I was very excited to visit the Fleurieu Peninsula during our time in South Australia.
After seeing countless pictures of beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets and rolling hills that lead right down to the shore, we couldn’t wait to spend a little bit of time jumping from beach to beach and exploring the best of this coastline. There are so many different beaches to explore along the Fleurieu Peninsula, and while they’re close together along the coast, they all have their own distinctive characteristics and differences.
Here are the top 10 Fleurieu Peninsula beaches that you need to check out on your next visit.
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Where is the Fleurieu Peninsula?
Beginning only a short 45 minute drive from the city of Adelaide, the Fleurieu Peninsila stretches from Noarlunga in the north, all the way around the peninsula to Goowla and Lake Alexandrina in the east.
It encompasses all the little beach towns along the way, as well as the wine region of McLaren Vale, Deep Creek Conservation Park in the south, and Cape Jervis, which is the departure point for the SeaLink ferry to Kangaroo Island.
It’s one of the most easily accessible peninsulas to visit from Adelaide, with regular day tours to the region on offer, as well as plenty of self-drive itineraries to have you exploring for days.
Start at the Fleurieu Coast Visitors Centre:
Address: 162 Main South Road, Yankalilla || Ph: 1300 965 842
You can also find visitors information centres in Goolwa, McLaren Vale, Strathalbyn and Victor Harbour.
For more information check out fleurieupeninsula.com.au/
1. Second Valley
One of our favourite places along the whole Fleurieu Peninsula is definitely Second Valley. A small beach hidden amongst the surrounding cliffs, this little beach offers beautiful, crystal clear sparkly water, a jetty for fishing and if you venture a little further around the cliffs, amazing rock pools and coastal views.
Behind the beach there is a small, VERY STEEP path that leads you up into the shrub and over the cliffs. But don’t let that steepness put you off. The grassy path takes you up and over mountains, with views over the next bay over, as well as all of second valley. It’s just so pretty, and a great place for a sunset picnic.
If you follow the path to the left of the jetty, there are lots of rock pools and hidden little beaches to explore as well. Despite visiting during the peak season of summer, you’ll often find that you can have some of these little beach spots all to yourself.
2. Rapid Bay
We based ourselves in Rapid Bay for three nights while we visited the Fleurieu Peninsula and it was the best decision we made. In fact, it is still our favourite campground from our trip so far. There’s not much in Rapid Bay, in fact it’s mostly just the campground with a very small school and cricket club sitting behind it. But it’s a great base for your visit.
The Rapid Bay Campground is located right on the beach, and if you’re lucky enough, you can find yourself a camp spot that looks right out onto the ocean. It was absolutely beautiful opening the curtains to see the beach right in front of us, and hopping out of the van straight into the sand.
Camping at Rapid Bay cost $9 per person per night, so it was $18 per night for us as a couple. When you arrive you can just pull up and find yourself a camp site, and then the ranger will come and collect the fees each night. There’s no pre-paying and it’s definitely first come first choice of sites. There are toilets at the campground that are very well maintained, so you don’t need to be completely self-sufficient.
There’s a jetty at Rapid Bay which is great for fishing. Thom actually caught quite a few squid right off the jetty, so we were eating fresh seafood every night of our stay.
3. Horseshoe Bay
Located on the other side of the peninsula, Horseshoe Bay is one of the prettiest little secluded beaches we came across. It’s found in the small coastal town of Port Elliot, about 10 minutes drive out of Victor Harbour. The town of Port Elliot is actually so cute as well, and definitely worth a wander through if you have the time.
Horseshoe Bay lives up to it’s name, a round, horseshoe shaped bay, that is largely protected by a lot of the elements. There’s a small jetty in one corner that the local kids were having a great time jumping off into the clear water below. At the main part of the beach there is also the Flying Fish Cafe, where you can grab a snack or a coffee, as well as public BBQs and a kids playground.
A nice easy coastal walk also takes you along the side of the bay, all the way up to the Freeman Lookout at the top, offering panoramic views over Horseshoe Bay, as well as the Rocky Bay, Green Bay and Boomer Beach on the other side.
4. Port Noarlunga South
Another favourite along this coastline, Port Noarlunga South Beach is so unique and just plain pretty. Only 40 minutes drive from Adelaide, it’s an easy day trip if you’re staying in the city, or make a few days of it and explore more of the coastline.
The south beach is home to a huge sand bar, that gets bigger and smaller depending on the tide throughout the day. The Okaparinga River (also know as Ngangkiparri) runs from inland on the peninsula, around the sand bar and out to the ocean, giving the beach a mixture of blues and greens in it’s water colour. It’s very interesting to see the river running out one way, and the ocean pushing waves in the other.
Take a walk down the boardwalk stair case to really get a glimpse of the beach in all it’s beauty from the rocks on the shore. White limestone rocks, lead into deep red cliffs, and to top it all off, there are two tall California style palm trees standing tall, overlooking the whole beach. It’s really just such a beautiful spot.
If you’re staying in the area and need any shops at all, head to the Noarlunga Centre to find everything you might need. This shopping and entertainment complex takes up almost three whole blocks, and as well as having multiple grocery stores, as well as Kmart, Big W, Bunnings, etc, it also has a movie cinema and aquatic centre as well!
5. Blowhole Beach
Found at the bottom of a bumpy 4×4 track in Deep Creek Conservation Park, Blowhole Beach is a unique hidden gem found amongst the dry brown hills leading down to it. However, if you visit during the winter months or after a little bit of rain, you’re likely to find these hills a bright shade of green, covered in grass.
The track leading down to the beach is strictly 4×4 only and for good reason – it’s very steep, rocky and sandy, and can leave even a 4×4 vehicle stranded at the best of times. If you don’t have a 4×4, you can park in the Cobbler Hill carpark at the top of the hill, and follow the 2 kilometre path down to the beach.
On a clear day, you can often see Kangaroo Island across the water, and you might often see dolphins jumping around in the water or kangaroos jumping around on the shore. There is often a strong rip in the water at Blowhole Beach, so be careful if you go for a swim here.
As Blowhole Beach is found within Deep Creek Conservation Park you will need to purchase a day pass from the National Parks and Wildlife Service to visit. A day pass will give you access from 6am to 11pm and costs $11 per day. You can purchase your pass here. Deep Creek is also included in the multi park pass, so if you’re going to be visiting a few different places you can grab yourself a pretty significant discount by purchasing a 2 or 12 month pass for South Australian parks.
6. Carrickalinga Beach
A simple beach with some of the clearest, bluest water we found along the Fleurieu Peninsula. Carrickalinga Beach is just so pretty, as well as long and wide, giving you plenty of space to spread out and find your own little spot, even on the busiest day.
It’s traditional name is Karragadlangga, which means Red Gum Fire Wood Place, and this beach was actually names South Australia’s top beach by Lonely Planet in 2013.
Take a stroll along the walking trail that takes you to Normanville for some beautiful views over the ocean, or carefully walk along the rocky part of the beach, where the cliffs end, to find hidden rock pools and all kinds of marine life.
7. Sellicks Beach
A favourite for anyone who likes to drive on the beach, the sand on Sellicks Beach is super hard, making it possible for even the smallest of cars to take a drive on here. During the peak of summer the beach is just lined with cars, with people setting up picnic spots alongside the car on the sand, and making the most of having the water right in front of them.
The beach is long and spacious, so there’s plenty of room for everyone, although it is definitely one of the busiest beaches along the coastline. If you want to get away from the cars, there is an area at the end of the beach that is off-limits for vehicles where you can find a spot to relax.
Sellicks Beach is also known for it’s huge hills that seem to roll straight down to the beach. Sellicks also runs right into Aldinga Beach on the other side, another popular beach for driving on the sand, beach picnics and day trips from Adelaide.
8. Port Willunga
One of the most popular beaches in the area, Port Willunga offers something a little different from the other beaches in the area. Sure, it has the similar big rolling cliffs that take you right down to the ocean, it has crystal clear water and a wide sandy shore, but it also has it’s own unique features.
In the cliff face there are a few little caves that have been carved out of the limestone, and provide a perfect shady place for you to set up for the day. The caves are both cool and shady, giving you both a great place to escape the midday heat, but also a perfect view of the ocean.
In front of the caves you can also find the remnants of an old jetty, with only a collection of pylons, also known as “the sticks” standing tall in the ocean. These pylons are all the remain of an old coastal village that once used to operate as a grain port along the peninsula. If you visit during sunset you’re sure to be sharing the view with a handful of photographers and videographers trying to get the perfect shot, but at other times you can often find a moment all to yourself.
Head to the Star of Greece restaurant at the top of the beach if you’re looking for a bit to eat, or follow the walking trail along the top of the beach for beautiful coastal views.
9. Maslin Beach
Locally known as Maslins, this beach is very pretty and perhaps best visited at sunset to see all the colours come to life. There are tall white limestone cliffs that stand tall along the beach, as well as the affectionately named Gull Rock, where you can find HEAPS of seagulls sitting on one single rock.
Maslin Beach was actually Australia’s first legal nudist beach, and there is still a small section of the beach that is a designated area reserved for nudists. When doing a little bit of research on this beach, we found out that the Pilwarren Maslin Beach Nude Games are actually still held here annually. Not going to lie, definitely going to be giving that one a miss.
10. Victor Harbour
Last but definitely not least, Victor Harbour is a very popular holiday spot from Adelaide, and one of the busier towns and beaches along the peninsula. Located on the other side of the peninsula from the rest of these beaches (with the exception of Horseshoe Bay down the road), Victor Harbour offers the perfect getaway spot.
The town of Victor Harbour is right alongside the beach, known as Encounter Bay, making everything easily accessible from the beach. Within the bay you can find Granite Island, home to resident little penguins and beautiful views. A Clydesdale horse-drawn tram will take you between the main beach and Granite Island so you can explore.
During the summer months there is often a carnival set up right alongside the beach, with games, rides and a ferris wheel with perfect beach views, and sometimes you can even find camel rides happening along the beach.
At the end of the day, there are just so many beautiful beaches to explore along the Fleurieu Peninsula. You could spend days beach hopping from one to the other and still not see them all. Every time you visit, at each different time of day, they offer something new, unique and different to explore.