South Africa’s Top 20 Small Coastal Towns

Holiday better with these tips from our inside guides and thorough accommodation inspections.

1. Plettenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay has been especially blessed, with coastline, forest, river, and farmland creating a delightful playground for all ages. On the surface, Plett may appear fancy but at heart, it’s really nature- and adventure-lover’s paradise. Not only are there dozens of easily accessible walks, but there are various MTB tracks, along with the paddling, kayaking and swimming offered by the fortunate geographical intersection of river, lagoon and sea.


2. East London

East London has four rivers, many beautiful beaches and the best milkshakes in South Africa. We sent a local back to East London and reaffirming her love for her hometown.


3. Rocky Bay

We gave this Durban-based family a strict budget and sent them packing. Here’s where they went and what they did.


4. Addo Elephant National Park

You may not know it, but Addo Elephant National Park extends right down to the ocean and currently protects some important islands in Algoa Bay, namely St Croix and Bird Island. See the biggest African Penguin colony and explore the coastal forests in this secret section of Addo.


5. Zinkwazi

The gorgeous town of Zinkwazi is close to Durban and has wide unspoilt beaches. It brims and hums during the holidays, and out of season it’s a paradise of tranquillity


6. Hermanus

Photo by Rachel Robinson

There are a myriad things to see and do in Hermanus and surrounds, but here are 12 that I’d like to personally recommend. There’s plenty more than whale watching in this beautiful seaside town.


7. Dolphin Coast

North of Durban, past the high-rises, there are still classic beach houses to be found. Embrace the endless summer of this slice of the KwaZulu-Natal coast in the privacy of your own ‘home’.


8. Sunshine Coast

There’s a stretch of coastline between the Tsitsikamma and Port Alfred that’s said to get more hours of sunlight than the rest of South Africa. Veer off the N2 to find unspoilt holiday spots in the Sunshine Coast.


9. Fish Hoek

Fishing boats on the beach in Fish Hoek. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

Swim in a warm sea and walk in the mountains without having to get in your car – base yourself here in Fish Hoek and enjoy the best family location in Cape Town.


10. West Coast

More than 300 kilometres of tarred road? Check. Wine tasting? Check. MTB’ing, hiking and bouldering? Check, check and check. Magnificent coastal and semi-desert environments on the Namaqua West Coast and the Cederberg? Check. Now all you need is enough space on your camera for epic pics and you can plan an epic energetic West Coast road trip.


11. Muizenberg

Muizenberg is where Agatha Christie and George Bernard Shaw came to surf and Cecil John Rhodes went to die. At one point the area was more popular than Cape Town, and Yiddish was spoken on her streets. Here is the story of her glamorous past, and the places you can’t miss in Muizenberg’s evolving present.


12. Betty’s Bay


13. Umhlanga

Umhlanga lighthouse Teagan Cunniffe

This cluster of apartment blocks and high-rise hotels on a fine stretch of beach (with a promenade to match) is one of South Africa’s most sought-after destinations. In winter it’s sunny and the water’s warm… time for a seaside break?



This pretty Eastern Cape town has bush, beach, river and lagoon and that it makes very popular during peak season – which is why you should book these gems cherry-picked by Pippa de Bruyn as soon as you can.



The 031 is South Africa’s playground thanks to her lovely beaches, but there’s more that you can dive into – and it’s for free!


16. Paternoster

We sent our professional reviewer to discover the best weekend breaks in Paternoster – here’s her pick of where to stay in the West Coast’s prettiest fishing village.

 in advance for any overuse of words such as spectacular, glorious, fabulous, stunning, mesmerising ‒ it’s hard
 to avoid these when describing Paternoster’s views.


17. Simon’s Town

Steeped in history and nautical vibes, Simon’s Town offers the best seaside holiday in Cape Town, at a fraction of the cost compared to other areas.


18. Countrywide beach camp sites

For an affordable break, there’s nothing like a beach camp. From secret beach campsites to safari tents with a bit more luxury, we’ve rounded up the best beach camps in South Africa that offer splendid views of the coast. We hope this list entices you to experience sleeping to the music of rising tides and waves splashing on the shore.


19. Countrywide Hope Spots

Hope spots are the ultimate call for citizens to engage with the ocean, to care for it, to make out own. South Africa has six spots. We visited some of them.


20.Countrywide beach cottages

These 11 beautiful beach cottages and houses are perfect for chilling with – and are all less than 90 minutes from the nearest airport.