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The Top 10 Beaches in South Africa

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Devryn Panaino

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 Devryn Panaino

Author: Devryn Panaino - 27 October 2023

Last Update: 26 April 2024

With about 2,000 miles of coastline fronting two oceans, South Africa has a beach for every kind of traveler. Whether you’re after sandy coves, swimming with penguins, doing a bit of snorkeling, world-class surfing, or spotting ocean wildlife like whales and dolphins, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to South African beaches. Join us as we explore this collection of the top 10 beaches in South Africa that are perfect for beach holidays.

Camps Bay Beach – Cape Town, Western Cape

Beautiful sunset twilight view to Camps Bay, Scenic view during colorful sunset with beautiful cloudscape

Situated in the glitzy suburb of Camps Bay, this magnificent stretch of white sand beach offers up unparalleled views of the Twelve Apostles mountains. Lined with trendy restaurants and cafes serving a range of tasty food and cocktails, this is a favorite place among the locals for catching the Cape Town sunset. You can rent umbrellas and loungers and make a day of it as you watch impromptu beach volleyball games and cool off in the sparkling blue waters.

Clifton Beaches – Cape Town, Western Cape

Beautiful day in Camps Bay in Cape town
Beautiful day in Camps Bay in Cape Town, South Africa

This stretch of coast is made up of four sandy coves (First, Second, Third, and Fourth Beaches) separated by granite boulders that are easy enough to make your way past. Look forward to powdery white sand, turquoise waters, sunbathing, and swimming at this Blue Flag destination. Surfers flock to Second Beach throughout the year to catch a fairly reliable break and you may even spot pods of dolphins cruising past the backline.

Boulders Beach – Simon’s Town, Western Cape

Boulders Beach Cape Town

Renowned for the colony of African penguins that call this place home, Boulders Beach is a hotspot for locals and tourists alike. Sheltered coves and tidal pools make this a family-friendly destination and there’s the unique opportunity to swim amongst the plucky penguins. A boardwalk along the coast offers unparalleled views of the colony and nesting sites and you can enjoy watching the birds rocket through the water and waddle along the beach.

Muizenberg Beach – Cape Town, Western Cape

A row of colorful beach houses in Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town.
A row of colorful beach houses in Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town, South Africa

Surfers new to the sport come to Muizenberg for its gentle waves and slightly warmer waters than at other popular spots around Cape Town. There are a number of surf shops and schools that will rent you a board and a wetsuit and show you the ropes for a reasonable fee. The iconic colorful beach huts make a great backdrop for unforgettable seaside photos, and the area boasts a few great coffee shops close to the beach.

Bikini Beach – Gordon’s Bay, Western Cape

This stunning Blue Flag beach offers a sheltered spot with sublime views of the Helderberg Mountains. It’s the perfect place for a beach picnic, sunbathing, swimming, and even snorkeling. Calm blue waters and shaded areas make this a beach destination you can spend the whole day at, just don’t forget your sunscreen, hats, and beach bats for that ideal South African beach experience.

Jeffreys Bay – Eastern Cape

The beachside panorama at Jeffreys Bay with the colourful huts, a popular coastline holiday destination.

Recognized as a world-class surf destination thanks to its consistent and perfect waves at places like Super Tubes and Dolphin Beach, Jeffreys Bay has a relaxed and laid back feel, with heaps of surf shops where you can buy or rent gear. It’s not just the surfing that makes this area popular, though – the water is warmer than further down the coast and the sandy beach is littered with shells that attract collectors.

Umhlanga Rocks Beach – Durban, KwaZulu-Natal

Umhlanga Beach, north coast of Durban, with multiracial people enjoying their Sunday afternoon at the beach.

Just 25 minutes north of Durban, you’ll find Umhlanga Rocks, with its iconic red-and-white lighthouse and vibrant beachfront promenade packed with restaurants, shops, and cafes – all with great views of the ocean. Get up early to make the most of this idyllic destination, where you can swim, surf, run along the beach, and go snorkeling in the tidal pools to spot thriving marine life.

Robberg Beach – Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape

Robberg Nature Reserve beach.
Robberg Nature Reserve beach, South Africa.

This tranquil beach on the renowned Garden Route is part of the Robberg Nature Reserve, and offers beachgoers an idyllic stretch of coast with pure white sands and shifting dunes. It’s a great place to watch whales frolic in the bay during the migration season. When you’ve had enough beach, make your way along the scenic hiking trails and admire the area’s rich biodiversity.

Cintsa Beach – Eastern Cape

Located next to the sleepy village of Cintsa, this area boasts pretty estuaries and an unspoiled sandy beach littered with shells. It’s a popular spot for horseback riding among the dunes, kayaking in the rivers, birdwatching, and beachcombing. Because of its remote location, you can expect uncrowded natural beauty and a more secluded atmosphere. Accommodation here offers excellent views of the beach and ocean.

Noordhoek Beach – Cape Town, Western Cape

An aerial view of the beautiful Noordhoek Beach and Chapmans Peak in South Africa during summer

If you’re headed to Noordhoek Beach from Cape Town, you’ll get the added treat of driving Chapman’s Peak, one of the best road trip drives in South Africa. Make your way through the idyllic suburb of Noordhoek and you’ll be rewarded with a wide and sandy beach, known as Long Beach, that’s popular with surfers, equestrians, and hikers – there’s even a trail leading right from the beach up to the top of Chapman’s Peak.

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