Nestled along the picturesque coastline of South Australia just a short drive south of Adelaide, Port Noarlunga is a hidden gem that seamlessly blends natural beauty, cultural richness, and a laid-back coastal vibe. The area offers a diverse range of activities, making it an ideal destination for a peaceful getaway, an exciting day trip or a staging point for a multi-day adventure on the Fleurieu Peninsula.

We spent five days on our journey to explore the places to go, things to do, and sights to see in and around Port Noarlunga.

Here’s what we found.

A panoramic landscape of the sun setting over Port Noaralunga beach and the Onkaparinga River Mouth

Swimmers take to the water at Port Noarlunga beachon a sunny day

1. Port Noarlunga Beach: A Coastal Haven

The heart of Port Noarlunga lies along its stunning sandy shores. Like many beaches near Adelaide, Port Noarlunga Beach is a pristine stretch of coastline that invites visitors to unwind, soak up the sun, and partake in various water activities. However it offers a little more than the norm.

Activities at Port Noarlunga Beach:

  • Swimming and Snorkeling: The clear waters of the Port Noarlunga Reef create an excellent environment for swimming and snorkeling. Many people come to the area to explore the underwater wonderland of the Port Noarlunga Aquatic Reserve, a place teeming with marine life, including colorful fish and unique corals.
  • Surfing and Bodyboarding: For those seeking a bit more excitement, the beach offers waves suitable for surfing and bodyboarding for most levels of ability. Novices can take lessons from local surf schools.

Beachfront Relaxation: Don’t feel like doing much? No worries! Relax, spread out your beach towel, bask in the sun, flip open that novel you got last year, but never got around to reading and promptly fall asleep (with plenty of sunscreen already applied of course!). When you wake up, the beach is perfect for picnics, beach volleyball, or actually reading a book with the southern ocean as your backdrop.

2. Port Noarlunga Jetty: An Iconic Landmark

Stretching well into the ocean, the Port Noarlunga Jetty is an iconic structure that serves both practical and recreational purposes. The jetty is not just a platform for fishing or jumping into the water, but a vantage point for some lovely views up and down the coast.

Activities at Port Noarlunga Jetty:

  • Fishing: Join the locals at the jetty for a spot of fishing. The abundant marine life in the area makes it an ideal location for anglers of all levels – just make sure you don’t fish within 50 metres of the end of the jetty as it’s within the protected Port Noarlunga Aquatic Reserve zone .
  • Scenic Views: Walk to the end of the jetty for panoramic views of the coastline, the ocean, and the surrounding cliffs. It’s a perfect spot to capture the kinds of Instagram moments that make your friends jealous – especially during sunrise or sunset.

Snorkeling at the Reef: The jetty also serves as the entry point to the Port Noarlunga Reef and Aquatic Reserve for snorkelers. Put on your gear and explore the underwater world just a short swim away.

Looking towards the jetty at Victor Harbour

The delicious cakes and pastries of Ottos Bakery in Hahndorf South Australia

3. Esplanade: Cafes and Boutiques by the Sea

Stroll along the Esplanade, and you’ll discover a charming mix of boutique shops, and galleries. This vibrant area adds a touch of culture to your coastal experience where you can also find several excellent food and drink establishments, including cafe’s, fantastic Mexican, BBQ ribs, delicious ice-creams, classic pub meals or fish and chips and a cocktail bar all within about five minutes walk.

Things to Do at the Esplanade:

  • Café Culture: Grab a cup of coffee or indulge in a delicious meal at one of the seaside cafes. Many establishments offer outdoor seating with ocean views.
  • Art Galleries: Explore local art galleries showcasing the work of talented South Australian artists. From paintings to sculptures, the galleries along the Esplanade provide a glimpse into the region’s creative spirit.
  • Shopping: Browse through boutique shops offering unique finds, beachwear, and souvenirs. Support local businesses and take home a unique something, Made in Port Noarlunga.

4. Christies Beach: Nearby Coastal Bliss

A short drive from Port Noarlunga lies Christies Beach, another coastal haven that extends the possibilities for relaxation and adventure.

Activities at Christies Beach:

  • Coastal Walks: Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Christies Beach Coastal Walk, which provides stunning views of the coastline. The paved pathway is perfect for jogging, or cycling or an evening stroll with accompanying icereams in Summer!
  • Family-Friendly Spaces: Christies Beach provides plenty of family-friendly spaces with playgrounds, picnic areas, and BBQ facilities. It’s an ideal location for a day out with the family or a few days break.
  • Surf Lifesaving Club: The Christies Beach Surf Lifesaving Club is usually a hub of activity, hosting events and providing essential services for beachgoers. Check out their schedule for community activities and programs.

A surfer stands near the Onkaparinga River Mouth looking out at the waves with his board in hand

The Onkaparinga River and River Mouth on a calm evening at sunset in September

5. Onkaparinga River Mouth: Nature's Beauty Unveiled

Just a few minutes drive south of Port Noarlunga, the Onkaparinga River Mouth is a scenic spot where the river meets the ocean, creating a unique and diverse ecosystem and providing a fantastic spot for a swim or surf.

Things to Do at Onkaparinga River Mouth:

  • Estuary Exploration: Kayak or paddle-board along the river and explore the estuary. The calm waters provide an excellent opportunity for beginners to try their hand at water sports like this.
  • Bird Watching: The wetlands around the river mouth attract a variety of bird species. Bring your binoculars and observe the rich birdlife in their natural habitat.
  • Walking Trails: Take a nature walk along the riverbank and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings. Keep an eye out for native flora and fauna, adding an educational element to your outdoor adventure.

Swimming and Surfing: Depending on the tides (check them first) the river mouth is a great spot for some family fun in the water. You’ll often see surfers heading out to the breaks from this point.

6. McLaren Vale Wine Region: A Culinary and Viticultural Delight

For those who appreciate fine wine and gourmet experiences (and who doesn’t?), a visit to the nearby and world famous McLaren Vale Wine Region is a must.

Activities in McLaren Vale:

  • Wine Tasting: Embark on a wine-tasting journey at renowned wineries in McLaren Vale. Sample exquisite Shiraz or Grenache the region is renowned for or get stuck into the varieties the newest generation of innovative and adventurous winemakers are building their reputations on including Barbera, Nero d’Avola, Tempranillo and other lesser known varietals in their picturesque vineyard settings. We recommend exploring the area and its vineyards on bikes if you’re up for a little effort. If not – then go for the Electric bikes! It’s a great day out and nothing beats coasting down the trials between the vines towards your next viticultural discovery 🙂
  • Gourmet Dining: Indulge in gourmet dining at one of the region’s acclaimed restaurants. Many establishments offer a fusion of local produce, fine wines, and culinary expertise. The chefs know their stuff around here 🙂
  • Artisan Produce: Explore local markets and artisan producers. McLaren Vale is known for its fresh produce, olive oils, and handmade cheeses. You can also pick up award winning chocolates, local ground coffee, delicious deserts and salamis around here.

A European scene of flowers and sculpture at Coriole Vineyards in McLaren Vale South Australia

Inside the German Cake Shop Family Restaurant dining area with purple Wisteria blooming in the background

7. Hahndorf: A taste of Germany in the Adelaide Hills

As we found on a pleasant 50 minute drive from Port Noarlunga through the beautiful rolling hills of McLaren Vale wine country, you’ll come across Hahndorf, nestled up in the Adelaide Hills. It’s a brilliant destination for a cultural day trip.

Hahndorf stands as Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement, boasting a rich tapestry of history and charm. Founded in 1839 by Lutheran migrants escaping religious persecution, the town’s half-timbered buildings, craft shops, and traditional German bakeries and beer halls evoke a distinctly Bavarian atmosphere. Visitors can explore the Hahndorf Academy, housing local art and history exhibits, or stroll down the enchanting Main Street lined with artisanal boutiques, wine tasting rooms, lolly shops and bakeries. Indulge in authentic German cuisine, music and hospitality at delightful establishments such as the Hahndorf Inn or sip locally produced wines at boutique cellar doors. The Beerenberg Strawberry Farm offers plenty of yummy things in jars as well as pick-your-own experiences, and the Cedars, home to renowned landscape artist Sir Hans Heysen, provides a glimpse into Australia’s artistic heritage. Hahndorf seamlessly blends its German cultural heritage with a vibrant tapestry of contemporary experiences, making it a must-visit destination in South Australia.

8. Picture Perfect Victor Harbour

Established in the 1800s as a whaling and trading port and renowned for its scenic beauty and rich history Victor Harbour has evolved into a vibrant destination offering a range of natural and cultural attractions.

When you get into town, park your car take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque esplanade and explore Encounter Bay. You’ll come across the iconic Granite Island, accessible by foot across the causeway or horse-drawn tram. The island boasts stunning views and you might even spot the colony of Little Penguins. Adventure seekers who are looking to travel back in time, can board the historic Cockle Train for a scenic ride along the coast, while the Encounter Bikeway provides a picturesque cycling route. town’s maritime past. For wildlife enthusiasts and a dose of maritime history, you can take a Big Duck Boat tour around the bay areas, visiting pods of playful local dolphins and Seal Rock, home to a colony of New Zealand fur seals. If you happen to be there between late May and October you’ll also be very pleased to meet Southern Right whales and their calves  and migrating Humpback whales. For your epic pics, the Bluff offers panoramic views of the Southern Ocean, and the SA Whale Centre provides insight into the area’s oceanic heritage. With its blend of natural wonders and historical significance, Victor Harbor stands as a captivating destination for both locals and tourists alike and is well worth a day trip if you’re staying around the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Practical Tips for Your Visit to Port Noarlunga and the Fleurieu Peninsula:

  • Weather Considerations: In general, coastal South Australia experiences a Mediterranean climate. Summers are warm, and winters are mild. Check the weather forecast before your visit to ensure you pack appropriately.
  • Transportation: Port Noarlunga is easily accessible by car from Adelaide. Public transportation options, including trains and buses, also connect the region. We took the Overland Train from Melbourne to Adelaide which is a whole other story of adventure!
  • Accommodation: It makes sense to consider staying in Port Noarlunga or nearby areas for a more immersive experience and as a springboard to other nearby locations. Accommodation options range from cute seaside cottages (like the one we stayed in) to large, modern apartments.
  • Seasonal Events: Check for local events and festivals happening during your visit. South Australia hosts various cultural and community events throughout the year.

Three Magpies perch on a tree at twilight overlooking the Onkaparinga River Mouth

In Conclusion: Coastal Bliss and Beyond

Port Noarlunga, with its pristine beaches, cultural vibrancy, and proximity to natural wonders, offers a diverse and enriching experience for every visitor. Whether you seek relaxation on the sandy shores, underwater adventures at the reef, or a culinary journey through McLaren Vale, a taste of old Germany, Port Noarlunga and the entire Fleurieu Peninsula welcomes you with open arms. Discover the tranquility, embrace the coastal lifestyle, and create lasting memories in a very special South Australian coastal getaway.

We’d love to use our heads to help drive people to your place! Talk to us about it in a free 30 minute consult today.