1. HALLET COVE, METRO SOUTH
Hallet Cove beach is a wonderland for adventurous kids with rock hopping, sea life and beach treasure by the bucketful (taking nothing with you but memories, of course!). But, if you’re keen to explore the rockpools, visit when it’s low tide. You’ll find them along the coastline. They’re usually teeming with anemones, whitebait, nudibranchs, and shore and reef crabs.
Location: Hallet Cove (25km south of Adelaide)
Facilities: Parking, toilets, café, playground and recreation facilities nearby
Things to do: Walk the interpretive trail in Hallet Cove Conservation Park, marvel at the Sugarloaf and learn about the Park’s unique cultural and geological history. Check out Nature Play SA’s 40 things to do in Hallett Cove CP.
2. MARINO ROCKS, METRO SOUTH
As its name suggests, the beach at Marino Rocks is rocky, with countless varieties of shells and pebbles underfoot. The walk down to the beach is pathed but a little steep. To make the most of the rockpools, visit at low tide. Careful exploration should reveal seastars, feather stars or even the odd washed-up sea cucumber.
Location: Marino Rocks (19km south of Adelaide)
Facilities: Close to public transport, parking, toilets
Things to do: Stroll the boardwalk all the way to Kingston Park to see what other beach treasures you can find. It takes around 30 minutes (maybe longer with kids in tow!).
3. KINGSTON PARK, METRO SOUTH
Conveniently located close to Brighton, spending a day exploring Kingston Park and the surrounding area is easy. If you wander south along the beach, you’ll find a rocky shoreline – the perfect spot to search for rockpools and the sea life that inhabit them. Walk along the cliff face to enjoy the view from Tjilbruke Monument, or head along the boardwalk to visit Marino Rocks.
Location: Kingston Park (18km south of Adelaide)
Facilities: Parking, toilets, picnic facilities, barbeque, playground, tennis courts, caravan park, cafes
Things to do: Explore the various walking and shared-use trails, visit Kingston House or grab a bite at the Seacliff Hotel or surf lifesaving club. You can also hire a stand-up paddle board at Seacliff beach. Learn more about its cultural significance to the Kaurna people.
4. STOKES BAY, KANGAROO ISLAND
Stokes Bay is a hidden treasure on the north coast of Kangaroo Island (KI), around 40 minutes drive from Kingscote. With numerous rockpools of differing depths and sizes to discover and explore, Stokes Bay is ideal for kids of all ages. This idyllic beach is one to include on your KI itinerary.
Location: Stokes Bay (93km east of Penneshaw; 48km east of Kingscote)
Facilities: Parking, toilets, barbeque, picnic facilities, Stokes Bay Campground, café
Things to do: Pop into the Rockpool Café to fill hungry tummies before the drive back to your campsite or accommodation.
5. SECOND VALLEY, FLEURIEU PENINSULA
Around 90 minutes from Adelaide, Second Valley is an excellent day trip or long weekend option. You could also stop over on your way to Kangaroo Island. Head west (left) from the jetty and meander along the shoreline until you find the rockpools. If you head the other way (right of the jetty), ensure you’re up for a challenge! More rockpools await but may be harder to get to, particularly with young children. However, they’re worth the adventure if your kids are old enough to navigate the rocks.
Location: Second Valley (90km south of Adelaide)
Facilities: Parking, toilets, jetty, Second Valley Caravan Park and Jetty Store
Things to do: Take advantage of everything this beach offers on the water, including swimming, snorkelling, fishing and kayaking. If you’d prefer to stay dry, walk the trails to enjoy breathtaking views
6. SHELL BEACH, YORKE PENINSULA
If you’re exploring Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park these school holidays, Shell Beach is home to numerous rockpools, some deep enough to swim and snorkel in (depending, of course, on the tide). So be mindful of the conditions and spend your time beachcombing if they’re not right – you’ll find more treasure than you can carry (but remember, it lives at the beach!).
Location: Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park (318km from Adelaide)
Facilities: Visitor Centre, camping, toilets, walking trails, picnic grounds, surf beaches, and a caravan park and pub nearby in Marion Bay
Things to do: When visiting the Yorke Peninsula, there are more beaches and townships to explore than you’ll likely have time for. Enjoy the relaxed beach vibes, and go fishing, crabbing or surfing – it’s a veritable playground for nature players.
7. GREENLY BEACH, EYRE PENINSULA
Keen to venture a little further? Greenly Beach is around an hour’s drive from Port Lincoln. You’ll find pristine beaches, raw, rugged beauty and ample wildlife on land and sea. The Instagram-famous rockpools are crystal clear and large enough to swim in. As always, check the conditions, especially when travelling remotely.
Location: Coulta (676km from Adelaide)
Facilities: Parking and camping with further amenities in Port Lincoln and Coffin Bay
Things to do: While you’re visiting the Eyre Peninsula, take some time to explore Lincoln National Park (check this wildlife poster) and Coffin Bay National Park. A 4WD will help. You’ll also find rockpools further west in Streaky Bay. Or why not learn to surf while you’re out that way?
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For more information on South Australia’s coast and marine plants and animals check out Where Birds Sing and Wildflowers Dance.
Nature Play SA is supported by the Green Adelaide Board.
[Photographer: Jason Tyndall]