Top 10 beaches in South Africa

South Africa is home to some of the world's best beaches. Four South African provinces- KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape - all border the ocean, with many beautiful beaches to be found in each of these regions.

To help you discover some of these great seaside spots, First Car Rental has put together a list of the top 10 beaches in South Africa.

  • Umhlanga Beach

    1. Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal

    Umhlanga has been a popular destination for South Africans and international tourists alike for many years. It is easy to see why - the warm Indian Ocean draws swimmers in, with the golden sands supplying the perfect back-drop for relaxing. It's also a cosmopolitan holiday destination, with many restaurants, cafes and bars; a world-class shopping centre - Gateway Theatre of Shopping; vibrant nightlife; and numerous accommodation options to choose from, ranging from luxury boutique hotels to rustic self-catering beach cottages.

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  • Sodwana Bay

    2. Sodwana Bay, North Coast, KwaZulu-Natal

    Sodwana Beach is a long, unspoiled stretch of white sand located near the border of Mozambique on South Africa's east coast. Aside from sun-bathing and swimming in the tropical Indian Ocean, local activities include horse-riding on the beach, quad biking, hiking and scuba diving in the region's protected coral reefs, home to a huge variety of marine life. Sodwana is a prime location for bird watching, while several nearby game reserves offer safaris where the big five can be spotted.

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  • Coffee Bay

    3. Coffee Bay, Wild Coast

    Located in the heart of South Africa's Wild Coast, the quaint seaside village of Coffee Bay offers pristine, unspoilt swimming beaches; rustic lodges and bars; excellent fishing and breath-taking hikes along the area's rugged coastline. Coffee Bay is the perfect destination for those holiday-makers wanting to swop city life for a laid-back beach break in one of the most beautiful parts of South Africa. Unlike many areas of the Wild Coast, Coffee Bay is easily accessible with any type of vehicle, due to the tar road that leads directly off the N2.

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  • Melkbosstrand

    4. Melkbosstrand, Western Cape

    Melkbosstrand ("Milkwood Beach" in Afrikaans) is located on South Africa's West Coast, approximately 35km from Cape Town. The area is renowned for white, sandy beaches and delicious, fresh seafood, which is served at a number of local restaurants. The region also boasts a number of entertainment activities, including world-class golf courses, the Ratanga Junction Theme Park, Grand West Casino and the Canal Walk Shopping Centre. The Durbanville Winelands, Boland mountains and Koeberg Nature Reserve are just a short drive away.

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  • CLifton

    5. Clifton, Western Cape

    Known as Cape Town's St Tropez, Clifton is one of the most-sought after real estate areas in South Africa, so it should come as no surprise that the beaches here are equally as beautiful and popular. Second and Third Beach are both family friendly, with life-guards on duty during the peak seasons so that anyone brave enough to wade into the icy Atlantic is well looked after. Fourth Beach is the main family beach, boasting well-kept facilities such as public toilets, changing rooms and gourmet food kiosks. It has also been awarded Blue Flag status, due to it adhering to strict international environmental standards

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  • Robberg Beach

    6. Robberg Beach, Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape

    Plettenberg Bay is set in the heart of the Garden Route National Park, where holiday-makers will find some of the world's most beautiful stretches of coastline. One of Plett's most famous beaches is Robberg, which stretches from the BI Hotel to the Robberg Peninsula, offering beach-goers a wide stretch of golden sand to spend the day upon. It is the perfect family swimming beach, with warm water in summer and nearby facilities that include changing rooms, restaurants, cafes and shopping centres. Here, beach-goers regularly spot Southern Right whales, Bottlenose dolphins and seals.

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  • Umlani Bushcamp

    7. Willard Beach, Ballito

    Ballito is a vibrant holiday town located about 40km north of Durban. Willard Beach is the town's best swimming, bodyboarding and surfing beach, and has earned Blue Flag status. It's a safe swimming area perfect for families, with life-guards seven days a week, offshore shark nets and a fully-equipped first aid station. Ballito's famous promenade begins at Willard Beach and makes its way around the coastline, stopping at Salmon Bay. If you're looking for something different, there is a hiking trail that extends off of the promenade and takes you to Shaka's Rock. It goes through a hole in the cliff, although this is best attempted at low-tide.

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  • Bikini Beach

    8. Bikini Beach, Gordon's Bay

    Situated in a sheltered cove and surrounded by the Hottentot Holland mountain range, Bikini Beach is an excellent swimming spot as the water is usually warm, calm and clear. The beach is only a short drive from Cape Town, and is one of the Mother City's six Blue Flag Beaches, indicating a high level of water quality, facilities, cleanliness and safety. The view from here is magnificent, as the entire False Bay curves from Gordon's Bay to Cape Point. Bikini Beach offers quirky shopping for those who are looking for some retail therapy on holiday.

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  • SHelly Beach

    9. Shelly Beach, KwaZulu-Natal

    Shelly Beach boasts beautiful scenery as well as warm sub-tropical temperatures, making it the perfect seaside holiday destination. The abundant shells which are washed onto the shore make for hours of fun collecting for the little ones. Aside from the warm Indian Ocean lapping the shore, Shelly Beach is renowned for its numerous tidal pools and lagoons. Fishing is also a popular past time here, with superb areas for rock and surf fishing. The town is also host to many deep sea fishing competitions throughout the year.

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  • Dolphin Beach

    10. Dolphin Beach, Jeffrey's Bay

    Jeffrey's Bay - more commonly known as JBay - is heralded as the surf capital of South Africa, and for good reason. International surfers come in droves to surf some of the best waves South Africa has to offer. Dolphin Beach is the location of the famous Supertubes, known as the greatest wave in Africa, and the home of the qualifying Billabong Pro Series. Aside from surfing, Dolphin Beach is also a popular place for families to spend the day as they stroll along the beach and snorkel when the waves are calm. The Jeffrey's Bay Shell Museum is also an interesting visit.

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