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10 Best Beach Destinations in South Africa

When it comes to vacation destinations, South Africa remains a favorite for a reason. Packed to the brim with stunning beaches, vibrant cities, and sweeping natural landscapes, there’s truly something for everyone here. So, whether you prefer to spend your vacation days lounging around on the beach admiring the beauty from your sunbed, or getting up close and personal to the surrounding nature via a hike or guided trip, you won’t be short of options in this amazing destination. If it’s sun, sand, and sea that helps you unwind, then you’ll want to know where the best beach destinations in South Africa are. This post shares ten seaside locations you won’t want to miss. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen and a good book – you could easily spend a day at each one.

1. Robberg 5 Beach

A wooden path at Robberg 5 Beach Plettenberg Bay South Africa
A wooden path at Robberg 5 Beach, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa.

The first stop on our itinerary is the beautiful Robberg beach. With its classic golden sands, white breakers, and panoramic views, it’s popular for a reason. This beach holds Blue Flag status, meaning that it meets a range of strict criteria, covering everything from environmental aspects to accessibility. Robberg 5 has wheelchair access, public toilets, and a parking area, allowing everyone to enjoy a day by the water.

Because of its Blue Flag status, the beach is kept clean and there are lifeguards between November and April, making it a great choice for families. Younger children will love collecting shells from along the waterline. On the other hand, those on an adult-only vacation can try their hand at surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, or snorkeling. If you’re lucky, you may even see a great white shark; but don’t worry, you’ll be called out of the water first.

2. Boulders Beach

South African penguins at Boulders Beach.

Whilst this might not be the best spot for sunbathing, the famous Boulders Beach is still not one to be missed. Home to a colony of African penguins who settled there in 1982, it’s a chance to see these amazing creatures up close in their natural habitat. You may even get to see some swimming in the water and playing together – there are around 3,000 of these birds on the beach today.

If you want to see the penguins more closely, then head to the adjacent Foxy beach. Boardwalks have been constructed to allow visitors to get a better view of the famous birds, and you can even swim there, although not directly with the penguins.

3. Muizenberg Beach

Muizenberg Beach’s colorful houses in South Africa.

Ready to hit the waves on your holiday? Then check out Muizenberg Beach. Known for its great surfing conditions, including reliable waves and long stretches of white sand, it’s the perfect spot for beginners to get on board. The pretty candy-colored beach huts give you something to focus on as you’re coming back to shore – or, if you want to focus on something larger, cast your eyes to the horizon to see views of Table Mountain.

The only downside to this high-energy, friendly beach is that it’s also a favorite spot for sharks. If you’re not a regular surfer, it’s best to book in with a surf school. The instructor will be able to keep an eye on you and make sure that you’re having a safe, fun experience.

4. Dolphin Beach/Jeffery’s Bay

An image of the Dolphin Beach, Cape Town before the storm.

Another fantastic spot for surfers, Jeffery’s Bay is located in Eastern Cape Town. Playing host to the J Bay Open surf competition each year, the destination is famous for having one of the best right-hand breaks around the world. As a result, it is a hotspot for wave riders looking to take on the challenge.

If you’re a beginner surfer; don’t fear. There are plenty of other spots on the beach other than the right-hand break which are more suitable for those starting out. Head to the Dolphin Beach area for a more gentle experience, or watch from the comfort of the sand. You may even be fortunate enough to see a pod of bottlenose dolphins which the beach is named after.

5. Second Beach

Cows on Second Beach Port St Johns, South Africa. Source: tmechin on Flickr.

Second Beach is located on the Wild Coast, near the town of Port St Johns. It is a popular and lively beach that attracts surfers, families, and locals alike. The beach has a long and wide stretch of sand, where you can enjoy the sun, sand, and sea. The beach also has a river estuary that enters it from the south, creating a natural pool for swimming.

Second Beach is also known for its shark viewing opportunities. Indeed, it is home to various species of sharks that frequent the area. You can see sharks from the shore or join a boat tour to get closer to them. Moreover, it is a great place to visit if you want to experience the culture and nature of Port St Johns. You can also visit nearby attractions such as Silaka Nature Reserve, Dwesa Nature Reserve, and First Beach.

6. Llandudno Beach

People on Llandudno Beach near Cape Town, South Africa.

Despite being named after the Welsh coastal town, the two locations could not be more different. Known as one of the most desirable places to live in the Cape Town area, this destination boasts a cove that is made up of pure white sand surrounded by boulders, bush, and milkwood forest, giving it an isolated, tranquil feel.

If you’re looking for a place to enjoy a calm picnic, read a good book without being disturbed, or maybe enjoy a few sundowner drinks, then this is the place for you. Sit back, relax, and take life at an easier pace.

7. Coffee Bay

Two cows are relaxing at Coffee Bay Wild Coast, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Full of international visitors, this popular backpacking destination is also home to a majestic beach. Towering cliffs covered in lush green grass rise up behind the sand, giving visitors a spectacular view as they approach. Supposedly, the beach was named after a ship carrying coffee beans that ran aground here in 1893. Nevertheless, the soil was too salty for them to grow. Therefore, don’t expect to be able to pick your next cup of espresso on your visit.

Coffee Bay is also known for its ‘Hole in the Wall’ – a towering stone island with an impressive archway in the water. A huge variety of marine life live in the warm shallow waters around this area, making it a popular spot for snorkeling and families with young children.

8. Noordhoek

The farm village in Noordhoek South Africa.

This is a scenic village at the foot of Chapman’s Peak. It is also surrounded by Table Mountain National Park, with a rural and mountainous atmosphere. Being one of the best beach destinations in South Africa, it offers a delightful beach, rich wetlands, and various activities and events for visitors to enjoy. You can walk along the boardwalks and watch the waves crash against the rocks. Or, you can visit the nearby penguin colony at Boulders Beach.

The town of Noordhoek is home to several craft shops, a children’s playground, a café, a pub, and a restaurant in the middle of its valley. You can also visit the Noordhoek Farm Village, which showcases local products and crafts.

9. Sodwana Bay

An aerial view of Sodwana Bay, one of the best beach destinations in South Africa.

The final stop on our beach tour is the unspoiled Sodwana Bay. Home to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Maputaland Marine Reserve, this beach is teeming with biodiversity. Explore for yourself, or partake in a sea turtle or shark tour with an ethical and experienced guide. If you’re keen to get up close and personal with the amazing animals that live here, then consider snorkeling or scuba diving. Furthermore, this bay is home to Africa’s most southerly coral reef.

If you prefer to stay on dry land, then jump onto horseback and enjoy a ride through the gentle waves, feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin. Or, simply stroll along the sand, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the paradisiacal views.

10. Gonubie Beach

Gonubie Beach boardwalk in South Africa. Image credit to Danie van der Merwe on Flickr.

This is a stunning and secluded beach on the Wild Coast, where you can enjoy the natural beauty and tranquility of the Indian Ocean. You can relax on the soft sand, swim in the clear water, or explore the nearby cliffs and caves. The beach is also home to a variety of wildlife, such as dolphins, whales, seals, and birds. Gonubie Beach is a perfect spot for surfing, fishing, and birdwatching.

Gonubie Beach is part of the Gonubie Nature Reserve, which covers an area of 1,200 hectares and protects the natural habitats and biodiversity of the region. The reserve has several walking trails that offer scenic views of the coast, the river, and the wetlands.

Choose Your Paradise

Now that we’ve explored some of the best beach destinations that South Africa has to offer, all that’s left for you to do is pack up your beach bag and head to the coast. Enjoy, and have a great trip to South African beaches!

The Broad Life introduces to you great, inspirational books for your wanderlust. They aren’t just simple travel, each book recounts the author’s journey to discover and learn many awesome things from new civilizations and places.


Christine Jones
A wildlife enthusiast, Christine loves nothing more than exploring the coastal environments of a new location. She loves the variety of beaches that exist in South Africa and the amazing sea life that can be discovered there.

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