South Africa’s face to the world is a windswept and magnificent coast that is at once tumultuous and tamed, stormy and sublime. It winds its way down the Atlantic coast in the west and up into the warmer Indian Ocean waters in the east, spanning two seas.
There are more than 2850 kilometers (1770 miles) of coastline in the country, so there are plenty of beaches in South Africa to pick from. So, where should beach aficionados go?
There are other delights to be found along South Africa’s vast coastline, from remote strands tucked away in national parks to top surfing spots on the Sunshine Coast. Cape Town is known for its stunning beaches (and we’ve picked out a few), but there are other delights to be found along South Africa’s vast coastline, from remote strands tucked away in national parks to top surfing spots on the Sunshine Coast.
Many of these beaches have earned the Blue Flag, indicating that they meet international standards for safety, cleanliness, and environmental stewardship. If you are in South Africa or now planing your trip, here are top beaches in South Africa you can visit.
Beaches In South Africa
Camps Bay Beach, Cape Town
The appealing Camps Bay Beach is only a ten-minute drive from the heart of metropolitan Cape Town. The trendy enclave is a vibrant neighborhood with a lively beach community full of shops, restaurants, and nightclubs.
The beach is composed of beautiful white sand and is set against a backdrop of curving hills. It’s the ideal spot for experienced surfers who like the enormous breaking waves, as well as walkers who enjoy the scenery and the area’s many good hiking routes. Swimming here is only for the brave, as the water is quite cold and there is frequently a strong backwash.
The lovely hamlet, with its white sand, is the ideal getaway from the metropolis. People gather along the beach for supper in beachside restaurants in the evenings, when they sip local wine, eat freshly caught fish, and watch the sunset’s dazzlingly magnificent colors.
Golden Mile, Durban
The Golden Mile in Durban’s beachfront metropolis is a famous stretch of sparkling sand that attracts tourists to the area. Thousands of domestic tourists flock to the beach throughout the summer months, making it a fashionable seaside resort.
The vast beach and its accompanying promenade are bordered by apartment towers and hostels, with restaurants and nightclubs adding to the area’s bustle. The South Beach has earned a reputation as a surfer’s paradise, with young people hanging around and learning to surf, while the Blue Lagoon near the mouth of the Umgeni River is a great spot for picnics and fishing.
Shark nets and lifeguards safeguard all of the beautiful beaches along this glistening Golden Mile, ensuring that swimming in the warm Indian Ocean is safe and enjoyable all year.
Dolphin Beach, Jeffreys Bay
Dolphin Beach in Jeffreys Bay is a top-notch surfing location with great waves and a laid-back vibe. The languid environment, which runs along the Eastern Cape, is home to a laid-back town that draws water sports enthusiasts from all over the world.
Tourists that come to the beach for a family vacation are also drawn to it. The summer months are the busiest, when whales can be seen playing in the surf – while dolphins can be seen all year.
Dolphin Beach is also the site of a professional surfing event, as well as a popular kiteboarding and bathing destination. The town itself is bustling with restaurants and stores, as well as a variety of other holiday-themed businesses. The beach is one of the top beaches in South Africa that is safe for the family.
The beautiful beach along this stretch of the KwaZulu-Natal coast has sparked the growth of a successful resort nearby. The affluent residential region just north of Durban – about twenty minutes by vehicle – is home to the largest shopping center in the southern hemisphere.
The long, sandy beach, away from the commercial and urban growth, is the perfect place to unwind for a few days. The village of Umhlanga, far from the stress of city life, is a place to relax and enjoy the warmth of the Indian Ocean – the water here averages 25 degrees in the summer months.
People enjoy taking walks on the sand, against the backdrop of grassy cliffs, and, if they’re lucky, seeing a dolphin or two.
Hobie Beach, Port Elizabeth
Swimming, sunbathing, and beach games are all popular activities at Hobie Beach. Hobie Beach is a tranquil retreat for city employees who come to the beach in their spare time. It is located in Port Elizabeth, along the vast stretch of coastline that makes up the western edge of the Sunshine Coast.
The Shark Rock Pier, which juts out into the ocean and produces a wonderful swath of sand for sun worshipers to spend their days off sunbathing or playing beach volleyball, is located on the beach.
There are some rock pools that are a fun place for kids to learn about marine life, such as starfish and octopus, which can be found in the pools at high tide. In high season, there are plenty of eateries and amenities to keep small children entertained, as well as lifeguards on duty.
This gorgeous lagoon is the best-kept secret on the West Coast. Well, not anymore, but it’s too beautiful not to include in our list of the greatest beaches in South Africa. Driving into the lagoon through the West Coast National Park, one could easily mistake it for a Maldivian beach, with its gin-clear, turquoise water, picturesque jetty, and even a handful of houseboats floating in the bay. In the adjacent fynbos, you can combine your beach explorations with a trek or a birding experience.
Imagine staying in a thatched bush suite surrounded by a coastal dune forest, with the shimmering Indian Ocean just ahead of you visible through the greenery. All of this is available at Thonga Beach in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Thonga has some of the best snorkeling and off-shore scuba diving in the country, and you can observe turtles lay eggs depending on the time of year you come. Check out the eco-friendly Thonga Beach Lodge to make your vacation even more ideal.
At high tide in Llandudno, you’ll see a lot of surfers enjoying the little swell and the south-easterly wind. Even if you’re just going to the beach to relax, you’re in for a treat: as you sunbathe, look up towards the Twelve Apostles, Little Lion’s Head, and the magnificent Karbonkelberg Mountain. After a long day at the beach, a five-minute drive takes you over the hill to the village of Hout Bay, where a variety of eateries serve delicious sea food fresh from the sea (Photo credit: Faine Pearl). Llandudno beach is one of the most popular beaches in South Africa.
Marina Beach, South Coast
Marina Beach is located between the towns of San Lameer and Southbroom, just south of Margate. Marina Beach, however less well-known than other South Coast beaches, boasts stunning scenery and first-rate amenities. The three-mile-long beach features warm water, soft sand, a natural tidal pool, and rock pools for children to explore.
Kelly’s Beach, Port Alfred
Port Alfred, on South Africa’s east coast, is a fantastic family vacation spot. Kelly’s Beach has plenty of room to create sandcastles in the smooth, brown sand, and the warm Indian Ocean allows for year-round swimming. For parents with small children, there is a designated swimming area, and boogie boards can be rented to enjoy the surf. Beach breakers with left and right-hand waves are also popular for surfing. If you are with kids, Kelly’s beach is one of the best beaches in South Africa you should visit.
Santos Beach, Mossel Bay
Traveling through the notoriously gorgeous Garden Route will reveal a variety of wonderful beaches, but Santos Beach in Mossel Bay is a particularly lovely place to visit. The gently sloping sand and small waves of this newly designated Blue Flag beach make it ideal for families with young children; throughout the summer months, families scatter across the sand for picnics and barbecues.
Small stores supply the essential ice creams and cold drinks, while the mild waves are enjoyable for children to splash in. Mossel Bay offers a number of outstanding restaurants and bars, as well as a golf course.
A trip to Seal Island to observe the seals that reside there is one of the top things to do while in town, or you may go hiking along the stunningly gorgeous and dramatic coastline trails.
Muizenberg Beach, South Peninsula
The peaks of multicolored beach houses rise from the edge of Muizenberg beach’s wonderful sand. The beach, which is located on Cape Town’s southern shore, is affectionately referred to by locals as “Muizies.”
In the winter, when the ocean is full of surfers wearing wetsuits to shield themselves from the cold, the popular summer beach town is even busier. In the summer, the warm waters of the Indian Ocean make the site ideal for swimming and surfing. Summers are spent in the town by groups of surfers and families learning to surf and enjoying the laid-back coastal country vibe.
The town is brimming with bookshops, brasseries, and restaurants that reflect the surf town’s laid-back vibe. The waves lap gently at the shore in the evenings, and a walk along the water’s edge exposes a rainbow of colors reflected in the waves as the sun sets.
Ballito, Dolphin Coast
Ballito Beach is located on the Dolphin Coast, 40 kilometers north of Durban. The stretch of coast is famous for watching dolphins playing in the Indian Ocean surf and is named after the many bottlenose dolphins that have been spotted in the area.
Ballito was founded in 1954 and was named after a hosiery advertisement of the same name. Ballito Beach, which was originally marketed as a vacation destination, continues to draw families who come to spend their vacations here.
The beach has two tidal pools that fill up during high tide and are great for kids to splash about in. The sea here is also excellent for surfing, and it currently hosts a major surfing competition every July.
Boulders Beach, Simon’s Town
Boulders Beach isn’t known for its sand and waves; it’s known for its bird-watching. A colony of 3000 lovely African penguins lives in this picturesque region, which features massive stones dividing little, sandy coves. From the Boulders Visitor Centre at the Foxy Beach end of the protected area – which is part of Table Mountain National Park – to Boulders Beach, there are three wheelchair-accessible boardwalks.
Two feature viewing platforms with views of the penguin-dotted coastline, while Willis Walk leads down to the beach, where you may interact with the waddling penguins and even swim with them (just be ready for a slightly fishy odor). Petting the penguins is not recommended because they are wild animals with sharp beaks that can inflict serious damage.
Cape Vidal, Eastern Shores
If you ask a local about the greatest things to see in iSimangaliso Wetland Park, they’ll probably recommend going to Cape Vidal Beach. The woody sand dunes here reach heights of up to 150 meters (500 feet), and the beaches are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. On the way to the beach, you can see hippos, antelopes, buffaloes, and crocs, and you’ll probably have them all to yourself unless you come on a holiday weekend. Cape Vidal is the one of the popular beaches in South Africa for locals.
Noordhoek, Cape Town
Surfers and horseback riders love this five-mile stretch of beach, but swimmers are discouraged by high winds, freezing water, and currents. If you really want to get wet, stick to splashing in the little ponds near the water’s edge. The Hoek, as it’s called among surfers, features a great right beach break at the northern end that can retain enormous waves (best attempted at low tide); it’s ideal with a southeasterly wind. The rusting shell of the steamer Kakapo, which ran aground here in 1900 on its maiden trip from Swansea, Wales, to Sydney, Australia, stands out like a strange sculpture in the center of the beach.
Platboom Beach, Western Cape
This stunning, wild beach, known as the Cape’s most deserted beach, is located 64 kilometers (40 miles) south of Cape Town and nestles into the coastline of the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, where you may sunbathe on the smooth white sand, kitesurf, and windsurf. The varied creatures that frequent the beach set it apart from most others, including ostriches, baboons, and eland (giant antelopes). Terns, gulls, kiewiet, and sandpipers are among the many birds that may be found here. The dunes are popular for sandboarding, while the huge waves are popular for surfing. There are no lifeguards on duty, and the water is extremely chilly.
Robberg Beach, Western Cape
The landscape along the famed Garden Route will take your breath away, but Robberg Beach is truly unique. Its exquisite white sands front the warm seas of Plettenberg Bay, backed by hazy mountains, and stretch for miles between Robberg Peninsula and Beacon Island. During the season, you can view dolphins and whales from the coast, and you can even spot seals. A boardwalk, washing stations, and umbrella rentals are available, and the beach is patrolled by lifeguards. The Robberg Nature Reserve, located near the south end of the beach, features wonderful hiking routes with magnificent coastal views.
Grotto Beach, Hermanus
Visitors go to this spectacular beach to spend time surrounded by the beautiful ocean. The beach’s wildness is eased by the fluffy sand, which is surrounded by huge hunks of mountain.
The 18-kilometer-long Blue Flag beach stretches into the endless horizon. In high season, lifeguards patrol the popular locations, and the water is ideal for paddling. In the summer, the sand gets crowded with families and dog-walkers who come here to camp and spend a vacation by the sea.
The nearby town of Hermanus offers some of the best land-based whale watching in the world, as well as being a dynamic city with markets and patio cafes. As the sun sets, enjoy a drink at the beach cafe; it’s a breathtaking sight.
Paternoster Beach is a stretch of lovely white sand bordered by rocky outcroppings and charming whitewashed buildings. The town, which began as one of the first fishing villages along South Africa’s west coast, has evolved into a popular tourist attraction.
The beach’s appealing aspect makes it excellent for long walks over soft sand, where you can see amazing whales and dolphins – and perhaps penguins – if you arrive during the right season.
Local fisherman can be seen heading out in their colorful boats early in the morning to capture crayfish, which can be purchased fresh from shacks along the shore. With a temperature similar to that of the Mediterranean, the high offshore winds are ideal for watersports like kayaking and kitesurfing. This laid-back fishing hamlet is a warm welcome, blooming with the stunning wildflowers that the West Coast is known for.