Summertime is beach time for most South Africans. And while it’s great to lose yourself among the crowds and the action on some of South Africa’s best-known and most popular beaches, sometimes we need to relax away from the maddening crowd, surrounded only by nature, peace and quiet. So, in this edition in our 8 of the Best series we bring you eight fabulous, mostly small but always hidden-away beaches you may never have heard of, and which you might wish to try out this summer. At some of these you may well be the only human being all day long; at others there will never be more than a handful of people. Peace and tranquillity is guaranteed!
If you find yourself anywhere near the Northern Cape coastline this summer and need some beach solitude, you won’t find better than this. The small fishing village of Port Nolloth close to the diamond fields around the mouth of the Orange River is about as far away from it all as you can get. Beaches like this sandy little bay are dotted all along the coast here, while a long stretch of pure white sand meets the azure blue ocean all along the front of the village. After enjoying a lazy day on the beach you can enjoy a good meal and some drinks in the village, while the surrounding area also offers plenty to do and see.
A stone’s throw south of the touristy hustle and bustle of Cape Town’s Boulders Beach with its famous penguin colony, along an almost hidden pathway you’ll find Windmill Beach. Also set among large boulders typical of the area, the 200m long sandy cove has warm, crystal clear water for swimming. The little bay, located in the Froggy Pond area of Simon’s Town below a golf course, if you look on a map, offers plenty of protection against the summer’s southeaster wind. During the week it’s usually empty and quiet, but over weekends its popular with families who camp out for the day. While it’s never really crowded, do come early to find a good spot. Excellent for swimming, boulder exploration, snorkelling, kayaking, picnics, or simply lazing the time away. There’s parking not too far away and clean toilets as well. If you follow the footpaths that line the coast along here, or the boardwalk from Boulders Beach, you’ll come across many more such hidden away, absolutely breathtakingly beautiful little beaches.
Except for the seaside areas immediately around the town of Langebaan, the entire Langebaan Lagoon is home to one large secluded beach devoid of overcrowding… and blessed with stunning beauty. But to narrow it down for our readers’ convenience, we have singled out a few spots: Churchhaven, Preekstoel, and Kraalbaai. All three are close to each other and fall within the West Coast National Park. They can be accessed by road from the park entrance on the R27 or from Langebaan town. On some days your only company will be the seagulls, and the odd ostrich or tortoise. All three beaches are located along the western headland that forms a barrier between the lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean. Unlike the sea here, the lagoon water is warm, crystal clear and ideal for swimming.
Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route has become one of the major summer playgrounds in South Africa. But just 8km south, located on a peninsula that juts out into the Indian Ocean, lies the Robberg Nature Reserve – beautiful, serene and isolated. The reserve is also a national monument and World Heritage Site with a 120 million-years-old history and caves where people from the middle and stone ages lived. It is managed by Cape Nature and entry is controlled. But once inside, you are spoiled for choice of hiking routes, observation decks, little beaches, swimming spots, dune walks, spotting animals, whales and dolphin, and much more, most of it entirely on your own if you so choose.
Just north of Bloubergstrand going towards Melkbosstrand along the coastal M14, you’ll find Eerstesteen within the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve. Not only can you find a nice quiet spot on the beach with a beautiful view of Table Mountain, but in spring the small dunes are covered in brightly coloured flowers. Managed by the City of Cape Town, it’s also one of the few remaining areas along the coast where braai facilities are available. Perfect also for swimming, hiking along the beach or just snoozing under the summer sun with only the sound of seagulls and gently lapping waves.
Bayview is located on the edge of the bay where Portuguese seafarer Bartolomeu Dias in 1488 became the first European to make contact with the indigenous Khoekhoen people of Southern Africa. Today the beautiful stretch of beach along Bayview provides a lovely view of the bustling coastal town of Mossel Bay across the bay, with Seal Island in between. During the summer holidays parts of the beach may have many people on it, but you’ll always find a secluded spot somewhere along here.
The iconic Hole-in-the-Wall has become something of a symbol of the Eastern Cape’s breathtakingly beautiful Wild Coast. Spend a lazy day on this quiet beach watching the sea suck and gush though this natural giant hole or explore the island and its hole or the surrounding beaches where you will find more cattle than humans lounging about. Hole in the Wall is situated at the mouth of the Mpako River, some distance south of Coffee Bay and about 60km off the N2 as the crow flies. There’s a nearby village with hotel and restaurant.
Not exactly a small beach, but certainly very secluded in every sense of the word…that’s Sodwana Bay and its miles of golden sandy beaches nestling along the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Sodwana lies within the Sodwana Bay National Park which in turn forms part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Maputaland Marine Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal. It has long been a favourite with sports fishermen and scuba divers, but now with the area managed by SANParks and iSimangaliso, it has so much more to offer. Yet it retains its isolated wilderness charm. This is where you go for the ultimate getaway.