By Martin (Marty) Olsen

South Australia doesn’t get the press of Australia’s east coast beaches—but nor does it get the crowds. Flying under the surfing radar, South Australia has some great waves without the surf rage. The legendary big surf that attracts the pros is way out west of the state in Nullarbor, though the Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas also have world-class breaks. The Fleurieu Peninsula is the most popular surfing destination given its proximity to Adelaide, but it pays to venture along the south coast or over to Kangaroo Island.

The Wild West

Cactus Beach is legendary among international surfers for big, consistent surf. Lying 13 miles south of Penong on the edge of Nullabor Plain, this is as remote as it gets. Renowned Cactus and Castles are big left-hand breaks, and Caves is a barreling right-hander. Another one for experienced surfers, Blackfellows Point at Elliston on the Eyre Peninsula, has a big reef-breaking left hander, best over the winter months. Venus Bay is more forgiving with popular left and right reef breaks but can get crowded at holiday times.

Cactus is not only hard to get to, in the middle of the desert, packed with flies, freezing water and already settled by the man in the grey suit BUT the waves are perfect.
This area has a bunch of great waves with left and right reefs and points on offer. All are good but some absolutely pump. There are no real secrets here, just check them out and take your pick.

The wave is of a good quality although it is one of the more user friendly waves in the area. It offers a decent wally ride after a pretty solid take-off.

Cactus Beach

  • Cactus Left
  • Castles Right
  • Point Sinclair Breaks
  • Witzigs
  • Backdoors
  • Cunns
  • North Castle Bluff Breaks
  • Caves
  • Crushers
  • Supertubes
  • Crushers


Cactus Beach is a beach located 21 km south of Penong in South Australia. It is a renowned surfing location with two left-hand and one right-hand surfing breaks

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


  • SWELL: S – SW
  • SIZE: 3 – 8 feet
  • WIND: NW – NE
  • TIDE: mid – high


BOTTOM: reef

ABILITY LEVEL: intermediate – advanced

BRING YOUR: shortboard, mid-range board , wetsuit

BEST SEASON: all year round

ACCESS: easy access from campsite

CROWD FACTOR: can get crowded on public holidays

LOCAL VIBE: local surfers will get heavy, show respect and don’t drop in

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Aloha and good surfing!!