Best South Africa Beaches for your Next Holiday – Top 15 Picks

Best South Africa Beaches for your Next Holiday – Top 15 Picks

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Some of the best beaches in Africa are found at its southern tip, in South Africa. With a coastline of over 1550 miles, you might be wondering – which are the best South Africa beaches for beach lovers to check out?

South Africa’s Coast spans over two oceans including:

  • The warmer Indian Ocean to its East Coast
  • The cooler Atlantic seaboard to its West Coast
Best beaches in South Africa umbrella

Cape Town is known for having the greatest beaches, but there are other hidden gems worth experiencing along the vast coastline.

Whether you’re looking for a secluded resort to celebrate your wedding anniversary or honeymoon, or searching for a family-friendly spot where you can have fun adventures – there’s something for everyone.

So, without further adieu, here are the top 15 best beaches (in no particular order) to visit in South Africa.

Dolphin Beach – One of the Best South Africa Beaches for Surfing

best beaches in south africa - dolphin beach

One of the top surfing destinations in the world is Dolphin Beach in Jeffrey’s Bay on the Sunshine Coast. Dolphin Beach is beautiful, largely untouched, and has a wide expanse of sand.

There are lifeguards on duty, and it’s safe to swim – which is a double-whammy for families. Surfers from all over the world flock here to experience the most perfect waves, including the famous Supertubes.

The best months to surf at Dolphin Beach are June to September – and if you’re a novice, you can learn to surf throughout the whole year.

Shelly Beach on Hibiscus Coast – One of the Best Beaches in South Africa for Fishing

South Africa Beaches - Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach makes for the perfect holiday destination on the seaside. With its warm subtropical temperatures, beautiful scenery, and an abundant amount of seashells on its shore – what’s not to love about Shelly Beach?

Popular pastimes include rock and surf fishing, in its numerous lagoons and tidal pools. If you’re the competitive type, the town is known for hosting deep-sea fishing competitions throughout the year.

Ballito on the Dolphin Coast – One of Many Great South Africa Beaches for Surfing

best south africa beaches - Ballito Beach

Dolphin Coast is named after the many sightings of bottlenose dolphins in the surf of the Indian Ocean. Ballito beach lies 25 miles north of Durban and was established in 1954. It’s a great spot for the whole family.

Two tidal pools are boasted by the beach – they fill up during high tide and are the perfect place for the kids to splash out. Ballito is first-rate when it comes to surfing – one of the biggest surfing contests takes place every year in July.

Relax on the beach and spy some marine life, catch some serious waves, or enjoy the calm waters of the tidal pools with your favorite drink.

North and South Beach in Durban – One of the Best Beaches in South Africa for Families.

The North and South Beach are together known as the Golden Mile in Durban City center. The water is super warm and the sand has a radiant golden color – perfect for impromptu Instagram-worthy photoshoots.

There’s plenty to do here too. In fact, you could spend a few days or more on the Golden Mile without getting bored.

The beaches are popular among families, especially since there’s a multitude of attractions behind the boardwalk of the beach. Including restaurants, a skate park, swimming pools, and more! South Beach, home to uShaka Marine World, tends to be slightly quieter than its counterpart.

Cape Vidal Beach on the Eastern Shore – Worth it Just for the Scenic Drive

best south africa beaches - Cape Vidal Beach

This beach boasts one of the most scenic drives on our list. There’s a variety of wildlife sightings while you’re en route to the beach – you’ll get to see antelopes, buffaloes, hippos, and crocodiles.

The shore is filled with forested sand dunes which can be as high as 500 feet. If you ask for recommendations, people that have been to iSimangaliso Wetland Park would definitely recommend a visit here.

This beach also happens to be excellent for swimming. The long winding ocean-view drive combined with the calm waters and relaxing beach vibe make Cape Vidal Beach a must-see.

Bikini Beach – One of the Cleanest Cape Town South Africa Beaches

Cape town south africa beaches - Bikini Beach

Bikini Beach is one of Cape Town’s Blue Flag Beaches – there are six in total. Blue Flag Beaches indicate high levels of safety, cleanliness, water quality, and facilities.

Bikini Beach is considered one of the Best Cape Town South Africa Beaches for swimming, as the water is generally clear, calm, and warm. The Beach is surrounded by the Hottentot Holland mountain range and the beach is located in a sheltered cove.

Bikini Bay offers magnificent views as it curves from Gordon’s Bay to Cape Point. If you’re one for retail therapy, then Bikini Beach will be an excellent choice as they offer a variety of quirky shopping spots.

Noordhoek Beach – A Cape Town Beach Good for Surfing

cape town south africa beaches - Noordhoek Beach

Noordhoek is favored by horse riders and surfers. The Hoek is a magnificent three-mile stretch of beach – however, it’s dangerous and windy for swimmers.

If you’re a surfer, there’s an excellent right beach break that holds large waves. It’s best to only attempt this during low tide.

You’ll also find the rusted shell of the Kakapo steamship sticking out of the sand in the middle of the beach. The Kakapo ran aground in Noordhoek during its maiden voyage from Swansea to Sydney in 1900. A unique – and haunting story worth checking out.

Boulders Beach – One of the Best Beaches in South Africa for Penguin Watching

Boulders Beach is the ultimate bird-watching hub. The beach is home to a colony of about 3000 delightful African penguins. Boulders Beach is otherwise picturesque, with sandy coves and enormous boulders.

You can get up and close to the penguins by walking down a boardwalk to the beach. All will be well as long as you don’t attempt to touch them. After all, they are wild animals – they can cause serious injury with their sharp beaks.

Still, the wildlife scene is unbeatable here and definitely a must-see for bird and animal enthusiasts. Beach-goers can enjoy a relaxing day surrounded by nature at Boulders Beach.

Llandudno Beach – A Secluded Beach in Cape Town

llandudno, south africa sea, rock

Llandudno Beach is overlooked by the village of Llandudno. The beach is located in Logies Bay – a little cove. The beach is secluded, beautiful, and uniquely serene. In comparison to other beaches in Cape Town – Llandudno Beach is much quieter.

It’s an ideal spot for beach games, sunbathing, and swimming. The view is incredible – with its backdrop of large granite boulders and mountains.

Beach-goers should plan to arrive early in the day to get a nice shady spot to themselves. There’s minimal parking for visitors and one can only access the beach by one road.

Paternoster Beach – One of the Nicer South Africa Beaches on the West Coast

south african beach - Paternoster Beach

Paternoster offers turquoise waters and bright white sand and it also makes a perfect day trip if you’re in Cape Town. The beach has an epic outdoor seafood restaurant called “Die Strandloper”. Prepare to experience rustic dining at its finest.

While you’re on the way to Paternoster, the drive alone will be nothing short of magical. With the potential to spot a variety of wildlife including ostriches, giraffes, and other game in the farms and game reserves.

While you can swim at Paternoster, the water temperature is often chilly. If you’d like to give surfing lessons a go, this is the place to do it. However, you’ll definitely need a wetsuit (which can be provided by most tour companies on the beach).

Cape Peninsula Beaches – Some of the Best Beaches in South Africa

best beaches in south africa

Some of the best beaches in South Africa are the Cape Peninsula beaches. Best yet, you might even get the beach all to yourself! You just need to be careful if you decide to go for a swim as there are no lifeguards and the water can be quite perilous for children or novice swimmers.

Maclear Beach is perfect for diving or walking, although it’s hard to swim due to being too rocky. Packing water shoes will go a long way towards making your visit more enjoyable. Explore the rocks and find treasures along this mystical beach.

Some of the best Cape Peninsula beach gems include Diaz Beach, near Cape Point – although swimming isn’t allowed due to the strong currents.

Buffels Bay offers safe swimming thanks to its large tidal pool. It’s the ideal spot to spend relaxing with the whole family if you’re near the Cape Peninsula area.

Grotto Beach in Walker Bay – One of the Best South Africa Beaches for Whale Watching

Video by Zlatin Georgiev from Pexels

Walker Bay is known as the best land-based spot in the world to do whale watching. Its Grotto Beach is pristine and stretches over 11 miles – ensuring enough privacy to enjoy your time there unmolested.

From June to November you can watch the South Right whales up close in the bay area. It’s not uncommon to see these amazing creatures breaching the sea or spouting water from their blowhole.

Grotto Beach is also great for beach games, swimming, and seaside strolls. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can give surfing, kite-surfing, or stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) a try while you’re there.

Nahoon Beach in East London – Surfing for the Adults and Tidal Pools for the Kids

Sunrise at Nahoon Beach East London South Africa

The Nahoon Beach will appeal to both surfers and sunbathers alike. The pristine beach offers excellent surfing opportunities at the southern end of the beach. In fact, the beach is often home to regular surfing competitions.

This unique beach offers a wide range of activities. If you’re not into surfing but want to do something fun, you can try kayaking or river fishing while you’re there.

The Nahoon River mouth will also appeal to families with young kids for safe swimming, or simply for those who are less confident in the pounding surf.

Second Beach in Port St Johns – One of the Best Beaches in South Africa if you Enjoy the Party Scene

Photo by Berthold Grünhagen from Pexels

The heart and soul of Port St Johns is Second Beach – an idyllic stretch of sand. Locals come to enjoy the hot days and party until the sunset with friends and family.

Weekends tend to get a little crazy with partying beach-goers. During the week, you can get a slightly more chill vibe while still enjoying the amenities that Second Beach offers.

Classic experiences include spotting the Nguni cows as they lounge on the sand and wandering down to paddle at the shallows.

Second Beach is generally considered a safe beach to swim thanks to the gradual sloping sand. With that being said, be careful going too far out, for fear of sharks and potential rip currents.

Noetzie Beach in Knysna – Hard to get to but Worth the Climb Down

The road that leads to Noetzie Beach may feel like it eludes to its exclusivity. However, you’ll know you’re onto something wondrous when you make the climb down the cliff’s steep stairway.

You’ll be able to enjoy the clear, calm, pristine water of the beach nearly to yourself. Ideal for paddleboarding, kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling. There is even a small spot for surfers dying to catch a wave or two.

Noetzie Beach is rimmed by a dense forest and is tucked into a hidden nook of Plettenberg Bay. Noetzie Beach is known for its historic castles from the 1930s. For a truly magical experience, opt to spend the night in one of the castles.

The Best South Africa Beaches for your Next Holiday

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Photo by Nel_Botha-NZ on Pixabay

So there you have it – our 15 suggestions for the best South Africa beaches. We hope this post is useful in narrowing down your choice, or you can double-up and visit a couple of our suggestions. Go ahead – make a few day trips out of it!


Wanna learn how to travel and live cheap on some of the best beaches in South Africa? Check out our blog on traveling the world and living for free, while house and pet sitting.


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