When you first visit South Africa, be prepared to be knocked off your feet by the diversity of culture, the strength of the nation overcoming its past, and the general air of rebirth visible on every corner.
The thing that takes most people’s breath away however, is the incredibly striking and diverse landscapes. Wherever you look, the scenery is simply transcendent, from the Kalahari desert, to Cape Town’s Table Mountain and the rugged Wild Coast.
Surrounded by the Indian and the Atlantic Oceans, South Africa boasts some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. In no particular order, here are some of our favorites.
Coffee Bay, Eastern Cape
This tiny town is located around 155 miles (250 kilometers) south of Durban. Nestled among the rolling green hills, it overlooks the Indian Ocean and one of the most stunning beaches you are likely to encounter anywhere in the world. The waters surrounding it are full of marine life such as dolphins, whales and even Sea Horses. It’s by far one of my favorite beaches to spend the day, reclining in comfort. The spectacular cavity in a massive rock formation, aptly named “Hole in the Wall”, is a must-see.
Golden Mile, Durban
The Golden Mile’s name describes it perfectly. It winds along the coast with Durban’s impressive skyline in the background. Both the popular North and South Beach are part of this stretch, and there is a beautiful promenade with a plethora of attractions.
The pleasantly warm water of the Indian Ocean laps at the golden sands and the charming piers that dot the shore. Definitely a family friendly beach as well as a surfer’s paradise.
Sodwana Bay, KwaZulu Natal
Sodwana Bay is one of the most special places you could visit. Located higher up the coast, almost reaching Mozabique, the area is a national park of unprecedented beauty. The endless beaches consist of lonely sand dunes and subtropical Indian Ocean waters brimming with wildlife.
It is no wonder that this area is known as one of the best diving sites in the world, with its massive reefs accommodating thousands of different fish and coral species.
Kelly’s Beach, Port Alfred
Located in the Eastern Cape, Kelly’s Beach is a stunning Blue Flag beach in the small seaside town of Port Alfred. The water temperature is great for swimming year-round and the surf is gentle enough to suit families. What struck me most is the impeccable cleanliness and an overall serene vibe of this magical place.
If you want a truly quite beach getaway, without interruption, this is the one.
Llandudno, Cape Town
Llandudno is hidden in a little cove, away from the usual bustle of Cape Town. Being quite hidden between the mountains and surrounded by millionaire’s mansions this little suburb is known as one of the richest in SA.
The view of the surrounding mountains and Atlantic ocean are breathtaking, and with little to no tourists (but also not much in the way of beach amenities) it feels peaceful and secluded – the perfect place to relax and recharge. The beach is very popular with surfers, so if you feel like hitting the waves, this could be the ideal place.
Camps Bay, Cape Town
Camps Bay is the quintessential South African beach: located in a wealthy Cape Town suburb, with the impressive Table Mountain looming in the background, it is definitely a sight to behold. The sand is a dazzling white and the sea, a surreal, iridescent shade of blue.
This is one of the most popular beaches in South Africa, among locals and tourists alike. It is a Blue Flag beach, with all of the comforts and amenities. The shore is dotted with trendy cafés and bars.
It does tend to get a bit crowded though and the Cape water is a bit cold for most people.
Clifton, Western Cape
Clifton is actually not one, but four beaches in Cape Town, all similar, but still, each with its own characteristics.
Because of their position, none of them are troubled by the winds that can be problematic at other beaches. Like most of the city’s beaches, Clifton is blessed with immaculate white sand and clear water.
If you fancy a swim but find the Atlantic too cold, try heading to Strand. Perhaps because it is located in a bay, the ocean at Strand tends to be much warmer than at other Cape Town beaches.
Strand is especially popular among families with young children because the water is also shallow and calm.
Ballito, KwaZulu Natal
Like a lot of the other Indian Ocean beaches in South Africa, the beaches of this resort town are characterized by unusual yellow, almost reddish sand.
Don’t be surprised if you spot dolphins during your swim – the place is nicknamed Dolphin Coast because the beloved sea mammals love making an appearance. The town actually has a few beaches, some popular among the younger crowds, some for families, and some are ideal for surfing.
Tergniet, Western Cape
This hidden gem takes most visitors completely unawares on their way from Port Elizabeth to Mossel Bay. Perfect for those who are willing to stray from the beaten path, it will soothe your body, mind and soul with it’s simple, pristine natural charm. This is not a tourist destination, and you’ll have miles of powdery sand and gloriously warm water all to yourself.
South Africa is a country blessed with over 2500 kilometers of coastline.
The west coast has an untouched, wild beauty that is very hard to come by nowadays. All the way up to the Namibian border, there are miles upon miles of unspoilt and almost uninhabited coast, save for a few villages. Bear in mind that the waters of the Atlantic are significantly colder.
The Indian Ocean coastline has a completely different feel – much more touristy, probably due to the higher water temperatures and subtropical climate.
After your first visit, you will soon feel the pull of this enchanting country luring you back to its golden shores.