A sea breeze gently flowing through your hair, luscious sand between your toes, clear flowing water to quench the thirst of your eyes… not always the first image that comes to mind when thinking about a renowned safari destination like South Africa.
Four of south africa’s nine provinces are on the coast, and three of these four are abundant in blue flag beaches – there are 46 officially-certified beaches, to be precise. This annual international award symbolising the quality of beaches has strong criteria to be met, which divide into the categories of safety, amenities, cleanliness, environmental information, and environmental management.
The western cape, home of the mother city, cape town, holds a whopping 30 blue flag beaches, while kwazulu-natal and eastern cape have nine and seven respectively. Although south africa is known to have a mild climate compared to other holiday spots, winter in the eastern cape and western cape wouldn’t quite constitute beach weather. This is where kwazulu-natal rises to the occasion, having a tropical climate that is good for a beach day all year round.
The white-sanded shoreline of Clifton 4th beach is a popular stop for sundowners, where friends and family meet amongst the rocks and observe an extended sunset made up of countless stunning photographs. As you follow the curve of the shore, the lights from the buildings on the hills are reminiscent of an Italian coastline from a romantic movie.
Famous for being the backdrop of many big Bollywood numbers, Muizenberg beach’s colourful houses match the country’s ever-evolving diversity, and make for bold and exciting photos. The calm waters and flat open sand areas are great for family picnics and sports in the spirit of bonhomie. Hike, surf and sunbathe, or explore the bakeries, pubs and markets – either way, you won’t be disappointed.
A short walk away from the famous uShaka Marine World, which is a must-see for all visitors to Durban, you’ll find the wonderful uShaka beach, fit for families, couples and solo travellers alike. This beach has a very distinct drawing card in the form of a beach bar and restaurant on the pier, allowing you to dine as if you are on the sea itself. The Moyo uShaka Pier Bar offers an authentically African experience, not to be forgotten.
Although Umdloti beach is not on the list of official Blue Flag beaches, it gets an honourable mention, and a well-deserved one too. The 5km stretch on the Umdloti coastline is filled with rock pools, which make the perfect little areas for younger children to safely splash about and find fish in. There are shark nets and there are professional lifeguards on duty, which makes it a popular stop for snorkelling, surfing and other beach sports. If you’d rather relax, there are numerous restaurants and cocktail bars with exquisite views of the dolphins jumping through the waters.
A mere hour and a half out of Port Elizabeth, Kenton-on-Sea is the perfect escape from big city life, where relaxation is a given, as is a pristine view. Kariega beach is secluded and intimate, and on the doorstep of a nature reserve. You cannot put a price on a quiet stroll with your thoughts, but one thing is for sure – it is good for the soul.
Coming closer to home, Port Elizabeth’s pride and joy can be found surrounding Hobie beach, which is adjacent to the oldest Blue Flag beach in South Africa, Humewood beach. Hobie beach is where the city hosts its weekly Parkrun, and it is also the starting point of the annual Ironman Triathlon. And with The Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World and Bayworld Oceanarium just across the road, food, drink and fun are all around the promenade.