding gives you access to the sea on a different level,” he says. “You can get out there, get amongst it and enjoy the serenity and scenery. It gives you a very different perspective of the coastline.”
There are spectacular beaches and a range of aquatic activities waiting to be explored. Here’s a snapshot of the region’s beaches…
One of the region’s drive-on beaches, Aldinga’s expansive beach is patrolled by surf lifesavers and ideal for families on the sand. Fish and chips, picnic rugs, sun shades and sand castles, this beach was made for family fun.
When the tide is out, the rock pools at Aldinga are great fun for little ones. You can spy starfish, crabs and sometimes even a little gummy shark in the shallows, or look for beautiful shells on the beach.
A popular patrolled surf beach, Christies is ideal for water activities, or a great seaside walk to Port Noarlunga. It’s also a hit with snorkellers, with the stunning Whitton Bluff Reef. Make time for a stop-off at the Christies Beach Surf Life Saving Club. If the doors are open, head in for a drink with the locals.
The state’s iconic nudist beach, Maslin’s is a great one for the bucket list. While the southern end of the beach is reserved for unclad swimmers, the remainder of the beach is dog-friendly and perfect for a dip. The rugged red cliffs are a stunning contrast to the crisp blue waters.
Moana is a great spot for kids and families with a nice beach break patrolled by surf lifesavers. The local caravan park provides direct beach access too. Known for its accessibility for beginner surfers, particularly if you’re keen to get up and surf the breaks, as it is all sand bottomed and no rocks to worry about. The superb cliff-top walkway leads down to the beach and offers stunning vistas.
PORT NOARLUNGA BEACH
Port Noarlunga is an aquatic paradise. Drop a line off the jetty, or take a swim between the flags in the pristine waters, with the white sand just a hop, skip and a jump from the town centre. Grab a bite for breakfast or lunch and head down for a day of family fun. The reef towards the end of the jetty is also a perfect spot to catch a glimpse of some local sea life, forming part of the Encounter Marine Park.
PORT WILLUNGA BEACH
One of the region’s most photographed beaches, Port Willunga is known for its golden cliff faces, crystal clear waters and soft white sands. Stroll through the linear park and up the cliffs to continue along the Heysen Trail, or stick to the beach and check out the famous old jetty and fishermen’s caves, carved into the cliffs. Because the beach almost forms a cove, the swell is safe for little swimmers and ideal for paddle boarding and kayaking.
Known as one of the top surfing beaches in the area, it’s a regular hot-spot for locals. Seaford is also popular with kite-boarders and wind-surfers too. On a sunny day, it’s a beautiful spot to swim and there’s a number of cafes and restaurants in nearby Seaford township when you need to feed the sea air driven hunger.
Often called ‘the funnel’ by locals, Sellicks is ideal for wind-loving adrenalin junkies. Think kite-boarding, wind-surfing and paragliding – if you’ve got the gear, this is the place to do it. It’s also a top spot for fishing and home to a popular boat ramp. Swimming and walking are also stunning at this southern-most point of the region, providing an epic coastline view stretching down the Fleurieu coast.
SOUTH PORT BEACH
Where the river meets the sea, this is one of the most photographed areas of the region. A culmination of red sandstone cliffs, the aqua-toned river and pristine blue sea. Sunrise and sunset is a must at the lookout located at the top of the main staircase. Home to many aquatic activities – swimming, surf lessons, locally patrolled beach, as well as kayak or paddle board hire offering an opportunity to explore the Onkaparinga River.
If you’re keen to surf, you’ll need to know the local names of the top surfing spots. Here’s a few to get you started, from Cheryl Buck of Surf Culture Australia.
Triggs… is just south of the river mouth – it’s the next break around the bend. It’s called Triggs because there’s a trig point – a large marine identification marker.
Y-steps… is at Christies Beach, named as such due to the steps descending to the beach.
The trough… is the first break north of Moana beach. Access this surf break from the northern Moana Beach carpark. There’s a duct that runs through there, hence the name.
The hump… is reliably good for surfing, located at South Port. It’s named the hump due to its shape, curving around the sandy coastline near the river mouth.
Fancy yourself a keen angler? Dropping a line is popular in these parts, with a number of top destinations to nab a catch of the day. There’s a range of fish up for grabs, including Australian salmon, flathead, mullet, squid, garfish and tommy roughs. Visit a local fishing tackle shop for more information, and if you’ve forgotten your bait, don’t worry, there are a few new bait vending machines dotted along the coast. Here are a few local fishing hot-spots:
- Port Noarlunga jetty
- Sellicks Beach boat ramp
- Onkaparinga River
Sip and savour the region’s best with picturesque beach views at these top spots…
- Ampika’s Kitchen, Port Noarlunga
- Breeze Cafe & Bar, Aldinga
- Cody’s Cafe, Port Noarlunga
- Deep Blue Cafe, Moana
- Flava Food & Coffee, Christies Beach
- Hortas, Port Noarlunga
- Nine50 Restaurant, Christies Beach
- Star of Greece, Port Willunga
- Victory Hotel, Sellicks Beach
Discovered the beautiful beaches along the Fleurieu Peninsula? Share it on social media using the hashtag #mclarenvaleguide