Western Cape, South Africa beach vacations
South Africa is able to boast a staggering variety of natural wonders, though none may be as consistent as its 2,500km of coastline. Sometimes bustling, in some places untouched and home to some of the most striking stretches of coastline in the world, nowhere in South Africa epitomises the variability of its coastline as well as the Western Cape. This most south-westerly of the country’s provinces, the Western Cape contains 900km of the total coastal area and boasts some of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, including the utterly gorgeous Garden Route and the iconic city of Cape Town, not to mention staggering mountain ranges and some stunning, white sandy beaches.
The most easterly part of the Western Cape is dominated by the Garden Route. The length of the Garden Route has become renowned for its blindingly white, uninterrupted beaches, which can be visited all year round due to the favourable climate. The jewel of the Garden Route is Plettenberg Bay, a famously chilled out town among locals, but still the hub of activity for anyone exploring the Garden Route. Popular with surfers and water sports enthusiasts, there is also ample opportunity to view dolphins and whales beyond the surf, both from the shore and from a boat. Robberg Beach, at the southern end of the beach opposite the town is considered the best by the locals for its relatively relaxed atmosphere and opportunities to swim naturally amongst dolphins. For those who prefer to stay on land, there is a staggering ocean view from just about anywhere in the town. It’s a thoroughly pleasant place to lounge about.
For the more adventurous, the Garden Route does not disappoint. To the east are the Tsitsikamma National Park and the Bloukrans Bridge. Canopy tours, mountain trails and blackwater tubing are popular activities in the park, while the bravest of adrenaline junkies will seek out the highest bungee jump in the world at Bloukrans. At 216m up, do you dare throw yourself off the bridge? The idyllic Brenton Beach at Brenton-on-Sea, just to the west of the majestic Knysna headlands, is the perfect beach for those wanting to get off the beaten track and explore some unspoiled natural beauty. With Knysna in such close proximity, Brenton-on-Sea is often overlooked by tourists, and offers solitude to those who are able to find it.
Forget the overcrowded beaches of the Mediterranean; you can truly relax here.
Further west along the coast enters the Overberg region just east of Cape Town. Located just a couple of hours from the city, it’s a highly popular getaway for Capetonians escaping the hustle and bustle of the city. One of the most popular destination is Hermanus, located just 115 km south-east of Cape Town. If you aren’t out on a boat getting close-up views of Southern Right Whales, then the chances are you’re chilling out on Grotto Beach, a Blue Flag site and one of the finest beaches South Africa has to offer. Mile upon mile of unspoiled, pearly white sand ranges out either side of you. Food and refreshments are readily available along the length of the beach and there’s plenty of room for everyone.
At Hermanus it’s the whales you have to look out for. At Betty’s Bay though, 50 km to the west, it’s the huge African Penguin colony. One of only two colonies on the African mainland, they are just one of the reasons visitors flock to Betty’s Bay. The tiny, tranquil town is sheltered by the rugged Kogelberg Mountains. Betty’s Bay Beach is particularly unique for its remarkably close proximity to the mountains. Its hidden nature ensures that it never gets too overcrowded and a certain amount of seclusion, if you don’t already feel secluded behind the towering mountains, is guaranteed.
If you can’t get out of the city though, and need somewhere to wind down after a day of activity, or just want a place to relax and catch some rays during the day, Cape Town offers a number of excellent beaches itself. Clifton Beach, the most popular beach in town, is made up of four coves. Although each are well stocked with kiosks and beach accessories such as deck chairs and umbrellas, they tend to be extremely busy, particularly during summer. An alternative, particularly for families, is Camps Bay, a larger and more continuous beach with a more welcoming atmosphere. Of course, there’s plenty else to do in Cape Town. Why not take a cable car up Table Mountain or sip wine from any of its exquisite vineyards before you take to the seaside.
For a beach with a difference, try Boulders Beach in the Cape Peninsula, hosting the other larger African Penguin colony and giving bathers the chance to openly share the beach and water with the birds themselves. The penguins are seemingly unafraid of their close proximity to people and offer a great experience, particularly for families. The city of Cape Town and the Western Cape as a whole offer some of the best beaches in the world and the best thing is they’re relatively unheard about when compared to Spanish and Mediterranean beaches closer to home. So what are you waiting for?
More information and to book: From Llandudno Beach to Twelve Apostles and Camps Bay to Boulders Beach, South Africa beach vacations are a great way of relaxing after your safari adventure.
Article written by Alex Fletcher.