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A Travel Guide to South Africa’s 9 Best Beaches

As a travel destination, South Africa is a land of great diversity. From world-class game reserves to spectacular landscapes, vibrant cities, and some of the finest beaches most of which have been awarded the Blue Flag status. Be it secluded strands tucked away within national parks perfect for a quiet tanning session or some of the best waves for surfing you seek.  The country’s coastline stretching over 2500km offers travelers a plethora of options, making South Africa a top contender as a beach destination. Below, we have compiled some of our top and best beaches well worth checking out.

1. Camps Bay, Cape Town

The Mother City is brimming with some of the best beaches in South Africa and Camps Bay beach, with the stunning views of the 12 Apostles in the background, is a holidaymaker’s dream. Situated just ten minutes from the city center, this palm tree-lined beach with its white sand and crystal blue waters boast a blue flag status. While swimming here maybe for the brave-hearted due to the cold Atlantic Ocean water, the beach is a perfect hang-out spot for sunbathing, picnics, beach volleyball, and catching exquisite sunsets.

Victoria Road, the vibrant street along which the beach is located bursts with trendy restaurants, cafes, hotels, and bars making it a perfect spot for sundowners.

2. Clifton Beach, Cape Town

All good things come in fours and Clifton Beach is no exception! Situated just a stone’s throw away from Camps Bay with Lion’s Head in its backdrop and naturally sheltered from the winds, Clifton Beach is divided into four sections simply named 1, 2, 3, and 4. Clifton’s beaches are popular filming sites for movies and adverts because of their picturesque white sands, grey boulders, and azure waters. As such, a visit to Clifton Beach is likely to yield a celebrity sighting. However, should you not be so lucky, you can enjoy the day soaking in the beauty of the area. Only Clifton 4th beach has the blue flag status, however, Clifton 1 – 3 are still well worth a visit.

3. Umhlanga Rocks, Kwa Zulu Natal

Set along the warm Indian Ocean with its golden sands, Umhlanga is an upmarket seaside vacationing spot for both local and international tourists. Enjoy safe swimming waters as well as amazing surfing conditions. In between bathing sessions, check out the Umhlanga Lighthouse or take a stroll along the beach’s whalebone-inspired pier. A paved walkway provides direct access to the town’s beachfront shops, restaurants, and bars. Although crowded during the December summer season, a festive atmosphere prevails to make this one of KwaZulu-Natal’s top Christmas spots.

4. Muizenberg, Cape Town

Easily identifiable by its iconic multi-colored bathing cabins that have been widely photographed, Muizenberg or “Muizies” as fondly referred to by the locals in the False Bay side of the Cape Peninsula is a surfer’s playground. The warm waters of the Indian Ocean in summer make the spot particularly fun for swimming and surfing. The town has grown quite the reputation as one of the best places in the world to learn how to surf.

There are several shops along the beach that rent out surfboards and even offer surfing lessons. However, one should always keep an eye out for the sharks who also love and are drawn to the area by the warm waters. The town also bursts with bookshops, brasseries, and bars that echo the cool vibe of the surfing town.

5. Noetzie Beach, Knysna

Nominated multiple times as the top African beach destination and rated amongst the 50 best beaches in the world in 2018, Noetzie Beach is undoubtedly one of South Africa’s best beaches. This secluded beach has the lush green forests of Sinclair Nature Reserve and manmade castles built in the 1930s in its backdrop. The beach’s pristine waters are perfect for paddling, swimming, kayaking, and even fishing. The beach is also ideal for relaxed picnics, birdwatching walks as well as catching spectacular sunsets.

6. Boulders Beach, Cape Town

Renowned for its thriving African Penguin Colony, Boulders Beach forms part of Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area and is one of Cape Town’s most visited beaches. This is the only place in the world where one can get up-close with the African Penguin. Beyond the penguins, the beach with its warm Indian Ocean water is also ideal for swimming. Enjoy a day of family fun as you enjoy picnics, building sandcastles, and exploring the rock pools. Be sure to also check out Simon’s Town, one of South Africa’s oldest towns and a naval base.

7. Cape Vidal, St Lucia, Kwa Zulu Natal

Cape Vidal lies within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site about 30 km north of the town of St Lucia. It is a three-hour drive from Durban. Cape Vidal offers the best of two worlds – it is situated on the exquisite Zululand coast with all its amazingly rich marine life, and it provides direct access to the Eastern Shores Nature Reserve with its populations of elephant, rhino, buffalo, crocodile, hippo, and reedbuck to name but a few.

The beach and off-shore areas at Cape Vidal fall within the St Lucia Marine Reserve which is visited seasonally by humpback whales during their migrations, as well as loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles that come to the beaches north of Cape Vidal from November to February to nest. Other marine “big game” includes the huge whale shark, marlin, sailfish, and dolphin.

8. Noordhoek Beach, Cape Town

Stretching for approximately 8km, Noordhoek beach is one of the most pristine beaches on the Atlantic Cape Coast and popular for horse-riding, surfing, dog walking, and much more. Explore and climb up the large boulders that provide great spots to eat supper or a snack with your mate and take photographs. Otherwise, head down to the large rocks that jut out into the wave and watch the waves roll in. Surrounded by wonder, this beach is backed by preserved wetlands that dissolve into majestic slopes covered in coastal fynbos, which are small heather-like trees and shrubs.

9. Sodwana Bay, Kwa Zulu Natal

Sodwana Bay is located on the east coast of South Africa, in one of the most unique and unspoiled parts of the world. Situated in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Maputaland Marine Reserve, efforts are made to protect its integrity from environmental degradation. You will find a peaceful and yet dynamic little town to spend some quality time away from home. Come explore the area, meet the locals and enjoy a wide variety of activities in one of the top ten scuba diving destinations in the world.

To sum it up in one word, Sodwana Bay Beach is amazing! This long stretch of beach on the Elephant Coast offers a host of activities for beachgoers. If you’re chilled then come and relax on the beach and work on your tan, but if you’re active you’re in for a treat.

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A Travel Guide to South Africa’s 9 Best Beaches