Glenelg is Adelaide’s premier seaside destination and when you look at the beach you will see that the reason it is so, is obvious.
I have been visiting Glenelg for years now and it seems that less people are using the beach as time goes by and more and more are spending their time in the cafés and restaurants along Jetty Road and more recent additions at Marina Pier. In fact, I think the café scene has now surpassed the beach as a reason to come here. Rather odd and sad if you ask me – it sort of misses the point of going to the seaside or is it just that I have become old fashioned? Perhaps I have always been old fashioned!
That said, the beach remains as beautiful as ever and lots of people still use it. Personally I do not lie on the beach (doing such intensely bores me though in reality I would be a more than a delicate shade of pink before boredom set it!). I do, however, delight in walking along this long white sand beach especially early in the morning. If you do lie on the beach be aware that temperatures here in the summer can rise above 40 degrees centigrade and the sun is intense. Swimming here is safe but do so within the area monitored by lifeguards. Dolphins occasionally come in to the shore for a swim too – you might be lucky.
There is a reasonable amount of shaded grass area just back from the beach, nice for a picnic. Cricket, volleyball and other beach games are always popular.
Dogs are permitted on the beach but must be on a lead during daylight savings time (summer), between the hours of 10am and 8pm. Outside this time and these hours dogs are permitted without a lead as long as they are under effective control. If walking your dog on the beach, or indeed in any public place, always carry a plastic bag to collect any droppings.
In days past, while people did not have to be on leads they were certainly restricted as to when they could bathe on the beach and especially so men.
When the first jetty on the beach (see my separate review) was opened in 1859 swimming was not allowed as the sight of men bathing ‘outraged public decency’. From 1863 women and girls could bathe between midnight and 7 am within 200 metres of the jetty. Men and boys over 10 years of age were banned although later this was changed and they were allowed to swim, between Pier Street and a point 200 metres south of the jetty, anytime except between 8 am. and dark. By the 1890s it was legal to bathe during the day, but only in reserved, segregated areas. Males in bathing suits could be fined for approaching within ten metres of a member of the opposite sex. Mixed bathing was not permitted until 1911, and even then neck-to-knee bathing suits were required (to be worn).
Today there are no restrictions as to when you can bathe or with whom you bathe – but the main beach at Glenelg is a permanent Dry Zone meaning that the consumption of alcohol is prohibited 24hrs per day 365 days of the year. Perhaps this explains the apparent shift from the beach to the cafes!