Growing up in Queensland I thought I’d seen the best beaches Australia had to offer, that was until I moved to South Australia 20 years ago. We set up home 2 kilometres from Henley Beach and haven’t ever moved. We’re totally spoiled for choice when it comes to beaches that are family friendly. The water is clear and predominately flat and the sands are fine and white, never crusty and hard. If you like a bit of surf action there’s beaches to visit but for me I like long languid swims in the clear calm waters.
Adelaide boasts 35 kilometres of pristine coastline from Lonsdale to Largs Bay and in the west there’s a strip of family friendly bustling suburbs all built around their very own beach complete with historic jetty. My local at Henley Beach is undergoing a transformation so resembles a bit of a building site at present but come November the millions of dollars poured into the redevelopment will bring exciting change…can’t wait.
If you’re visiting Adelaide there will be so much to do but if you love the beach as much as me then here’s three of my favourites that will keep everyone in the family happy as well as your budget.
The Semaphore Foreshore is a kids paradise with loads of family attractions. As I drive along the esplanade and spy the towering Norfolk pines I’m transported back to childhood summer holidays spent camping in caravan parks at Burleigh Heads playing ‘Marco Polo’ and devouring dripping paddle pops and sausage sangers oozing tomato sauce and juicy fat from the barbecue. The Semaphore foreshore boasts a modern all inclusive playground, large grassy area, skate park, outdoor fitness park, cafe, waterslide complex, mini golf, an historic carousel and of course the jetty. Venture across the road and you can explore the Main Street which is lined with shops, restaurants, cafes, gift stores and a cinema. Oh and don’t forget the Fort Glanville train rides during the summer season. Toot toot!
If you’re staying at the local caravan park you could easily walk or ride your bikes down to the beach which is half the fun of summer holidays and always ensures the little ones fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow in the evening. Come the end of the day sit and watch the sunset which here in the South are long lasting and intense, often lasting until after nine pm. The jetty is a Semaphore landmark and is approximately 585 metres long, with grey weathered boards that have me thinking about what and who has passed over them in years gone by. Take a walk to the end and throw in a line or crab pot just for fun. The hot tip from my boys is go crabbing in months that have an ‘R’ and you’ll enjoy crab for dinner.
Brighton Beach is small but has plenty on offer. Parks, bike tracks, a cinema, caravan park, and of course the pristine beach. At the head of the Jetty is a beautiful grand memorial to Australian soldiers who fought in the first World War. The Anzac Memorial attracts a large local crowd each Anzac Day dawn service, and why wouldn’t it with such a stunning backdrop and the sound of the rolling waves that help us all to imagine those ships landing off Gallipoli…eerie and beautiful. The Brighton Jetty Classic each February attracts swimmers young and old, some there for serious competition but most for the fun of a long standing community event.
The beach is always spilling over with kids busily digging in the sand and learning how to swim over long hot summers. The jetty is filled with fishermen exchanging stories, tips and bait, my boys have learned a thing or two on this jetty… and a few others around the local area. Brighton Surf Life Saving Club is located nearby and there’s also an active sailing club. There’s nothing like seeing bobbing sail boats on the horizon, and stand up paddle boards closer to shore…it’s the perfect picture of summer at the beach. The cafe vibe is strong in Brighton and my hot tip is pull up a seat at the Edge Cafe and enjoy a tasty, healthy meal along with some superior coffee. On those stinking hot evenings when you linger longer at the beach for some cool relief you’ll find plenty of choice for the little ones too with gelato and ice cream shops and I can highly recommend the bakery!
GLENELG is promoted as the tourist destination to visit, it’s busy, vibrant and loaded with attractions. The night life rocks and its where half of Adelaide head to on New Years Eve…well at least that’s what it feels like. I worked in Glenelg for a number of years and there’s a bustling shopping and tourist strip on Jetty Road that seamlessly integrates the tourists with the locals. There’s a few long standing iconic businesses on the strip like Bracegirdles, you gotta stop there for a hot chocolate and a naughty but nice sweet treat and then pop into Haighs and grab a bag or two of chocolate frogs.
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out in Glenelg with all kinds of cuisine from cafes, to fine dining restaurants. Go off the main strip and you will find even more restaurants and cafes, some of the best! The Beach House entertainment complex will keep young and old entertained with mini golf, water slides, a carousel, arcade games, ferris wheel, water boats and dodgem cars. My boys had a party or two in there when they were younger and every now and then the Mister and I stop for a game of air hockey, because there’s always that memory of air hockey matches when we were dating that we like to re live.
If the budget needs a rest then head to the beach or hang loose on the grassy foreshore while the kids run their little hearts out. Right now there’s an outdoor ice skating rink set up on the foreshore off Colley Square to keep families entertained over the school holidays. Glenelg lost its beautiful old historic cinema a few years back but there’s soon to be a brand new cinema complex open, it’s currently under construction and I’m sure will be a most welcome attraction for both locals and holiday makers.
The tram runs from the beach to the city, not only is it practical and easy but the kids will love the trip. The boys and I travelled on it during school holidays when they were little, not because we needed to but because for them it was an adventure. The old historic trams have been retired and replaced with modern air conditioned trams, which you’ll love when the temperature hits the 40’s! Stay at the West Beach Caravan Park or for a little more luxury book a hotel in the heart of Glenelg.
Beach holidays can be budget friendly if you choose the right beach with the most family friendly attractions, I reckon these three beaches will delight the whole family.
What’s your favourite beach holiday memory?…I’d love to know.