How to get there
Boulders Beach, just outside Cape Town, has so much going for it you will be blown away by the beauty of the small hidden attraction. The ancient granite boulders protect it from the wind and large waves, which makes it an ideal swimming spot for children. Because it falls under the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area, the beach is always clean and safe, and it is rarely crowded. This comes at the cost of a small price, but who wouldn’t be willing to part ways with R65 for a day in this paradise?
Did we mention the penguins?
At the beautiful Boulders Beach, you can get to know our most famous (and arguably our cutest) birds, The African penguin. You just can’t resist these waddling wonderful birds, but that’s a good thing because they need your attention.
South Africa’s penguins are under threat from the loss of habitat, declining fish and their ever-encroaching human neighbours. But not to worry, by making a visit to see these unique locals you are helping them. Every year, over 60 000 visitors flock to Simon’s Town to photograph and watch the famous Boulders Beach penguins. This leads to more money to help boost our penguin conservation efforts through South African National Parks (SANParks).
African penguins used to be known as Jackass penguins, due to their distinctive braying, and are the only penguins found on the continent. Although they breed in colonies stretching from southern Namibia to Port Elizabeth, the story of how they came to call Boulders Beach their home is one of remarkable urban colonisation.
The whole species though, both at Boulders Beach and elsewhere, face many threats and these aquatic flightless birds are actually listed as endangered. Boulders Beach remains the only place in the world where one can get up close to African penguins, it is a special place for sure.
Penguin viewing is made easier by boardwalks that lead visitors across the beaches as well as to an information centre, which is managed by SANParks.
To help stop the loss of chicks, and provide a safe breeding environment, Boulders Coastal Park management has introduced artificial and clever nesting boxes, which you will see when you walk through the area. Thanks to conservation initiatives by the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, and SANParks, these precious penguins may yet survive to swim, and waddle, another day.
To understand our penguins is to understand their history. The story of this penguin colony in Cape Town started in 1983 when a pair was spotted on Foxy Beach at Boulders. The birds came to False Bay from Dyer Island. At the time, False Bay was closed to commercial fishing. For the newcomers, abundant food and breeding sites meant the African penguin population at Boulders soared as they decided to make this area their home.
However, almost three decades later, Boulders Beach penguins are in trouble. Cars, people and competition for breeding sites have seen the penguins trying to nest in unsafe environments, leaving their nests exposed to both predators and the elements. Climate change has also affected fish stocks, and increased severe weather incidences have depleted penguin chick numbers.
But thanks to tourism, there is hope. Every time you visit these little guys at Boulders Beach, you help spark a lifelong commitment to saving their future.
South African National Parks (SANParks)
Tel: +27 21 487 6800
Fax: +27 21 487 6859
Boulders Beach is located in Simon’s Town, just over the hilly peninsula from Cape Town. It’s easily accessible by bus, car, taxi or train.
A small conservation fee is payable for use of the boardwalk.
The Cape Town area, including nearby Simon’s Town and Fish Hoek, has a wide variety of accommodation available from budget to luxury options.
Try one of the terrific seafood restaurants in Simon’s Town, Fish Hoek, Kalk Bay or Muizenberg, all close to Boulders Beach.