The Best Beaches in South Africa
Boasting an astounding 1770 miles of coastline, it’s no secret that South Africa is home to some of the most sublime beaches on the planet. Join us as we reveal our top 15.
10 January 2023
Spanning from Port Nolloth to the small town of St Lucia, South Africa’s coastline is as impressive as it is vast. With 1770 miles of tropical coastline, there’s certainly no shortage of shores for you to choose from, including 46 Blue Flag beaches. So much so, that getting our list of the best beaches in South Africa down to just 15 was certainly no mean feat.
Whether you’re looking to try your hand at scuba diving or simply soak up the rays, each beach in South Africa has its own unique selling point. Though when it comes to crowning the best beach in South Africa, we’ll let you be the judge. To help you decide, our travel experts have carefully curated a list of their top finds.
Best South Africa Beaches
- Cape Town
- Eastern Cape
- Western Cape
- Garden Route
The Best Beaches in Cape Town
Cape Town; a city where mountainous landscapes meet white-sand beaches, offering up the perfect juxtaposition. When you’re done exploring Cape Town’s incredible city, head over to one of these dazzling locations.
Topping our list of the best beaches in Cape Town, South Africa is the quintessential wonder that is Camps Bay. Found at the foot of the Twelve Apostles mountain range, dramatic cliffside lines one side of this family favorite, along with bustling restaurants, bars, and hotels. Adjacent to the lively promenade and powdery white sands lies the Atlantic Ocean, the perfect place to cool down after a game of volleyball - a popular pastime at Camps Bay.
Its acclaim and location mean that Camps Bay is a very popular South African beach and can get pretty busy during peak season (and windy too). Though it’s nothing some tactical planning can’t overcome.
For more highlights, Regional Destination Manager and South Africa Expert Harriet Whitmarsh says:
“Cape Town has famously good sushi. Head to the Cod Father, one of Camps Bay’s trendy gourmet oceanfront restaurants to enjoy some of the best.”
Another go-to family find, Scarborough beach can be found in Cape Peninsula, right by Cape Point Nature Reserve. This secluded stretch proves popular with surfers as its wild waves promise to deliver endless thrills. Take care though as its waters aren’t immune to the occasional rip current.
Prefer your feet on solid ground? Rock pools and grassy sand dunes await curious little ones seeking to explore their new surroundings. What’s more, the serenity and spaciousness of Scarborough beach make for ideal sunbathing conditions.
Last in the series of the four iconic Clifton Beaches comes 4th beach. Renowned for its Blue Flag status, you can bet this bay is a hit with everyone, though its set-up lends itself particularly well towards honeymooners.
The atmosphere is second to none down on this golden sand cove, especially on those warm summer evenings, when locals and tourists often come together for some candle-lit alfresco dining while the sun goes down. Head down early for people-watching, a game of frisbee, or a glimpse of Cape Town’s most glamorous yachts glistening across the Atlantic from this beautiful South African beach.
Next on our list of the best beaches in Cape Town, South Africa, is the beautiful Boulder Beach. Home to African penguins under the protection of Cape Nature Conservation, this striking shore is celebrated among nature lovers and vacationers alike. Hoping to feast your eyes on the cute colonies of aquatic birds? South Africa’s summer is penguin prime time.
And if you thought you couldn’t love South Africa’s penguin beach any more, wait until you hear about its ease of access. Rustic wooden boardwalks and lookout points line the cove making it invitingly accessible for everyone.
One of the best beaches in South Africa is Muizenberg Beach, which has it all; sugar-white sand, multi-colored beach huts, and curling waves set against the backdrop of rugged mountains. A water park, as well as an array of cafes and casual dining venues, neighbor this iconic South African shore - making it a huge hit with young families.
Muizenberg Beach is one of Cape Town’s few Indian Ocean beaches, so its waters are considerably warmer than its Atlantic Ocean counterparts. This, combined with its white-crested waves, make Muizenberg Beach one of the most sought surfing spots in Africa.
In fact, South Africa Travel Specialist Harriet says:
“This is one of the most active surfing areas in Cape Town, head here for a fun local relaxed vibe and take that famous Instagram shot of the bright-colored beach houses.”
The Best Beaches in Eastern Cape
Eastern Cape has some of the best beach resorts in South Africa. Its shores are as sublime as they are tranquil, and the majestic surroundings will leave you lost for words.
Coffee Bay is home to the globally recognized natural wonder that is the Hole in the Wall. The dramatic views at Wild Coast comprise untamed greenery, rock pools, and of course, the natural marvel that is Hole in the Wall, giving this South African beach a more rustic and rugged feel than its rivals. But that’s all part of its pull.
Wild Coast certainly lives up to its name and is the ideal location for adventurous honeymooners and couples looking to get their hike on. Expect ample fishing spots, challenging treks, and stupendous scenery.
No list of the best beaches in South Africa would be complete without mentioning the town of Jeffreys Bay. Celebrated for its world-class waves, also referred to as Supertubes, Dolphin Beach is one of the most acclaimed surfing spots on the planet. Plus, this location sees us leave behind the chilly temperatures of the Atlantic and move into the sultry seas of the Indian Ocean. This makes for more than desirable swimming conditions.
And while we’re on the topic of the ocean, that’s probably where you’ll want to stay because Dolphin Beach is host to pods of the majestic creatures themselves. Families of bottle-nosed dolphins can be seen here all year round, as can whales between July - September. Home to a very popular South African beach, it’s easy to see why J-bay is a hit with families.
With about 0.3 miles of raised wooden boardwalk, just entering Gonubie Beach is an experience in itself. And it’s the same rough and ready promenade that presents the perfect spot for watching surfers, whales, and dolphins splash around the Indian Ocean.
Alternatively, shallow tidal pools, silky white sands, and hidden seashells await you on the beach itself. The latter secures this shore as a must-see for those with small ones eager to unearth all the little wonders life has to offer.
The Best Beaches in Western Cape
Characterized by untouched stretches of bright white sand and crystal clear waters - the pristine shores of the Western Cape look as though they’ve been plucked straight from a brochure.
Paternoster Beach sits within a laid-back village just under two hours away from Cape Town. The town has a deep-rooted connection to the fishing industry, so you can expect seafood in abundance. Snap up a fresh catch straight off the boat or dine out on delicious oysters, crayfish, and crab at a local eatery. If you’re lucky, you may even catch sight of a spear fisherman in action.
Seafood isn’t all this idyllic bay has to offer though. You can kayak, windsurf, or horse ride to your heart's content at Paternoster Beach. What’s more - beach buggy races are a pretty popular pastime here too, so it’s easy to see why this amazing South African beach is an in-demand day trip destination.
Travel Specialist Harriet Whitmarsh has this to say:
“Another foodie haven! This area is known for being home to one of the leading restaurants in the world, Wolfgat, which looks out over the ocean…however, for a more low-key local option, head into the 114-year-old tin house that is home to Voorstandt Restaurant where you can sample some of the juiciest oysters I’ve ever had.”
There’s no denying that Kraalbaai lagoon is one of the most sublime beaches in South Africa. The sand on this shoreline is so bright that looking directly at it is akin to looking at the sun - so be sure to bring your sunglasses. The chalk-white sand, combined with its almost mystical turquoise waters, tropical landscape, and wooden boardwalks is the beach that dreams are made of.
But not just a pretty face, Kraalbaai Beach has so much more to offer. Lose hours swimming or snorkeling in its warm and tranquil waters. Sunbathe, build sandcastles, flamingo watch or take a scenic walk along its dreamy coastline.
Looking for something a little more thrilling? You can surf, kayak, jet ski, or wakeboard. With an almost endless array of activities on offer here, Kraalbaai Beach is everything you want from a South African beach - and then some.
The Best Beaches on the Garden Route
Starting at Mossel Bay and ending at Storms River, this scenic road trip dominates 125 miles of untamed coastline in the Eastern and Western Provinces of South Africa. With no shortage of breathtaking beaches on its radar - the Garden Route is not one to miss.
Next on our list of the best beaches in South Africa is the spectacular Robberg Beach. The south end of the shore is home to Robberg Nature Reserve which serves up challenging treks and picture-perfect panoramic views of the coast.
Its Blue Flag status means that you can expect immaculate stretches of mostly untouched sand - perfect for finding that serene spot. With no shortage of activities either - from whale watching to surfing to hiking - Robberg Beach has effortlessly become one of the best-loved beaches among families.
Equally as breathtaking as Robberg Beach, but even quieter, lies Buffels Bay. This white-sand wonder is ideal if you’re staying in Knysna and crave a taste of the ocean. What’s more, ‘Buffs Bay’ as the locals call it, is a first-class spot for whale watching. From the safety of these sequestered shores, you can feast your eyes on Humpbacks and Southern Rights as well as Bottle-neck dolphins.
The Best Beaches in Durban/KwaZulu-Natal
The thriving city of Durban adopts a laid-back culture, centered around beach life - and it’s no wonder. With an awe-inspiring portfolio of glittering shores surrounded by luxury accommodations, Durban lives up to its glowing reputation.
Skyscrapers meet stretches of sand and sea at Golden Mile beach. With a striking resemblance to Australia’s similarly named Gold Coast - you won’t be able to tear yourself away from Durban Beach in South Africa. Its impressive promenade plays host to uShaka Marine World, Suncoast Casino, Entertainment World, and Moses Mabhida Stadium.
When it comes to the beach itself, it will come as no surprise to hear that golden sands grace the coastline. The four-mile stretch is bursting with grinning vacationers playing beach games, people-watching and basking in the South African sun. Though its waters are famously warm, the currents at Durban can be strong and at times, dangerous, so be careful and only swim where safe to do so.
As the name denotes, Shelly beach in South Africa is covered with infinite small shells. Not only does this bring about copious amounts of joy for shell-collecting enthusiasts but for young children, too. Though it’s not just the shells that make this South African beach stand out, it’s also the lively lagoons and stellar snorkeling sites.
Say hello to tropical fish and radiant coral as you explore Shelly Beach’s mysterious underwater coves. Rub shoulders with Hammerheads on a guided shark dive or watch the sunset over a romantic picnic for two. The choice is all yours.
Seeing out our list of the best beaches in South Africa in style is the serene Sodwana Bay. The unspoiled stretch can be found on the Elephant Coast in KwaZulu-Natal. Comprising golden sands, aquamarine waters, tropical foliage, and fiery sunsets - Sodwana Bay will take your breath away.
If you’re looking for some rest and relaxation then you’ll find it on these tranquil shores, but Sodwana’s greatest pull is its out-of-this-world diving and snorkeling sites. Beneath its waters lie endless lines of vibrant reefs and swarms of tropical fish and marine creatures comprising manta rays, octopus, potato bass, and bluefin kingfish - to name a few. That’s not to mention its bigger players. Sharks and dolphins are also known to stalk the seas of Sodwana while turtles grace its shores.
Book Your Beach Vacation with Scott Dunn
Any one of these 15 natural wonders promises to deliver an extraordinary day out for everyone, the memories of which will stay with you all for a lifetime. Crafting unforgettable, unique experiences is all part of the deal when you choose Scott Dunn.
Not yet booked your South African escape? Let our travel specialists design you a luxury getaway that goes beyond your wildest expectations.