The Best Beaches In South Africa

Hiker’s heaven, surfer’s mecca, relaxed sun baths or adrenaline rushes – no matter what you are looking for, you’ll find it on South Africa’s beaches. Out of all the best places to travel in Africa, the Rainbow Nation is a popular destination for beach lovers and ocean enthusiasts worldwide. But with so many options, what are the best beaches in South Africa? Let this top 10 from a local’s perspective be your guide.

Porth Nolloth

17 Best Beaches In South Africa

Port Nolloth Beach

When traveling the Northern Cape, pay the Grazia de Beer Beach a visit. It is Port Nolloth’s most popular beach when it comes to swimming, sunbathing and fun with the family. This stretch of white sands is also a great place to explore, as there are plenty of little rock pools with colorful marine life.

Moreover, there is a long boardwalk along Port Nolloth’s beaches. You can spend hours walking, while getting further away from town and into untouched nature.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Port Nolloth, Northern Cape

BEST FOR: swimming, fishing, snorkeling, a day with the family, long beach walks

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 13 – 16°C

FACILITIES: free parking

A few kilometers from the main beaches of Port Nolloth, you will find another Blue Flag beach, called MacDougall’s Bay. This eco-friendly area has convenient amenities and definitely also deserves a mention on the list of the best beaches in South Africa.

Paternoster Beach

Paternoster

This beautiful, long sandy beach is right by what was one of the first fishing villages in the West Coast of South Africa. Now a popular holiday destination, depending on the season it’s also a good place for dolphin and whale watching. The mild temperatures make it a good place for water sports too – kayaking and kite surfing are particularly popular here.

Head there in the early morning to catch fishermen as they return to shore with their catch.

WHERE TO FIND IT: West Coast, Western Cape

BEST FOR: whale watching, kayaking, kitesurfing stunning photos

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 14°C

FACILITIES: public toilets, watersport equipment rentals, restaurants and shops

Best beaches in South Africa: Bloubergstrand
Bloubergstrand is a hotspot for kitesurfing

Bloubergstrand

Out of all the things to do in Cape Town, spending a day on Bloubergstrand’s beaches should be high up on your bucket list. Go swimming, surfing and SUPing in Small Bay and Big Bay or walk along the Blouberg beach promenade and enjoy the world famous view of Table Mountain, flanked by Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head (the sunsets here are breathtaking!).

Most importantly: Bloubergstrand is the world’s kitesurfing capital. On a windy day, you can not only watch lots of kites in the sky, but also take kitesurfing lessons yourself. It will be an amazing experience you won’t forget.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape

BEST FOR: Kitesurfing, surfing, SUPing, stunning photos

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 13°C

FACILITIES: public toilets, watersport equipment rentals, plenty of restaurants and shops

If you travel to South Africa in January/ February, you can watch the King Of The Air, an annual competition between the best kiters in the world.

best beaches in South Africa
Located in the Cape Peninsula, Diaz Beach is one of the best beaches in South Africa

Diaz Beach

Diaz Beach consists of white sands surrounded by dark jagged rocks, which make for a dramatic scenery. Located in Cape Point, a promontory at the southeast corner of the Cape Peninsula, it is a hidden, rather romantic beach.

There is no actual road to Diaz Beach and you cannot drive directly to the waterfront – you will have to hike there following the trail that starts right by the parking lot by the lighthouse at Cape Point. It will take between 20 and 30 minutes until you’ve reached the secluded sands by foot and at least 40 minutes to get back up. But the effort will be worth it, especially if you get there early and bring a nice picnic!

WHERE TO FIND IT: Cape Point, Cape Town, Western Cape

BEST FOR: Romantic strolls on the beach, surfing, relaxing in the sun

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 13°C

FACILITIES: There are no facilities on the beach.

The waves are quite rough and it is not recommended to swim. Rather get ankle deep into the water to cool off or bring your surf or bodyboard and enjoy the waves!

You can enjoy Diaz Beach – or at least views of it – during day trips to Cape Point departing from Cape Town. For more information, click here or here.

Cape Town day trips
Muizenberg is an excellent destination for day trips from Cape Town

Muizenberg Beach

Kilometres of white sands, consistent waves and tons of surfers. Out of all the best beaches in the area, this is surely the place to go if you love surfing (or want to get into it).

In Muizenberg you will also find the Instagram-worthy and beach-quotes worthy colorful beach huts, a throw-back to the “bathing machine” of the 1800’s.

WHERE TO FIND IT: False Bay, Cape Town, Western Cape

BEST FOR: Surfing, surfing, surfing (including complete beginners!). And sunbathing, swimming, or just spending a beach day with the family.

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 13°C

FACILITIES: public toilets, water sports equipment rentals, restaurants and shops, parking

Some of the steep cliffs above Muizenberg beach are very popular for rock climbing. If you are a rather experienced climber, don’t forget to bring your equipment!

Llandudno Beach
Gorgeous views of Llandudno Beach

Llandudno Beach

The list of best beaches in South Africa wouldn’t be complete without Llandudno Beach. Located between Hout Bay and Camps Bay, the beachfront is surrounded by large granite boulders and overlooked by mountains in the background. The sea is rough and the water cold, which makes this spot less suitable for swimming but perfect for surfing. Alternatively you bring a picnic and just enjoy the views in the sun.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Llandudno, Cape Town, Western Cape

BEST FOR: surfing, wave watching, exploring

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 13°C

FACILITIES: public toilets, parking

On days with high waves, watch Mother Nature doing her thing from a vantage point – find a comfy (and safe) spot on one of the giant rocks and enjoy the show. 

Best Airbnbs in Cape Town

Camps Bay

A quick drive from the center of Cape Town, this beautiful white, fine sand beach is set against the mountains of the Western Cape. It’s an incredible spot to just sit and stare at the waves, but the area is packed with a lot of walking and hiking trails. Water is honestly too cold for swimming, and the current is strong.

Go there in the evening for a lovely dinner with a view. It’s one of the best sunset spots in Cape Town.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Camps Bay, Cape Town, Western Cape

BEST FOR: surfing, wave watching, exploring

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 13°C

FACILITIES: public toilets, parking, shops, restaurants

The beautiful Boulders Beach, one of the best beaches in South Africa

Boulders Beach

The list of the best beaches in South Africa is long and I could probably continue forever. But there is one honorable mention that deserves a spot on this list. Boulders Beach is special because it is home to a colony of African penguins. Here, you can literally sunbathe right next to those adorable birds and watch them waddle around, fish and care for their young (breeding season in South Africa is March to May). 

WHERE TO FIND IT: near Simon’s Town, Cape Town, Western Cape

BEST FOR: swimming, penguin watching, exploring, a day with the family

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 16°C

FACILITIES: public toilets, parking

In order to access the beach, you will be asked to pay a small conservation fee of R160 (around $10 USD). If you don’t want to spend money however, you can just take a walk on one of the boardwalks next to the parking lot. You will be able to spot some penguins from here, as well. 

South Africa’s penguins are under threat from habitat loss, declining fish and the usual suspects, us humans. The money raised from the entrance fees helps the penguin conservation efforts through South African National Parks (SANParks).

Most tours of Cape Point also go to Boulders Beach penguin colony. For more information, click here or here.

Langebaan
Langebaan is home to Shark Bay, one of the best beaches in South Africa

Shark Bay

There is no better place to learn kitesurfing than Langebaan’s turquoise lagoon. The shallow, relatively warm waters offer the perfect conditions for beginners. If water sports are not your thing, you can just come to sunbathe, swim, or fish. The views alone make Shark Bay one of the best beaches in South Africa and definitely worth a visit!

WHERE TO FIND IT: Langebaan, Cape Town, Western Cape

BEST FOR: Kitesurfing (including complete beginners), swimming, a day with the family, scenic photos

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 24°C (in peak season)

FACILITIES: There are public toilets with showers by the parking lot above the Lagoon.

Shark Bay has got its name from its harmless sand-sharks. Don’t worry, you don’t have to fear Great White horror movie scenes when coming here.

Robberg Beach
The stunning Robberg Beach

Robberg Beach

Robberg beach is not only famous for the stunning views of majestic mountains and deep blue waters. It is also a popular spot for dolphins and whales, and thus everyone who’d like to catch a glimpse at those beautiful creatures.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape

BEST FOR: dolphin and whale watching (between July and December), swimming, surfing

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 13°C

FACILITIES: plenty of restaurants and shops, water sports rentals, parking, lifeguards (between November and April)

Plettenberg Bay is one of the most famous stops on the Garden Route. The Robberg Peninsula also has lots of walking and hiking routes from which you have stunning views over the ocean. Make sure you include hiking boots in your packing list for South Africa – you won’t regret it!

places to visit in South Africa

Grotto Beach

Easily one of the most beautiful beaches in the Western Cape, it stretches for a whopping 18 km (that’s more than 11 miles) and is surrounded by beautiful mountains. It’s a nice place to swim in the summer months – lifeguards are on duty, so it’s safe. Go there throughout the year for long walks and for a jog – it’s a popular spot with local families.

It’s right in Hermanus, a lovely small town where you will find all sorts of services, including organized whale watching tours.

To book your whale watching tour in Hermanus, click here.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Hermanus, Western Cape

BEST FOR: dolphin and whale watching (between July and December), swimming, surfing

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 18°C

FACILITIES: plenty of restaurants and shops, water sports rentals, parking, lifeguards (between November and April)

Mossel Bay

Santos Beach

This Blue Flag beach is located in Mossel Bay, along the famous Garden Route, is a favorite spot for families traveling with children. Parents will enjoy the many services – restaurants, kiosks, bars and what not; children will appreciate the calm waters.

There are many coastal hiking trails in the area, and you could also opt to take a trip to Seal Island – the name gives in to what you’ll see once there!

WHERE TO FIND IT: Mossel Bay, Western Cape

BEST FOR: seals, swimming,

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 19°C

FACILITIES: plenty of restaurants and shops, parking, lifeguards (peak season)

Jeffrey's Bay
Paradise Beach, near Jeffrey’s Bay

Paradise Beach

Paradise Beach is nature at its best. The white stretch of coastline is bordered by a nature reserve, which adds to the peaceful environment.

Take a break from the city life and dive into the world of otters, tortoises, antelopes and some colorful bird species (and literally into the warm depths of the Indian Ocean).

WHERE TO FIND IT: Jeffrey’s Bay, Eastern Cape

BEST FOR: Swimming, sunbathing, kiteboarding, surfing, jet-skiing, stunning photo opportunities, enjoying nature, bird-watching

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 17 – 20°C

FACILITIES: There are not many facilities directly by the beach.

Paradise Beach is located 7 km from Jeffrey’s Bay, a town that is very popular for its surfing opportunities. There, you will also find Dolphin beach, one of the best beaches in South Africa with Blue Flag status (which means that it meets high safety and quality standards and supports environmental protection).

Coffee Bay Beach
The gorgeous Coffee Bay Beach

Coffee Bay Beach

Being one of South Africa’s most popular destinations for backpackers, the fishing town Coffee Bay welcomes thousands of visitors each year. And for good reason – it is home to one of the best beaches in South Africa. Aside from the typical activities, such as swimming, sunbathing, surfing and hiking, Coffee Bay Beach is also known for its horse-riding opportunities.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Coffee Bay, Wild Coast, Eastern Cape

BEST FOR: swimming, walking, hiking, sunbathing, surfing, horse-riding, stunning photos

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 25°C (in peak season)

FACILITIES: public toilets, water sports equipment rentals, parking

One of the most famous of the hiking trails in the Coffee Bay Beach area will take you to the Hole In The Wall, a huge detached cliff with a carved hole in shallow waters. Definitely one of the most impressive nature spectacles on the Wild Coast!

Golden Mile
Golden Mile is one of the best urban beaches in South Africa

Golden Mile

This popular stretch of beachfront by the Indian Ocean hosts some of the best beaches in the country. It is a haven for surfers, swimmers and sun bathers.

And even if you’d like to stay dry for a day, the Golden Mile is your place to be. There is a paved walkway along the beaches, which invites you to run, cycle or just stroll along traditional Zulu arts and craft stalls, skate parks, shops, restaurants and even a casino. This entertainment hub on Durban’s coastline is the perfect spot to socialize and people-watch.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Durban, Kwazulu-Natal

BEST FOR: Scenic walks, people-watching, swimming, surfing (including complete beginners)

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 22°C – 25°C

FACILITIES: There are plenty of facilities along the Golden Mile (really, there’s nothing you won’t find). The beaches are protected by life-guards and shark nets.

While you are there, pay the Time Warp Surf Museum (near South Beach) a visit. It is dedicated to the history of surfing in South Africa and will give you a deeper understanding about the passion for this popular sport.

Make sure to read my post 20 Fun Things To Do In Durban.

places to visit in Durban

Umhlanga Rocks

You will find this gorgeous, long sandy beach about 20 minutes drive north of Durban. It’s right by an affluent, very safe area in the region. Water is warm enough for swimming (and surfing, obviously) and if you go there right before sunrise or sunset, you can enjoy a walk or run along the waterfront too.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Umhlanga, Kwazulu-Natal

BEST FOR: Scenic walks, running, sunset-watching, people-watching, swimming, surfing (including complete beginners)

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 22°C – 25°C in the summer months

FACILITIES: There are plenty of facilities along Umhlanga Rocks, including parking, toilets, restaurants and bars.

Ballito

Ballito

40 km (25 miles north of Durban), the holiday town of Ballito was established in 1954 and has since then been a favorite of families. It takes its name from the bottlenose dolphins that are easy to spot.

Located along the beach you will find two tidal pools where children can swim safely. Like other beaches in the area, it’s an excellent spot for surfing.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Dolphin Coast, Kwazulu-Natal

BEST FOR: Swimming, dolphin spotting, surfing (including complete beginners)

AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE: 22°C – 25°C

FACILITIES: parking, restaurants, bars, lifeguard on duty.

Further Readings

Make sure to read my other posts about South Africa

This post was written by guest writer Leoni Wartenberg. She is a Cape Town-based blogger and co-founder of Softback Travel.

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