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SSouth Africa is home to many picturesque beaches, water worlds and slide parks, all that offer more than just the usual swimming.
Here are our top picks for a great day in the sun and surf:
In Cape Town
Miller’s Point tidal pool, in the cove of Rumbly Bay, is about 5km south of Simon’s Town. The site, once a whaling station, is now the venue for much happier pursuits like swimming, sunbathing, snorkelling and kayaking. The bonus: it is secluded and likely to be less crowded than other beaches. There are crafty baboons in the area, so take care when picnicking and please do not feed them.
FFalse Bay’s water is warmer than that on the Atlantic seaboard and the south-easterly current can help cool down the hot summer weather. Nearby is the Black Marlin Restaurant, a well-established eatery that’s famed for its seafood. It has an enticing cocktail menu that includes the Black Marlin: tequila blanco and blue curacao with Schweppes Dry Lemon and lemonade. Visit www.blackmarlin.co.za
Umdloti Beach, north of the city, has a natural lagoon and rock pools. Its tropical, calm waters are an ideal playground. It’s also known for the pods of dolphins that visit regularly. It’s close to King Shaka International Airport, so a flight for a few days on the beach sounds like a good idea.
At the end of a hard day’s sunbathing and splashing about, cocktails at the SandBar help restore the soul. Try the Zulu Caipirinha, a mix of rum, sugar syrup, fresh lime juice and crushed ice. Visit www.sandbarkzn.co.za
In Port Elizabeth
King’s Beach stretches more than 1.5km and offers safe swimming and paddling, with lifeguards on duty. It has a waterpark, putt-putt course and go-kart track, as well as change rooms and ample parking. Like all the coastal cities and beaches, it’s crowded in the holidays, but February can be a good time to get a patch of golden sand to yourself and relax with a book, or your headphones and a laid back playlist.
When the sun sets, you can head to La Kouzina, a Greek restaurant with two cocktail bars. The restaurant also has a substantial sushi menu. Visit www.lakouzina.co.za
Happy Island in Muldersdrift is a complex with a selection of slides and pools that feature lounging areas, stomach-swooping action on the Tornado, Gravity Loop, High Speed Slide and Behemoth Bowl.
Try the tubes that drift through the 850m Lazy River course that is surrounded by gardens. There are also big wave pools. Travellers can book accommodation nearby. Visit www.happy-island.co.za
Stoke City Adventure Park might not be the ocean, but there’s plenty of fun to be had at this waterpark in Midrand. It offers water skiing, wakeboarding and kneeboarding using an overhead cable. There’s also an obstacle course with inflatable slides, ladders, and bridges, and a 1.2km open-water course for more serious athletes. On land, visitors can enjoy a game of beach volleyball, explore the jungle gym, ride along the BMX course or have a picnic. Visit www.stokecity.co.za
In the North West
Sun City’s Valley of the Waves theme park offers visitors the chance to surf, swim and ride water chutes in the midst of the African bushveld. Yes, you read correctly — this immensely popular theme park and entertainment venue is a recreation haven in the middle of the bush.
The Valley of the Waves theme park is a jewel in the crown of the Sun City resort complex, no mean feat when you consider the enormous range of leisure activities on offer at the resort.
The uKhahlamba-Drakensberg region offers breath-taking mountain views and adventures of note: hiking, rock-climbing, paragliding, mountain-biking, abseiling, ice-climbing, horse-riding and more.
South Africa has amazing trail-running terrain for visiting athletes, including mountains, forests, bushveld, beaches, savannahs and deserts – as well as some competitive runs to consider.
The Tsitsikamma Woodcutters’ Journey on the Garden Route in Western Cape takes you through pristine indigenous forests in one of South Africa’s most beautiful national parks.
South Africa’s Overberg region, where mountains, fynbos and strandveld descend spectacularly to the sea on the Whale Coast of Western Cape province, is a great spot to explore on horseback.
The Klein Karoo in Western Cape might be dry, but it offers unique plants, enthralling nature reserves, magnificent mountain vistas, its own wine route, ostrich farms and the world-famous Cango Caves.
Hike the Hunter-Gatherer Trail in Western Cape along the Garden Route to experience the landscape as humans did for tens of thousands of years, and you’ll know you’re in the Cradle of Human Culture.
The Freedom Trail is an exhilarating mountain-bike route from East Coast to West Coast in South Africa that runs through some of the most spectacular natural beauty the country has to offer.
The Breede River in Western Cape has attractions for visitors along its length, from fruit and wine farms and historic towns to watery pursuits like river rafting, angling and whale watching.