South Africa has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and exploring some of our favorites might give you an idea of what the country's coast offers. Most beaches listed here have Blue Flag Status, an award for beaches that meet high cleanliness, safety, and environmental standards.
At the top of our list is Sodwana Bay. Sodwana is also located in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site with an array of coral reefs, bird life, coastal forests, and a pristine coastline to explore and discover. Scuba diving, swimming, snorkeling, and boating are all on the cards, or simply a relaxing afternoon overlooking the golden beach and passing dolphin pods as the sun sets in Africa.
Robberg's 5th beach and the nearby Robberg Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area is an amazing holiday destination and one of the finest beaches in a country with some of the best beaches in the world. There is much to do and see, from water sports in the ocean and nearby estuary to 'the island,' a peninsula within the nature reserve offering spectacular views and hiking trails. The reserve is also a world heritage site, with lots for visitors to explore and discover.
Buffalo Bay is a stone's throw away from the tourist town of Knysna and the Knysna lagoon, yet far enough away from the crowds to give you a small village atmosphere. The waters here are very shallow and gentle, and the small town named for the bay is surrounded by fynbos, the beautiful endemic Floral Kingdom that includes Proteas and Ericas.
Few South African beaches are more spectacular and adventure-filled than Cape Vidal. In the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Cape Vidal is a broad beach surrounded by wetlands and coastal dune forests, with shallows where children can play and explore underwater creatures in rocky pools. Humpback whales can often be spotted from the shore as they migrate to the warm waters of East Africa, and turtles come ashore to lay their eggs under the starry skies here.
Clifton is one of the best beachside spots in Cape Town, and its 4th beach is its most famous. Located at the southern end of Clifton towards the scenic Bachelor's Cove lookout point, Clifton 4th is family-friendly and covered with beautiful soft white sand. It borders Clifton's 3rd, a nude beach, for those looking for more adventure, and is overlooked by Lion's Head - one of the city's best hiking destinations.
Zinkwazi Beach is a golden sandy strip of wild coastline just 30 minutes from the more famous town of Ballito and an hour's drive from the commercial hub uMhlanga. Subtropical coastal dune forests line the beach and a well-known lagoon to the north of the beach with an estuary supporting abundant bird and aquatic life.
Boulders Beach is home to one of the largest African Penguin colonies in the world, nestled on the eastern shores of the Cape Peninsula near Simon's Town. Over 2200 penguins form part of this colony, and penguin chicks are easiest to spot between March and May when the breeding season of South Africa's most lovable birds is in full swing.
Arguably, South Africa's flagship surfing beach, Jeffrey's Bay, is just an hour's drive from Gqeberha, formerly Port Elizabeth. Hippie culture in the '60s and '70s first brought surfers to this picturesque sandy beach, and today, it is one of the most well-known and highest-rated surfing destinations in the world, regularly ranking in the top 3 lists.
Victoria Bay is exactly between the towns of George and Wilderness in the Garden Route region of South Africa. Though small, the beach here is one of the best in the country for surfing, and also the local beach of South African Olympic surfing silver medalist Bianca Buitendag. Cars are banned from the town, keeping it clean and peaceful, though there is a parking lot further up the hill for visitors.
Kogel Bay is a somewhat unknown beach, 2 hours drive from Cape Town on one of the country's most beautiful routes - Sir Lowry's Pass. It marks the start of the Kogelberg Nature Reserve and is overlooked by thousands of proteas on the hangs of the Kogelberg. The beach also features a whale lookout point where whale mothers and their calves can be seen moving into the shelter of False Bay, the coastline area stretching from the Cape Peninsula to Pringle Bay.
Coffee Bay is a pearl of the Wild Coast, one of the most secluded regions of South Africa, where nature has been protected and revered for generations, and the pristine beach is surrounded by greenery. The famous "Hole in the Wall" is found here, a large doorway chiseled out of the shoreline's rock by the rhythmic onslaught of waves over the millennia. Local Xhosa folklore mentions the site as a gateway to the ancestors, and the archeological record in the area dates as far back as 2 million years to some of the first humans.
Camp's Bay is Cape Town's famous billionaire's playground - a beautiful bay overlooked by the twelve apostle mountains overhead. This crescent-shaped beach is close to the city center and the waterfront but far enough away to get away from the city bustle. Table Mountain is just northeast, so hiking is also within arm's reach of the beach.
Nature's Valley is a place of peace and serenity. It lies next to the Groot River Lagoon, protected by the Tsitsikamma foothills and the beautiful Afromontane Forests to the north. There is plenty to keep the whole family busy here, with the lagoon for kayaking and other water sports, the rolling waves and white sand beaches, and a sky full of stars to look up to at night. During certain times of the year, the waves here glimmer a beautiful jade color, largely due to naturally occurring bioluminescent algae in the ocean, a spectacular nighttime display.
Muizenberg Beach is a gorgeous beach and surfer's favorite just south of Cape Town. It is the start of False Bay, a 32km long stretch of south Atlantic waves and white sandy coastline, with panoramic views of the Cape Peninsula and the never-ending horizon.