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Best Beaches in Africa

Beaches the world over consist of a combination of silicone, quartz, and weather. And this unassuming mix can reliably be found along around 18,950 miles (30,500 km) of the African coastline.

Lucky for anyone planning an adventure, human beings happen to be excellent at falling in love with particular spots and picking a favorite.

Before we let you in on the secrets of our best-loved sandy spots and the best beaches in Africa, we have to warn you that African beaches come with an added little frisson of romance. When a continent is still the right side of wild there is an air of escapade to the places where the oceans run up against it.

Today, the coastline might be a heady and hot mix of lazing about, adrenaline activities, peaceful friendly people and great food but… if you leave your imagination untended for a moment on an African beach, you may find it conjuring strange and wonderful sailing ships appearing on the horizon. People with pale skin coming ashore with a bounty of unimaginable objects…

Even when you have traveled the world, the beaches of Africa have a magical ability to grab the hearts, minds, and souls of every barefoot that touches it.

Unavoidable enchantment aside, there is a top beach in Africa to suit every preference. Whether you feel most like yourself when licks of light from the castaway sun appear in your hair as you spend your days snorkeling around an island in the Indian Ocean or your happy place requires a glass of Tignanello by a fire next to the Atlantic while seals play in the dark water.

African beaches we love

A little Culture, a little Beach

1. Swakopmund, Namibia

This sleepy little town is a playground with activities ranging from fishing to surfing, kayaking, quad biking, and sandboarding… and then, once you have rinsed yourself off for the day you can get dressed up for incredibly fresh, wonderful dining in a restaurant at the end of the pier running from this Namibian beach.

Why Swakopmund’s Beach?

Swakopmund is known for being more German than Germany – do indulge in the Bavarian cuisine  (and if you visit in August time your stay to coincide with Küstenkarneval)!

Perfect for…

Everyone

Best times to visit:

September to March

namibia beach© Jonatan Pie – unsplash.com

2. Lamu Archipelago, Kenya

North of Mombasa and off the coast of Kenya travelers will find the ingredients for a quintessential Indian Ocean sojourn. The collection of islands known as Lamu was founded by the Swahili people around 700 years ago making it one of Kenya’s oldest settlements. Today there are no cars and in this World Heritage Site, you can step back in time, discover Kenya’s secret beaches and island-hop in a traditional dhow.

Why Lamu Beaches?

The stunning marine national park offers incredible snorkeling and the atmosphere is superbly peaceful with only the occasional donkey braying or the call to prayer cutting through the silence.

Perfect for…

Families, budget travelers and couples

Best times to visit:

November to March

kenya beaches© Antonio Lainez – unsplash.com

3. Curralinho Beach, Cape Verde

A touch of Brasil off the coast of Senegal, Cape Verde has 10 volcanic islands surrounded by wild coastlines and featuring delicious food, neverending sunshine, and heartwarming morna music. The island that is home to the world-famous Boa Vista Social Club also gives us the beautiful expanse of Curralinho Beach. A beautiful vista indeed.

Why Curralinho Beach?

The water is warm, the currents are minimal and diving and surfing is spectacular.

Perfect for…

Families and surfers

Best times to visit:

April to July

beaches in africa©Nick Fewings– unsplash.com, YXO – Flickr Creative Commons, Matthias_Lemm – pixabay.com

4. Cape Town, South Africa

It isn’t an easy job to pick a favorite Cape Town beach. We think it is a great idea to explore a different South African beach every day!

For nature lovers: Boulders Beach where you can swim with penguins.

For surfers: Hout Bay’s big waves are a boarding dream come true

For the iconic stroll: Bloubergstrand is the most photogenic with Table Mountain perfectly poised in the distance

For socialites: Camps Bay is a bustling beach where you can see and be seen

For relaxation: Llandudno Cove and lying around on the giant boulders at Clifton Beach

Why Cape Town’s Beaches?

The water is warm, the currents are minimal and diving and surfing is spectacular.

Perfect for…

Everyone

Best times to visit:

The fabulous food and wine make Cape Town a great idea year-round. The beaches are packed from December to February, so April and May can be a great compromise (top whale spotting season is from July to September)

South Africa Beach Resorts© Arno Smit – Goodfreephotos

5. Paternoster, South Africa

Endless stretches of white sandy beach are home to spectacular sunsets and succulent fresh West Coast seafood courtesy of the friendly fishermen who call the village home. The whitewashed cottages with their thatched roofs and brightly painted wooden boats perfect the idyll.

Why Paternoster Beach?

The beach caters for walking, sea kayaking, fishing, whale and dolphin watching, windsurfing and horse riding. The food is superb

Perfect for…

Active Families and Foodies

Best times to visit:

September to April

Beaches South Africa© Wikimedia Commons

A little Romance, a little Beach

1. Bazaruto, Mozambique

If you dream of living the slow life on lazy sand beaches that never end, fringed with clear turquoise water and palm trees… then you need to look no further than Bazaruto beach. The island home of this idyll is a dune-filled isle off the coast of Mozambique within a marine park in the Indian Ocean. It is Mozambique beach perfection. And the cocktails are pretty good too.

Why Bazaruto Beach?

Prime snorkeling, diving, and luxury accommodation.

Perfect for…

Families and couples

Best times to visit:

May to November

Best beaches in Mozambique© bealach verse – unsplash.com


2. Nungwi, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zanzibar is a traveler’s paradise with the cultural heart of Stone Town, bustling bazaars and some of the world’s most beautiful beaches lapped by crystal clear waters. Lying in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Zanzibar, the palms melt onto the beach which slowly dissolves into a dream of turquoise.

The white-sailed dhows leaving the boatyard at sunset will present you with the opportunity for adding the perfect Tanzanian beach image to your collection.

Why Nungwi Beach?

The Mnarani Marine Turtle Conservation Pond shelters green and hawksbill sea turtles in a tidal lagoon. Off the coast, you can snorkel the coral reefs teeming with colorful fish include Hunga and Leven Bank.

Perfect for…

Honeymooners and couples

Best times to visit:

Avoid the rainy seasons from March to May and again in November

Tanzania beaches© Wikimedia Commons

3. Île Sainte-Marie, Madagascar

They have only recently replaced the wheelbarrows that used to transport luggage from the little airport to your accommodation. It has been a bit longer since pirates used the island as a haven (although you can still visit the pirate cemetery). Just off the coast of eastern Madagascar, this island boasts all-year-round sunshine, very warm water and idyllic white Madagascan beaches.

Why Île Sainte-Marie Beach?

View humpback whales between July and September and dive the coral gardens.

Perfect for…

Lovers of Nature and Couples

Best times to visit:

July to September

Madagascar beaches© travelmag.com – flickr creative commons

4. Mnemba Island, Tanzania

A part of the Zanzibar Archipelago, the private Indian Ocean island of Mnemba is where you scuba and snorkel in Zanzibar. Perfect for romance and celebration the island only has 12 private beach bandas in the shade of the lush tropical forest.

Why Mnemba Island Beach?

Visitors often spot whales, swim with dolphins and encounter whale sharks here.

Perfect for…

Honeymooners and couples

Best times to visit:

July to March

Tanzania Beaches© Ramona Heim – stock.adobe.com

5. Anse Soleil, Mahé, Seychelles

Crystal clear water and pristine white sand that is often bathed in sunlight (hence the name) lie in a small cove backed by pine, coconut and almond trees. If you love having the opportunity to have a stretch of pristine sand to yourself on the beach from the storybook on paradise, this is the best African beach resort for you.

Why Anse Soleil?

Incredibly beautiful and the humble café serves some of the best food on the island.

Perfect for…

Couples & anyone who loves walking

Best times to visit:

April to May or October to November

top beaches in africa© Jean-Marie Hullot – Flickr Creative Commons

A little Family, a little Beach

1. Ifaty, Madagascar

Umbrellas are not for the true beachcomber. Those in the know insist on palm trees for shade, along an extended stretch of white sandy beach that is dotted with natural fishermen’s cottages. Welcome to the southwest coast of Madagascar. Explore the coral reef with a snorkel or from one of the colorful dugout canoes.

Why Ifaty Beach?

A perfect destination for total relaxation at the end of your safari through Madagascar.

Perfect for…

Everyone

Best times to visit:

April to October

Madagascar Beaches© Wikimedia Commons

2. Diani Beach, Kenya

Welcome to Africa’s leading beach destination. Diani beach is an idyllic 11 mile (17 km) stretch of palm-fringed beach surrounded by a coral reef just offshore. It is possible to spot colobus monkeys swinging through the trees and camels strolling across the beach. Kitesurfing lessons are popular.

Why Diani Beach?

This is a popular destination for anyone wanting to take kitesurfing lessons or go skydiving, jet-skiing, and snorkeling.

Perfect for…

Families and adventurous travelers

Best times to visit:

January to early March and July to September

Kenya BeachesWikimedia Commons

3. Port St. Johns, South Africa

South Africa boasts Africa’s third-longest coastline and parts of it are so beautiful that they are feted worldwide. The Wild Coast or Transkei region boasts both breathtaking scenery and a marvelous number of adventure activities. Explore the gorge carved out by the Umzimvubu River, the secluded beaches stretching in both directions and tap into the Pondo culture of the area…

Why Port St. Johns Beach?

Apart from the spectacular views and the fact that there is so much to do it is also one of the few places in the world where you might share your beach with ocean loving cows.

Perfect for…

Families and adventurers

Best times to visit:

November to February

South Africa Beach© garethphoto – flikr creative commons, Wikimedia commons

4. Trou-aux-Biches, Mauritius

On the main island, near the small town of Trou-aux-Biches, there is a mile-long stretch of fine sand fringed by family-friendly seas. Sheltered from the weather even during the rainy season Trou-aux Biches come with a range of local restaurants reflecting Mauritian cuisine and multicultural heritage.

Why Trou-aux-Biches Beach?

The watersports are never-ending and it is also an easily accessible cultural adventure.

Perfect for…

Families

Best times to visit:

September to December and April to May

beaches in africa©Xavier Coiffic– unsplash.com

5. Likoma Island, Malawi

The only inland beach on our list lies on the golden beaches of Africa’s third-largest lake. Lake Malawi is filled with around 1/10th of all the world’s freshwater fish species… A wide range of activities includes kayaking, snorkeling, and swimming.

Why Likoma Island Beach?

There are few cars here and you can walk to visit the surrounding villages.

Perfect for…

Everyone

Best times to visit:

Year-round

African Beaches© TravelingOtter– Flickr Creative Commons

6. Dakhla Beach, Morocco

This beach lies within the 99th global percentile for great weather. A breeze lives permanently at Dakhla in the south of Morocco. Flanked by a very big, laid-back lagoon on the one side and fabulous waves on the other, it is perfect for kiteboarders of all proficiencies.

The lagoon is calm and shallow and good for snorkeling.

Why Dakhla Beach?

The calm lagoon is great for snorkeling.

Perfect for…

Kiteboarders and Families

Best times to visit:

Absolutely any time of year although July is humid and January, February, and October are busy

beaches of Africa@Dekeister Leopold – unsplash.com

A little Adventure, a little Beach

1. Coffee Bay, South Africa

Once upon a time, a cargo ship carrying coffee was wrecked on the east coast of South Africa… the beans made it to shore and started growing in spite of the conditions not being perfect. The coffee might not have lasted but the name stuck. The best way to see the splendidly moody coastline of Coffee Bay on South Africa’s Wild Coast is to walk it. Cliffs plummet and green hills roll and the Hole in the Wall is a famous rock at the mouth of the Mpako River. Trek to Mpuzi Cliff and Caves, visit a local Xhosa village and indulge in the seafood.

Why Coffee Bay Beach?

The sardine run can be experienced in June and July.

Perfect for…

Ardent walkers

Best times to visit:

April to July

South Africa Beach© Vincentvanoosten – Pixabay

2. Loango National Park, Gabon

Just when we have lulled you into a false sense of languor we have to pause for a little spot of game driving…

This beach is famous for its surfing hippos and you can also see elephants, buffaloes, gorillas, and leopard on the sand of this uninhabited 100 kilometers of coastline.

The park also offers good dolphin, humpback and killer whale sightings.

The beaches of Loango National Park in Gabon have become famous for their surfing hippos — but you can also see elephants, buffaloes, gorillas, and leopards on the sand.

The uninhabited coastline of the park is more than 100 kilometers long and offers good sightings of dolphins and humpback and killer whales.

Why Loango Beach?

See forest elephants and red forest buffaloes between September and May, Nesting turtles from October to February and surfing hippos in January.

Perfect for…

Adventurous (and patient) safari-goers

Best times to visit:

October through April


3. Watamu Beach, Kenya

The Malindi Marine Reserve Park is fringed by the smooth white sands of Watamu beach. The diving and snorkeling around the offshore coral are widely thought to be the best in all of East Africa. The small coastal town is defined by the beaches and coral gardens.

Why Watamu Beach?

The sand flats and mangrove forest of Mida Creek is an important breeding ground for green and hawksbill turtles and the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve lying just inland is home to elephants, monkeys, and rare birds.

Perfect for…

Families and snorkelers

Best times to visit:

July through October

kenya beaches© malajscy – stock.adobe.com

4. Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique

A bevy of 12 major and 20 smaller pristine coral islands set within the Quirimbas National Park with coralline outcrops and endless sand-bar beaches. It is an isolated and remote area where the marine environments and Mozambique beaches are ecologically pristine and largely unexplored.

Why Quirimbas Beach?

 Dive or snorkel with Napoleon wrasse, dolphins, whitetip reef sharks and a myriad of colorful tropical fish species. Take a look at the past through the ruins dating to the country’s Portuguese colonial past on Ibo island.

Perfect for…

Honeymooners and scuba divers

Best times to visit:

June to August

beaches in Mozambique© redcharlie – unsplash

5. Skeleton Coast, Namibia

And now for something completely different. A place like no other. Where soaring dunes tumble into the icy Atlantic Ocean and Cape fur seal colonies pop up out of the water to stare at desert-adapted elephants and hyenas… who wander amid abandoned shipwrecks (the skeletons of the name). This wilderness is so remote that the northern parts are only accessible by fly-in safari and with a licensed operator. It is hauntingly beautiful, wild and rugged and often shrouded in a mysterious fog.

Good to know: Expect to see lots of seals and marine bird life near the wrecks

Why the Skeleton Coast?

The stranded wrecks draw seals and marine birdlife and you can also see black rhinos at the Ugab River Rhino Camp.

Perfect for…

Adventurous travelers and nature lovers

Best times to visit:

October to March

beaches namibia© JP Desvigne – unsplash.com

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