South Africa’s coastline stretches for a remarkable 1,770 miles, so it comes as no surprise to discover that the country boasts some of the best beaches on the entire African continent. Split between the tropical Indian Ocean and the wild South Atlantic, the array of stunning beaches have something to offer everyone from honeymooners to adrenaline junkies. Here, we round up the six best beaches in South Africa.
Clifton 4th Beach
Best for: VIP sunbathing
Clifton is one of the most affluent areas in Cape Town and has four imaginatively-named beaches: 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. The glittering white sand and surrounding mountains make any of the beaches an ideal spot for an impromptu Instagram shoot.
Although the four beaches are only separated by granite boulders, they attract surprisingly different crowds. Clifton 1st is usually dominated by surfers. Clifton 2nd is frequented by locals who don’t need the amenities while Cilfton 3rd is popular with the gay community. Clifton 4th is the best all-round beach as it is surrounded by trendy bars and cafes.
Clifton 4th is the only of the four to have Blue Flag status, which is only awarded to beaches that meet high environmental and quality standards. Be warned, however, as Clifton is located on the Atlantic side of Cape Town, meaning the water is always icy cold no matter what time of year.
Best for: Bathing in warm waters
Although only an hour’s drive away from Clifton, Muizenberg Beach is a completely different experience. Forming part of the long stretch of coastline along False Bay, Muizenberg Beach is one of Cape Town’s Indian Ocean beaches, meaning the water is usually a full 50°F warmer than at Clifton 4th and pleasant to swim in during the summer months.
The colorful changing beach huts are an Instagrammer’s dream and the calmer waves make it a popular spot for novice surfers. There are a variety of restaurants to frequent in the nearby town while a lively bar scene means the fun can continue long after a picturesque sunset snap.
Camps Bay Beach
Best for: Discovering hiking trails
From the moment you arrive, you will understand exactly why Camps Bay is Cape Town’s most popular beach. Beautiful blue water, palm-lined sandy beaches and a backdrop to rival any beach in the world, Camps Bay is a must for anyone visiting the city.
The surrounding mountains do not just provide a beautiful backdrop, however. They also block the worst of the South-Easter winds, making it one of the calmest weather spots in the city.
From the beach, keen hikers can gain access to some beautiful mountain trails that take you around and to the top of Table Mountain. For those purely interested in sipping cocktails, the Camps Bay sidewalk is full of chic bars and cafes alongside a number of luxury hotels.
Best for: The nature lover
If peace and quiet is what you seek, then it is time to leave the big cities and head to the South Coast. Trafalgar is the destination of choice for those seeking more space on the sand. Its Blue Flag beach is idyllic and tranquil while the water is warm and inviting.
The calm surf makes this an ideal spot for relaxing water sports such as paddle-boarding and snorkeling. Incredible fossil beds lie just off shore and can be explored by even novice divers. Scientists say the structures formed 90-million-years ago from ancient shellfish, fish, plants and petrified wood. They help to attract a wide range of marine life to the area.
The isolated location of Trafalgar Beach means amenities are thin on the ground so many day-trippers choose to bring their own picnic.
Dolphin Beach, Jeffreys Bay
Best for: The water-sports expert
Jeffreys Bay is the surf capital of South Africa. As the country is considered one of the world’s best surfing locations, that is quite the claim. Dolphin Beach sits within the Bay and is a popular spot for wind and kite surfing due to its exposed location.
This hive of activity has brought with it a plethora of restaurants and cafes, so you’ll never go hungry after a day out on the waves.
Dolphins frequent the shallows of Jeffreys Bay year round. Whales also frequent the area from July to September. The waterpark, mini golf course and surf schools make this a popular family haunt during the holidays.