South African Beaches

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South Africa is half-way surrounded by the waters of Atlantic and Indian Ocean. It follows that the country has one beach, albeit a very long one: 3,751 kilometres long, to be precise.

Seriously, it would be a futile attempt to try to come up with a definite count of South African beaches. Furthermore, it would be just as futile to attempt to compile a ¿the best of South African beaches¿ list.

Instead, we offer here a short overview of some of the popular beaches in South Africa, in no particular order.

Clifton Beach: Aiming to see and to be seen? Head for Cape Town and Clifton Beach, surely the most glamorous in South Africa. Try not to ogle when faced with all those bronzed, well-toned bodies in skimpy designer swimwear.

Camps Bay: Also on the Atlantic Ocean is Camps Bay. Situated about 15 minutes drive from the centre of Cape Town, it is less ostentatiously glamorous but (according to some) more classy than Clifton Beach.

Boulders Beach: This one is for is if you¿d gladly trade glamour and class for an intimate contact with nature, which includes the sensation of absorbing the sun¿s rays surrounded by guano.  Situated on the Indian Ocean side, Boulders might be the most beautiful beach in South Africa. Pity the penguins got there first.

Muizenberg Beach: Famous for its multi-coloured changing rooms, Muizenberg beach is popular among surfers and weekend crowds.

Grotto Beach:  Would you like to engage in some whale-watching? Come to Hermanus, and while you are there bask on the white sands of the Grotto Beach.

Jeffrey's Bay: South Africa's premiere surfing spot. Enough said (if you are a surfer).

Bikini Beach: Mix with students from the nearby Stellenbosch University and enjoy a laid-back beach lifestyle.

Plettenberg Bay: One of South Africa's favourite holiday playgrounds. While holidays there, remember to visit the caves of Plettenberg Bay, poetically described as ¿the wrinkles in time, lined with ancient artefacts that date to the Middle Stone Age¿.

Margate: Imagine fun-seeking summer crowds around you, sand between your toes, warm waters of the Indian Ocean lapping around your ankles... Like it? Then wake up and book yourself a holiday in this popular Kwa Zulu Natal¿s South Coast resort. 

Umhlanga Rocks: Situated in Kwa Zulu Natal¿ North Coast, Umhlanga Rocks seems to be the destination of choice for families, plus surfers. The latter claim there¿s no better surfing spot on the whole KwaZulu-Natal coast.

Mtunzini Beach: Located in a beautiful natural setting of dune forest, coastal wetland, golden beaches, and tidal lagoon, this beach on Kwa Zulu Natal¿s North Coast offers a host of outdoor and sporting activities.

Mdumbe Beach: This is one of the Eastern Cape¿s Wild Coast jewels. If you are after (seemingly) un-trodden expanses of sands, far from the maddening crowds, this region of unspoiled beauty is for you.

Coffee Bay: Also on the Wild Coast, Coffee Bay is a magnet for surfers and backpackers. Also famous for the Hole in the Wall, an offshore stack of rock through which the elements have eroded a hole.

Humewood Beach: Close to the famous Garden Route, this Port Elizabeth beach is safe for swimming.

Pollock Beach: The lovely Pollock Beach in Port Elizabeth has shallow rock pools that trap sea life at high tide. Perfect for beachcombers and budding naturalists!


South African beaches are truly a feast to the eyes, a place for relaxation, and a place for engaging in a variety of activities and water sports. Many of the major beaches are monitored by lifeguards and are protected with shark nets. Visitors to deserted beaches need to be extra cautious, both in the water and on solid ground (from human predators).

Whichever beach you choose, remember to apply sunscreen (often) and to wear a hat. Also, be aware that it is illegal to drink alcohol on South African beaches and that the new tobacco act may also prohibit smoking on beaches.

The fact that the Atlantic Ocean is always several degrees colder than the Indian Ocean may also influence your choice of the perfect beach.

There is one more consideration to take into account. South African coastline is positioned in such a way that the sun sets into the Atlantic Ocean, and rises from the Indian Ocean. So, if you are planning a romantic holiday with a view of dramatic sunsets, you know which side to choose!


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