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11 of Africa’s Best Beach Destinations

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Matthys van Aswegen

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Matthys van Aswegen

Author: Matthys van Aswegen - 14 October 2022

Last Update: 26 April 2024

Africa is a large and diverse continent with many stunning holiday destinations on offer, in particular, its wildlife and safari destinations. Yet, with 18,950 miles of beautiful shoreline, Africa also has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and spectacular beach resorts!

From dramatic coastal cliffs to secluded coves, and miles and miles of sun-soaked sand, there is an African beach destination that will ensure your dream beach holiday. Here are 11 of the very best beach destinations in Africa:

1. Beaches of Seychelles

Fishing boat on Seychelle BeachFishing boat on Seychelle Beach

Consisting of 115 beautiful Indian Ocean islands, the Seychelles Archipelago is a great beach destination. With pristine palm-grown beaches, world-class resorts and facilities, coral reefs, warm seas, and nature reserves, Seychelles embody that tropical beach fantasy!

Here are just some of them:

  • La Digue with stunning Anse Source D’Argent beach
  • Cote D’Or beach on Praslin Island – a pristine mile-long powder-soft beach
  • Anse Lazio Beach on Praslin Island with lush takamaka trees and granite boulders
  • Anse Intendance on Mahé Island is a stunningly wild and unspoilt beach. 
  • Beau-Vallon Beach, home to Le Méridien Fisherman’s Cove

Foodies will love the delicious food, fine restaurants and street food tours. Water babies will revel in sunbathing, scuba diving, swimming and snorkelling. Adventurous souls can do rock climbing or zip-lining, and hikers will love the wonderful trails. Bird watchers will be in heaven, scenic golf courses will delight golfers, and island hopping and helicopter rides are very popular.

Many artists sell their art and the shopping is amazing with many fine shops and bazaars. Culture buffs will appreciate the French colonial architecture. Nature and animal lovers will revel in the beauty of the nature reserves and botanical gardens. They will experience a genuine miracle of life – see hawksbill and green turtles hatching from October to April.

2. São Tomé and Príncipe Beaches

Drone View Sao Tome & Prince Beach Battery
Drone View Sao Tome Beach

For a stunning natural tropical paradise not overrun by tourists, you need look no further than the former Portuguese colonial possession of the small and laid-back dual island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe. The two islands have stunning beaches and gorgeous tucked-away tropical hideaways. They proliferate with dramatic waterfalls, gushing rivers and rainforests teeming with wildlife and breathtaking orchids.

Here are just some activities you can enjoy here:

  • Obo National Park’s rainforest with more than 700 plant species, waterfalls and abundant birdlife
  • Superb beaches at Porto Alegre, Ilheu das Rolas, Praia Sete Ondas, São Tomé Beach, etc
  • Pico de São Tomé Mountain for rock climbing
  • Bustling São Tomé city with its colonial architecture, markets and museums.
  • Turtle nesting and hatching from November – March
  • Whale watching
  • Walking and trekking trips
  • Swimming under O Que Pipi waterfalls
  • Discovering the ruins of defunct plantations and the original capital of Principe, Ribeira Izé
  • Water activities like boat trips, tag-and-release deep-sea fishing, swimming, diving and snorkelling
  • The vibrant festival of the Auto de Floripes in Principe in mid-August

3. Cape Town, South Africa Beaches

Camps Bay Beach in Cape Town
Camps Bay Beach in Cape Town

South Africa’s historic ‘Mother City’ can justly claim some of the top beaches in the world with eight having been granted Blue Flag status. So for a quiet bask in the sun, a romantic sundowner or picnic, a convivial beach bar, or a trendy restaurant – Cape Town has the beach for you.

Here are some of the best:

  • Camps Bay: With stylish restaurants, cafés, hotels and trendy bars, it is justifiably known as CT’s ‘party beach!
  • Bantry Bay: famous for its incredible views over the Atlantic.
  • Clifton: Four gorgeous beaches with magnificent white sand, beach volleyball, a bar and nearby nightclub. Number 4 is the Blue Flag beach.
  • Fish Hoek: With plenty of shops and restaurants, it also offers excellent swimming, paddle boating, surfing, scuba diving and kayaking.
  • Llandudno: Ideal for surfing and watching unbelievable sunsets. Nearby Hout Bay has shops, restaurants and coffee bars.
  • Melkbosstrand Beach: Great for surfing, kite-surfing and walking, Melkbosstrand also has great seafood and famous views of Table Mountain and Robben Island.
  • Mnandi: Perfect for families: picnic spots, barbecue facilities, swimming pool with waterslides and playground equipment on lovely lawns.
  • Muizenberg: With water slides, kiosks, a mini-golf course, swimming pool and colourful beach huts, it is popular for swimming, surfing and bodyboarding.
  • Strandfontein: Windswept Strandfontein is ideal for fisherman and anglers, and adults and children will love exploring its rock pools. The large tidal pool is safe for the little ones.
  • Boulders: A lovely soft-sand beach, it is famously home to a large colony of endangered African penguins.

4. Beach in De Hoop Nature Reserve, South Africa

A narrow road on the shore surrounded by lush greenery. De Hoop Nature Reserve.
A narrow road on the shore surrounded by lush greenery. De Hoop Nature Reserve, South Africa.

A 3-hour drive from Cape Town on the Garden route, De Hoop Nature Reserve has it all – sea, sand, dunes, a wealth of rare fynbos plants, the famous wetland, diverse antelope species, and the Potberg Mountains. It offers a wide range of accommodations for all pockets, ranging from affordable self-catering cottages, more luxurious self-catering chalets, and deluxe fully-catered lodges.

Birdwatchers will be in heaven! Apart from wading birds in the vlei, many species like spurfowl, sugarbirds, sunbirds, bulbul, siskins, korhaan, and the Knysna woodpecker abound. The Potberg Mountains even have a colony of endangered Cape vultures.

De Hoop is a paradise for nature lovers, hikers, cyclists and mountain bikers with its fynbos plains, an unspoilt coastline, many gravel roads and mountain biking routes. You will see majestic eland, bontebok, Cape mountain zebra, baboons and ostrich. You can laze on the beach, snorkel in the many exquisite rock pools or explore the vlei by boat. This protected marine offers some of the world’s best land-based whale sightings of southern right whales, dolphins, seals and many species of seabirds.

5. Mozambique Beaches

Scenic flight over Benguerra Island Beach
Scenic flight over Benguerra Island Beach

For clued-up beach lovers, Mozambique’s 1,500-long coastline is the beach destination! Long stretches of white or golden semi-deserted beaches enable you to swim, sunbathe, snorkel, swim, or just explore in peace. Famous as a honeymoon destination, even in busier areas, Mozambique‘s laid-back lifestyle invites relaxation.

Here are some of the marvellous beaches in Mozambique to choose from:

  • Ponta do Ouro is known as a party destination with colourful markets, restaurants and beachfront bars. It’s a hotspot for surfers, fishermen, scuba divers and shark enthusiasts. Dolphins abound, turtles come ashore to lay their eggs and Humpback whales often come close inshore. The local R&R cocktail of Tipo Tinto rum and Sparberry is pretty lethal, though!
  • Ponta Mamoli is set on a secluded peninsula known for its wild, unspoiled beauty and miles of pristine sand. 5-Star Ponta Mamoli consists of 22 luxurious villas. It offers scuba diving, horse riding, deluxe spa treatments and game-dense Maputo Special Reserve just a short drive away.
  • Inhaca Island has amazing dune forests, mangrove thickets, beautiful beaches, coral reefs and diverse wildlife. Accommodation ranges from self-catering chalets to luxury lodges.
  • Tiny, remote, romantic Medjumbe Island lies on a magical private island only accessible by air from Pemba. Twelve luxury villas each has a private plunge pool and direct access to the beach. Water-based activities include diving, sailing, deep-sea fishing, and whale watching.
  • Private Magaruque Island offers a dhow sailing trip from the mainland or a stay at the island’s luxury lodge. It’s a sanctuary for whale sharks, turles, manta rays, humpback whales and endangered dugongs.
  • Benguerra Island has coral reefs, world-class snorkelling, and birdwatching. It’s a famous honeymoon destination with a choice of luxury lodges.

6. Lamu Beach, Kenya

Lamu Beach Kenya Coast
Lamu Beach Kenya Coast

The Lamu Archipelago, just off Kenya’s north coast, offers you a serene, no-crowds African beach vacation. Enjoy walking tours, dhow and kayaking excursions, snorkelling and scuba diving on the beautiful coral reefs.  You can even swim with dolphins!

History-rich Lamu Island has been a centre of Swahili culture for seven centuries. Its fantastic beach resorts offer a wealth of activities like historical walking tours. Explore Lamu Town with its interesting markets, the ruined city of Takwa and Fort Shela. Enjoy sailing in a dhow, and walking on the spectacular palm-fringed beaches of the Ras Kitau. The Swahili cuisine is delicious, and the service is friendly and impeccable.

7. Beaches of Madagascar

Horseback rides on the beaches of Madagascar
Horseback rides on the beaches of Madagascar

Renowned for its rainforests, amazing wildlife, superlative scuba diving and gorgeous beaches, Madagascar is a perfect beach holiday destination. Intimate lodges and villas offer superb service, comfort, and cuisine. The beaches are fantastic, the water warm and inviting and its coral reefs amazing. As a favoured honeymoon destination, the Island excels at romantic candle-lit dinners, flower-strewn baths and couples massages.

And don’t forget the enchanting lemurs! Madagascar has well over 100 species of lemur ranging from the minuscule 25-gram pygmy mouse lemur, to the black-and-white babakoto or indri, weighing it at up to a hefty 9.5 kg.

Here are just a few of the outstanding beach destinations:

  • Nosy Be, also called the ‘Perfumed Isle’ for the lovely fragrance of ylang-ylang blossom that permeates the air, offers beautiful beaches and exotic of settings.
  • Tsara Komba is ideal for honeymooners
  • Tsarabanjina caters for the more adventurous
  • Anjajavy has its own private nature reserve
  • Masoala Forest Lodge offers access to the east coast beaches
  • Princesse Bora Lodge ensures great whale watching

8. Mafia Island Beaches, Tanzania

Zanzibar Beach Island
Zanzibar Beach Island

For an uncrowded and private beach holiday, Mafia Island is it! It has some of the best beaches in Africa, it also boasts the Mafia Island Marine Park, a premier dive site. Excellent diving equipment and support are available by some of the beach lodges. Simpler and more affordable getaways are also on offer.

But arguably, Mafia’s greatest attraction is the whale sharks congregating around the Island from October – April every year. Swimming with these enormous, but good-natured and slow-moving giants as they filter-feed is a unique and memorable experience.

Accommodation on Mafia Island is offered in luxury hotels and lodges, homes, bungalows, and apartments.

Here are just a few:

  • Maisara Mafia Beach Lodge, Kilindoni, with restaurant, bar, garden, private beach, terrace, shared kitchen and free wi-fi.  
  • Mgeni Homestay, Kilindoni, with free private parking, a kitchen, and a seating and dining area in all units.
  • Ibizza Inn, Kilindoni, with restaurant, bar, garden, terrace, free wi-fi, and bicycle rental service.
  • Juani Beach Bungalows, Kilindoni, with restaurant, bar, garden and private beach area.
  • New Cosovo Backpackers Lodge, Kilindoni, with bar, airport transfers, a car rental service and a private bathroom.
  • Meremeta Lodge, Utende, with free bikes, a garden, terrace, free wi-fi and a private bathroom with shower.

9. Mnemba Island Beach, Tanzania

Mnemba Island Kayaking
Mnemba Island Kayaking

Mnemba Island is a tiny islet close to Unguja, the biggest island in the Zanzibar Archipelago. It offers the ultimate unspoilt, uncrowded and private romantic tropical retreat.

Swimming in the warm and placid Indian Ocean water is sheer bliss, and you can snorkel right off the beach. Watching the fragile but plucky little endangered green turtle hatchlings dig their way out of their nests and scurry into the sea is an unforgettable privilege. Mnemba Island Lodge offers the only accommodation on Mnemba. Only 24 guests are housed in the 12 elegant thatched bandas, or cottages. Guests relax on their own private stretch of beach in the filtered shade of the casuarina pines.

Dining, seating and bar areas all have stunning views of the beach and Zanzibar beyond. Breakfast trays laden with tropical fruit, fresh sushi and chilled champagne are all delights that guests can enjoy. Magnificent sunsets, romantic candlelit dinners on the beach, yoga and massages all add more magic to this indulgent getaway.

10. Beaches of Mauritius

Mauritius beaches
Mauritius beaches

Renowned for its conservation efforts, Mauritius offers beaches, reefs, lagoons, spectacular scenery, rainforests, waterfalls, and fabulous beach resorts. It is a paradise for nature- and wildlife lovers. The large endemic Mauritian flying fox, or Mauritian fruit bat, is found here, as are the rare kestrel, pink pigeon, Aldabra giant tortoise and green gecko.

The island offers visitors a wealth of activities, great restaurants, shops and bars! These include the Champs de Mars horse track, the Le Caudan Waterfront and historic China Town. For culture lovers, there are the historic Eureka Plantation House, a Stamp Museum, and the Natural History Museum.

Plant fanatics will be transported by the 18th-century Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens. Enjoy deep-sea fishing, scuba-diving, kayaking, hiking and eating some fabulous Creole food. You can even visit an eco-friendly rum distillery!

Beach fanatics will be spoilt for choice! They can revel in the 3-mile-long stretch of white sand, clear blue water, and coconut palm trees of Trou aux Biches, one of our planet’s most famous beaches. Le Morne is another exceptional beach as are the fabulous beaches of Flic en Flac, Rivière des Galets, the beaches on Grand Baie, Belle Mare and Mont Choisy. The latter is ideal for family picnics!

11. Zanzibar Beaches

Zanzibar beach with wooden boats
Zanzibar beach with wooden boats

Just the name has a seductive and exotic sound, doesn’t it? It evokes images of white-sailed dhows floating on azure seas, the scent of spices, long unspoilt beaches, colourful markets… And Zanzibar is a veritable horn of plenty!

It offers affordable family-friendly getaways ranging between luxury 5-star experiences. It’s perfect for snorkelling, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, kite-boarding and water skiing. It’s a paradise for nature- and wildlife lovers with opportunities to see endangered red colobus monkeys, gazillions of butterflies, dolphins, tortoises, and green and hawksbill turtles.

Prison Island, once used to imprison slaves, now provides sanctuary for the endangered Aldabra giant tortoise!

Zanzibar’s unique culture blends Arabic, African, Indian, Persian and European influences into a bewitching mix that informs its stunning architecture of mansions, palaces, Turkish baths, spice stalls and bazaars. Zanzibar is predominantly Islamic as seen in its lifestyle, Taarab music, furniture, fabrics, beautifully carved doors, and fabulous jewellery and crafts.

However, Zanzibar’s main claim to fame may well still be its fabulous beaches! Here are just some of them:

  • Kizimkazi Beach – excellent for seeing bottlenose dolphins, swimming, diving and snorkelling.
  • Nungwi Beach – peace, seclusion, stunning natural beauty
  • Kendwa Beach – a stunning beach that regularly has a full moon party!
  • Kiwengwa Beach – Zanzibar’s ‘Little Italy’ of Zanzibar due to all the Italian-run hotels along its beachfront.
  • Jambiani Beach – great for meeting the locals and snorkelling, and you can hire a bicycle to explore the coast.
  • Paje Beach – great for sailing and kite-surfing.
  • Bwejuu Beach – secluded with only some local fishermen returning, women collecting seaweed, and kiddies playing soccer!

Zanzibar’s neighbouring islands of Pemba, Chumbe, Mafia, and Mnemba are also wonderful beach destinations. Africa is a land of unparalleled diversity. From the snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro to the endless plains of the Serengeti, there is something for everyone. And what better way to experience Africa than on a beach holiday?

Discover Africa can tailor your dream beach or island holiday complete with wildlife excursions and more just for you. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or an adventure-filled family vacation, we can make it happen. So what are you waiting for? Contact us today and let us help you plan your perfect African beach holiday!

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