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SSouth African beaches offer the ultimate vacation destination for families in need of some fun in the sun. You can laze on the beach with the occasional swim to cool off, or be as active as you like, with options like deep-sea fishing, kayaking, snorkelling, nature hiking, surfing and many more.
South Africa’s range of beaches, combined with our excellent weather, offer family beach holidays to suit all clans: whether you’re into urban delights like water parks, beachfront restaurants and family entertainment near all the amenities, the wild solitude of pristine nature in out-of-the-way spots, or outdoor adventures that let you ride everything from wind and waves to zip lines and quad bikes.
HHermanus in Western Cape province is known as the ‘whale capital’ of South Africa, and it is here that most whale-watchers gather to witness these giants of the deep. Hermanus is one of those spots you can experience idyllic seaside village views, with unspoilt nature beckoning up and down the coast.
The area also offers superb swimming and surfing at the popular Grotto and Voëlklip beaches or boating on the Kleinriviersvlei Lagoon. There are several walking trails too, and you can hike the Fernkloof Nature Reserve to learn more about the local fynbos and other plant-life.
Plettenberg Bay, in the same province but further east on the Garden Route, is among the best destinations for family beach holidays in South Africa – with urban amusements around the town, but nature reserves and adrenaline tourism alike within easy reach.
Plett, as it is affectionately known, boasts famous South African beaches like Lookout and Robberg. The area is also popular for its nature trails, while the more adventurous can go abseiling, quad biking and blackwater-tubing.
TThe entire Wild Coast in Eastern Cape is worth exploring, if you want a family holiday that takes you back to nature and allows you to interact more closely with local people and their cultures at the same time. Towns and resorts along the Wild Coast are more rugged than Plett and Hermanus, but that is much of their charm.
The same applies to St Lucia, up in KwaZulu-Natal. Part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park along the Elephant Coast (the northernmost part of the province, stretching to Mozambique), it’s the perfect place from which to visit Cape Vidal for snorkelling excursions or walks along this perfect stretch of beach.
You could also hike through the swamp forests near Dukuduku, go bird-watching on Fanie’s Island, enjoy a braai (and great views) at Mission Rocks, laze on the beach, go deep-sea fishing or view game in the St Lucia Game Reserve.
MMargate, a big and popular coastal town south of Durban along KwaZulu-Natal’s Hibiscus Coast, is home to great South African beaches, as well as being the base for a range of marine activities and excursions. Adventure enthusiasts can enjoy abseiling, deep-sea fishing, kayaking and surfing as well as the famous Oribi Gorge Swing. There are also fantastic picnic and birding spots and horse-riding trails.
TTravel tips & Planning info
How to get here
Most South African beaches are easily accessible by road and are served by a variety of taxis and buses. Most tour operators can also organise day trips to the beach of your choice. For convenience, choose accommodation right on the beach, of which there are plenty options.
Best time to visit
Many of South Africa’s beaches are enjoyable all year round, especially those on the East Coast, but the summery months from October to April are obviously best.
Avoid the crowds by visiting out of season – schools and most of the country are on holiday in December and January, so the coastal resorts get packed.
While most of the country remains quite dry from May to September, the reverse is true in Western Cape and along the West Coast, where those are the coldest, wettest, windiest months.
What will it cost?
Access to most beaches is free. Some beaches, usually those run as a conservation area, do charge a nominal fee.
What to pack
Sunscreen and a hat, even in winter (June to August).
Where to stay
Popular family holiday beaches in South Africa, whether urban or out in the wilds, usually have a range of hospitality on offer in the vicinity – from backpackers and B&Bs to hotels and lodges rated from 1 to 5 stars. It’s best to choose the beaches you want to visit based on family preferences and the attractions available, and then check local listings for accommodation options in the area.
What to eat
Make the most of being on the coast and indulge in fresh seafood such as oysters, crayfish and hake. The West Coast is famous for its smoked snoek, and there are plenty of authentic Indian prawn, fish and seafood curries to be found along the KwaZulu-Natal coast.