My family has never been particularly avid beach-goers. We went occasionally throughout my childhood, but the trips were far and few between, preferring instead to go on camping trips and hikes, and I loved all of those trips as a child. However, this year, I’ve gotten to live near the ocean for the first time in my life and have made the fairly easy transition into a beach loving human, so I wanted to do a post on beaches in South Africa that way I could share some of my favourites.
Camps Bay is likely the beach visited by the most tourists in Cape Town. You can take a mini bus from Cape Town straight to the ocean for like R6 and its usually packed with sunbathers under hired umbrellas. There are never very many people swimming, its always freezing and therefore most people avoid the water as much as they can. However it doesn’t get as much wind as Muizenberg does which makes it a nice place to read and sleep. Behind the beach, there is a street full of seafood restaurants and shops to grab a sundowner and explore. It lies between Lion’s Head and Table Mountain, and you can see it from Lion’s Head really well on your way up.
This beach lies near Nordhoek and took a while to find so if you want to check it out I suggest you get better directions then we did. It’s massive, and you walk over some dunes to get to it. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t very nice when we went there, but on the plus side, it was great shots and I had a great time hanging out with some surfers I met from Hawaii.
I spent my Christmas break at Onrus with some friends who worked as life guards employed by the city. While I didn’t surf here, the boogie boarding was tons of fun, and they had record high waves this summer. Some of them reached close to 8 meters which kept the lifeguards busy. Instead of the day after Christmas being Boxing Day, here it’s Beach Day. And it was PACKED. I also spent New Year’s on this beach, and it was great to be out there with hundreds of other people and big beautiful lanterns being launched into the air. Everyone counted down to midnight, and the water was warm enough we even went for a swim post-midnight.
Jeffrey’s Bay is a surf destination that is regarded as having one of the best right hand point breaks in the world, and is home to the Billabong PRO ASP World Tour every year. I am not the greatest surfer so I stuck mostly to the beach pictured below. Lessons were cheap and there is a huge number of discounted factory shops from RipCurl to Billabong in town. It’s a quiet sleepy place with sick surf and the hostel was a ton of fun to just hang around and meet people. The water here is much warmer than in Cape Town, and was 20+C the entire week I was there. Best surfing is in winter though, so check it out if you can get there between June-August.
West Coach National Park
Located on the west coast of the continent this dreamy beach was a wonderful day trip out of Cape Town. It’s about a two hour drive away through mostly uninhabited countryside, we passed several species of antelope and ostriches as we drove in. The bottom picture is of the ocean coast, and the picture with me walking towards the boats is on the lagoon side where the water is much warmer and calmer.
This was my favourite beach, mostly because there were huge granite boulders next to it that you could climb. Situated nearish Hout Bay, its a tiny secluded beach with hard surf (and frankly hard climbing). The water is freezing, but it’s kind of an amazing place to spend a day and gets overlooked by a lot of tourists for the more popular (and not as nice) Camps Bay and Clifton beaches.
** for those interested in climbing here the guide can be found online: Bouldering Guide
I went out with some friends to visit Cape Agulhas for a weekend and to get a chance to go to the Southern Most Point of Africa. The trip was tons of fun, and we got to see massive sting rays as well! Which was pretty incredible on its own. The beach was spacious and the water was pretty warm. You could walk straight along it to a dock where they bring in all of the fish from the boats in big green boxes. It was super busy and smelled of fish and fresh blood, but I love old boats and it was definitely a favorite spot of mine.
Some random Sting Ray Facts:
- Distant cousin of sharks
- Belong to the Batoidea family (cartilaginous fish family)
- Eyes lie on top of their heads so they have to rely on smell and electroreceptors to sense their prey.
- Their stings are almost never fatal and instead generally just result in a really painful cut/sore.
- The sting ray above is a Smooth Sting Ray and they can weigh up to 770 lbs and measure up to 6 feet in diameter, and 14 feet long.