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.

Best beaches in South Africa: Bloubergstrand

Bloubergstrand is a hotspot for kitesurfing

A Guide To The Best Beaches In South Africa

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 on Table Mountain, flanked by Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head (the sunsets here are breathtaking!).

And 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. Trust me – 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

Best place to stay: Secret Garden Guesthouse, Oceansnest, and @Rosies

Best place to eat: For a delicious breakfast after a morning swim I recommend The Big Bay Waffle Company. Jerry’s Burger Bar is perfect for dinner and drinks.

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

Good to know: 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

Best place to stay: The Flying Penguin Guesthouse in Simon’s Town

Best place to eat: Monocle & Mermaid in Simon’s Town (also offers delicious vegetarian and vegan options)

Facilities: There are no facilities on the beach.

Good to know: 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!

Guided tours of Cape Point that also go to Diaz Beach

You can enjoy Diaz Beach – or at least views of it – during day trips to Cape Point departing from Cape Town. This is a selection of the best ones:

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

Best place to stay: Barrington’s (less than 1 km from Robberg Beach)

Best place to eat: Nguni offers delicious local cuisine with lots of vegetarian and vegan options.

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

Good to know: 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!

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 South Africa. 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

Best place to stay: The Blue Waters Hotel is right opposite the beachfront. Also in walking distance and with a rooftop pool, the First Group Oceanic hotel is another great choice.

Best place to eat: Surf Riders Cafe offers fresh food, cool drinks and a laid-back atmosphere.

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.

Good to know: 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.

Cape Town day trips

Muizenberg is an excellent destination for day trips from Cape Town, and one of the best beaches in South Africa

Muizenberg Beach

Kilometres of white sands, consistent waves and tons of surfers. Out of all the best beaches in South Africa, 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 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

Best place to stay: A Heavenly View (the name speaks for itself). Only a few hundred meters from the popular Muizenberg beach huts, this accommodation also includes a year-round outdoor pool and a kitchen in some of the units.

Best place to eat: For a tasty breakfast and strong coffee, look no further than Blonde & Beard. For a meal and drinks with friends, Tiger’s Milk is one of your best options.

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

Good to know: 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!

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

Best place to stay: Surf Lodge SA (offers private rooms and beds in dormitories) or Aguia-Vista Luxury Apartment (perfect for families)

Best place to eat: The Kitchen Windows Beach Restaurant (about 6 km from Paradise Beach) serves fresh sea-food, delicious pizzas, steaks and lots of vegetarian meals.

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

Good to know: 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).

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)

Best place to stay: The Farmhouse Hotel (also serves delicious food!)

Best place to eat: Pearly’s, Die Strandloper, Pancake Trap

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

Good to know: 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.

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

Best place to stay: The Beachhouse

Best place to eat: Vespetti Restaurant

Facilities: free parking

Good to know: 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.

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)

Best place to stay: Hole In The Wall Resort, Coffee Shack Backpackers & Surf School

Best place to eat: Papazela’s Pizza, Friends Wild Coast Cafe

Facilities: public toilets, water sports equipment rentals, parking

Good to know: 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!

Llandudno Beach

Gorgeous views of Llandudno Beach

Llandudno Beach

Last but not least – 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

Best place to stay: Llandudno is quite pricey when it comes to accommodation. If you have a car (recommended), you can stay in Cape Town city, which is only a 20 minute drive from Llandudno Beach. One of the best hostels of the Mother City is the Ashanti backpackers, which sets great value on becoming more eco-friendly.

Best place to eat: As Llandudno Beach is rather secluded, there are no restaurants directly by the beachfront. Enjoy some nice dinner in Hout Bay (my tip: Fish On The Rocks), which is only a few minutes away by car. 

Facilities: public toilets, parking

Good to know: 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. 

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

BONUS! 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

Best place to stay: The Flying Penguin Guesthouse in Simon’s Town

Best place to eat: Monocle & Mermaid in Simon’s Town (also offers delicious vegetarian and vegan options)

Facilities: public toilets, parking

Good to know: In order to access the beach, you will be asked to pay a small conservation fee of R160 (around $9 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. 

Please note: 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. The following are the best ones:

Finally, you may want to consider the possibility of kayaking in Boulders Beach to see the penguins up close. You can consider this tour.

Further readings about South Africa

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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Find out more about the best beaches in South Africa - via @clautavani

Discover where to find the best beaches in South Africa - via @clautavani

Read about the best beaches in South Africa - via @clautavani

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