Top 10 beaches in South Africa

South Africa isn't just about great game reserves and safaris; set amidst this stunning natural landscape are also some of the finest beaches in the world. Whilst it might not be on every beach lover's bucket list South Africa shouldn't be overlooked with its turquoise waters and pristine white sands; it's a beach destination that doesn't always receive the praise it deserves.

Boasting 3,000km of coastline lined with thousands of beaches from the famous Wild Coast in the east to the sun-drenched bays in the west, summer holidays in South Africa can be about both exploration and relaxation. And what's more is that many of these pristine beaches are also backed by breath-taking coastal hikes.

If it's long, unspoilt sandy beaches you're in search of then look no further than the West Coast. The Cape Peninsula juts out into the Atlantic Ocean and the nation's capital, Cape Town, forms part of this. Here you will find many great beaches including the popular stretch of sands at Clifton Beach. There is also the exclusive Camps Bay Beach which is backed by views of the Lion's Head mountain and Twelve Apostles. For something a little different there is Boulders Beach, home to a colony of penguins and at Grotto Beach there is some of the best whale watching to be had anywhere. Also along this coast is the Western Cape known as the Garden Route where you'll find popular Plettenberg Bay with great beaches in Robberg and Lookout backed by spectacular mountain views.

Durban is the main city on the KwaZulu-Natal coastline with South Beach and Durban's Golden Mile being the places to be along the golden sandy shores. Margate sits on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal and is a great family beach with its golden sands, palm trees and rock pools.

On South Africa's Eastern Cape you'll find a wide range of different beaches; from family friendly sands around port Elizabeth to the dramatic shore of the Wild Coast. Hobie Beach in Algo Bay has calm, clear and warm waters that make it the beach for watersports, while fascinating shipwrecks and rich coral reefs sit beneath the surface. This coast is also home to Jeffreys Bay, which during June and August produces some of the best surf on the planet.

In this region you'll also find the Wild Coast. Here are stunning secluded beaches that are backed by milkwood trees. Perhaps the most popular is here Mdumbe Beach near to Coffee Bay and is an unspoilt gem, often quiet and empty except for surfers on the beach.

  • Camps Bay // Western Cape

    Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa jborzicchi

    Camps Bay is without doubt Cape Town's premiere beach. Located in an upmarket suburb of this South African city, the beach here is as spectacular as it is popular. The palm fringed stretch of white sand that make up Camps Bay sits between the towering Lion's Head and equally imposing Twelve Apostles. This is the Atlantic coast and the ocean here... read more »

  • Clifton Beach // Western Cape

    Clifton Beach, South Africa Philip Massie

    Sitting right next door to Cape Town's other premiere beach (Camps Bay) is Clifton beach. The backdrop here is equally stunning with one of Cape Town's best known mountains, Lion's Head, rising up directly behind and the Twelve Apostles looming to the south. The sugar-white sand that forms Clifton is dived up into four, just about distinct,... read more »

  • Hout Bay // Western Cape

    Hout Bay Werner L

    Hout Bay (in English, it means 'Wood Bay') is a picturesque resort and fishing port that lies 25 kilometres (16 miles) south of the city of Cape Town. Surrounded by magnificent mountains on all but one side, Hout Bay backs onto the famous Table Mountain National Park to the north and majestic Chapman’s Peak range to the south. The dramatic... read more »

  • Coffee Bay // Eastern Cape

    Coffee Bay, South Africa matejh

    Coffee Bay is situated on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape and the beach's name in a way reflects this. The story goes that in 1893 a ship carrying coffee beans was driven ashore here during a storm. Somehow a fair few of these beans managed to take root and so the bay was named. Unfortunately you'll be wasting your time looking for said plants... read more »

  • Boulders Beach // Western Cape

    Boulders beach, Cape Town

    Situated on the western side of Cape Town's False Bay is the delightful sheltered cove of Boulders Beach. Crystal clear water meets soft white sand in a series of little "covelets" between enormous, weather worn granite boulders which date back half a billion years.

    Boulders is undoubtedly one of Cape Town's finest beaches, but that isn't why... read more »

  • Hobie Beach // Eastern Cape

    Hobie Beach, Port Elizabeth, South Africa Michael Jung

    Port Elizabeth's Hobie beach is considered one of the best on the so-called "Sunshine Coast", which sounds like a glowing endorsement to me! Apparently, along with mild winters, there are more sunny days over this way than anywhere else in South Africa.
    Whilst Hobie beach doesn't have the Blue Flag award some of its neighbours do, it has... read more »

  • Llandudno Beach // Western Cape

    Llandudno beach - Cape Town Gorillabutter / CC BY

    Set between Hout Bay and Camps Bay on Cape Town's Atlantic Seaboard, Llandudno Beach is only about 15 minutes from the city centre. Unsurprisingly, this is one of Cape Town's most popular beaches and is a particular favourite with families.The pretty little crescent of white sand that forms Llandudno beach is flanked by giant, weather-worn... read more »

  • Noordhoek // Western Cape

    Noordhoek Strand - Cape Town Abspires40 / CC BY

    Located at the foot of Chapman's Peak at the base of the Cape Peninsula are the expansive sands of Noordhoek beach. This picturesque stretch of sand runs for eight kilometre (5 mile) between the suburb of Noordhoek towards Kommetjie lighthouse.Given its wide, open and exposed nature it is often quite breezy at Noordhoek. This makes it a good... read more »

  • Scarborough // Western Cape

    Scarborough beach - South Africa SkyPixels / CC BY

    Sitting on Cape Town's exposed Atlantic Seaboard, at the base of the long finger-like peninsula which extends to the Cape of Good Hope, is the little beachside village of Scarborough. Despite being only a short drive from the city the beach here feels pretty wild and sits on the edge of the Cape Point Nature Reserve. The large swathe of white... read more »

  • Muizenberg // Western Cape

    Muizenberg beach huts

    Sitting at the western end of the huge curve of sand that make up False Bay, Muizenberg is rightfully one of Cape Town's best known beaches. The beach is around 200 metres of soft white sand which backs onto the laid back seaside town of Muizenberg.

    The sandy stretch which forms the northern shore of False bay itself goes on for ever. Well... read more »