Rapid Bay, South Australia on the Fleurieu Peninsula is a small, isolated township with a picturesque coastline. Rapid Bay camping right on Rapid Bay Beach, sea dragons, seals as well as calm swimming conditions, sea caves, stunning sunsets and fishing make this a much-loved destination.
Driving Distances to Rapid Bay
- From Victor Harbor to Rapid Bay is 55 kilometres or 45 minutes
- From Adelaide to Rapid Bay is 100 kilometres or 1 hour 40 minutes
- From Mount Gambier to Rapid Bay is 505 kilometres or 5 hours 45 minutes
- From Melbourne to Rapid Bay is 795 kilometres or 9 hours 45 minutes
Rapid Bay Camping
Rapid Bay Campground offers stunning absolute beachfront camping. A turquoise sea, set at the foot of the hills, with seemingly nothing else much around, it can feel like you are a million miles away from anywhere else.
Caretakers on site do a wonderful job maintaining and keeping the grounds in good condition. The flat, open campground is suitable for all type and size rigs or set ups. There are some grass sites.
Bookings are required to stay and camp at Rapid Bay. This is most definitely true during peak times however during quiet or low season, if you find yourself at Rapid Bay and want to stay, first find a caretaker and chat to them. While this is not a caravan park meaning facilities are limited, it is not a campground where you are can just set up before speaking to an appropriate person.
Facilities are limited to an old toilet block which serves its purpose. The toilets can struggle to keep up with demand during busy periods so be aware they may get messy. There are also bins, BBQs and tables. For those that must have internet there is sufficient. This is a dog friendly campground.
There are no powered sites, showers, or portable water. Generators are allowed and lots of people use them. The campground because it is open and exposed with little to no shade is great for solar.
It is important to note strongly that this camping area is always incredibly busy in school holidays and on long weekends. It attracts more than just families and campers wanting to enjoy some beachside solitude. So, absolutely stay here, there is so much to love about Rapid Bay, just do so outside of peak periods. You will love it so much more.
Some final things to know. If there are strong winds, the exposure of the sites can make it a very unpleasant experience. Rapid Bay has no shops with the nearest at Normanville 23 kilometres or 25 minutes’ drive away. Be prepared with supplies before you go.
There are fees to stay and camp at Rapid Bay. It is $12.50 per adult, $7.50 per child and kids under 8 are free. Sometimes an additional bond will be requested, again this is usually during peak periods, which is returned if there has been no damage or rubbish left at your site.
What to See and Do in Rapid Bay
Why visit Rapid Bay? Why is this place with no town and very few houses on the Fleurieu Peninsula so popular?
Rapid Bay Beach and Cave
Stretching between Rapid Head and another headland, the shoreline of Rapid Bay is a mix of rocks, sand and rocks and sand with less rocks. The beach itself is idyllic. With protected, calm clear water it is the perfect swimming spot for children and anyone who do not like waves.
At the end opposite to the jetties is a large sea cave to explore. The cave can only be reached by walking along the beach. Take your shoes to wear exploring the cave.
Rapid Bay Beach is dog friendly. December, January, February and the Easter Weekend dogs must be on a leash 10am to 6pm. At all other times dogs can be off leash.
Rapid Bay Jetty
Rapid Bay has two jetties side by side, the old and the new. The original jetty was commissioned by BHP and ceased being used for commercial use in 1991. Notably now the 490m long jetty with a T intersection of 299m is now in a serious state of decay and is now closed to the public.
The new Rapid Bay Jetty is 240 metres in length and has been built for public use. The jetty is popular for fishing and waters below both jetties attract divers and snorkellers.
Snorkeling and Diving Rapid Bay
It is the adorable Sea Dragons that entices people to dive and snorkel at the Rapid Bay Jetty. Diving gives you the best opportunity to see the sea dragons as well as cuttlefish, crabs and other creatures on the sea floor.
For those of you that like us love to snorkel and have your own gear we recommend having ago even though we did not see any sea dragons. You would have to be extremely lucky to see one snorkelling and even the divers on the day we were in water did not see them. We did see schools of fish, other creatures and corals growing and living on the old pylons. It never ceases to amaze me the life under the water.
To snorkel the best place to get in is off some steps purposely built for divers and snorkellers on the side of the new jetty. Once in the water, swim over to the old jetty and snorkel following the old pylons up to the T section.
Flippers are highly recommended as is a wetsuit as the water is chilly. I found the current did not allow me to swim between the pylons, I kept getting pushed into them whenever I stopped swimming to look at something. Instead, I swam along the outside edge.
Once you have finished snorkelling the best place to exit the water is the same as where you got in.
Kayaking Rapid Bay
The two kayaking journeys noted below can be done as one from Second Valley Beach to Rapid Bay Head. Otherwise, you too can do it as two, each departing from Rapid Bay Beach.
Seals at Rapid Bay Head
Rapid Bay Head is part of the headland closest to the jetties and it is home to a small colony of NZ fur seals. The easiest and quickest paddle to the see the seals is to launch off Rapid Bay Beach.
Paddle, heading towards the jetties and pass under them on towards the headland. Simply follow the coastline around the first point and soon you will see seals up on the rocks, usually sleeping. Some were curious as we passed by and got into the water. Others stayed on their rock bed and did not much more than open a lazy eye in our direction.
Remember this is a small colony and always with wildlife, ensure you give them their space. The ones that are interested will approach your kayak or canoe, surfacing and swimming underneath.
Sea Cave and Secluded Beaches Rapid Bay to Second Valley Beach
The headland and coastline between Rapid Bay and Second Valley Beach stretch for 3 to 4 kilometres. Along here there are sea caves and small secluded beaches. In calm conditions this is an easy paddle. Make the most of it by taking lunch, stop at a beach and maybe even explore a cave.
At Second Valley Beach there is another jetty and a stunning small beach, our favourite on the Peninsula. There are also shops, cafes and pubs a great alternative for lunch.
Fishing from the jetty, off the beach and from kayaks or boats is incredibly popular at Rapid Bay. Squid, garfish, snook, tommy ruff and King George whiting are the most frequent catches.
Rapid Bay is a beautiful coastal location. Beachside camping and amazing activities to do near, on and in the water, there is much to do for everyone. If you plan on making the most of your time in the bay 2 – 4 nights is recommended.