South Africa’s Favourite Beaches
Beach days in South Africa epitomise summer. They’re dappled with the makings of barefoot memories and ruled by sunshine. Just the way we like them.
For locals and visitors alike, time spent by the ocean is dedicated to the simple things in life and now that the December holidays are creeping closer it’s a welcome daydreaming topic.
Recently the international Blue Flag jury announced the list of 2013/2014 Blue Flag beaches and 41 of South Africa’s sandy havens were awarded with the sought after status. This is five more beaches than last year. The criteria for Blue Flag status are excellent water quality, environmental management, safety and education requirements. The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) accredits beaches when they meet these standards.
This season’s Blue Flaggers include beaches in the three sunny provinces with leisurely shoreline reputations; the Eastern Cape, Western Cape andKwaZulu Natal coasts as well as one beach in the Northern Cape.
Some that made the cut are Trafalgar Beach and Alkantstrand Beach in KwaZulu Natal, Kelly’s Beach in Port Alfred, Kenton-on-Sea Middle Beach and Dolphin Beach in Jeffrey’s Bay and the Western Cape boasts the longest list of Blue Flag credited beaches such as Nature’s Valley Beach, Wilderness Beach, Grotto Beach (Hermanus) and Muizenberg Beach (Cape Town). Mac Dougall’s Bay Beach (Port Nolloth) is the Northern Cape beach that made it into the club too.
Personally, Blue Flag status is not that important to me when choosing a beach to lay my towel onto. Those beaches tick all the boxes for what a good, commercial beach should offer its visitors, especially when it comes to facilities, water quality and safety but for me the best beaches are the wilder ones. I love to find a beach we can have all to ourselves, away from any tell-tale sign of a crowd and one that is beautifully untouched and natural. No facilities necessary, thank you. Sure they’re usually more out of the way and sometimes it means making a trip out of town to get to them but it’s completely worth the adventure.
One of my personal favourites is Zinkwazi beach on KwaZulu Natal’s North coast. We walk past the lagoon and along the coastline until we can’t see any signs of residential life at all. The moody sea is to the right, the dunes and thick coastal forest busy with birds to the left and a happy puppy off the lead running up the empty beach in front of us.
Another personal beach ideal for me is the length of sandiness on KwaZulu Natal’s South coast between Banana Beach and Hiberdene. My first childhood beach memories were made there and recently we visited it again and it felt like home-by-the-sea. It’s an unpretentious, remote coastline with that section being vast and roughly magical, featured with incredible rock formations, rock pools with intricate lives of their own and the occasional tidal pool too. We walked for ages along this beach, puppy happily exploring too and the whales put on a show for us whenever we gazed out to their deep playground. It felt like ours and ours alone.
Whether you like them vibey and convenient or secluded and wild, South Africa’s beaches never disappoint. An unknown author wrote that, “Near the sea we forget to count the days” and that’s what the story of summer should be. No problems. Just beaches.
Published 31 October 2013: Africa Geographic Blog.