The beach culture on the Mid Coast has an infectious charm – whether you’re enjoying a picnic on the sand, learning to surf or snorkelling the reef, there’s a lot to love about this pristine coastline.

A well-kept secret for locals and a spectacular discovery for visitors, the coastline is a natural jewel of the region. With waters as blue as the Mediterranean, but without the crowds, the Mid Coast is truly the best of both worlds.

“Being able to go from water to wine in 10 minutes is amazing, and the pristine beaches we have here are absolutely fantastic,” says Chris Campbell of Easy Kayaks, a local kayak and board hire company. “They’re uncrowded and really clean,” he says. While the cliffs and seascapes are stunning, the natural beauty under water is spectacular too, a hidden gem in the region. The Port Noarlunga reef has more species of fish than the Great Barrier Reef!

Part of the protected Encounter Marine Park, the reefs in the region are an ecological wonder. Chris runs guided tours with glass-bottomed kayaks so you can experience this natural secret for yourself. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, try your hand at scuba diving, snorkelling or even SNUBA (a combination of the two), with a number of companies offering classes and equipment hire. Visit the McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Visitor Information Centre for more details.

Above water, the region is a hive of activity. Surfers enjoy the swell at a number of the beach hotspots each year, while kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and even horse riding along the beach are increasingly popular.

McLaren Vale Guide Port Willunga Beach
Port Willunga Beach – photo courtesy of South Australian Tourism Commission

Cheryl Buck of Surf Culture Australia Surf School runs her renowned surf classes from Moana and Port Noarlunga – the original surf school of the region since 1991. “We’re also offering a unique experience combining surfing and wine tasting with our new Waves & Wine program – we provide a surfing lesson and take you to a local winery for tasting and lunch,” she says.

If you want something a little more relaxed, paddle boarding is less intensive and easy to pick up. Keen surfer and local Julian Foale recently started a stand up paddle board hire business in Port Willunga – SUP Down South. “With stand up paddle boards, there’s such a variety of things you can do with them and it’s so accessible to everyone,” says Julian.

More of a land and sand lover? The 31km span of coastline is packed with walking and cycling trails perfect to take in the gorgeous views. For something a little different, you could take in the scenery on horseback, with riding tour groups operating at Port Willunga.

Nikki Govan, local and owner of the Star of Greece says one of the best ways to enjoy the beaches of the region is to pick a spot and settle in for a stunning sunset. “There’s nothing better than to visit one of the local markets, gather a collection of beautiful fresh produce, make up some platters and take it to the beach.”

  • Woodside cheese (Blessed Cheese, 3 Monkeys Fine Foods, Coriole) – soon to be opening a tasting room in McLaren Flat
  • Coriole olives (Coriole)
  • Matchetts crackers (Willunga Farmers Market)
  • Dried muscatels, sultanas, currants and figs from McCarthy’s Orchards (Willunga Farmers Market)
  • Little Acre Foods paté or meat terrine (Willunga Farmers Market, 3 Monkeys Fine Foods)
  • Taronga almonds (Willunga Farmers Market)
  • Artisan chocolates & cakes (Four Winds Chocolate, Wirra Wirra)
  • Andy Clappis’ bread (every Saturday at Minko Wines)

Photo: Shav Bird – beaches theme winner – Capture McLaren Vale Hills Valleys and Beaches Tourism Photography and Video Competition 

Favourite beach spot on South Australia’s Mid Coast? Share it on social media using the hashtag #mclarenvaleguide

McLaren Vale Visitor Guide

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  • Have you been to the @maxwellwines cellar door? It's a must for those organising a wine tour in McLaren Vale. Thanks for sharing this great photo with us @mcfuzzlebutts.manchen 🍇🍷 #mclarenvaleguide #mclarenvale #winery #cellardoor #maxwellwines #wine #redwine
  • If you love these stunning flowers and other fresh produce head down to the @willungafarmersmarket this weekend 💐 Thanks for sharing this photo with us @dressedincopper 📸
  • What a fantastic photo at Christies Beach taken by @_shav_bird_photography 🌊 Don't forget to tag us or #mclarenvaleguide to share your wonderful experiences in the Onkaparinga region #mclarenvale #christiesbeach #southaustralia #onkaparinga #southaustralianbeaches
  • We love this post from @winegrapesaustralia 🍇 Autumn in McLaren Vale is a gorgeous sight to see. 🍂 Why not plan a trip there this weekend before winter rolls in? #mclarenvaleguide #mclarenvale #autumn #autumnleaves #vineyard #wine #southaustralia
  • McLaren Vale is truly one of the most picturesque parts of the world. We love this post from @wirrawirrawines 🌈 🍷#mclarenvaleguide #mclarenvale #vineyard #wine #winery #rainbow #southaustralia
  • Does it get any better than pizza and wine with a view? We love this photo by @jemerr taken at @pizza_teca 🍕🍷 #mclarenvaleguide #mclarenvale #wine #pizza #pizzateca #southaustralia #winesbygeoffhardy
  • Look at that sky! What a great photo by @missfirephotography ⛅️️ Head to McLaren Vale this weekend and see how beautiful the area is for yourself!

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  • How delicious do these fresh carrots look? Great photo by @dressedincopper at the @willungafarmersmarket 🥕

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