18 Mar 2021

For South Australians, a weekend pilgrimage to Aldinga is synonymous with summer.

But away from the perennially coveted surf and sand, this coastal town has come a long way in recent years. Now, boutique accommodation, swanky seaside restaurants and world-class wine jostles for attention alongside iconic Fleurieu Peninsula beaches. Less crowded than Bondi, more pristine than Palm Beach and trumping Byron Bay for authenticity, Aldinga rates up there with the best seaside suburbs for a weekend getaway in Australia. Drive right onto pristine sandy beaches and spend the day seaside, brunch at cool cafes, hop between awarded restaurants and wineries, then cosy up at chic coastal hideaways. Rediscover Aldinga with our guide to the best places to stay, where to eat and what to do.

WHERE TO STAY

Kestrel’s Nest, Fleurieu Peninsula

Kestrel's Nest, Fleurieu Peninsula
Kestrel's Nest, Fleurieu Peninsula

Cradled among undulating sand dunes, Kestrel’s Nest is a seaside sanctuary just a short stroll from the pristine shores of Aldinga Beach. From your beautifully renovated boutique beach digs, beaches, restaurants, cafes and coastal walks are on your doorstep. Spend your days beachside at Aldinga Beach then wander metres back to your ocean retreat and soak in ocean views from the vantage point of your private dune-top beach hut. From here, enjoy a sundowner as you watch the sun slip beyond the ocean, then slip into the outdoor tub to savour the last moments of daylight. Your stay is set to the soundtrack of gently lapping waves met by the peaceful calls of native birdlife from the neighbouring Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park. Kestrel’s Nest is ideal for couples but can accommodate up to 6 people on negotiation with the hosts.

The Landing, Fleurieu Peninsula

The Landing, Fleurieu Peninsula
The Landing, Fleurieu Peninsula

Sweeping ocean views await at The Landing. Sitting in prime position on the esplanade between Aldinga and Port Willunga beach, this coastal-chic beach house boasts complete oceanfront views. See sand dunes and crashing waves from just about any room in the house or step out the front door and feel the sand between your toes. By day, soak in the sun and surf then retreat to your coastal castle to lounge around on the balcony, a bottle of McLaren Vale wine in hand and a gentle sea breeze on your face. With three bedrooms, two bathrooms and spacious living areas, The Landing is one of the best family friendly spots to stay near Aldinga.

Sanbis Cabin, Fleurieu Peninsula

Sanbis Cabin, Fleurieu Peninsula
Sanbis Cabin, Fleurieu Peninsula

Plucked straight from a coastal postcard and plonked metres from Aldinga Beach, Sanbis Cabin is primed for summer. Start your day on the deck with a coffee as kangaroos graze for breakfast in the front yard, the ocean beyond providing an idyllic Australiana setting. Venture out the front door and onto the boardwalk lookout and ascend to breathtaking coastal views. Afterwards, mosey down for a day beachside or head back to the cabin and plunge into the pool. Finish each day as it started; on the balcony, a bottle of wine and a few glasses assembled, ready to soak in sunset over the beach. This laid-back seaside shack evokes an unmistakable feeling of endless summer but is just as enchanting come winter as you watch storms roll across the ocean from your front-row seaside seats. Sanbis Cabin can sleep up to four guests with two double bedrooms.

WHERE TO EAT

Pearl, Fleurieu Peninsula

Pearl, Fleurieu Peninsula
Pearl, Fleurieu Peninsula

Most of the seafood served up at Pearl is sourced straight from the sea on the Aldinga restaurant’s doorstep. With a focus on sustainability, the weekday menu changes depending on availability and offers a casual fare of Mediterranean-influenced seafood dishes like crispy fried Cape Jervis calamari, barbecued zucchini with chermoula and chips, Port Lincoln mussels in white wine, fennel and garlic or an upmarket take on the classic fish and chips. But, the main event heralds in the weekend: Friday night fish night. An elaborate feast of fish, chef Jules selects the best seafood of the day for the feed-me style dinner. Opening in 2020, Pearl has already built up a loyal following so bookings are essential.

Little Rickshaw, Fleurieu Peninsula

A converted blacksmith barn provides a cosy setting for an unlikely feast of traditional and not so traditional Vietnamese fare. From a peaceful courtyard with a hint of an ocean breeze, pick your way through a range of their small and large plates. The service is relaxed, the servings generous and the flavours next-level. We can’t go past the shitake rice noodle stir fry and Szechuan fish baos. It’s these punchy flavours and the rustic-chic vibes that have made Little Rickshaw as much a destination for visiting beachgoers as a local staple. That being said, you’ll want to book ahead to secure a spot. For more tasty eats, Lot 8 dishes up hawker-style Singaporean noodles, laksa and dumplings from a tiny 20-seat restaurant at Aldinga Arts Ecovillage.

The Victory, Fleurieu Peninsula

If you’re looking for somewhere to eat near Aldinga that’s a step (or leap) up your run-of-the-mill fish n chip shop but where thongs are definitely still acceptable dinner attire, head for The Victory. Drawing an eclectic crowd of winemakers, locals and weekenders, this popular Fleurieu Peninsula pub overlooks Sellicks and Aldinga Beach. The menu reflects the surrounding oceans, vineyards and farmland, dishing up pub classics like burgers, fish and chips, schnitzels and steak, next to sashimi kingfish, confit chicken, croissant bread and butter pudding and a decent vegan offering. You won’t go thirsty, either. The wine cellar is rumoured to have some 8,000 bottles to choose from.

Goodness Coffee, Fleurieu Peninsula

Goodness Coffee, Fleurieu Peninsula
Goodness Coffee, Fleurieu Peninsula

Goodness Coffee has all your coastal caffeine needs covered, pouring coffee from 8am to 1pm daily in a heritage-listed 1870s workshop that once housed a coach builder, mechanic and undertaker. The team carefully selects and sources green coffee from around the world and roasts on site at the café neighbouring Little Rickshaw in the historic Aldinga village. A freshly brewed latte, almond croissant and patch of morning sun in the courtyard are the perfect start to the day. Goodness Coffee is also dog friendly so is perfect for morning strolls away from the sand. For more good coffee and a cabinet overflowing with artisan pastries, head down the road to Valley of Yore in Myponga.

What to do

Beaches, Fleurieu Peninsula

Silver Sands, Aldinga
Silver Sands, Aldinga

We can’t talk about Aldinga without mentioning the incredible beaches… There aren’t too many spots that you can drive less than an hour out of the city and straight onto the beach as pristine golden sand, turquoise waters and rolling green hills stretch out as far as the eye can see. Aldinga Beach is one of South Australia’s most iconic beaches and these pristine shores deservedly attract a crowd of sun-deprived weekenders alongside the local beach bums. Flanked by Sellicks and Port Willunga beaches, around here a decent patch of sand and surf is never far away. Find your own slice of beachside bliss, pull up the car and roll out the shade for a day by the beach. On a calm day, the waters are perfect for kayaking, SUPing and lolling about. A rare reef formation just off the coast makes this stretch of ocean as one of Adelaide’s best dive spots.

Big Easy Radio, Fleurieu Peninsula

Big Easy Radio, Fleurieu Peninsula
Big Easy Radio, Fleurieu Peninsula

Sandy feet are part of the uniform at laid back cellar door Big Easy Radio. Where the locals hang out for a Sunday session, the big blue shed turns its nose to wine snobbery and reflects the label’s mission of making wine more approachable. Natural-style wines show the breadth of the region’s terroir with grenache, touriga, tempranillo, malbec, montepulciano, sangiovese, mataro, fiano and vermentino among varietals bottled up and liberally poured out. Pack a picnic and sprawl out on the lawns with a bottle or two, some friends, your dog or your kids; everyone is welcome. On Fridays, wine and cocktails, set to a soundtrack of live music, are served into the night.

Berg Herring Wine, Fleurieu Peninsula

Next door to Aldinga in neighbouring Sellicks Beach, drinking wine is sacred. A converted church with sweeping views across the beach provides one of the most unique spots to sip wine on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Conveniently open for long-weekend getaways Friday to Monday, Berg Herring is a small-batch label producing basket-pressed minimal intervention wines. The rosé and fiano are exceptional, and perfect to savour (or slurp) on a hot summer’s day.

Dowie Doole, Fleurieu Peninsula

Dowie Doole, Fleurieu Peninsula
Dowie Doole, Fleurieu Peninsula

There’s certainly no shortage of good wine near Aldinga. Mere minutes away, the world-renowned wineries of McLaren Vale await. A hidden gem in the region, Dowie Doole’s insta-worthy cellar door is matched only by its estate grown and made wines. Four shipping containers emerging from the vineyards create the tasting pod, a lush oasis to sip wine surrounded by vines. From your perch on the wrap-around deck, kick back for a wine flight or a casual glass (or bottle) paired with a build-it-yourself style produce platter. The cellar door doesn’t just look good though. The almost entirely off-grid concept generates its own electricity, collects its own rainwater and manages its own waste. Better still, the vineyards are all certified organic and biodynamic, or in the conversion process.

Gemtree Wines, Fleurieu Peninsula

Gemtree Wines, Fleurieu Peninsula
Gemtree Wines, Fleurieu Peninsula

Down the road, biodynamic practices are at the heart of Gemtree Wines. The certified organic and biodynamic winery’s commitment to sustainable production has roots as deep as their decades-old vines. Flocks of sheep replace pesticides to keep weeds under control, ground quartz prevents fungal infections and negates the need for chemical fungicides, cow manure and recycled water feeds the vineyard and solar powers the irrigation, winery and cellar door. Taste the labour of vintages past from the hilltop tasting room overlooking the vineyards or delve deeper into the science behind biodynamics on a Being Biodynamic tour. Venture down to the biodynamic hut and learn how nature and the moon play an integral role in creating Gemtree wines, then sit down for a cheese-paired wine tasting.

UNEARTH THE FLEURIEU PENINSULA

Want to discover more of the Fleurieu Peninsula? Drink at world-renowned wineries, cosy up in complete luxury nestled among vineyards and explore pristine and untouched beaches and national parks with our Fleurieu Peninsula itinerary.

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