As locals we assume we know where the best stuff is in SA, but do we really? Grab a guide this summer and discover your new favourite staycation destination.
Explore South Australia’s coastline with an expert this summer
Remember overseas holidays? They seem like a distant memory. The trip would start with a 4am alarm and a mad rush to the airport, barely awake, for a 20-hour flight to literally anywhere – preferably southern Europe.
You’d spend three days battling jet lag, one day wrangling with the local language to find a bathroom, and another 24 hours, collectively, packing and unpacking.
While our international plans are temporarily paused, it doesn’t mean our desire to explore and travel has to be. Now is the perfect time to book a tour in your own backyard and discover the little-known places you’d normally drive straight past on the way to your usual.
As summer draws slowly closer, the South Australian coasts beckon.
As South Australians, we visit these beaches and coastlines time and time again. We visit shacks along them, spend Christmases along them, but rarely do we get to learn about our own backyard from an expert.
From discovering historic sinkholes and diving through caves in the Limestone Coast to guided ocean safaris off the coast of Kangaroo Island, grab an expert guide and learn a little more about our great state.
Sharks and emus are not something you find in suburbia. There aren’t too many in West Lakes or strutting down King William Road looking for a bite to eat.
But out in Port Lincoln, they are some of the incredible native land and sea animals you can get up close and personal with.
Australian Wildlife Journeys offers a two-day tour that combines observing Great Whites from a shark cage or 360° “viewing pod” with a visit to Mikkira Station to see a colony of wild koalas.
In between this, you’ll also get to walk or beach-comb along Sunfleet Cove, or take a 45-minute hike to see the views of Boston Bay at the Stamford Hill Lookout.
For something more off-piste, the Coffin Bay Oyster Farm Tour will see you sitting in the midst of the farm, hauling oysters up to be immediately shucked and eaten. It cannot get any fresher.
For a pit stop, perch by the seaside and wine and dine in the heart of Australia’s seafood frontier. Pop into Port Lincoln’s famous Fresh Fish Place, where you can pick up some famously fresh seafood and cook up a feast at home, or settle in at the cafe and feast on local oysters, scallops, crayfish, crab and fish. Wash it all down with a local brew from Beer Garden Brewing.
You’re planning a weekend away with the family to the beach house at Yorke Peninsula, but you’ll want to impress your workmates with more than a story about how many hours of cricket you watched.
SA Eco Tours, the Alby Mangels of beach safaris, will do it. The experience rolls surfing, fishing and swimming into one three-day tour.
Highlights include a full-day tour of Innes National Park, learning about the traditional Indigenous owners of the land, a spot of fishing, swimming in clear lagoons and a surfing lesson.
Guests also get to walk along beaches and have time to visit the Barley Stacks Winery and sample a few of their drops.
If you don’t have three full days to dedicate to sightseeing, there is more than one way to experience the coastline and marine life on water.
Marion Bay Ocean Safari Coastal Experience gives you the opportunity to take in the coastal landscapes, wildlife and birds from the comfort of Vixen, their charter vessel, in two and a half hours.
Yes, we are bias towards local beer, for good reason. Stop by Minlaton’s Watsacowie Brewing Company.
Fun fact: The Cornish pasty originated in our very own Moonta – yep! If you’re not full of car snacks, definitely stop at Cornish Kitchen.
After the obligatory beach day to make some headway into that novel, it’s time to kick the holiday up a notch. Up several notches actually – into a helicopter. Helivista showcases the immense beauty of the Fleurieu Peninsula – beaches, coastline, hills and cliffs – all from several kilometres in the air. Exhilaration and awe aside, Helivista also doubles as designated driver, dropping you off at participating wineries for tastings and lunch. Because you deserve a luxe life.
Understandably, many would prefer their Fleurieu experience to remain at ground/water level, in which case The Big Duck Boat Tour can courier you around to inaccessible coastlines, islands and beaches with a guarantee* to spot seals, dolphins, seabirds and whales.
Forget the supermarket, grab the shopping along the way at the Willunga Farmers Market, every Saturday morning from 8-12. Coffee here is recommended also – seek out Talbot & Co.
Anytime you come back from a visit to Kangaroo Island, your friends will ask if you visited Admirals Arch, Kelly Hill Caves or the Remarkable Rocks.
For those of us who’ve done the Passage to KI hundreds of times, we know it’s something of a religious experience to visit these landmarks. It’s a South Australian pilgrimage.
But to really shock your friends with how you spent your time on Australia’s third largest island, tell them you went on an ocean safari.
Kangaroo Island Ocean Safari offers just that – a 75-minute whip around KI’s coastline, visiting Dolphin Cove, Cuttlefish Bay, Kangaroo Head and Snapper Point.
Encounter pods of bottlenose and common dolphins, which are said to be features of this tour, with the species keen to swim close to the boat to the delight of those on board.
If you’re looking for an increase in adrenalin, Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action is a premier action-packed tour experience located at Vivonne Bay.
There are a range of activities, from Quad Bikes and Sandboarding to Kayaking or guided walking tours, so you can learn about the environment, experience wildlife and explore inaccessible parts of Kangaroo Island while trying something new.
Dine beneath the sprawling arms of an 120-year-old fig tree at Gastronomo; The Enchanted Fig Tree experience.
The Murray River is a majestic flowing body of water, but seemingly one of the more underrated gems in our backyard. Perhaps because we’ve been doing it wrong – during the day.
Witnessing the immense sandstone cliffs change colour as the sun sets is an experience that’s very hard to trump, particularly whilst accompanied with a glass of something cold and refreshing. It’s a wondering we’ve taken so long to give it its due.
Depending on your holiday style, Big Bend Tours work in conjunction with all levels of leisureliness; so, if you’d rather explore on foot over chariot, they can cater to these options.
Fitspo types are also catered for – Canoe the Coorong offer a one-day, all-inclusive tour of the Murray Mouth and Coorong National Park, which also involves three hours of kayak cruising, with stops (on foot) along the way to experience “bush tucker”.
Big Bend By Night will truly show off the sunset cliffs, this is run by Juggle House tours; they’re across all the nooks and crannies of the Murray River.
For an adrenaline boost back on dry land, you’ve got The Bend Motorsport Park which is home to the second longest permanent circuit in the world.
Have you ever jumped into a sinkhole? You can, if you really want to, in the Limestone Coast. the south-eastern locale is home to more than 50 of these subterranean wonders, each more intriguing than the next.
For thousands of years these mystical underground habitats have been hidden, until the gradual collapse of cave roofs exposed their existence. Now they’re lush, water-filled sanctuaries that should absolutely be at the top of any ‘must see’ list.
Staying underground, there’s an overwhelming cave network traversing Naracoorte, Mount Gambier and Tantanoola where you can not only explore and hike, but the more adventurous can also swim and dive. Some of these sites have even made the World Heritage List. Definitely worth the trip.
Most will stop for a look at the painted silos of Coonalpyn, which are impressive, but the real secret here is the waffles being slung from the hole in the wall across the road at Waffles and Jaffles.
Keep your eyes peeled, as en route to Long Beach in Robe you’ll almost certainly unwittingly drive past Aunt Alice Cellar Door. Be observant, this one is worth it.
There are plenty more expert guides and tours available across all the regions of South Australia.
By booking with one, you’ll not only learn more about the incredible pockets of your home state, but you’ll be supporting the local businesses and community’s which have helped establish South Australia’s status as an internationally desired tourist destination.
You can find more information on how to support them at southaustralia.com.