West Lakes South Australia

Circumnavigate Delfin Island, West Lakes, departing from one of several convenient access points around the lake. The trip is approximately 6-7km in length and the paddler remains in relatively protected waters. However, be cautioned that winds from S to SW can generate challenging conditions near West Lakes Boulevard bridges at the southern end of Delfin Island.



Port Adelaide

6-7 km

6-7 km

Paddle Time Allow at least 2hrs



Easy – Moderate

  • Paddle Distance

    6-7 km - Allow at least 2hrs

  • Weather

    Always check weather and wind conditions before setting out.
    Visit BOM for weather conditions

  • Conditions

    Easy – Moderate - Flat water
    Do the five weather safety checks

  • Facilities

    Toilets, picnic area, bike track

  • Parking

    Parking available at several locations

Paddling five checks BOM
Paddle SA is the governing body of paddle sport and recreation in South Australia. It leads and supports paddling in South Australia and encourages the safe exploration of our waterways. Paddling Trail South Australia has a range of Paddling Trails to suit different abilities. Know your ability.

Trail 18

Paddling Trails South Australia Avenza mapsIf you have a smartphone or tablet you can download the free Avenza PDF Map app and have interactive paddling trail maps on hand when you need them. The app uses your device’s built-in GPS to plot your real-time location within the park onto a map. The app can be used without a network connection and without roaming charges. You can also measure area and distance, plot photos, and drop Placemark pins.

Trail Information

Launch Sites:
Access point: Aquatic Reserve (GPS: 34.8535 S; 138.4996 E)
Inexperienced paddlers may find conditions above fresh (17 knots) with S to SW wind challenging.
Access point: Dotterel Drive Park (GPS: 34.8583 S; 138.4965 E)
access to West Lake off a sandy beach.
Access point: Oarsman Reserve (GPS: 34.8751 S; 138.4851 E)
Caution: Rowing craft may travel at speed, both during regattas and at other times when training. Always keep an adequate look-out for approaching craft to avoid collision and the risk of serious injury.

Trail Points:
The trail around Delfin island from the Aquatic Reserve is about 7 km and can be done in about one and a half hours.
There is often a lot of boat traffic on the lake so it is advisable to keep to the right hand side of the waterway. The only motorized boats permitted on the lake are the cruise boat moored at the hotel in the Southern basin and rescue boats for Regattas. Even so, the variety of paddle craft on the lake varies enormously from sit on tops (SOTs), stand up paddle boards (SUPs), rowing sculls, canoes and kayaks so it is advisable to be alert at all times to other craft in the area.
There are a number of beaches around the lake where stops can be made to take breaks.
Coffee and meals are available at OAR cafe (Oarsman reserve) and also from a number of venues on the West Lakes Mall side of the waterway.

Aquatic Reserve: has shady trees, access to the lake off the beach, drinking water available, public toilet available 6.00am to 6.00pm, outdoor gym equipment available in the park, BMX track adjacent to Reserve
Short drive to cafes and restaurants on Port Road

Oarsmen Reserve: Public toilet, shady trees, picnic tables, drinking water available. Café with food and good coffee located here.
Oarsmen Reserve is on the AM Ramsay Regatta course, and the boat-ramp is approximately 200m from finish-line. When a regatta is in progress access to the lake may be limited from the reserve.
Dotterel Drive Park: has public toilets open 6:00am to 6:00pm daily and shady trees. There is a grassy area with picnic tables located nearby.

Points of Interest

West Lakes: West Lakes is a saltwater lake fed by tidal flows that flow out through the Bower Rd causeway into the Port River. The lake is the most popular canoeing venue in Adelaide with club, state and national events being held there. It is home to Paddle South Australia, West Lakes Canoe Club (at Bower Rd) and the West Lakes Aquatics Centre (Dept of Education) and South Australian Sports Institute Kayak Program (on Military Rd). There is a 2000m canoeing / rowing course on the lake which is used for training and events.
The lake is open to the public and it can be accessed from many of the boat ramps and beaches. As power boats are excluded from the lake (except for safety purposes by permit) it is suitable for paddling in many craft.
The lake however can become very choppy particularly with the prevailing south-westerly sea breeze. Mornings are the best times to paddle as the wind is generally calmer.
Situated in the middle of the lake is Delfin Island which is approximately 6km in circumference. The island provides significant protection from the wind and novice paddlers can enjoy paddling around the island on calmer days, or stay on the northern side of the West Lakes Boulevard bridges on windier days.

Port Misery: (Point A GPS: 34.8592 S; 138.5003 E)
The original site for the port of Adelaide when the colony was first established, became known as Port Misery due to the unpleasant conditions passengers had to endure. A plaque can be found fixed to a wall at this location.
New arrivals to South Australia started writing about their experience arriving at the new colony. Thomas Horton James in his book “Six Months in South Australia” and Alexander Tolmer were just two who wrote about the “myriads of mosquitoes,” and “eerie tangle of mangroves with black and viscous mud” that passengers were either carried through on the backs of sailors or had to struggle through on their own. “Their luggage thrown promiscuously on the muddy beach, and unless promptly removed, frequently damaged by the rising tide”.

“The shore is an uninhabitable swamp, ….  This is Port Adelaide! Port Misery would be a better name; for nothing in any part of the world can surpass it in everything that is wretched and inconvenient”.

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before your paddling trip.


How to use maps and contact
Paddling Trails South Australia.

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Paddling Trail South Australia has a range of Paddling Trails to suit different abilities.

Know your ability

These are easy to access kayak and canoe trails through the Adelaide, Fleurieu Peninsula, Riverland, Murray River, and the Coorong.