Port Lincoln is famous for it’s sea lions and great white shark experiences, with tours that offer you amazing and intimate experiences with some of Australia’s cutest and scariest sea creatures. But there is also so much more to Port Lincoln, with award-winning restaurants, beautiful beaches, great fishing and a tonne of history that will keep you busy for days.
After weeks of national parks, outback towns and remote country roads, Port Lincoln was a welcome relief for us. It was the biggest town we had seen in weeks, pretty much a city by South Australia’s standards, and it had everything we needed to regroup before heading off on another remote adventure across the Eyre Peninsula and the Nullarbor.
It’s so easy to get comfortable in Port Lincoln. It’s a place that instantly feels like home, where you could easily spend days exploring all it’s little nooks and hidden secret spots. We were there for a whole week and could have easily stayed for a whole lot longer.
Port Lincoln is the traditional home to the Barngarla people, the traditional landowners. Their name for Port Lincoln is Kallinyalla (pronounced Galinyalla), which means ‘place of sweet water’.
Here’s everything you need to know to plan your visit to Port Lincoln:
Port Lincoln Visitors Information Centre
When you arrive at Port Lincoln make your first stop the Port Lincoln Visitors Information Centre. Open seven days a week, you can pick up brochures and information on Port Lincoln and the Eyre Peninsula, as well as travel guides for the rest of South Australia’s regions.
You also need to head to the Port Lincoln Visitors Information Centre if you want to visit Whalers Way, Memory Cove or the National Parks, as many of these places in the area require a permit and a key to access. You don’t want to get all the way out there before you realise that!
Address: 3 Adelaide Place, Port Lincoln || Ph: 1300 788 378
How to get to Port Lincoln
From Adelaide it takes about seven hours (approximately 647 kilometres) to get to Port Lincoln via the Lincoln Highway and through Port Augusta. It’s an easy drive, with flat freeway the whole way and plenty of signage.
Port Lincoln also has it’s own airport – Port Lincoln Airport PLO – which has direct flights to and from Adelaide daily with either Rex or QantasLink. There are several flights a day, with easy connections to all major cities around Australia.
Where to stay in Port Lincoln
During our stay in Port Lincoln we stayed at the Port Lincoln Tourist Park, which was the perfect base for our almost week long stay. Right on the water, with it’s own private beach, boat ramp and jetty, the Port Lincoln Tourist Park is in a great location, only a short drive from the centre of town. It’s also pet friendly, which was perfect since my parents and puppy Sophie were joining us for a few days of our stay.
We booked into a powered site during our stay, which had water views and was super large and spacious. The whole park is actually very spread out, so you feel like you have plenty of room to yourself, with big open spaces in between small groups of sites. They also have three huge amenities blocks, so there’s always one close by and you don’t have to compete with the whole park at shower time!
We actually made ourselves quite at home here, we could have easily stayed for a few more days but thought after five nights we should start to move further down the coast.
If you’re not caravanning or camping the Port Lincoln Tourist Park actually has all kinds of accommodation to suit any style, including waterfront apartments, self-contained cabins, luxury townhouses and holiday cabins.
A powered campsite starts from $36 per site, with most sites in the part offering water views. Remember, you can get a discount on your booking when you use your G’day Rewards Card because Port Lincoln Tourist Park is part of the Top Parks family! You can save 10% on your booking, plus as a bonus earn either Velocity Frequent Flyer or Flybuys Points on your stay.
Find out more and book your stay here: Top Parks Port Lincoln Tourist Park
Address: 11 Hindmarsh Street, Port Lincoln || Ph: (08) 8621 4444
Best things to do in Port Lincoln
1. Swim with sea lions
One of the biggest highlights when visiting Port Lincoln is without a doubt the chance to jump into the ocean and swim with some of the oceans cutest and most playful residents. With a huge wild sea lion colony in the area,you can jump on a tour that gives you the opportunity to get right in the water with the sea lions and see if you can keep up with them in the water.
We booked our experience through Adventure Bay Charters and it was such an incredible morning. Easily one of the highlights of our whole time in South Australia. Taking you out to Hopkins Island, the sea lions are just as interested and curious about you as you are about them, and they take no time coming over to say hello and play with you. Just amazing.
Find out more: Swimming with Sea Lions with Adventure Bay Charters
2. Check out the great white sharks
The other big draw card for Port Lincoln is that it is considered the great white shark capital of Australia, with almost daily reliable shark sightings in the waters around Port Lincoln. That doesn’t really make you want to jump in the beach now, does it?!
Get your adrenaline pumping with a cage dive experience off the coast of Port Lincoln, where you can come face to face with one of the scariest animals in the ocean. If underwater is a little to close for comfort for you, book yourself onto the Adventure Bay Charters tour, where their incredible Aqua Sub gives you the chance to get up close and personal, without getting wet.
There are shark sightings all year round in Port Lincoln, however between the months of April through to June is historically considered one of the best times of the year to see them, with November through to January close behind due to breeding and hunting patterns.
Find out more: Great White Shark Tour with Adventure Bay Charters
3. Take a drive down Whalers Way
Head to Whalers Way to see some of the Eyre Peninsula’s most dramatic coastlines, peppered with beautiful rock pools, huge crevasses, deep caves and dramatic beaches all the way around. You will need to pick up a key and a permit from the Visitors Information Centre, with a permit costing $30 per car for a day pass, with a $20 cash deposit required for the key (which will be returned to you when you return the key).
The Visitors Information Centre will also give you a small mud map of Whalers Way, which will show you all the spots to visit along this historic whaling trail. Some of the highlights along the way include:
- The Swimming Hole – take a dip in the beautiful natural swimming pools here
- Cape Wiles – a colony of fur seals live on the rocks that can be seen from the lookout point here
- Baleen Rockpool & Blowhole – an amazing reminder of how strong the ocean is – try and visit on a windy day
- Old Whalemans Grotto – climb down the cliffs and walk along the rocks to find a coastline lined with caves
- Red Banks – for sand dunes and epic beaches at the end of the trail
4. Port Lincoln National Park
In terms of national parks, Port Lincoln National Park might be on the smaller side, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a heap to see here. Brimming with native wildlife you can often find emus walking along the roads and dolphins swimming along the shore, sometimes even whales during the winter season.
Memory Cove is a big highlight of Port Lincoln National Park, with it’s white sandy beaches and dense bush land to explore. Only a few people are allowed in this area of the park at a time and a key is required from the Visitors Information Centre to access. There are 6 pristine campsites in Memory Cove as well, giving you a very special experience if you can snag one.
5. Visit the Fresh Fish Place
This place was so highly recommended by literally every local that we spoke to that we thought we should really check it out. A mixture between a fresh fish store, fish and chip restaurant and fish wholesaler, the Fresh Fish Place has literally every type of seafood you could be looking for, and it’s as fresh as it gets.
There’s so much going on here, you might be overwhelmed about where to start. You can come for lunch and either eat in or grab a takeaway seafood meal, or you could take a seat at the bar and watch the talented chefs cook the meals right in front of you. You can purchase fresh fish to cook yourself later, as well as all kinds of herbs and spices to go along with your meal in the grocery store. They also offer oyster and seafood tasting and seafood cooking classes if you’re feeling a little more adventurous.
Just looking for a quick bite for lunch we just ordered the fish and chips, but they really exceeded our expectations. So delicious. No wonder everyone around town was talking about it.
Address: 20 Proper Bay Road, Port Lincoln (opposite the Racecourse) || Ph: (08) 8682 2166
Open from 8:30am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 8:30am to 2pm Saturday.
6. Beach hop around the Eyre Peninsula
Get out of Port Lincoln and check out some of the nearby beaches that make up some of the best spots on the Eyre Peninsula. Within driving distance of less than an hour and a half you could reach Greenly Beach, Coffin Bay National Park, Fishery Bay and Locks Well Beach, which are all amazing spots for a quick day trip.
Many of the beaches around the Eyre Peninsula are famous for their beautiful rock pools, full of crystal clear water, starfish and all kinds of sea life. You might need to put in a little effort to climb along rocky banks to get to them, but when you have them all to yourself, it’s absolutely worth it.
7. Visit Port Lincoln Caravan Centre
While we were in Port Lincoln we also thought it might be a good idea to get our caravan serviced – particularly checking the breaks and wheel alignment. We had never serviced our van, so after the Oodnadatta Track and dragging it around most of South Australia we thought it would be a good idea, especially before we hit the Nullarbor.
These guys were absolutely fantastic! Only took a few hours and the service was very reasonably priced. If you don’t need a service they also sell all kinds of parts and pieces for your caravan, with everything from old school window winders to gas and plumbing fittings. Honestly, if this shop was located near us during our van build we would have spent SO MUCH time and money here. They had everything we had to really search the internet for during our build. Definitely worth checking out if you need anything.
Address: 7 Blackman Place, Port Lincoln || Ph: (08) 8682 4155
Find out more at: portlincolncaravans.com.au
When to visit Port Lincoln
The summer season, between about November and March is considered the best time to visit Port Lincoln. During this time the days are warmer and much more pleasant, giving you the best weather to explore the beaches and beautiful coastlines that surround Port Lincoln.
In winter the weather can turn a little nasty, with strong winds from the ocean and much colder temperatures. However, this can be considered a great time for shark and whale sightings, with epic whale watching experiences along the Eyre Peninsula between May and August each year.
Really, no matter what time of the year you visit Port Lincoln you’re sure to have a fantastic time. This fishing city has to much more to offer than meets the eye and could easily keep you entertained for weeks on end.