8 Best Beaches for Travelers to South Africa

South Africa is world-renowned for its gorgeous weather (even in winter), and mind-blowingly stunning beaches. It’s right at the juncture of the wild, chilly Atlantic and the balmy, warm Indian Ocean.

You get the best of both ocean experiences if you travel along the coastline. If you booked a trip for a few MONTHS to the coastal tip of Africa, it wouldn’t be long enough to get the most out of exploring all its fascinating nooks and crannies.

But you’ve got to start somewhere, right? To help you plan your holiday, gap year travels, or volunteer trip to South Africa; here’s a list of a few beaches you should really try to make it to. We’ve listed them alphabetically, so there’s no favoritism!

1. Bloubergstrand

Translated in English to “blue mountain beach”, this beach boasts one of the world’s most iconic views – Table Mountain, planted right in the middle of what South Africans refer to as the Mother City.

Cape Town has lots of cool things for travelers to see and do, but there isn’t much better than this long beach with gentle waves, lots of beautiful white sand and a vast number of restaurants and bars nearby to sip a beverage or five, when you’ve had enough sun.

The only drawback? It can be pretty windy on some days, and the water isn’t the warmest. But unless you’re a real shrinking violet, it’s a fantastic place to spend a few hours.

cocktails blouberg travel

2. Camps Bay

This is another well-known Cape Town beach. It has stunning views of the Twelve Apostles mountain range, trendy upmarket nightlife, and attractive people from all over the world.

It’s been said that, of all the beachside cities in the world, Cape Town is second only to Rio de Janeiro for amazing scenery – natural AND human…

The only drawback? In season, the traffic can be a nightmare. But who cares, when the reason for the congestion is the big beautiful mountain right smack in the middle of the city!

camps bay apostles

3. Hobie Beach

OK, we said no favoritism. But Hobie, in Port Elizabeth, is right on the doorstep of the Khaya Volunteer Projects office and volunteer house, so we are pretty fond of it.

Hobie Beach is safe and warm for swimmers, kayakers,  jetski enthusiasts and of course Hobie Cat sailors. It’s also near to the pier, beachfront flea market and all the most popular restaurants, pubs and nightclubs.

The only drawback? On a hot sunny weekend afternoon, a LOT of people go to Hobie Beach. You’ll have to stake out your space in the sand. What a great way to make new friends, though!

hobie beach khaya

4. Jeffrey’s Bay

Older locals love to tell you that Jeffrey’s Bay, about 80km west of Port Elizabeth, used to be a sleepy little hippie-surfer-fishing town with a few modest houses and backpackers, and a pub or two.

Then it gained world fame as one of the top surf spots on earth, and developers swooped in to cash in on the tourist market. While it may have lost some rustic charm, it’s now a bustling resort town with all the conveniences but none of the hassle of its big-city neighbor. If you’re an avid surfer, June and July are the best months to visit.

The only drawback? The surf is pretty big there, of course. If you take care and swim in the designated areas with lifeguards on watch, you’ll be fine.

jeffreys bay surf travel

5. Plettenberg Bay

Plett, as it’s affectionately known, is a Western Cape town on the stunning Garden Route. It offers a huge range of different activities in the town and surrounds. Biking in the Tsitsikamma Forest, bungee jumping at Bloukrans, and just about anything adventurous that you can imagine.

It’s famous in South Africa for being the party destination of choice for school-leavers and students in December, so there’s a lot going on. Be sure to take your favorite hangover remedy along if you visit around that time.

The only drawback? It’s famous in South Africa for being the party destination of choice for school-leavers…

plett beach travel

6. Port Alfred

Port Alfred is a hidden gem in the Eastern Cape, about 150km east of Port Elizabeth. It’s an idyllic small town right in the middle of the area’s many game and nature reserves. It also has unspoilt, uncrowded beaches and rivers. Don’t forget to book a booze cruise up the Kowie River!

The only drawback? If you’re looking for nightlife and shopping, there’s not a lot happening. If you’re looking to have fun in nature, with the conveniences of a modern town when you want them, it’s the best South Africa has to offer.

kayak port alfred travel

7. Port St Johns

This is another unspoilt gem, on the very rural Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. It’s got a lush tropical climate, friendly locals, warm beaches, jungle walks complete with waterfalls, and diving. Here’s a cool video of the annual Sardine Run that takes place in PSJ.

The only drawback?  It’s rustic and relaxed, so you’ll be chilling by a fire with a bottle of wine instead of clubbing until dawn, I guess? Seriously, it’s really very hard to think of a drawback here…

port st johns travel

8. Sardinia Bay

Residents and visitors in Port Elizabeth are extremely fond of the Sacramento Trail. This is an easy hike of about 8km, there and back, along the rocky coastline from the beachside neighborhood of Schoenmakerskop to “Sards”.

Sards has rock pools to wallow in after the first half of your hike, and a fantastic long sandy beach.  It also has the famous Gűnter’s Wurst Wagen for a hot German sausage and a cold drink. If you're not the hiking type but feel like some adventure, there are riding schools in the vicinity that rent horses.

The only drawback? They don’t call Port Elizabeth the Windy City for nothing! But you can plan to do your walking in the morning, when there’s usually a lot less wind.

sardinia bay horses

These are only a very few of the beaches South Africa is renowned for. You’ll find that most South Africans are friendly and extremely proud of their country and what it has to offer, and really want to help you make the most of your holiday or volunteer trip.  

Make sure you get advice from locals about safety and how to get around. Most importantly –make sure you enjoy every second of your stay here!

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