If you’ve got a four-wheel drive, there are several beaches that you can legally drive on in South Australia.
While some of the beaches in South Australia are accessible by all vehicles, some are only suitable for four-wheel drives and experienced drivers. Do your homework before you leave and read the signs at your destination.
Beaches are home to many species of protected flora and fauna and are a fragile, living ecosystem. Tread lightly, stick to the firm sand at low tide and don’t go driving above the high tide marks.
Think you have the necessary skills? Then pack a picnic, let down your tyres and hit the road! Here are some options to try.
Sellicks Beach is a favourite spot for a seaside drive.
Sellicks beach, Fleurieu Peninsula
Located less than an hour’s drive south of Adelaide, Sellicks Beach and nearby Silver Sands are two favourite summer pilgrimage destinations for thousands of Adelaide families.
You don’t need a four-wheel drive for these beach – you can drive most cars on the firm sand between the waterline and high tide mark. Silver Sands beach is open to vehicles from 5.30am to midnight. From December to March, on days when the temperature at Noarlunga is forecast to be above 24ºC, the access ramps may be staffed by volunteers and a vehicle access fee will apply. The funds raised go to local community groups. Cars with beach passes are allowed on Sellicks Beach, below the Esplanade.
Goolwa, Fleurieu Peninsula
Goolwa was once a bustling river port, where paddle steamers and steam trains met to carry produce further afield. Located around 1 hour 15 minutes’ drive south of Adelaide, you can drive from Goolwa Beach to the mouth of the Murray River.
This is a drive for experienced four-wheel drivers, who should stop and read the information signs before journeying onto the sand. Drive approximately 10 kilometres along the Sir Richard Peninsula but make sure you allow time to return before the tide comes in.
Emu Bay, Kangaroo Island
A popular coastal town full of holiday accommodation, Emu Bay is also the only place you can drive on the beach on Kangaroo Island
. A four-wheel drive is not essential, provided you stick to the firm sand.
This stunning, sweeping beach stretches for four kilometres and provides a safe beach for the family to swim at. Grab some fresh oysters from American River, then drive down the firm sand at low tide and you’ll feel like you’ve been stranded on a desert island - in the nicest possible way. Just come back to reality and depart before the tide starts coming in!
Known as Australia’s “Seafood Frontier”, there are several beaches along the Eyre Peninsula
which offer a true four-wheel drive experience.
You’ll find Lincoln National Park
only half an hour out of Port Lincoln. It’s here you’ll find the fabulous Sleaford – Wanna sand dune system. Recommended for experienced four-wheel drivers only, the 10 kilometre track offers some of the best sand driving experiences on the Eyre Peninsula. Make sure you follow the orange marker posts. Collect a brochure and get the latest conditions from the Port Lincoln Visitor Information Centre before you go. Entry fees apply.
Protecting the stunning northern beaches of the Coffin Bay National Park
, Point Sir Isaac is a favourite destination with surfers, anglers and birdwatchers. To reach the lighthouse, experienced four-wheel drive enthusiasts must navigate a slender 55 kilometre coastal strip of sandy beaches and limestone outcrops. High clearance is required and allow at least three hours each way. Entry fees apply to Coffin Bay National Park.
There are several beaches further north along the Eyre Peninsula
which, despite their remoteness, are extremely popular with locals and holidaymakers during the summer months. All of these beaches will require a four-wheel drive to access them. Shelly Beach at Ceduna is a four-kilometre stretch of beach where you can drive down, drop a line and hopefully catch a fish or two. The beach at Point Bell Conservation Park provides excellent fishing and swimming. Camping is permitted. Access is over sand dunes and four-wheel driving experience is essential. Scotts Beach, within the Fowlers Bay Conservation Park provides a long, sandy stretch - again with fishing and camping available.
They say the “grass is always greener on the other side”. In this case, you could say that “the beaches are better”. Our Victorian neighbours often cross the border to enjoy four-wheel driving along designated beaches on the Limestone Coast
. Always check the latest conditions with national park rangers or the local visitor information centre. During winter, some beaches may be unsafe for even the most experienced of four-wheel drivers, due to king tides and bad weather.
Robe is one of the most popular holiday coastal towns and with a wide sweeping beach like Long Beach, it’s no wonder. The beach is perfect for families and can be accessed by all vehicles – just stick to the firm sand at low tide and drive carefully.
Just south of Robe is the Little Dip Conservation Park
. It is home to some great coastal drives, perfect for the summer months. Not for the novice driver, the park offers a mix of freshwater and saltwater environments and is known for its sand dunes and challenging soft-sand drives in parts along the beaches. Campgrounds are nestled amongst the dune fields and natural bushland. If you plan on camping, you will need to pre-book online
Running for almost 100 kilometres along the Southern Ocean and extending to the mouth of the Murray River, the Coorong National Park
is a favourite destination of four-wheel drivers, particularly in summer. The area is known for its fishing, kayaking, birdwatching and camping however much of the region is remote, so come fully-stocked with water, food, fuel, firewood (note strict fire regulations) and emergency supplies. While camping is permitted on the beaches between the high and low tide water mark, do consider the tides and other traffic. Avoid taking vehicles behind the dunes, as the delicate eco-systems are protected.
Download The Limestone Coast 4WD Explorers Guide
for more information. (PDF)
The Yorke Peninsula
is a popular family holiday destination and boasts 700 kilometres of coastline, including opportunities for driving on beaches all year round.
To the north of historic Wallaroo is the wide, sweeping North Beach, where holiday houses and shacks line the shoreline. At low tide, the firm, packed sand makes it possible for all types of cars to drive on the beach. This is a popular beach, so drive slowly and look out for kids, dogs and low-flying frisbees!
West of Minlaton is Parsons Beach. Access to the beach is only suitable for four-wheel drive vehicles. You can drive the 20-kilometre stretch to Minlacowie. If you are lucky, you might see dolphins playing in the water. Just remember to stick to the hard sand at low tide, as hooded plovers are known to nest in the sands above the high tide mark.
Another pleasant, easy beach drive for four-wheel drives only is between Flaherty’s Beach and Point Turton. This area offers a great beach for families, which is popular with the locals.
Before you go…
Whilst driving on the beach sounds like fun, there are some things you need to consider before you leave the bitumen.
• Know your vehicle
- and your limits. While it’s great to challenge yourself, it can be dangerous if something goes wrong. Remember to deflate your tyres and have the necessary equipment and knowledge in case of an accident or emergency. It’s a good idea to let someone know where you are going and make sure your insurance will cover you!
• Not all beaches are suitable
. Beaches are constantly changing with the tides and weather conditions. What was suitable one day, may be dangerous the next. Always check with the local national park rangers or visitor information centres and listen to their advice.
• Know the tide times
. They say time and tide wait for no man and it is certainly true when driving on the beach. Aim to drive at low tide and allow sufficient time to return before the tide starts turning. Also check weather forecasts, fire restrictions and be aware of any change in conditions. For weather updates, see the Bureau of Meteorology’s website
. You can also ask at local petrol stations and visitor information centres.
• Give way
. Australian road rules apply on beaches. Vehicles must be roadworthy and registered. You must wear a seat belt, drive at appropriate speed and don’t drink and drive. Remember to give way and respect other beach users. During summer, there can be many other vehicles on beaches, so slow down and be alert.
• Don’t trespass
. Many beach drives actually traverse private land and the owners kindly allow four-wheel drivers to drive across it. The same applies in many dunes above the high tide mark, where birds such as the hooded plover nest and make their home. Stick to the defined tracks and “tread lightly".