Sun and surf


South Africa's year-round beaches

South Africa boasts some of the finest beaches in the world. From the pristine coastal stretch of Cape Vidal in KwaZulu-Natal to the Eastern Cape's famous Wild Coast, from the penguin colony of Boulders Beach to sun-drenched Camps Bay in the Western Cape … when it comes to beaches, we win, hands down.

Our beaches are much more than a haven for sun-worshippers and surfers. There's so much to see and do along our dramatic coastline, including a range of wonderful multi-day coastal hikes. Here's a quick rundown on some of the best beaches in South Africa.

Eastern Cape

Port St John's, Wild Coast: An extravagantly beautiful, fairly undeveloped piece of tropical coastline, offering great swimming and good lazing in the waters of the coastal lagoon.

Port Elizabeth: Port Elizabeth's benign beaches, protected by the gentle curves of Algoa Bay, offer safe swimming and surfing. Kings Beach is a well- known favourite, while Hobie Beach is popular with locals.

East London: The laid-back city of East London has a thriving beach culture, with sand dunes, rock outcrops and ocean views. Orient Beach has good swimming, and the black rocks of Eastern Beach are great for photos and exploration. Or you could take long walks down Nahoon Beach and Gonubie Beach.

KwaZulu-Natal

Cape Vidal, iSimangaliso Wetland Park:One of the finest beaches in the country, with long stretches of snow-white sand. Visitors can explore the many rock pools along the beach, and sight humpback whales in October.

Umhlanga Rocks: North of Durban, the beaches of Umhlanga come alive during the South African school holidays. There's sea swimming, surfing, boogie boarding, rock pools and warm tidal pools.

South Beach, Durban: Part of Durban's world-famous Golden Mile, South Beach is ideal for swimming and surfing. And there's plenty to do along the beachfront: hawkers sell Zulu beadwork, baskets, woodwork and handicrafts, and ricksha drivers ply their trade. And at the end of the Golden Mile, spanning over 15 hectares of prime beachfront, lies uShaka Marine World, Africa's biggest marine theme park.

Margate, South Coast: The fun capital of the KwaZulu- Natal Hibiscus Coast, drawing crowds of mainly young people in the summer holidays.

Western Cape: Cape Peninsula

Camps Bay: The Western Cape's answer to St Tropez. It's popular with the beautiful people of the world and offers spectacular views of Lion's Head and the Twelve Apostles. Sunsets on Camps Bay are a real treat.

Clifton: This is Cape's "millionaire's row". Known by film crews and fashion magazines as the perfect beach location, Clifton is a favourite for international models and film stars – and the locals love it too.

Bloubergstrand: Bloubergstrand literally means "blue mountain beach" in Afrikaans, and is derived from Blaauwberg, a nearby mountain. It offers spectacular views of Cape Town's Table Mountain and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for more than 20 years.

Boulders Beach: Boulders Beach, part of Table Mountain National Park, is a haven for jackass (African) penguins. A small entrance fee covers the upkeep of the sanctuary. The huge granite boulders make for spectacular scenery, and the swimming is great.

Hermanus: The sleepy town of Hermanus is known as the best land-based whale-watching site in the world. Every year the town holds a Whale Festival to mark the spring migration of southern right whales. Grotto Beach has won international recognition for its pristine condition and excellent facilities.

Muizenberg: Lying on the Indian Ocean seaboard, Muizenberg's water is warmer than that of other Atlantic Ocean beaches of the Cape peninsula, making it a favourite for swimmers and a great family beach.

Western Cape: Garden Route

Noetzie: Just outside Knysna, this little town of Noetzie, famous for the three romantic castles on its beach. Not too far away are the pristine sands of Buffels Bay, also worth a visit.

Plettenberg Bay: One of South Africa's favourite holiday playgrounds, Plett is home to two incredible beaches, Robberg and Lookout. Robberg offers whale watching, and Lookout some remarkable views of the Outeniqua mountains – as well as spectacular sunsets over the sea.

SAinfo reporter, with content from South African Tourism

Reviewed: December 2013
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Noordhoek, Cape Town

Cape Town's beautiful and pristine Long Beach at Noordhoek (Photo: South African Tourism)

The Wild Coast

The Wild Coast is famous for its craggy landscapes, furious seas and extravagantly beautiful beaches (Photo: South African Tourism)

Durban's golden beaches

Durban's golden beaches and warm Indian Ocean seas make it an irresistible holiday destination (Photo: South African Tourism)

Lookout Beach, Plettenberg Bay

Lookout Beach in Plettenberg Bay has remarkable views of the Outeniqua mountains (Photo: Tourism South Africa)

Jackass penguins on Boulders Beach in Cape Town

Jackass penguins on Boulders Beach in Cape Town (Photo: South African Tourism)

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