With so many exceptional beaches so close to the city centre, Adelaide's sand and surf are virtually inescapable.
BY SAM SMITH
Growing up near Glenelg – our most popular metropolitan beach – I spent hours soaking up the sun before, after and sometimes even during (much to my teachers’ dismay) the school day. As an adult, I’m slightly less of a beach babe, but still find myself captivated by Glenelg’s beachside café culture, Brighton’s meandering esplanade and Henley’s mouth-watering fish and chips.
One of my favourite things about our metropolitan beaches is the fact that they’re so accessible. Feeling drained after a day at work? Jump in the car, chuck on your bathers and within the hour you can be sprawled on a towel in the sun at Semaphore or perfecting your freestyle at Moana.
With so many options so close to the city, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. But fear not. Here you’ll find a list of the best metropolitan beaches in South Australia.
Family-friendly Glenelg is our most popular metropolitan beach. It’s also the easiest to access. Jetty Road – a bustling mix of quality cafés, clothing boutiques and restaurants – is just a 20 minute drive from the city centre. Don’t want to take the car? Just hop on the tram. It runs from the Entertainment Centre, through the heart of the city and drops you at Moseley Square, just metres away from the water at Glenelg.
Once you’ve gone for a dip and strolled down the jetty, grab a bite to eat. Cardone’s Seafood & Grill is great for – surprise, surprise – seafood, as well as steaks and platters. The Strand Café, a favourite among Glenelgians, plates-up mouth-watering pasta, pizza and Mediterranean dishes. For an authentic Japanese dining experience, you can’t beat Yakumi. It offers some of Adelaide’s best sushi and sashimi only minutes away from the sea.
After lunch, take a stroll around the picturesque Holdfast Shores or give your credit card a workout at one (or more) of Glenelg’s trendy boutiques.
Jump back into the car for ten minutes and you’ll be at Brighton. Mirroring Glenelg with its own Jetty Road, Brighton has a similar relaxed vibe with eclectic cafés, restaurants and fish and chip shops aplenty. While still very popular in the summer months, Brighton beach is generally less crowded than Glenelg.
If you’re travelling with kids, it’s a perfect day-trip. Strolling down Brighton's long jetty and past chattering cafés, it’s easy to feel like a local. For a quick and inexpensive dinner, nothing beats In Thais Café & Noodle Bar. Their alfresco dining area, draped in fairy lights and set along Jetty Road, is the best place to be on a balmy summer night. For modern Australian cuisine, or humble fish and chips, Brighton Jetty Road Café is your port of call.
Explore up to 6 metres under the ocean without bulky scuba diving equipment; just a mask, fins, SNUBA harness and a light belt.
Port Noarlunga, Christies Beach and Moana
Port Noarlunga, Christies Beach and Moana are a bit further away from the city, but well-worth the trip. Port Noarlunga’s huge shore, crystal clear water and towering red sandstone cliffs assure you that you’ve left the city behind.
The three beaches are surfing and body boarding hotspots, but still perfect families as swells rarely get too rough. With loads of room on the beach, you’ll never have to worry about overcrowding. Just rock up and hit the water. Take your snorkelling gear to Christies. Its long boardwalk leads to a reef that’s popular all year-round.
Steps away from Moana and Christies Beach are lazy sun-soaked esplanades with fish and chip shops and cafés run by friendly, laid-back locals. Deep Blue Café at Moana is famous for its home-made gourmet pizzas and crispy fish and chips, best enjoyed on the beach, literally right across the road. You can’t go past Port Noarlunga’s Tequila N Tacos for a contemporary take on Mexican, and if you’re after a coffee, Christies’ Viscous Coffee is renowned as the best in the area.
Surrounded by a range of high-end seafood restaurants and centring around a bustling grassed square, Henley is a must-visit whether you’re after a quality dinner, a quality swim, or a bit of both. The shoreline stretches as far as the eye can see, with plenty of space for laying out your towel or taking a dip.
If you’re staying for dinner and don’t want to get out of your bathers, head to Henley’s award-winning fish and chippery – the aptly named Stunned Mullet. For a higher-end experience, there are many options. Estia, Thai Orchid Restaurant and Bacchus Wine Bar are all fantastic for dinner and drinks. Visit on a warm summer morning for bacon and eggs or a breakfast mimosa if you’re feeling especially glamorous.
A trip to Semaphore is a trip back in time. The beach is long, wide and bordered by sand dunes; however Semaphore’s main drawcard is its history. Its expansive foreshore and boulevard are dotted with beautifully preserved Art Deco buildings. Nothing quite compares to the grandeur of the Palais – originally a 1920s bathing pavilion, now a great place to grab a pub-style lunch or enjoy a glass of wine.
Nearby stands Semaphore’s iconic Time Ball Tower, as well as a waterslide complex for the kids, ferris wheel and gorgeous 1920s carousel – the oldest in the southern hemisphere. Semaphore Road, just metres away, is bordered by historic pubs, restaurants, awesome boutiques and a treasure-trove of op shops.
With so many great beaches less than an hour away from the city centre, South Australia is the perfect place for a summer holiday. The best part though, is that it’s possible to visit them all, even if you’re only staying for a few days. Captivated by Glenelg’s classy cafés, in love with Semaphore’s luxe Art Deco or smitten by Christies Beach's swells? The only way to pick a favourite is to make the trip yourself!