Everyone loves a little beach time. Especially in summer. And let’s face it, South Africa’s coastline, with its small seaside towns dotted along the way, is abundantly – above and beyond – brimming with natural eco-diverse beauty from the Wild Coast to the West Coast
And whatever you fancy your salty seaside adventure to bring to the table, whether its warm water, stormy seas, deserted beaches, prolific marine life, surfers’ dream waves or geological wows, you will find it all. In fact, 45 beaches boast the Blue Flag status in South Africa, an international eco-symbol of quality for beaches meeting a standard of excellence in safety, environmental management and more.
Grab your beach towel and have a whale of a time as you explore these coastal seaside towns in the land of sand, sea and fun in the sun.
12 LEKKER Seaside Towns :
Wave the bustling city with its bright lights adieu and head to Northern KwaZulu Natal, to Sodwana Bay, where you’ll find yourself between sub-tropical forest-covered dunes and the warm Indian Ocean. Sodwana Bay lies in the Great St Lucia Wetlands Park, and with its rock pools and incredible coral reef – the only tropical dive site in the country – it is the perfect getaway for fishing enthusiasts and scuba divers.
Don’t miss out on: Explore the wonders down under and go scuba diving; visit the beach, go snorkelling, spot whales and go on a boat tour to do some deep-sea fishing. Don’t miss out on the chance to visit South Africa’s first World Heritage Site, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, where you can go birdwatching, horseback riding, kayaking, do a game drive, estuary boat cruise or guided walk, and witness the nesting rituals of Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles, and the hatchlings making their way to the sea between November and March every year.
Stay the night and find your perfect seaside accommodation in Sodwana Bay.
Its beach is considered one of the best for swimming on the South Coast. There is a lagoon and even a waterfall. What is not to like? Uvongo caters to the whole family with its sheltered and shark-netted beach, and there is a plethora of kid-friendly things to do in the area with a variety of restaurants.
Don’t miss out on: Get wet, swim, surf, go scuba diving or throw in a line at one of the popular fishing spots.Discover Uvongo River Nature Reserve, a haven for bird watchers with walking trails and picnic spots. If you want to travel inland, don’t forget to visit the scenic Oribi Gorge where you can go white water rafting and abseiling.
Stay the night and find your perfect seaside accommodation in Uvongo.
Coffee Bay is situated in a remote part of the Wild Coast, abound with traditional Xhosa huts, rolling green hills, raw beauty and sweeping vistas, towering cliffs and sunbathing Nguni cows. It is this scenic beauty, with its beaches and waves beckoning surfers closer, a slice of the simple life and the magnificent natural arch – Hole in the Wall – that draws visitors time and again.
Don’t miss out on: Get some surfing lessons, visit the Hole in the Wall (by car or via a hike), explore the Mapuzi Caves, immerse yourself in Xhosa culture and look out for the Wild Coast’s celebrities: Nguni cows on the beach. Venture further up the coast and visit the blowhole at Port St Johns or travel inland to Mthatha and learn more about the life of Madiba at the Nelson Mandela Museum.
Stay the night and find your perfect seaside accommodation in Coffee Bay.
Morgan Bay is less than an hour from East London, and a postcard-perfect destination that will have you sign “I wish you were here” in no time with its magnificent cliffs, a mile-long beach, prolific bird life and riverine forests. For many Morgan Bay is also the gateway to the Wild Coast when they cross the river with the Key Mouth pont (ferry), one of South Africa’s three remaining car-transporting pontoons.
Don’t miss out on: With a 1.6 km long sandy beach there’s plenty to do such as swimming, fishing, kite flying, surfing, horseback riding and more. Explore the Morgan Bay Cliffs at sunset, or on a hiking trail and abseil down the dolerite rocks. Go on a treasure hunt at Double Mouth Nature Reserve where carnelian beads, money cowries and shards of broken Ming porcelain from a ship that ran aground in the 17th century, can still be spotted. And visit the Motorcycle Museum, home to Billy Nel’s private collection which also includes a Corvair 880 passenger jet.
Stay the night and find your perfect seaside accommodation in Morgan Bay.
Kenton-on-Sea is situated along the Sunshine Coast and regardless of the season, the area boasts the most recorded hours of sunshine in South Africa, making it beach day (almost) every day. Plus, it wears the badge ‘barefoot capital’ proudly. This charming seaside village, hemmed by the estuaries of the Boesmans River and Kariega River, allows you to sit back and enjoy life’s simpler pleasures.
Don’t miss out on: Apart from the beaches, and Shelly Beach which is one of the best secret beaches in the world, there are plenty of activities to feed your adventurous soul. You can go sandboarding, horseback riding, fat biking or mountain biking, visit one of the nearby private game reserves for a safari and spend some time on the river on a canoe, SUP or sundowner cruise.
Stay the night and find your perfect seaside accommodation in Kenton-on-Sea.
Wax on, wax off. This is Jeffreys Bay, or as locals refer to it: JBay. And here the surf is always up. JBay is home to endless hours of fun in the sun and world-renowned for its perfect right-hand point break which – if conditions allow – can be ridden for over a kilometre. During the year it is quiet and peaceful, surfing competitions draw big crowds with every event and in December, this one-traffic-light town, bursts with holiday feet and beach spirit.
Don’t miss out on: Go surfing, and if you can’t there is no time like the present to sign up for some surfing lessons. Dryland activities include horseback riding on the beach, visiting a brewery, hanging out in one of the many eateries and coffee shops in town, shopping at the popular surf brands’ factory outlets, sandboarding and tandem skydiving. A few kilometres from JBay is Cape St. Francis, another popular surfing spot, and home to Seal Point Lighthouse.
Stay the night and find your perfect seaside accommodation in Jeffreys Bay.
If you blink, you might miss Nature’s Valley as this hamlet requires you to detour off the beaten N2-path. Nature’s Valley marks the end for South Africa’s most popular hiking route, the five-day Otter Trail, and it is laid-back at its best. Here you will only find only one shop and one restaurant, and you can spend your days exploring the forest and its orchids, relaxing on the beach or having a picnic next to the lagoon.
Don’t miss out on: Go for epic long walks on the beach, do one of the hiking trails, take a canoe to the lagoon and visit Nature’s Way Farm Stall for a range of delicious dairy products. Head towards Plettenberg Bay for wine tasting, hike Robberg Nature Reserve and visit Birds of Eden and Monkeyland, a primate sanctuary.
Stay the night and find your perfect seaside accommodation in Nature’s Valley.
Keurboomstrand is another seaside secret along the coast of South Africa that will gently force you off the main route that leads into Plettenberg Bay. While it might be busy with holidaymakers looking to pitch their beach umbrellas during peak season, the long sandy stretches are rather empty otherwise, with a few fishermen here and there.
Don’t miss out on: Find solitude at the quiet Keurbooms Beach, while the busier Plettenberg Bay – with its sandy stretches, shops, restaurants, wineries, the Robberg Nature Reserve and ocean adventures – is just a short drive away. There’s also Keurbooms River Nature Reserve where you can explore the river via boat or canoe, you can also fish, swim and do bird watching.
Stay the night and find your perfect seaside accommodation in Keurboomstrand.
Buffels Bay, better known as Buffs by locals (or Buffelsbaai and Buffalo Bay) is located in the Goukamma Marine Reserve, hidden away from the holiday rush of Knysna. Slide into sunny seaside silence, let the beach wow the sand off your feet during sunrise and watch out for humpback dolphins often frolicking nearby.
Don’t miss out on: The laid-back beach at Buffels Bay can result in hours of fun; swim, surf, fish and explore the Goukamma Nature Reserve on a hiking trail or with a canoe. Knysna is just 20 km away, go on a boat cruise through the Heads to spot whales, shop at the Waterfront and head into the Knysna Forest to find out more about the woodcutters’ history. Head out to the Wild Oats Market in Sedgefield, happening every Saturday.
Stay the night and find your perfect seaside accommodation near Buffels Bay.
Arniston, also known as Waenhuiskrans, is the only town in South Africa with two official names. Kassiesbaai, its neighbour, is believed to be the last authentic fishing village in South Africa, with some being 6th and 7th generation fishermen. Beaches, whales, adventure and seafood that is off the hook, are only a drop in the ocean of what can be expected in this small seaside settlement.
Don’t miss out on: Grab your backpack and put on your Indiana Jones hat as you hike to the Waenhuiskrans Cave, and there is also the Sterna Hiking Trail. Don’t leave Arniston without visiting the fishing village Kassiesbaai. Head to the Southernmost tip of Africa at Cape Agulhas, where the Indian and Atlantic Ocean meet; it is less than 50 km from Arniston and you can hike, go up in the lighthouse and see some shipwrecks.
Stay the night and find your perfect seaside accommodation in Arniston.
In Paternoster life revolves around the sea, and it is evident in the colourful fishing boats – the muse for many an artist – that are lined up on the beach. It is one of the oldest fishing villages and with its quaint authentic white-washed cottages, incredible fresh seafood and unique creative finds, it is a seaside escape that will leave you in quiet contemplation for more.
Don’t miss out on: The water might be cold for a swim butdip your toes into the ocean or go out on a kayak. Wander along the picturesque beach, camera in hand and go to the Cape Columbine Lighthouse in the Columbine Nature Reserve where you can go birding and see the spring flowers. Don’t leaving without feasting on fresh seafood and making a stop at quaint farm stalls such as Paternoster se Padstal, Die Winkel op Paternoster and Oep ve Koep. Find a unique piece of art at one of the many local art and craft centres, galleries and potteries.
Stay the night and find your perfect seaside accommodation in Paternoster.
Kleinzee, just 60 km from Port Nolloth, used to be a thriving mining town but nowadays it appears to be more of a ghost town. However, being on the ‘shipwreck and daisies route’ – a perfect wild flower getaway in the season of spring – this town, with its deserted beach, diamond tales and that typical Northern Cape mystery looming in the air, is a coastal gem worth exploring.
Don’t miss out on: There is a deserted beach, perfect for a stroll, and the Kleinzee Museum covers the history of diamond mining, the natural environment and the history of people in the area. If you are a lighthouse chaser, go to the Hondeklipbaai and Port Nolloth Lighthouse – the most modern lighthouse on the western side of South Africa. You can also do the Shipwreck 4×4 Trail, it is a 37 km one-way route between Koingnaas in the south and Kleinzee in the north.
Stay the night and find your perfect seaside accommodation in Kleinzee.