by Matthew Sterne on October 7, 2010
7 min read

‘Hot town, summer in the city…’

Summer is returning to the Cape and the beach is all that’s on our minds. As we slip from the chilly clutches of winter into the ample bosom of the South African summer… and as you slip from your not-so Indian summer into the dark of a Northern Hemisphere winter, we thought it might be a good time to remind you of some of our favourite beach destinations in South Africa.

Plus… it’s National Marine Week in South Africa! What better time than now to celebrate the beauty of the ocean and head to the beach – whether to laze on the shore or dip below the water and watch the bountiful life down under!


South Africa’s Top 10 Beaches

1. Clifton

With the Twelve Apostles Mountain as a backdrop, Clifton, like Camps Bay, is one of the most fashionable beaches in the city and is great for sunbathing (it’s well-protected from wind), a game of beach bats or the like on the pure white sand, swimming if you can stand the icy temperature of the Atlantic Ocean, sunset picnics and people-watching among the cool crowd.


10 minutes from the city centre, Clifton has 4 main beaches, each separated by granite boulders.

  • 1st beach – the smallest beach; draws a mixed crowd of locals and surfers
  • 2nd – popular with students playing beach volleyball and beach bats
  • 3rd  – a popular venue for gay culture
  • 4th – the most populated and glamorous of the beaches; popular with families; awarded the Blue Flag award in recognition of its environmental, safety and tourist standards

Where To Stay: Ellerman House

What’s a Blue Flag Beach? The Blue Flag is a certification by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that a beach or marina meets its stringent standards.

2. Camps Bay

A little piece of Miami in the heart of the Mother City, Cape Town. Trendy wine bars, chic hotels and gourmet restaurants line the palm-fronded boardwalk. What better spot to sup on a Castle lager as the red sun plunges into the Atlantic beyond the white sands and the bladers roll on by… This is a popular beach for not only sun-bathing, but beach games like volleyball and sand castle building competitions.

Where To Stay: The Twelve Apostles

Top 10 Beach Destinations

3. Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town is a breeding colony  for the endangered African Penguin. It’s a great family-friendly spot to visit on your Cape Town holiday, situated in False Bay, a bay fringed by 30 kilometres of white sandy beach, 40 kms from the city centre. You can observe penguins up close, as they swarm into the bay from sea, hop atop the boulders or waddle onto the sand and to their nests. For more about these little happy feet critters, read our blog on the Marine 5!

Read more in our blog, March of the Penguins.

Where To Stay: Colona Castle, Rodwell House and St James


4. Llandudno

Twenty kilometres south of Cape Town city centre, Llandudno is a local favourite and a more relaxed (aka less glamourous) beach than the Clifton and Camps Bay offerings. It’s great for picnics, surfing, body boarding, beach games, doggie outings, photography enthusiasts… you name it. Parking is somewhat limited but once you’ve managed to find a spot, grab your towel and sunscreen and follow the path down to the soft white sand beach. Take an umbrella as well as snacks and drinks, as there are fewer hawkers out selling ice-lollies and cold Cokes.

Where To Stay: Tintswalo Atlantic

5. Paternoster

This stunning hamlet on the West Coast has a wonderful fisher-village ambiance from yesteryear. Once you visit, you’ll be hooked by the long beach littered with colourful boats and gregarious seagulls. There are a number of good eateries either on the beach or in the village.

Where To Stay: Paternoster Seaside Cottages

6. Plettenberg Bay

This is as close to paradise as you’re likely to get in this lifetime. Miles of long beaches, great hotels and restaurants and more places to stay than you can shake a stick at. Plettenberg is the playground of South Africa’s well healed and home of the Kurland International Polo Test series from December to April.

Located in Beachy Head Drive, the Blue Flag Robberg 5 Beach in Plettenberg Bay is a favourite of ours. It has a long stretch of sand that’s great for runners, swimmers, surfers and families to enjoy. The water is warm and calm, the waves gentle and great for swimming. Dolphins seem to enjoy Robberg 5 too, and can often be spotted frolicking in the waves. whale spotting in the winter months when the southern right whales visit

Where To Stay: Emily Moon

Top 10 Beach Destinations

7. Wilderness

Always a romantic spot with wild waves pounding a beach stretching almost to infinity, this has long been a favourite with lovers. Once the honeymoon is over, the tranquil lagoon will keep the kiddies fascinated. There are some great day hikes, boating on Island Lake and a range of eateries to choose from in the village.

Where To Stay: The Views

Top 10 Beach Destinations

8. Sodwana Bay

Explore a different side to South Africa at Sodwana, on the east coast between St. Lucia and Lake Sibhayi. Sodwana Bay is in the cultural heartland of KwaZulu Natal‘s Elephant Coast and is globally renowned for its biodiversity on land and below the ocean’s surface. There’s plenty to do here for visitors – kick back and soak up the sun on the beach or play beach bats or frisbee, or if you’re up for something more unique, there’s scuba diving, horse back trails, boat trips and turtle tours, to name a few. It can get a bit crowded in peak season but it’s worth a visit.

Where To Stay: Phinda Private Game Reserve or Tonga Beach Lodge

Sodwana Bay

9. Longbeach, Noordhoek

It’s away from the maddening crowd and you’re likely to only bump into a few horses trotting along the beachfront and long-haired locals taking a stroll with their pooches or kids. If you want some peace and quiet while you ‘beach’, Longbeach is a great option. It’s long and flat, and picturesque with Chapman’s Peak towering in the background and the Kommetjie Lighthouse peaking out in the south.

Where To Stay: Long Beach Last Word

View from Long Beach Last Word

10. Umhlanga

Umhlanga is fast becoming the hub of Durban on the East Coast– the promenade has been re-laid and there are luxury hotels aplenty to choose from, including the fabulous Beverly Hills and the new and spangly Oyster Box Hotel. Umhlanga Beach is great for sun bathing and light swimming. There are great restaurants and a relaxed seaside vibe, but our recommendation is a smaller, more intimate place just down the road…

Where To Stay: Teremok Marine

Other great beaches in the region include Bronze Beach and Ushaka Beach, which is popular as the waters are calm. For surfing, North Beach or Battery Beach on the Suncoast are good options.

Top 10 Beach Destinations

National Marine Week is celebrated every year in the 2nd week of October to create awareness on the marine and coastal environment, the promotion of sustainable use and conservation of these resources, for the benefit of all both present and future generations. Read more here.

TIP – Baz Luhrmann would agree… Wear sunscreen during summer to protect yourself from the harsh South African sun.

Book Your Trip! – If the wild shores of South Africa’s 3000kms of uninterrupted coastline tickle your fancy, contact one of our travel experts and we’ll help you book the beach holiday of a lifetime. Outside of South Africa, the continent is host to several other extraordinary beaches you’ve only ever dreamed of as well – such as in Mozambique for starters, with the Quirimbas ArchipelagoBook a holiday now so you have something to look forward to when the clocks go back!