The best beaches in Adelaide are located only 20 minutes from the CBD – you can easily jump in the car and drive there, or catch public transport, such as trains, trams or buses, and be soaking up the sun in no time.
Each location has its individual charm, and we’ve given an overview of what you can expect when you visit them.
When you think ‘best beaches in Adelaide’, you can’t go past Glenelg – which many people will say is at the top of the list.
The sand is golden, the water is warm during summer, it is patrolled by surf lifesavers – a great added comfort for families with young children – and the only downside is everyone else knows how fantastic it is.
What I mean by that is, if you’re expecting to have the whole beach to yourself, think again – if it’s a nice, sunny day, you can almost guarantee it’s going to be heavily populated by other beachgoers.
Personally, this doesn’t bother me, especially when you look at everything Glenelg beach has to offer.
The atmosphere at the foreshore – and the adjoining, bustling Moseley Square – is virtually unrivalled among the best beaches in Adelaide, while nearby The Beachouse is an amusement complex featuring water slides, mini golf, bumper cars and is a great place for kids.
Jetty Road has so many create shops to browse through once you’ve had enough time soaking up the sun, and there are some great little cafes and dessert places for when you’re feeling hungry (the St Louis House of Fine Ice Cream is my guilty pleasure).
If you’ve booked a weekend getaway at Glenelg, you’ll be glad to know that The Stamford Grand and The Moseley are two popular Adelaide night spots – especially on Sundays – and are a great place to grab a drink and let your hair down.
The last great thing about Glenelg beach is its accessibility. You can jump on a tram from the CBD and be 50 metres from the shorefront in just 20 minutes.
Located around 15 minutes north of Glenelg along the western shore, Henley beach is another bustling location that is the perfect way to spend a summer weekend.
The beachfront sits between Glenelg and Semaphore, and in terms of busyness it is probably also somewhere in between these two locations.
Much like Glenelg, the sand is great and the water warm during summer, but probably not too much room for beach cricket unless you trek a little bit further away from the jetty.
It’s a great place to tan, swim or fish, while you can also go for a nice stroll along Henley jetty or chill out on a beautiful lawn area, perfect for picnics.
What I love most about Henley Beach is a little paved square – aptly called Henley Square – just off the foreshore, packed with cafes and restaurants – you can come straight off the sand, sit down and have a meal within minutes.
One of my favourites was the Malobo Bakery & Terrace Bar, while The Ramsgate is a very popular night spot and also does good meals.
The only downside to Henley Beach – which is also a problem at Glenelg, but probably not quite to the same extent – is the difficulty getting a park near the main, popular square.
The times I’ve been there, I’ve had to park up to a 10-minute walk away from the beach’s hot spot.
But, a walk along the beautiful Henley streets to arrive at your destination really isn’t the worst thing in the world, and certainly isn’t a reason to not visit one of the best beaches in Adelaide – only 20 minutes from the CBD.
Situated about 20 minutes north west of the CBD, straight along Port Road and accessible via train courtesy of the Outer Harbor rail line, Semaphore beach is without question one of the best beaches in Adelaide, and I really do consider it a bit of a hidden treasure.
The beach itself is fantastic – the sand is soft, and the best part is that it’s not too crowded most of the time.
A lot of the other best beaches in Adelaide, such as Henley Beach and Glenelg Beach, I’ve found to be absolutely packed on a hot summer weekend, and often it can be hard to find any space to lay down and soak up some rays without feeling like you’re in someone else’s pocket.
I haven’t found this to be the case at Semaphore – there’s plenty of space to set up some stumps, and play beach cricket.
If you don’t wish to stay out in the sun, you can usually find a spot under the jetty where you can set up your towel, lay back, and even listen to music if you’ve got a portable speaker to bring along.
The jetty itself is great to walk along, and you’ll usually find plenty of people fishing or crabbing.
The other great thing about Semaphore beach is in the summer there’s usually food trucks and even carnival rides set up for weeks at a time, which is perfect for those hoping to have a bit of fun and grab a cheap, tasty bite to eat.
If you’re looking for a sit-down meal, then the Largs Pier Hotel is a fantastic option and has great food, while there’s a stack of takeaway shops and ice creameries along the nearby Semaphore Road that will whet your appetite.
If you’re someone who loves to get active, then West Beach will be right up your alley.
With heaps of cabins available to hire nearby at West Beach Parks, this is a really popular location for families.
There’s also a mini golf and rides located at the Mega Adventure Park not too far from the foreshore for those wanting some other non-beach related activities.
Back to the beach, though, it really is a paradise for soaking up the sun, or enjoying some water sports.
You can take kiteboarding lessons courtesy of Kiteboarding School Adelaide, or rent out a paddle board at the nearby Beach Break Café.
You can also pedal along the coast from the West Beach Surf Life Saving Club, or join a number of other morning fitness groups such as the West Beach parkrun, Henley Striders or 30/30 Beach Streak.
I have some great memories of staying with my family at West Beach when I was a kid, when visiting Adelaide from the country during the school holidays, and it’s something not only young children, but people of all ages, can enjoy.
If you travel 10 minutes south of Glenelg, to escape some of the hustle and bustle of the other best beaches in Adelaide, then Brighton beach is the perfect location.
Brighton resembles more of a surf beach than a place to relax (the sand is a bit firmer), but that doesn’t mean you can’t!
This a great location if you want to kick a footy, throw a ball and feel like you have a whole portion of the beach to yourself.
Interestingly, Brighton beach has a lot of similar features to its neighbouring Glenelg – it too has a great jetty, and it also has a nearby Jetty Road packed with different eateries and shopping outlets.
The View at 85 Café has some great reviews and is well worth a stop if you’re out and about with friends, while the Copenhagen ice creamery has all the delicious flavours that will help keep you cool, and your taste buds satisfied, on a hot summer’s day.
You can take the train to Brighton beach from the CBD (it’ll take about 30 minutes), but it will drop you off at the stop around five blocks away from Jetty Road, leaving you around a five-minute walk to get there.