20 Of The Best Beaches in South Africa

We recently asked our fans on Facebook what they thought were the best beaches in South Africa. We had quite a large number of responses and had votes for spots all the way up the West Coast to the wild, subtropical dunes of northern KZN. Here are the 20 receiving the most votes from our sun, sea and sand worshippers:

 

20: Umhlanga

One of KZN’s most popular beaches for locals and holiday-makers alike, the warm Indian Ocean draws millions the world over to Umhlanga’s gorgeous golden sands. It doesn’t hurt that the town has great nightlife, hotels and shopping too!

Umhlanga beach - 20 Best South African BeachesSource: Mark Schoombee

19. Hobie Beach

Port Elizabeth has a wealth of stunning beaches and Hobie Beach is one of the best, especially considering its location, near to all the most popular restaurants, the casino and hotels. The flat beaches of “the Windy City” are hugely popular with sailing enthusiasts with the eponymous Hobie Cat being a firm favourite here.

Hobie Beach - - 20 Best South African BeachesSource: Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism

18. Bloubergstrand

Home to one of the most iconic views in the world, Cape Town’s Bloubergstrand is a lovely spot to ogle at one of the New 7 Wonders of the world – Table Mountain. The long beach has gentle waves, lots of beautiful white sand and many restaurants and bars nearby to sip a sundowner and kiss your worries goodbye.

Blouberg Beach - 20 Best South African BeachesSource: Qimago

17. Gonubie

East London is not the first place you generally think of when looking for a great beach town, but the Buffalo City and surrounding towns are full of stunning sandy stretches. The town of Gonubie is set on the river with the same name, and the beach can be found at the mouth of the river as it enters the warm Indian Ocean. With hillsides covered in lush vegetation and only a few houses peeking through, you would hardly know that you were a mere 10km from the city.

Gonubie Beach - 20 Best South African BeachesSource: Danie van der Merwe

16. Plettenberg Bay

Okay, so while Plettenberg Bay doesn’t have just one beach, this Western Cape Town does offer a lot for a range of different interests. Beaches like Keurboomstrand and Robberg offer long quiet walks while Central Beach is great for families with lifeguards on duty in season and loads of activities to keep everyone busy.

Plettenberg Bay - 20 Best South African BeachesSource: Rian Botha

15. Buffels Bay

Another Western Cape gem, this often forgotten about beach is just a stone’s throw from busy Knysna and is a great place to escape the stresses of daily life. The long beach stretches some 5km between the village of Buffels Bay and Brenton on Sea and is part of the Goukamma Nature reserve. Keep a lookout for dolphins in late winter and spring!

Buffels Bay - 20 Best South African BeachesSource: Andrew C Russell

14. Durban, South Beach

Another great one which needs no introduction, Durban’s South Beach is right in the heart of the city’s famous beachfront, and is a great spot for swimming or just lazing about people watching.

Durban South Beach - 20 best beaches in South AfricaSource: Alwin Murugen

13. Strand

What could be better than a beach simply called “beach”? Well, meet Strand, technically a suburb of Cape Town, the town itself looks like a mini-Dubai with its skyscrapers and its own Burj al-Arab lookalike. The beach is wonderful for kids, its incredibly flat and the water is often unusually warm for Cape Town.

Strand beach - 20 Best South African BeachesSource: Bonjerdo on Flickr

12. Paternoster

Also home to a few beaches, this West Coast fishing village is the definition of quaint. Popular with Capetonians looking to escape the hecticness of their lazy craft-beer swigging city lives, Paternoster is just about 2 hours from Central Cape Town. The beach is long, flat and usually devoid of much human life making it ideal for unwinding and catching your breath.

Paternoster Beach - 20 Best South African BeachesSource: Chrisfoxinc

11. Ballito

KZN’s Dolphin Coast may be rockier than the Hibiscus Coast in the south but what it lacks in big open space it makes up for in festive atmosphere and probably more importantly great surf conditions – no wonder then that the annual Mr Price Pro surfing contest is held here.

Ballito Beach - 20 best South African beachesSource: Mr Price

10. Diaz Beach, Mossel Bay

Come December there may be more people on this beach than are left in the whole of Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Northwest, Limpopo and the Free State combined, but they come for a very good reason! The amazingly warm water, the flat, rock-free beach and gentle waves make Diaz a firm favourite for many.

Diaz Beach, Mossel Bay - 20 best beaches in South AfricaSource: hostels.com

9. Sodwana Bay

Northern KZN is something special, those long wild swathes of coppery sand flanked on one side by lush sub-tropical forest-covered dunes, and on the other by the balmy Indian Ocean. Sodwana is probably the crown jewel in the province’s ribbon of beautiful beaches and is ever popular with 4x4ers, fisherman and really anyone wanting to get as far away from the bright city lights as one can get in KZN.

Sodwana Bay - 20 best South African beachesSource: hyper7pro

8. Muizenberg

No surprises here! Muizenberg’s wide, flat, white sandy beach is popular with all sorts of people. It’s great for kids since the waves which break on the shore are rather small, it’s great for surfers too as further out some bigger waves break and the town has grown quite the reputation as one of the best places in the world to learn how to surf.

Muizenberg Beach - 20 best beaches in South AfricaSource: Steve Crane

7. Cape Vidal

Another Northern KZN beach and Cape Vidal really is a mighty sight to behold. This wild beach right next to Lake St Lucia and is an adventure lover’s dream. ‘Nuff said!

Cape Vidal - 20 best beaches in South AfricaSource: jvdmeij

6. Gordon’s Bay

Gordon’s Bay has 2 main beaches and offers some great variety for visitors. The beach in the centre of town is wide, flat and great for kids wanting to wade or paddle in the warm water (warm for Cape Town). The second beach is Bikini Beach, next to the naval harbour; it’s smaller but more popular with students coming down from Stellenbosch – there are plenty of bronzed beach bodies to check out here!

Gordon's Bay - 20 best South African beachesSource: slack12

5. Clifton

Cape Town’s famous Clifton beach is actually a set of 4 beaches, creatively named 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. This is a great retreat when the wind is howling elsewhere on summer days and it’s almost entirely wind-free. It’s a great spot to watch the sun set, both in summer and in winter.

Clifton beach, Cape Town sunset - 20 best beaches in South AfricaSource: Nick Paul

4. Nahoon

You may be surprised to see this East London beach at number 4, but there’s a reason it’s the city’s most popular beach. Whether it’s lazing on the soft sand, swimming in the warm Indian Ocean, surfing some of the epic waves or taking a stroll on the boardwalk through the dunes, this is a beach which won’t disappoint.

Nahoon beach boardwalk - 20 best South African beachesSource: Buffalo City Tourism

3. North Beach, Durban

Bodyboarders, beach bums and skaters, Durban’s North Beach is what it is: the king of holiday beaches. Also how epic is this night shot?

North Beach Durban - 20 best beaches in South AfricaSource: Chothia

2. Santos Beach, Mossel Bay

Yes, another Mossel Bay beach, and it’s at number 2. This one is hugely popular with local tourists. Why? There’s quaint little tram, you can stay in a train carriage on the beach, there’s an old Victorian pavilion and a wonderful stretch of sand slung across a bay which is warm and great for a nice long swim.

Santos Beach Mossel Bay - 20 best beaches in South AfricaSource: Hostel World

1. Camps Bay

If Durban’s North Beach is the King of Beaches, Camps Bay would be the Emperor, getting into number 1 spot with a landslide of votes, there are plenty of reasons why this is SA’s most popular spot. Sip on a cocktail at any one of the trendy spots like the iconic Caprice Bar, grab an ice-cream at Sinful and gawk at the bodies playing volleyball on the sand. Sandwiched in between the spectacular 12 Apostles and the sparkling Atlantic Ocean, the postcard picture image of Cape Town, is Camps Bay.

Camps Bay Cape Town - 20 best beaches in South Africa

 

Our Readers Comments

  1. Waar is Jeffreys baai????????

    • Jay Bay is just windy and hot.

    • I think you should have rather let people vote and then get the top 20 from there. Jeffreys bay, Stormsriver mouth, Wilderness, Tshani Coffee Bay……. that’s just some of the great beaches that’s not even mentioned. I used to live in Gordon’s bay. The wind is terrible. Here’s a couple of beaches on the list that def don’t deserve to be mentioned. Great sunset photos doesn’t make a beach better that others

  2. Tourism attraction places, accommodations and promotions

  3. Stunning, but left out the ‘wild coast’

    • You could fill this entire list with wild coast beaches.

    • PLEASE leave out the Wild Coast. That way it’s beaches will remain the best in the world. Can you imagine what they would look like with skyscrapers etc?

  4. beaCHES

  5. This list is seriously bad. Strand? Bloubergstrand? Those beaches are teeeeeeeeeeeeeerrible.

    No Coffee Bay? No Herholds Bay?
    Koeel Bay is 1000x better than Gordons Bay and just down the road.
    Santos? Really?

    I’m not even sure if this list is serious or even done by someone who has been to these beaches.

  6. What about Hamburg, Eastern Cape

  7. What about Klienmond

    • interesting, is that you Faizel Jassat?

  8. He he! I see EL made it twice onto the list. So many people have no idea what beautiful beaches we have here… Chintsa, Yellow Sands… the list goes on.

    • Shush Todger, let’s keep it a secret a little longer hey? :-)

  9. There are some good one’s,yet so many not on the list. Jeffery’s Bay,Vic Bay,Herholdt’s Baai,Coffee Bay,West Coast National Park,Gansbaai,Mtunzini etc etc

  10. Durban, twice, really?? The beaches are so polluted and the front is just beggars, pickpockets and thieves. No mention of the wild coast which has the longest stretch of completely unspoiled beach.

  11. Most os these are sunbathing beaches only. Imagine swimming at Camps Bay

  12. Wild Coast has the best beaches in the land and is not on this list

  13. Am from Gonubie. I feel proud that Gonubie is on the list and East London is represented twice!. I totally agree Gonubie beach deserves to be on the list. Its a beautiful, family beach, former blue star and comes alive during the holiday seasons. Very safe and fun to swim in both the river and the ocean

  14. Chintsa – hard to beat. Coffee Bay also missing from the list. Both beautiful beaches and plenty activity at this time of the year with the sardines.. Hundreds of dolphins and whales daily

  15. You left out Still Bay, Western Cape – beautiful beaches here also what about The Wilderness?

  16. There are much better beaches elsewhere in South Africa. The entire Wild Coast was omitted and that region has stunning beaches that are great for sunbathing and warm enough to swim in….Coffee Bay, Cintsa to name just a couple.
    Cape Town certainly has some wonderful beaches but, swimming is almost impossible.

    Durban beaches although right in the city are not exactly great unless you are willing to overlook the pollution and beggers.

    South Africa has so many more wonderful beaches than some of the ones mentioned on this list. Some on this list are deserved, others not so much.

    • Yes, I agree. Beautiful beaches in the Cape but only for sunbathing.
      Gordon’s Bay….. What??? Last I was there, together with tourists, we had chicken bones float past us in the water.
      Spent wonderful holidays on the Wild Coast. Nothing like it. Clean, clean, clean….

  17. WHAT ABOUT SANDY BAY????

  18. Seriously this is what you guys come with.Hole in the wall Coffee bay we can go on and on ..

  19. You left out Kleinemonde East and West north of Port Alfred……The most amazing and stunning beach!

  20. Reeeeaalllyyyy???? Subjective selection I would say!! What critera is used to come to such conclutions???

  21. Where is Builders beach??

    • Kalk Bay
      SA’s No 1 !!!

  22. There are hundreds of beaches in the Transkei that are better than all those beaches put together.
    Not one of those beaches would be in my top 10 and I have been to them all…

  23. why is everyonr getting so worked up.. i think its a great top 20!!

  24. This post makes me lus for a Garden route road trip! But alas I shall settle for lazying and gazing (Durban) on South Beach…

  25. This list is a joke…. Please remove this article and save yourself from further embarrassment.

  26. Where us fish hoes?

  27. Seems you missed the very best beach in SA – Cape St Francis. Warm water, superb waves. Certainly beats any Durban beach. Maybe your editor should travel a bit more.

  28. Good thing you left out Coffee bay and a whole bunch of undisturbed beaches alongthe Eastern Cape!

  29. What about all those long stretches of beach between hamburg and Fish Rivers, Bira, Mgwalana, Mtati, Mpekweni, Old Womens, etc etc.About 30km of unspoilt and endless safe beaches.

  30. Nick Paul…..you need to up your standards considerably……or you have not been to many beaches in SA………

  31. Mtunzini aka Zini really is one of those untouched, almost unheard of beaches. Always quiet and clean golden sands. My favourite beach to go to for a get away holiday. Not sure how north beach and strand made it onto this list…

  32. Agree this list is not the best. Everyone has their favourites for one reason or another. I just feel the entire coast from Amanzimtoti to East London was ignored…and there are incredible beaches in that stretch of coastline.

  33. This list is awful. How Llandudno in Cape Town didn’t make it here… how Durban Beach and Blouberg did… come on. And PE and EL?? Umhlanga ranking lowest on this list? Poor tourists.

  34. And how come Llandudno is not there?? It’s my favorite Cape Town beach.

  35. I have discovered another gem, Dias Beach at Cape Point, secluded but with the most amazing backdrop of cliffs…simply stunning!!

  36. Been to 14, 6 to go, and then could probably make a list of another top 20. S.A. inundated with awesome beaches

  37. Jeffreys Bay and Kogel bay should definitely be on this list.

  38. Nice photoshopping of Bikini Beach; Was it a sunset or sunrise toward the South???

  39. Strand and Gordonsbay?? Worst beaches – poluted, overcrowded and very cold water. Struisbaai has 23 km of unspoilt warm water and is a fisherman’s haven. Margate?

  40. North beach is the best i agree with your list

  41. I am surprised that Cape St Francis hasnt made the list or Oyster bay as they both vast and beautiful…but Blouberg? I have seen a used pad lying on that beach amoung other rubbish, so very surprised there

  42. What about Alkantstand in Richards Bay?

  43. Remember these beaches were voted for by others. Classic example of the democratic process in action. The most popular choice is not always the best….

  44. Glad you kept the best beaches off the list. This way they will be hopefully be protected.

  45. This is a really bad list, and why would we be “surprised” to see that east london has great beaches? Its got some of the best!

  46. Those complaining about the results… you should have voted. Probably the same people that complain because JZ is president.

  47. @Thea, please check your facts, nothing wrong with the Bikini beach pic. Totally agree with Jeanette, the fewer people know of the best beaches, the better chance it will remain unspoilt.

  48. It is a matter of opinion seem the author is trying to drum up business for some or other hotel group – so many commercial beaches AND so many are polluted remnants of their past glory -go sit on the beach at Blouberg the Strand or any of the Durban beaches run your hands through the sand and in less than 30 seconds you will find all manner of rubbish remnants -try these -natures valley ,the plaat STRUISBAAI ( longest uninterrupted white sand beach in the Southern Hemisphere ,the plaat in Hermanus ,Oyster bay ,hole in the wall,St Lucia, cape of good hope in KZN,the beach other side langebaan lagoon.Gamtoos river mouth,Witsands,Arniston etc etc etc and guess what no time share or chain store hotels in sight .

  49. Natures valley???

  50. There is a lovely beach at Sedgefield near Knysna.

  51. dd ot+

  52. Brown’s Beach in Simonstown
    If you can find it
    SA ‘s best beach

  53. What about JBay jefferies bay

  54. I agree with all of your beaches but you also need to travel between East London and Durban to discover the beautiful beaches of the eastern coast line. Morgan Bay is unspoilt and beautiful and stunning. Chintsa is another unspoilt, long and beautiful beach on the eastern coast.

  55. Sedgefield is Blessed with 5 magnificent Beaches within this small town. Would be great to see one of them on this list.

  56. I like it for sodwana bay this beutful ocean ever .more aquatic animals and attractive corals

  57. Sorry, but how in heavens does Umhlanga Beach come in at 20 but Durbans North and South beaches get prime favourite positions? They’re alright but nothing like Umhlanga. Switch North Beach with Umhlanga and it’s a more accurate point of view.

  58. Cape St Francis is picteresque pretty and Oyster Bay unspoilt and wild, but I would not want them on this list, since more people will then go there…

  59. Stunning pictures of our SA beaches. It would be impossible to judge the best one.

  60. when you say best beaches I’m guessing you mean best looking in photo’s.. because Durban North beaches are Kak, full of oil and not great swimming, Camps bay is gorgeous but you can’t even swim and the Strand? no, come on.. so let us be honest these cannot be taken seriously as the best beaches. The fact that Plett is below Durban is just astounding,the fact that the Wild coast doesn’t feature is also astounding. There are so many great beaches but I think one has to look at all factors and not just which one looks better in the photo.

  61. What about Blackrock & Rocktail Bay?

  62. And the biggest omission is Struisbaai – the longest uninterrupted sand beach in the Southern hemisphere – 14 km’s of nothing but beach! Great swimming and excellent fishing – and a fantastic safe walk

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