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.
The Eastern Cape is home to some fine beaches. Port Elizabeth and East London are surfing hotspots, and the Wild Coast is famous for its craggy landscapes, furious seas and extravagantly beautiful beaches.
Port St John's, Wild Coast
A lovely, fairly undeveloped piece of tropical coastline, offering great swimming and good lazing in the waters of the coastal lagoon.
Port Elizabeth's benign beaches, protected by the gentle curves of Algoa Bay, offer safe swimming and surfing. Kings Beach is a favourite, and Humewood Beach is a frequent Blue Flag winner. There's also a nearby snake park and dolphins at play in the oceanarium.
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.
The KwaZulu-Natal coastline has great weather all year round and wonderful - if sometimes overpopulated - beaches on both the south and north coasts. In between, the whole city of Durban is really just a life support system for its beaches!
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.
North of Durban, the beaches of Umhlanga come alive during the South African school holidays, offering a feast of fun for the whole family. 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 besides: 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
In Cape Town, try Clifton for the fashionable set; Sandy Bay, our unofficial nudist beach, for the wouldn't-wear-fashion-anyhow set; and Long Beach for the walking. Boulders offers the best swimming - and penguins for company.
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, and if you've had enough sand and surf, take in a sundowner at one of the nearby restaurants and bars.
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 - Blouberg beach - offers spectacular views of Cape Town's Table Mountain and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for over 20 years. There are great outdoor restaurants nearby for snacks or long lazy lunches.
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. Apart from the penguins, the huge granite boulders make for spectacular scenery, and the swimming is great.
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.
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. It's also the ideal spot for a relaxed beach picnic, with nearby restaurants offering freshly caught seafood.
WESTERN CAPE: GARDEN ROUTE
The Western Cape Garden Route is known for its natural scenic beauty, with lush forests and spectacular beaches.
Just outside Knysna you'll find the little town of Noetzie, famous for the three romantic castles on its beach. Not too far away are the pristine sands of Buffels Bay - definitely worth a visit.
One of South Africa's favourite holiday playgrounds, Plettenberg Bay is home to two incredible beaches, Robberg and Lookout. Robberg offers whale watching and Lookout some remarkable views of the Outeniqua mountains - and spectacular sunsets over the sea.
SAinfo reporter and South African Tourism