27 of the Best Beaches in South Africa
Soft white sands, incredible waves and stunning natural settings, South Africa boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world for surfers and families alike.
Whether you want to watch whales and dolphins, swim, surf, dive, or simply sip a cocktail while watching the sun go down, here’s a list of 27 of the most beautiful and popular beaches in South Africa.
1. Camps Bay, Cape Town
Dominated by the spectacular 12 Apostles backdrop, Camps Bay is the most iconic and popular beach in Cape Town. The powder-white sanded, blue flag beach is pristine, and the sparkling ocean is crisp and chilly. It’s a great spot for grabbing a cocktail from one of the trendy bars along the strip, and watching a spectacular sunset before heading off to one of the fancy nearby eateries.
2. Clifton, Cape Town
Clifton is actually made up of four beaches named 1st to 4th. Boring names, but all beautiful. The water is pretty chilly but beaches here offer a secluded retreat from the wind. Beaches 2 to 4 tend to attract posers and partygoers, so head to the 1st beach to watch the spectacular sunset in peace and tranquillity.
3. Llandudno Beach
Thirty minutes south of Cape Town, overlooked by the village of Llandudno is the lovely crescent-shaped Logies Bay. Here you’ll find the beautiful and secluded Llandudno Beach. The beach is sheltered by a backdrop of mountains and is lapped by shallow, turquoise waters.
Bring a picnic and sit back and relax in peace and quiet, or take a dip in the shallow waters. Be warned though, it’s pretty chilly!
If you’re looking for warmer waters in the Cape Town region, head to Strand. The flat, wide beach is a firm favourite with families. There are rock pools to explore, and five kilometres of beautiful white sand for jogging or taking a leisurely stroll.
The water is warmer here and the wave breaks are quite gentle, so it’s a popular place to learn how to surf. There are also tidal pools and a swimming pool with a waterslide for those who don’t want to swim in the sea.
5. Boulders Beach, Cape Town
Better known for its penguin population, this family-friendly beach offers some of the safest swimming conditions in the Cape Town region. The waters are protected from the currents and wind by the giant boulders, and are warm enough to swim in during the summer months.
Watching the protected colony of penguins waddle along the beach to swim in the water is a sight to behold, but take care not to touch or feed them.
6. Noordhoek Beach, Cape Town
The five-kilometre stretch of magnificent golden sands is a popular beach with horse riders and surfers. However, it’s very windy and swimming isn’t recommended. It has some excellent breaks for seasoned surfers and kite surfers, and the surrounding vegetation is simply stunning. A great beach for an energetic walk. Alternatively, take a longer hike from the beach along the Hoerikwaggo trail and enjoy a picnic while taking in the stunning views.
7. Bloubergstrand, Cape Town
If you’re after a beach with spectacular views, you can’t get much better than Bloubergstrand. It’s an ideal spot for viewing the world famous Table Mountain. This lovely long beach has beautiful white sands and is popular with walkers and joggers. After a romantic stroll grab a bite to eat or a refreshing sundowner at one of the nearby restaurants and bars.
8. Muizenberg, Cape Town
This long stretch of white sandy beach is lined with quaint and colourful changing huts, giving it a nostalgic seaside holiday feel.
Considered one of the best places in the world to learn how to surf, Muizenberg Beach has waves to suit all levels: smaller waves near the shore for beginners, and bigger breaks further out for experienced surfers.
9. Central Beach, Plettenberg Bay
Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route has a wealth of stunning beaches to explore. But if you’re looking for a family-friendly beach that offers safe swimming with plenty of nearby amenities, head to Central Beach. The waves are fun, but gentle enough and ideal for learning to surf or bodyboard for the first time. Lifeguards patrol the beach in the summer months.
10. Robberg Beach, Plettenberg Bay
If you’re looking for a quieter beach for a romantic stroll, you can’t get much finer than Robberg. This blue flag beach offers kilometres and kilometres of golden-white sands that seem to stretch on forever.
Robberg is also a great spot for whale watching, especially in the winter months from June to August. There’s also a good chance you’ll see the odd dolphin from the shoreline too.
11. Victoria Bay, George
One of the smallest bays on the Garden Route, the delightful Victoria Bay is a real gem, loved by locals and surfers alike. Fringed by a cluster of cute cottages, this gently sloping beach has a safe bathing area, a walled tidal pool and a jetty, as well as natural pools filled with sea life for the little ones to explore. Further out, the big waves are challenging enough for surfers, while the grassy areas are an ideal vantage point to watch them from while enjoying a relaxing picnic.
12. Santos Beach, Mossel Bay
This Blue Flag beach on the Garden Route is a perfect all-year-round location, popular with locals and tourists. Close to restaurants and attractions, the wide golden-sand beach has warm and safe waters as well as beach activities, making it ideal for families.
13. Noetzie Beach, Knysna
Situated at the end of a dirt track and a steep flight of steps, Noetzie Beach on the north end of the Garden Route is worth the hassle of getting to. This beautiful, pristine beach, nestled within a secluded cove is rarely crowded, even in the peak season. Surrounded by a nature reserve, the views are simply stunning, while the six castle-styled houses along the beach add a touch of eccentricity to the landscape.
14. Buffels Bay, Western Cape
A great place to spot dolphins is from Buffels Bay beach on the Western Cape. The beach is typically flat and clean with crystal clear waters, popular with swimmers and surfers.
The nearby Goukamma Nature Reserve offers walking trails and is a great place to stop and have a picnic. Or if you’re feeling very energetic, take the five-kilometre walk from Buffels Bay to Brenton-on-Sea.
15. Paternoster, Western Cape
The quaint fishing village at Paternoster is one of the oldest on the West Coast. The beach here is a popular destination for city-goers escaping the hustle and bustle of Cape Town. And who can blame them? The beautiful white sands are ideal for stretching out and relaxing while watching the sun go down. Alternatively, dine on freshly caught crayfish and other fantastic seafood dishes from one of the beachside restaurants.
16. Grotto Beach, Hermanus
Considered the best on-land whale watching site in the world, the tranquil and secluded Grotto Beach stretches for over 11 miles and is the perfect location for long walks, swimming, beach games, or simply soaking up the sun. The Blue Flag beach has wonderfully warm waters in the summer, with the added security of lifeguard patrols in the peak season.
17. Gonubie, East London
Found at the north end of the Gonubie River, Gonubie beach is surrounded by hillsides and has a long, lovely boardwalk that connects it with an array of beachfront restaurants. It’s a good spot for viewing dolphins and humpback whales during the winter migration.
The sheltered beach has a manmade, walled tidal pool that’s safe for kids to play in, as well as safer swimming areas when the surf isn’t too high.
18. Nahoon, East London
Situated on the northern headland, East London’s most popular surf and swimming beach is graced with clean, powder-white sands that stretch on for miles and miles. The waves here, especially at the reef, will challenge even the most experienced surfers, while the river mouth provides a safe swimming spot for those who don’t like the surf.
19. Kelly Beach, Port Alfred
This Blue Flag beach at Port Alfred is one of the cleanest you’ll find, with pristine waters and immaculate golden sands. There are dedicated safe swimming areas for families with smaller children and good facilities including clean toilets and year-round lifeguard patrols.
There are two viewing decks for taking in the views and watching whales in the winter, or simply enjoying the spectacular sunsets and sunrises.
20. Humewood Beach, Port Elizabeth
The Blue Flag beach at Port Elizabeth has a gentle curve of soft sand and calm waters for safe swimming. Facilities include a lifeguard service from November to April, and dedicated wheelchairs for disabled visitors that can be pushed on the sand.
21. Kariega Beach, Kenton-on-Sea
Lying between Port Elizabeth and Port Alfred is the lovely Kariega Beach, an unspoilt and tranquil spot featuring a fascinating array of rock formations between the sand dunes. The beach is overlooked by a nature reserve and a variety of birdlife can be spotted in the area.
22. Dolphin Beach, Jeffreys Bay
As the name suggests, this beach is an ideal spot for watching dolphins all year round. Whales can also be spotted in the winter months.
A great beach for active families, there’s a variety of activities including a mini golf course, waterpark, dune boarding, windsurfing and surf schools.
Jeffreys Bay is one of the top rated surf destinations in the world and is South Africa’s number one surf spot, hosting the World Surf League Supertubes competition.
23. Coffee Bay, Wild Coast
Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape is a simply stunning golden beach overlooked by lush green cliff tops reminiscent of a rugged Cornish coastline. Take a horseback ride or a long walk along the sandy shore or hike one of the surrounding trails, which offer spectacular views along the coastline.
Coffee Bay is most famous for the fascinating hole-in-the-wall structure carved out by the waves, popular with adventurous swimmers who like to swim through it.
24. Thompson’s Bay, Ballito
One of the most popular holiday destinations in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), the small coastal town of Ballito has several lovely beaches to choose from. But one of the safest and most beautiful has got to be Thompson’s Bay.
The highlight of this beach is the fascinating walk-through hole-in-the-wall, where you’ll discover an array of lovely coves and a tidal pool that’s safe for kids to swim in. Sheltered from the wind, the calm waters are patrolled by lifeguards and there are shark nets for additional safety, making it an ideal and popular beach for families.
25. Umhlanga Rocks, Durban
Just a 20-minute drive from the centre of Durban, Umhlanga Rocks offers a beautiful golden sand beach and safe swimming protected by shark nets and lifeguard patrols. There’s plenty to do including surfing, scuba diving, kite boarding, whale and dolphin watching and even deep-sea fishing.
Take a gentle stroll along the whalebone-inspired pier or visit the famous lighthouse overlooking the beach. There’s also a well-maintained walkway connecting the beach to the town where you’ll find restaurants, bars and a fantastic range of upmarket shops.
26. Sodwana Bay, Northern KZN
Situated in one of most unspoilt regions of South Africa, beautiful Sodwana Beach stretches on for kilometres along the turquoise coast of the Indian Ocean. Scuba diving is very popular here and dive boats launch daily to take visitors out to the offshore coral reefs. Other popular activities are horseback riding, exploring the rock pools and sand dunes, and hiking along the nearby walking trails.
27. Cape Vidal, Northern KZN
Situated next to Lake St Lucia, the wild rugged beauty of Cape Vidal is a nature lover’s dream. There’s also the opportunity to see wildlife in the surrounding wetland reserve.
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