South Australia doesn’t get the press of Australia’s east coast beaches—but nor does it get the crowds. Flying under the surfing radar, South Australia has some great waves without the surf rage. The legendary big surf that attracts the pros is way out west of the state in Nullarbor, though the Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas also have world-class breaks. The Fleurieu Peninsula is the most popular surfing destination given its proximity to Adelaide, but it pays to venture along the south coast or over to Kangaroo Island.
The Wild West
Cactus Beach is legendary among international surfers for big, consistent surf. Lying 13 miles south of Penong on the edge of Nullabor Plain, this is as remote as it gets. Renowned Cactus and Castles are big left-hand breaks, and Caves is a barreling right-hander. Another one for experienced surfers, Blackfellows Point at Elliston on the Eyre Peninsula, has a big reef-breaking left hander, best over the winter months. Venus Bay is more forgiving with popular left and right reef breaks but can get crowded at holiday times.
The Yorke Peninsula has some excellent beach and reef breaks. Daly Head has world-class surf and is the first designated national surfing reserve on Australia's southern coast. Berry Bay to the north has a good year-round beach break for beginners. At the southern tip, Innes National Park is a surf mecca with popular summer breaks at Pondalowie Bay and Ethel Beach and, for experienced riders, Chinamans. The Yorkes Classic surfing competition is held every October around Stenhouse Bay in the east of the park.
Adelaide’s mid coast on the west of the Fleurieu Peninsula is popular with locals because of its proximity to the city. Gull Rock (south of Maslin beach) and Seaford have decent swells, but most head for the bigger surf of the south coast, such as the good beach breaks at Boomer Beach (Point Elliot). Middleton, a few miles east, is a consistent point break, and Goolwa has good beach barrels when working. West of Victor Harbor, Waitpinga and Parsons Beach can get big swells for experienced surfers—but watch the rips.
Only reached by air or ferry, Kangaroo Island is wild, untouched, and uncrowded. The swells come mostly from the southwest, though northerlies drive the big waves on the north coast in winter. The west coast of the Flinders Chase National Park has big swells, but good breaks can be found all along the south coast at Hanson, Vivonne, D’Estrees, and Pennington bays. On the north coast, head for Stokes Bay.
Stretching from Robe all the way to the Victorian border, the Limestone Coast has some great breaks and lots of variety. Robe and Beachport are popular with all surfers and can get busy over the holidays, but it's easy to get away, with plenty of opportunities farther south around Port MacDonnell, where Cape Northumberland and Posties are known for big waves.
Warnings: Beware rips and undertows, and seek advice from locals on conditions. A lot of the best waves are remote, and while shark attacks are very rare, it pays to surf with a buddy. Bring a wet suit. What Australians call the Southern Ocean can bring cold currents.