Ocean therapy. It cures everything, and hey, there’s nothing quite like a salty sea breeze and the sight of a glistening white beach to calm your city-slicking soul.
Those who’ve beachcombed our stunning shores will speak of snug coves, jaw-dropping cliffs, white sands - and their sun-kissed smiles are living proof. Whether you’re after a lazy picnic, a surfing mecca, family fun, or a fisherman’s basket, we’re home to 400kms of coastline that's peppered with some of the best beaches in Australia. Here’s a few favourites, working south from Adelaide…
Coorong National Park
Heading south from the city, the first jaw-dropper you’ll come across is the breathtaking Coorong National Park. This long, narrow ribbon of saline wetlands, saltpans, coastal dunes and wild ocean beaches is an off-roader’s dream, with a vast sandy white highway that stretches 190 kilometres from the mouth of the Murray River in Goolwa all the way to Kingston. This is prime territory to separate yourself from the rat-race and put your 4WD through its paces, with shimmering white dunes and a horizon as big as the Southern Ocean.
Rich in Aboriginal history and home to an astonishing array of birds and wildlife, you’ll also find casting a fishing line, paddling a kayak or pitching a tent to be the perfect antidote to city living. Just note, these are seriously wild and un-patrolled beaches - while swimming is often safe (and serious surfers will find great sport), help is a long way away if you get into trouble. If unsure, stay on the sand.
Making your way into Kingston, either via the Princes Highway or the beach (depending on your wheels), The Granites mark the spot from which the safer swimming beaches begin. These giant boulders stand as lone soldiers on the longest unbroken stretch of beach in Australia, having been smoothed by the sea for millennia, making an easy climb for little explorers at low tide.
While the waters around here are moderately safe for swimming, the beaches further south along Lacepede Bay are your best options, with Long Beach (south) your first port of call. Rolling out 15kms of straight white sand all the way into town, you’ll find this a cruisy beach drive, with plenty of spots to pull up a park and enjoy a little slice of utopia. As you skirt your way along the town’s main beach past the jetty (great for fishing), a long grassy reserve separates the city from the sea all the way to Pinks Beach, with ample spots for a dip, and a diving pontoon for good measure. Sunsets here are really something else, with a staircase to the Sun dissolving into the ocean by night, and dolphins and seals both regular visitors to the shallows.
Further south, the tranquil little village of Cape Jaffa offers something for everyone, with calm beaches and minimal wave activity too that’ll please any parent with young kids. Divers and snorkellers will also enjoy the marine life and landforms around Margaret Brock Reef, while fishing is pretty much a way of life with the anchorage, marina and jetty delivering good hauls when they’re biting.
The stretch of beach between Cape Jaffa and Wrights Bay offers plenty of challenges for adventurous four-wheel-drivers with more incredible fishing at the other end. The waters around here are literally teeming with fish that can easily be accessed by casting a line from the sand or launching a boat from the bay. As well as a prolific population of snapper, mullet and salmon, you can expect to catch some pretty hefty mulloway over the summer months. This low-key gem is also home to some great little beaches and reefs that are safe for swimmers and snorkelers, big and small.
Robe & Surrounds.
You came for salt and sand, and there’s no doubt that Robe’s ridiculously good beaches are a go-to at any time of year.
Put simply, there’s no better place to start a seaside odyssey than the very aptly named - and seriously iconic - Long Beach, sitting right on the edge of town. With 12-kilometres of glistening white sand, finding your own patch of paradise comes all too easily around here. While the southern-most pedestrian-only section (between first and second ramps) is generally safest for swimming, the area to the north is totally do-able by car - just be mindful of high tides and soft sand to save yourself some embarrassment!
While the drive-on stretch can admittedly get a little busy at times, you’ll find heaps of space out of peak-season, and with miles of sand in either direction, there’s enough to keep everyone happy. Think: sandcastles and beach cricket, gentle breakers for boogie boarders (just look out for rips) and waterfront picnics with friends. Oh, and if you’re keen to catch dinner off the beach, this is definitely the spot to do it, with whiting, flathead, salmon, mullet, garfish and the odd snapper all on the daily menu.
Naturally, this is Robe, so the beachcombing certainly doesn’t end there… Swimmers (especially those with kids in tow) will love Town Beach, right in the centre of town, where safe, clear waters are fringed by white sands just a short walk from the shopping strip. Just down the coast, you’ll find Hooper's Beach and Fox's Beach (just past the Outlet) which are quiet, picturesque little alternatives to the busier spots. Surfers flock to the wild, windswept frontage of 'The Dump' and West Beach, whose exposure to sizeable Southern Ocean swells sees some pretty fun waves across all seasons.
Just a little further south, the dramatic landscapes of Little Dip Conservation Park are a 4WD and surf angler’s paradise, with giant dunes, lakes and thick coastal scrub providing a stunning backdrop to some seriously good beaches. While experienced surfers probably won’t hesitate to get their feet wet at Queens Head and Evans Cave beaches, Stony Rise also delivers the goods year-round and is probably the safest bet for most of us looking to get our feet wet. It’s namesake Little Dip Beach is also a great spot to soak in the seascapes, with deep white sand (check your tyre pressure) and clear aquamarine waters.
Nora Creina Bay.
Take the unsealed road a little further to Nora Creina and you’ll lob straight into a postcard. Named after the brigantine sailing ship Nora Creina that struck a reef off the bay in 1858, the glorious curve of Nora Creina Bay is fringed by powder white sands and vivid blue waters that not only offer some of the best swimming between Robe and Beachport, but also a sweet little sanctuary away from the crowds. If you’re keen on taking the boat out for a spin there’s also a boat ramp on hand, while beach anglers casting a line will score some killer catches right off the sand (FYI - the bay’s also full of crayfish if you’re hungry). As always, ensure you check and adhere to bag limits, which can be referenced here.
Beachport & Surrounds.
Well, the name already gives it away, so there’s no guessing about the quality of the coastline around Beachport! Sitting pretty at the north-western tip of Rivoli Bay, this town is fringed by the lapping ocean on both sides, with the stunning Beachport Conservation Park right on the doorstep...
Without doubt the first order of play is packing your beach gear into the car for a cruise along the Bowman Scenic Drive. This 8-kilometre stretch of road is a genuine jaw-dropper, snaking its way through a spectacular rollercoaster of glistening white sand-dunes, perfect little beaches and dramatic limestone cliffs. It’s our very own Great Ocean Road (without the foot traffic!), and a place that’ll fill your photo album faster than it takes you to leg it down onto the sand.
Salmon Hole will be one of your first stops en-route, and if we ever needed proof that a Beach God exists then let’s just say he probably lives around here... The vivid aquamarine waters and curving white sands are a green light for swimmers in summer and anglers all year-round, making this place a firm local favourite - both in real life and on Instagram. Whether you’re snoozing on the sand or lazing in the lagoon, this place is chock-full of eye-candy, fringed by 20-metre-high dunes that also dish up plenty of thrills for sand boarders. Oh, and it got its name for a reason… If you’re here to fish you’ll enjoy tight lines any time of year, with scores of Salmon Trout (among other species) running through the channel.
At Post Office Rock (or 'Posties', as it's known to locals), you’ll find a glorious 300-metre-long beach that's not only great for swimming but also fishing and surfing, with a number of close-in reef breaks dishing up waves along Wooley Rock beach. When the tide’s low it’s worth a wander out to the little island, and if you’re in need of a little more Insta-fame, you’ll want to try that perfect shot whenever the tide’s right…
Back around Beachport township, Surf Beach is a very sensibly named spot to hang ten, with gentle shelving sands and a small, steady swell that rolls through all year-round. As well as dishing up fun for the more experienced surfer, this place is also perfect for boogie boarders and beginners, all plonked before a backdrop of South Australia’s second longest jetty (a must for anglers), neighbouring headlands and islands. Families will also enjoy the main beach from Glenn’s Point that’s home to beautiful well-protected blue waters, making it a perfect spot for a paddle!
Four-wheel-drivers revere Beachport Conservation Park, and as you make your way through the coastal scrub, you’ll have a number of little tempters to turn off through towering dunes to a range of white sandy beaches (many un-named) without a soul in sight. A quick word of warning for the un-initiated: don’t underestimate the soft sand. Bogging is a regular occurrence, so rest assured it’s time to let those tyres down and make sure your recovery kit’s in the back seat! Towards the end of the line, you’ll find a nice sheltered spot at Five Mile Drift that’s perfect for picnics, with safe swimming and a landing site for boats and windsurfers.
The low-key coastal village of Southend sits at the southern end of Rivoli Bay and serves as a gateway to the stunning Canunda National Park – and hey, if you’ve got a 4WD and a sense of adventure you can ditch the bitumen and ramble the whole way by sand from Beachport!
Southend (main) Beach in front of the old caravan park site is a safe haven for swimmers, with a few low waves for boogie boarders (more advanced surfers should try Burdon Beach), and while flags are usually up over summer holidays it’s generally unpatrolled. If swimming’s not your bag, the nearby jetty (a hive of activity during the annual lobster harvest) is also a great spot to dangle a line or cart your fish and chips on a blustery winter’s day.
Canunda National Park.
Heading south, the sea-ravaged cliffs and shimmering white beaches of Canunda National Park are a genuine maritime masterpiece, and a place for four-wheel drivers to put their rigs through their paces (regular vehicles can still access Cape Buffon and Geltwood Beach campground). This place has been blessed with Mother Nature’s full bag of tricks, and as surfers will attest, it’s also home to some seriously good waves (swimmers, just beware)!
With around 40km to explore, the northern reaches of the park are dominated by towering limestone cliffs, sea stacks, reefs and bushland, with the more open terrain of the south giving way to sand dunes and beaches that stretch all the way to the park’s outer edge.
In the north, take the 2.5km, 1-hour Cape Buffon Walk and you’ll see how the forces of nature have shaped this area, with its epic sea stacks, reefs and native flora providing plenty of eye fodder for anyone on foot. The 3.4km Seaview Walk from Boozy Gully (no seriously, that’s it’s real name) also weaves its way between a series of jaw-dropping beaches and lookouts, with the ancient Aboriginal middens at Abyssinia Bay and the impossibly perfect Cullen Bay both revealed enroute (hot tip: climb down to the sand and check out the sea caves at the latter).
Heading south it’s 4WD only, and off-roaders will relish powering their way through the dunes and along the soft sands of Geltwood Beach (again, double-check tide times and tyre pressure first). Extending down from Little Rock, the unbroken beauty of Canunda Beach runs for over 16km, with its wild and untamed swells providing an uncrowded sanctuary for advanced surfers - with a fisherman’s paradise at your feet (think: salmon, sharks and mulloway).
At the park’s southernmost point the legendary Cape Banks Lighthouse stands tall, having surveyed the treacherous waters around Carpenter Rocks since 1883.
Many a ship has been claimed around here - and none more visible than that of the Pisces Star, which ran aground on its maiden voyage from Western Australia in 1997. Following the steps down onto the sand, you’ll find this beauty sitting exactly where she fell in the shallows of Lighthouse Bay, with low and high tide offering incredible photo opportunities - and the opportunity to get your feet wet with a climb up onto the wreck’s bow.
If fishing’s more your scene, rest assured you’ll have a tight line in these parts too. From Cape Banks it’s only a short drive to Carpenter Rocks, where you can cast a line straight off Bucks Bay or launch the boat in search of bigger game beyond the outside reefs. Among other species, you’ll get a decent feed of Australian salmon, King George whiting, squid, tommy ruff, garfish and silver trevally in these waters.
Blackfellows Caves and Nene Valley.
The chilled little fishing settlement of Blackfellows Caves takes its name from the ancient sea caves that have eroded into the limestone bluffs at the end of the main road, and if you're here on a hot summer's day you'll soon find utopia. Home to just 70 permanent residents and a handful of holiday houses, this popular spot for anglers also offers safe swimming on the eastern side of the bluff, with crystal clear waters protected by the offshore reefs.
At Nene Valley you’ll find another underrated gem, with a tranquil little village that’s home to spectacular swimming beaches and – naturally – more amazing fishing for anyone chasing dinner, either from the shore or by boat. The well protected settlement (main) beach is generally your safest bet to jump in around here, thanks again to the protection of the outer reefs – just be careful of rips when swimming east of the shacks.
Cape Northumberland & Port MacDonnell.
Heading further south towards the border, the wild, windswept panoramas of Cape Northumberland are untouched, untamed and unbelievable – and well-known hangouts for experienced surfers year-round. Here at the Southernmost point of South Australia, waves crash into tortured limestone cliffs, with the ruins of the old lighthouse standing testament to the forces of nature. In between the big stuff, snorkellers will find plenty of little gems around the rocks and reefs, and if you’re here around sunset, just be sure to pack a camera!
Taking the short drive into the family-friendly lobster port of Port MacDonnell, those with kids in-tow will find the tranquil sands of Woolwash Beach a safe haven, extending east of the breakwater right out the front of the caravan park, with BBQs and toilets conveniently located nearby. There’s also plenty of adventures to be had around the nearby reef, where turning over rocks reveals a cast of crabs and unusual shells – enough to bring a smile to any little fossicker’s face.
To the Victorian Border.
Oh, and if you’re wondering if the fish are biting… these are some of the most productive waters in the Southern Ocean, so it’s time to bait up some hooks. Depending on the season, there’s plenty of sport off the beach, while boaties can expect to pull in anything from Tuna and Albacore to Snapper, sharks, Ling, Trevella and more. And hey, with ‘Port Mac’ being home to South Australia’s largest lobster fishing fleet, you might even try a pot or two for an extra special dinner.
As you make your way towards the Victorian border, Brown Bay shines like some sort of surf fishing wonderland – but hey, strip down to your bathers too, because this place delivers in spades. While facilities are light (there’s a picnic table, toilet and a car park), you’ll score almost solo access to two stunning white sand beaches (just be careful around Green and Danger points) – just pack some food, a beach brolly and a picnic blanket and you’ll be living the coastal dream in no time.
Looking for more beach advice? The Limestone Coast has friendly Visitor Servicing experts across the Region's Visitor Centres so give them a call or visit in person for the latest in the moment beach advice!