Before heading off on our around Australia big lap we did a lot of research on great Australian surf spots. The spot that really caught our attention was a hidden place called Cactus Beach.
It is meant to be the best surf destination in the world. Saying this we had to visit and explore what Cactus beach in South Australia had to offer.
We looked forward to visiting the Cactus Beach surf destination in South Australia.
Cactus Beach Australia will always stay a quiet spot due to its location and remoteness. This is great white territory, and most surfers would hate to be eaten by the great monster of the south!!
If you love adventure then read on!
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Have you ever heard of Cactus Beach?
Most people in Australia or the world have never heard of this not-so-famous beach. This is thanks largely to its remote location in South Australia.
Before our great road trip tour of Australia, we did a lot of research on surf spots around Australia.
One spot stuck out and caught my interest, this was Cactus Beach.
While touring our great land I couldn’t wait to get to the infamous beach and surf the uncrowded perfection. Even if it meant I could be eaten by a great white shark!
Where is Cactus Beach?
Getting to Cactus you just follow the signs. Hopefully, the locals haven’t ripped them down or turned them the wrong way for you. This can be a setback. Nevertheless, you can’t get lost.
The road into Cactus is dirt but is easily accessible via 2WD also.
Once you arrive at the campground you will feel like you have entered another world. “Am I still in Australia?” Yes, you are!
Cactus Beach is located 870 km northwest of Adelaide in South Australia, Australia’s beautiful central-southern state. The nearest town is Penong at 25 km. The nearest supermarket can be found at Ceduna which is an hour’s drive to the east.
The Locals and the Press
A few years ago Seven News had some trouble with the locals in the area. Locals did not want cameras filming the area or sharing pictures on Social media.
We travelled here after this report and found the locals tend to keep to themselves. So bring your camera! Typical media always makes situations seem worse than they are.
If you are coming to visit this area, have some respect for the local surfers of the area. Just catch your fair share of waves.
I found everyone to be super friendly who stayed here and the vibe in the water was excellent. Apart from the feeling of being shark bait.
Cactus Beach Campground
Camping at Cactus beach is a truly unique experience.
The Cactus Beach campground is covered with white quartz stone and is divided by low lying green hardy native shrubs
Most sites are level and have amazing views of the ocean and landscape. The campground is set in a very arid landscape with no trees or shade.
Make sure you have an annex or some shade, especially in the summertime.
The area is surrounded by sand dunes to the west and nothing but the great southern ocean to the south. It can be exposed to certain wind directions which can make it a little unpleasant.
Definitely check weather conditions before venturing out there. We like to use Willy Weather. Here is the forecast for Penong, SA.
If you travel the South of Australia be wary of the wind. It can change at any time so make sure you tie your annex down.
The afternoons are simply magical here, you don’t have to be a surfer to love this place, it holds it’s own breathtaking beauty.
Cost at Cactus Beach Campground
The cost to stay at Cactus Beach campground was $25 a night for a campsite.
Great value for money because the place is well kept and maintained by the caretaker Ronnie.
Cactus Beach Campground Facilities
For a campground in this remote region, you would expect no facilities!
Not at Cactus beach, this spot has the best facilities in South Australia. Features include:
- South American style toilets and shower huts
- Hot and cold running water
- Rubbish bins at your site that are emptied daily
- A communal kitchen area for those of you who are really travelling light.
- Timber walkways to the beach
- Environmentally Sustainable Campsite
The World Famous Surf Breaks!
If you love uncrowded waves, long left-handers, and adventures off the beaten track, then Cactus Beach is the place is for you!
I did have a small concern about the dreaded Great white shark down here. This was mainly due to 2 reasons:
- A guy got eaten up the coast a few weeks earlier
- In 2000, a New Zealand man was taken here while on his honeymoon. This was at the very spot I wanted to surf!
I was considering purchasing a shark repellant device for peace of mind. This attaches to your board and is meant to repel sharks. I went for the high-risk option!
The breaks are part of the Point Sinclair national surfing reserve and consist of these breaks:
Main Breaks at Cactus Beach
- Cactus Left
- Castles Right
Point Sinclair Breaks
North Castle Bluff Breaks
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The surf breaks are all facing the West so are semi-protected and provide clean swell to wrap into the bays. This produces world-class waves for surfers to shred up.
The waves break over a calcarenite reef that is shaped perfectly for high-class surf. Don’t fall off headfirst into the reef.
What is There to Do at Cactus Beach?
- Surfing is the main attraction why most people visit this part of the world, that’s why I visited!
- Fishing – The Cactus area has some great fishing for mad keen angulars. Beach fishing, rock and boat fishing can all be done here.
- Swimming – Swimming is tricky and dangerous. Large rips can carry you out to sea. The beach is rocky and very sharky for most. Remember the beaches here are unpatrolled with no lifeguards so swimming is at your own risk! If you must swim please swim in the safety of the net at Port Le Hunte.
- Exploring – The foreshore here is rocky with waterholes and puddles to explore endlessly. The non-surfers will be happy.
My Honest Review and Recommendation
Just do it! It is a place that must not be missed if you are travelling across the Nullabor. It’s one of a kind place.
If you are a surfer you must visit Cactus Beach, but not if you are an aggressive, selfish surfer. You will only give visitors a bad name and ruin the spot for others. Be compassionate and respect locals and others who visit this rare surf destination.
The main break at Cactus Beach is really easy to surf.
The waves just peel off the rocky reef and carry you down to the beach. Then you hop off and paddle out through the channel to gain access to the lineup. All without having to duck dive once. Access to the waves was easy just walk along the rocks hop in and you are out the back!
Tips for Surfing Cactus Beach
I would surf for one hour at a time, and kept sessions short to avoid the Cactus Beach shark.
My game plan was to stay close to the left-hand break to avoid being too far out into the channel. Cactus beach can feel a little scary at times with the thought of shark attacks. A dolphin or seal would appear at times, making your heartbeat out of your chest.
Having a few surfers out there with you generally puts your mind at ease most of the time. (50/50 ratio risk rating)
Surfing on a Standup Paddleboard here is perfect because it is easy to access.
It is such a perfect spot for all boardriders of intermediate and advanced standards. The conditions were not favourable for the other spots when I visited but probably fire when everything is aligned.
We Love Cactus Beach!
We give this spot 9 out of 10
Our family loved Cactus Beach because there were so many places to explore around the campgrounds.
Interesting rock formations, secret coves and was extremely safe for a family with kids. The little ones loved playing in the small rock pools and riding around in our bike buggy!
Never a dull moment when you are on the road with your family.
Cactus Beach is at its best in the afternoon as the sun sets over the ocean. Grab yourself a beer or wine and head to the cliffs to watch the waves roll in.
Then watch the sun disappear over the ocean.
The only negative aspect of Cactus Beach would have to be when the wind is strong. Especially if you are camping in a pop-top caravan, it just gets a little blustery and uncomfortable at times.
Apart from that, it is quite sheltered from the prevailing winds.
Next time you’re driving along the Nullabor definitely spend a couple of days at the famous Cactus Beach!
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South Australia is one of our favourite destinations and we highly recommend visiting Cactus Beach Australia.
Other amazing spots to check out when travelling Australia are: