Where are the best beaches in South Africa?
South Africa has approximately 2,000 miles of coastline fronting two seas, so there is no shortage of beaches. Some are traditional sandy bays for sunbathing and sandcastle building. Others are famous for their fauna, which includes everything from penguins to sea turtles. Many South African beaches provide views of migrating whales or pods of dolphins surfing the waves.
Some beaches are world-famous for their surf breakers, but they are also wonderful for families and provide a variety of amenities. The Atlantic Ocean delivers some of the most dazzlingly beautiful strands on the western side of the nation, but the trade-off might be water that has come up from Antarctica and it certainly feels it. However, just around the Cape, you may relax in the Indian Ocean, which warms up as you go up the coast towards the Mozambique border.
Read on to discover the best beaches in South Africa, along with plenty of nearby hotel and accommodation options.
Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast
Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape is one of the country’s most picturesque beaches. It’s famous for its golden sand, the surrounding rocky cliffs and rolling green hills, and the much-photographed Hole in the Wall, an archway in the rock. Coffee Bay offers dozens of guesthouses and is directly connected to the N2 highway by a tar road, so there is no need for a 4×4 or high clearance vehicle.
Coffee Bay’s easygoing environment is undeniably one of its greatest aspects. There is no such thing as ‘casual’ life here. Day and night, comfortable beachwear is the order of the day. Coffee Bay draws visitors from all around the world, but it is especially popular with international travellers. The land and community are an experience in and of itself, offering a different way of life and a true sense of rural South Africa. Walking through the streets, whether you come across local bead women, cattle herders, or tourists, you will always be greeted with a wave and a grin. There’s no reason not to grin when you’re in a situation like this. Life is nice as long as you’re at Coffee Bay.
Coffee Bay is noted for its breathtaking scenery, which includes rock-faced cliffs, undulating hills, and lovely white sand beaches. The village is located on a kilometre-long beach that is ideal for surfing, swimming, and sunbathing. One of the few regular surf places on the Wild Coast is located in the rocky region off the beach’s southern tip. This rock structure is also responsible for some excellent fishing, which feeds both residents and visitors. There are also crisscrossed pathways along the shore that lead to excellent picturesque vistas via the surrounding communities. Hike along with one of the three rivers that flow into Coffee Bay’s sea. You may find isolated beaches along the coast as well as breathtaking vistas in the hills. In any case, Coffee Bay is not lacking in trekking opportunities. Aside from surfing, fishing, and hiking, the region also provides Quad rides, massages, live music, delicious cuisine and beverages, and so on.
Boulders Beach in Cape Town
Boulders Beach is well known for its residents, which include a colony of African penguins. The greatest spot to observe them is at Foxy Beach, where you can walk along the high boardwalks and watch them emerge from the sea and waddle up the coast. You could see them dart by in the water if you’re swimming close. This colony has developed from a few of mating pairs in the 1980s to 3,000 individuals now, despite the fact that the species is still threatened by overfishing and oil spills.
Boulders and its surrounding beaches, thankfully, are now part of the Table Mountain National Park Marine Safeguarded Area, guaranteeing that the beaches are secure and clean, and the penguins are protected. Three wheelchair-accessible boardwalks were built a few years ago to serve the almost 60,000 guests that visit the beach each year. These boardwalks run across the dunes and vegetation, providing not only fantastic viewing opportunities but also protecting breeding penguins and their young. However, one or two of the young gentlemen may still be seen waddling across the parking lot from time to time.
Boulders Beach is a famous family-friendly swimming beach where children may climb over the boulders, explore the rock pools, or swim in the cold, clear False Bay water. It’s also an excellent spot for a relaxing picnic. The beach is rarely crowded because of the R65 conservation charge.
If you want to learn more about the area’s famed residents, stop by the Boulders Visitors Centre, where qualified guides will provide you with a wealth of knowledge about Africa’s own, distinctive penguins.
West Coast’s Paternoster Beach
Paternoster, just a couple of hours from Cape Town, is a popular weekend escape for city residents. The small fishing village is made up of whitewashed homes that overlook a swath of white sand. When the fishermen bring their catches up onto the beach, you may buy them fresh for a seafood BBQ, or braai, as South Africans call it. The atmosphere is both artistic and lazy.
Paternoster is a modest, laid-back fishing community located only a stone’s throw (well, 150 kilometres) from Cape Town. With its charming cluster of whitewashed cottages and lengthy swath of beautiful beach, it’s no wonder that this is a favourite weekend getaway place for Capetonians. If you enjoy seafood and lengthy walks on white sand beaches while watching the sun set, Paternoster is the spot for you.
Paternoster is one of the oldest fishing settlements on the coast, and the name, which means “Our Father,” is thought to have sprung from the prayers of Portuguese sailors who were stranded here. While tourism is now a significant element of the beach towns’ economy, fishing is still a significant aspect of the local economy. This is fantastic news for anyone who enjoy lobster, crayfish, oysters, and abalone, all of which are abundant here. For those who prefer to catch their own meal, there is excellent fishing from the shore as well as from deep sea cruises. “bokkom,” a form of salted and dried mullet that can be seen drying on racks on the seafront, is a local favourite that may not be to everyone’s taste. Bokkom, also known as “fish biltong,” gets its name from the Afrikaans term for goat since it is as hard as a goat’s horn and smells as awful as a goat!
The fauna in and around Paternoster is abundant; there are over 225 bird species in the vicinity, as well as whales, dolphins, seals, and penguins. The Cape Columbine nature reserve is nearby, with its stunning coastline, wild flowers, and the Cape Columbine lighthouse, South Africa’s only manually controlled lighthouse.
KwaZulu-Natal’s Sodwana Bay
Sodwana Bay is a stunning unspoiled beauty on South Africa’s east coast.
Discover the unique natural bio variety of Sodwana Bay and its activities such as scuba diving, fishing, turtle excursions, ocean cruises, and much more.
You will be able to meet whatever degree of comfort you choose, from tented campsites to deluxe guesthouses, hotels, and lodges.
Sodwana Bay is located on South Africa’s east coast, amid one of the world’s most distinctive and pristine areas. The Zulu people have lived in the KwaZulu-Natal province for millennia, living in peace with the earth. They continue to be the region’s dominant ethnic group. Located in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Maputaland Marine Reserve, efforts are being made to maintain the integrity of the site from environmental deterioration. You will discover a tranquil yet active little town in which to spend some quality time away from home.
Come explore the region, meet the locals, and participate in a range of activities at one of the world’s top ten scuba diving destinations.
For the most ardent ocean aficionados, sea turtle excursions, ocean tours, kitesurfing, shark education, fishing, and much more are on the menu, and Sodwana Bay will exceed your expectations. Go quad riding or on nature treks while on land. Scanning the horizon or looking up to the sky can allow you to see South Africa’s magnificent wildlife. It’s a great place to go bird viewing, and various wildlife reserves provide safaris where you can see the big five.
While visiting Sodwana Bay, adventurers may experience the wild side of Africa by camping, while those seeking a little more luxury can find reasonable lodgings in the different cabins, chalets, guest houses, lodges, and hotels.
Muizenberg Beach in Cape Town
Muizenberg Beach, located at the western extremity of the massive sand arc that is False Bay, is one of Cape Town’s most well-known beaches. The beach is about 200 metres long and has soft white sand that backs up to the laid-back seaside town of Muizenberg.
The sandy stretch that comprises the northern edge of False Bay itself extends indefinitely. Around 40 kilometres (25 miles) around to Gordons Bay at the far end. Much of the beachfront is natural, and most locations offer a stunning view of Cape Town’s iconic mountains. As an aside, the term False Bay was given by early mariners who confused it with Table Bay on the west coast, which is home to Cape Town’s harbour.
The vividly coloured Victorian beach cottages that border Muizenberg beach are one of the shore’s most recognisable characteristics. Muizenberg was once Cape Town’s number one beach, but it has now been surpassed by the likes of Clifton and Camps Bay as the place to be seen. Muizenberg is still the nicest family beach in the area. Unlike the beaches on the west coast, which face directly into the Atlantic Ocean, the beach here is wider and flatter; not only is the water warmer (around 6°C), but it is also calmer. This makes Muizenberg the best place in the Cape Town region to learn to surf, and there are lots of surf schools here to assist with this near the “Surfer’s Corner” end of the beach.
While Muizenberg is a fantastic swimming and surfing beach, there have been some well-publicized shark attacks here over the years. While this reflects the popularity of the beach and you would be exceedingly unlucky to be assaulted, the authorities take the danger seriously. Shark spotters are stationed on the beach and will sound an alert if a shark is sighted.
Muizenberg just received the prestigious Blue Flag designation. This is due to the facilities provided as well as the beach itself, and Muizenberg, being a long-established beach town, has them all and then some. Numerous coffee shops, restaurants, and surf shops line the beach, as does the Muizenberg Pavilion. If the beach isn’t enough to keep the youngsters entertained, this location will. There includes a large water slide, an outdoor pool, a putt-putt (mini-golf) course, and much more.
Durban’s Umhlanga Beach
Umhlanga is a family-friendly beach in one of Durban’s most affluent neighbourhoods, characterised by the red-and-white Umhlanga Lighthouse and linked to surrounding beaches by the famous promenade. Swim in the warm Indian Ocean and relax on the beautiful sand. Behind the beach, there are several ice cream parlours, coffee shops, and restaurants – you could easily spend the entire day here.
This lovely beach is well-known for its clean swimming waters, making it excellent for families with young children or people who are scared of the ocean. Obtaining Blue Flag designation is no minor task, and Umhlanga Rocks is honoured to bear this prestigious title. This award is only given to beaches that are clean, safe, and visually beautiful, as well as those that actively promote environmental responsibility and education. This is one of the province’s only seven Blue Flag beaches.
Although relatively calm, Umhlanga Beach is nonetheless popular with tourists, who enjoy strolling the extensive sections (both sandy and concrete) and seeing the restaurants and hotels that line the coast. The Umhlanga Lighthouse is located nearby and serves as a landmark attraction.
The facilities along Umhlanga’s coastline are comparable to those found at other world-renowned beach locations. The Indian Ocean’s beautiful, white sandy beach and mild water beckon. There are several excellent seafood restaurants with seats nearly directly on the beach.
Park on Lagoon Drive and take the “Walkway to the Beach” down to the beach (signposted). The Cabanas, Breakers, Pearls, Oyster Box, and the iconic Beverly Hills, Sol Kerzner’s first hotel, are all located along this beach.
A lovely concrete path meanders through a beach garden to the left, while a stroll to the right takes you all the way up to Umhlanga Beach’s landmark, the Umhlanga Lighthouse.
Gqeberha’s Hobie Beach (Port Elizabeth)
If you wish to spend some time at Port Elizabeth — now officially known as Gqeberha — at the end or beginning of a Garden Route road trip, Hobie Beach is a nice site for a day by the sea, especially if you have kids. There are picnic tables, a playground, and toilets, as well as lifeguards. Swim, fish, windsurf, or jet ski. Keep an eye out for the Splash Festival in March or April.
The annual “Splash Festival,” beach volleyball, and world boardsailing championships are held at the popular Hobie Beach, which is located between Shark Rock Pier and the Boardwalk.
Hobie Beach, a popular swimming, sunbathing, and body surfing spot, also has sheltering rock pools with rich intertidal sea life. Other amenities include a variety of food places, restrooms, and a launching area for sailing and rubber dinghies.
The 137m long Shark Rock Pier, which extends its long legs into the warm Indian water, is both a beach architect and an icon. Hobie Beach is now one of the city’s most popular swimming beaches, thanks to the concrete monolith. More sand was trapped on the rocky beach after its construction, giving rise to the sandy area known as Hobie Beach, which is in excellent location for urban sun worshipers and water babes.
The only pier in Nelson Mandela Bay, it has become the “sun” around which the beachfront revolves, with flags adorning it, people adoring it, and throngs walking its girth – clutching ice-creams and a desire to be suspended above the water depths that define the Bay.
Camps Bay Beach in Cape Town
Camps Bay Beach, probably the city’s most popular sundowner destination, is next to Victoria Road’s strip of cafés, restaurants, and bars. The sun sets behind the Atlantic, and there are few better spots to view the transition from day to evening than on the sandy beach, from the Camps Bay tidal pool, or from a rocky vantage point. On weekends, many families go here to play on the beach in between fast chilly dives in the water. You can also go surfing, paddling, or kayaking.
The gently curving crescent of Camps Bay — the best-known beach on the Cape Town coast – is just down the road from Clifton. Locals and visitors alike travel to this palm-lined strip to people-watch, play beach bats or volleyball, stroll their dogs, or catch a tan while gazing up at the spectacular peaks of Table Mountain’s Twelve Apostles range.
If the wind kicks up, head to one of the numerous chic restaurants, cafés, or fashionable bars on the Camps Bay strip, where Cape Town’s attractive people eat on seafood or sip chilled local wine. On hot summer days, these eateries spill out onto the sidewalks, creating a beautifully relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere.
TIP: During Cape Town’s peak summer season (December and January), the main beach in Camps Bay can get crowded. For a little less than a kilometre, head in the direction of Clifton to find the more quiet and well-known Glen Beach.
Ideal for: It’s a simple transition from the vast beach to the lively cafés on the Camps Bay strip, with family fun, sunbathing, beach volleyball, and sunset drinks.
Buffels Bay in Knysna
Buffels Bay is a five-kilometre stretch of white sand and blue ocean on the Garden Route, a few kilometres from the famed tourist resort of Knysna. During a winter coastal stroll, you could see dolphins in the surf or southern right whales. Swimming and paddleboarding are both safe here.
Buffels Bay Beach, located in Cape Town’s famed Cape Point Nature Reserve, is a peaceful and somewhat protected beach suitable for a picnic or braai with friends and family.
The beach in Buffels Bay is beautiful, and the various tidal pools provide opportunities for your children to explore. Green grass precede the beach, which is ideal if you enjoy the beach but dislike the sand! Buffels Bay’s white beaches and rocks are visible from the grounds.
This is a fantastic place to unwind after a trek or bike ride around the reserve, and you may cool down in the lake before returning home. If you forget your picnic but are starving, you may eat at the Two Oceans Restaurant in Cape Point. Come enjoy the stunning views of False Bay from this beautiful beach.
De Hoop Nature Reserve on the Whale Coast
De Hoop is a lovely coastal reserve and marine protected area about three hours outside of Cape Town. The beach is a beautiful stretch of undulating dunes and sparkling white sand lapped by foamy waves. Dolphins, whales, and birds such as Cape cormorants and African black oystercatchers are regular sightings. Look for starfish, anemones, and even the rare octopus in the rockpools.
Choose from a range of lodging options, ranging from low-cost self-catering cottages to fully prepared luxury apartments. The self-catering cottages in De Hoop Nature Reserve are great for families, while some of the luxury apartments are suitable for a romantic break.
De Hoop Nature Reserve offers a variety of activities for both families and nature enthusiasts. Hike, cycle, and stroll around the various landscapes on guided and self-directed treks, bike rides, and marine walks. Relax on the beach or go snorkelling in one of the many blue rock pools. On an afternoon boat cruise through the De Hoop wetlands, you can watch the sunset while sipping a drink. Treat yourself to a spa session at De Hoop Spa for some pampering.
De Hoop has some of the greatest land-based whale-watching opportunities in South Africa. Sit on the sand dunes and marvel at the beauty of the Southern Right Whales as they come near to shore. De Hoop will be home to 500-600 whales from May to November.
Breakfast, lunch, and supper are served all day at the Fig Tree Restaurant in the Opstal neighbourhood. We recommend that you eat at the restaurant at least once. The delectable South African dishes are freshly cooked using local ingredients. Picnic baskets are also available for purchase. The restaurant is licenced and offers a selection of fine South African wines.
After a long day, return to your De Hoop Nature Reserve lodging and light a fire, toast some marshmallows over smouldering embers, and gaze up at the star-studded night sky.
Dolphin Beach in Jeffreys Bay
Dolphin Beach is a Blue Flag beach in the middle of the laid-back coastal town of Jeffrey’s Bay (also known as J’Bay by locals) in the Eastern Cape, famed for its legendary surfing area known as Supertubes. The town is one of the world’s five most recognised surfing destinations, with the world-renowned and is a popular holiday destination with families who come to the beaches during peak season.
Every year, the beach hosts the Billabong Pro competition as part of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour, and it is popular for touch rugby games, swimming, sunbathing, kiteboarding, and the shell collection. The Shell Museum on the beach is a must-see while you’re in town.
Dolphins may be seen on the beach all year, while Southern Right Whales can be seen frolicking in the surf between July and September.
The beach has a public information kiosk, restrooms, showers, and a disability ramp. There are several restaurants and stores nearby, as well as the Dolphin Beach Entertainment Centre, which has waterslides, mini-golf, and quad bikes for youngsters. During the blue flag season, lifeguards are on duty (November to April).
Cape Town’s Bloubergstrand
Take a drive out to Bloubergstrand for one of the nicest views of Cape Town. From the west coast, the beach provides a straight view of Table Mountain, with Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head on each side. For the finest lighting, come at sunset. This is also a popular spot for kitesurfers to take advantage of Cape Town’s strong winds.
From across Table Bay, Blouberg has some of the greatest views of Table Mountain. The wind may be fierce, but locals make the most of it; this is Cape Town’s kitesurfing and windsurfing hotspot.
Bloubergstrand has two beaches: Big Bay and Little Bay.
Big Bay is a lengthy stretch of beach popular with kitesurfers due to the strong winds in the region. It’s also a fantastic family beach, ideal for long hikes with the kids.
Picnic and braai enthusiasts flock to Little Bay. There’s a grassy braai area, and youngsters may explore the neighbouring rock pools.
The white-sand Kraalbaai Beach is a calmer alternative to the bustling main Langebaan Beach, located on the edge of the turquoise Langebaan Lagoon, which is famous for kitesurfing and windsurfing. West Coast National Park, which is around 90 minutes from Cape Town, is a favourite weekend getaway for Capetonians. You can drive through the park to get to the beach, but kayaking across the lagoon is considerably more exciting.
Kraalbaai Beach is located in the ever-popular West Coast National Park, shortly before entering the park’s restricted gates in the Postberg sector. On any given weekend, you’ll see families of all shapes and sizes enjoying the lagoon’s beautiful blue water.
On this beach, you may engage in a variety of sports such as fishing and angling, boating, skiing, and even kayaking; all of these activities are permitted on the lagoon.
There are usually a number of boats distributed about the lagoon, many of which are moored. The amenities are excellent, and you can even enjoy a braai close to the beach or bring your picnic basket and enjoy the magnificent surroundings, which are buzzing with activity.