Ranging from the West Coast's wild, deserted, sun-bleached stretches of snow-white sand to the sub-tropical, coral-fringed, forest-backed beaches of Maputaland, South Africa has a beach for every reason.
Fringing the cities of Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, there are long stretches of unspoiled coast - and, of course, fun
urban beaches that offer every conceivable convenience.
Boulders Beach offers the very best swimming and a possible sub-aqua visit by a curious penguin as a bonus. In Port Elizabeth, Hobie Beach is good for buzz and burger bars, while Sardinia Bay offers miles of virtually deserted snow-white sand.
East London has some very popular beaches virtually right in the city, but only a few kilometres away you’ll find some practically deserted ones. And the whole city of Durban is really just a life support system for the beach.
Blue Flag Beaches
These are: water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety and services.
What this means is that a Blue Flag beach is guaranteed to be clean, safe and environmentally-friendly. The programme is overseen by the World Environment Society of South Africa and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. So far South Africa has eight Blue Flag beaches. In the Western Cape - Lookout Beach in Plettenberg Bay and Grotto Beach in Hermanus, both of which are also fantastic whale and/or dolphin watching destinations.
In the Eastern Cape, Humewood Beach in Port Elizabeth flies the flag. KwaZulu-Natal heads the list with five blue flag beaches, namely Margate Main Beach, Marina Beach at San Lameer and Ramsgate Beach all on the South Coast; Durban's South Beach, and Willard Beach in Ballito on the North Coast.
It's a set menu with an optional helping of crayfish (lobster) costing extra. Patrons are usually served a fish or mussel soup, grilled fish, fish stew, mussels, and whatever else happens to be fresh from the sea. Fresh bread baked on the fire with homemade jam and a bit of salad are the only relief from an almost intimidating procession of fishy dishes. Most people make a whole day of this and wander down to the sea for a quick dip between courses. This option is only available in summer. Of course, almost all the coastal cities have more "normal" restaurants either on or overlooking the beach many of which serve excellent seafood.
the most popular coastal hike is the Otter Trail through the Tsitsikamma
National Park crossing steep-sided rivers where they disgorge into
the sea and traversing cliff-top fynbos and coastal forest. This is a spectacularly
scenic trail but quite a strenuous one.
Situated at the end of a massive continent, South Africa's wonderful waves are augmented by some impressive winds in certain places as many of the most competitive board sailors and kite surfers in the world know. It's not uncommon to find neoprene-clad people talking in a range of accents in places like Langebaan, near Cape Town, which is considered one of the top board sailing and kite surfing spots in the world.
Diving is the ultimate beach sport and is a great way to get a more in-depth appreciation of the country's wonderful coastline, whether enjoying the beauty of tropical fish or getting up close to a Great White Shark.
South Africa's underwater terrain ranges from the icy kelp forests of the West Coast to the most southerly coral reefs in the world at Sodwana Bay in north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal. There are dive schools and shops in most centres, even inland, and operators in all the major coastal centres.
Sea kayaking has got to be one of the best ways to appreciate the coastal scenery. There are escorted trips are on offer in Cape Town, Hermanus, The West Coast, Plettenberg Bay, Durban and St. Lucia, all of which also offer great birding opportunities and the very likely possibility of spotting dolphins, seals or whales.
hey – what's the beach really about? It's about taking time out. The southern
hemisphere sun can be hot, so sunscreen, hats, water or juice (especially for
little ones), stylish shades, an umbrella, a good book and, perhaps, a yummy picnic
are a must. Have fun !
the Author... Jennifer