Our top 20 beaches in Africa - an African Beach Bucket List

From East Africa to South Africa, the African continent is blessed with many stunning beaches. Here we reveal our top twenty beaches.

Kenya beaches

Malindi Beach on Kenya's Indian Ocean coastline -

Kenya is a one-stop beach destination, best known for its white sandy beaches and warm Indian Ocean water. The crystal clear waters are ideal for surfing, kayaking, snorkelling and scuba diving.

Lamu seen from the air -

Nyali Beach, Diani Beach and Malini Beach are the most popular beaches in Kenya, which buzz with activity all year round. Further along the coast, there are numerous other beaches well worth visiting.

1. Watamu Beach

Rock Formations on Watamu Beach, Kenya -

In the Watamu National Marine Park, Watamu Beach is a hidden gem best visited at high tide. Here the emerald ocean contrasts magnificently with the glistening white sands. A quiet destination, its easy to lose track of time as you explore the beach and watch dolphins play in the surf.

2. Shela Beach, Lamu

Palm trees at Shela beach, Lamu island, Kenya -

A UNESCO Heritage site, Lamu is a living museum dedicated to the Swahili Culture and home to the pristine sandy Shela Beach. Relax your days away lying on this magnificent beach while you watch the traditional Dhows glide effortlessly along the waves. This is Kenya at its best.

Malawi beaches

Nkhata Bay Beach, Lake Malawi -

At the heart of Malawi sits Lake Malawi. While technically a landlocked country, the expansive Lake Malawi offers fantastic golden beaches to explore.

3. Likoma Island

Micah MacAllenLikoma Island Shoreline, Lake Malawi - Micah MacAllen

A small island located in the North Eastern part of Lake Malawi. Likomo Island offers enticing rustic beaches. The island can be reached by small plane or boat. The clear waters are ideal for snorkelling and diving.

4. Cape Maclear

Nina LexOn the rocks at Cape Maclear, Malawi - Nina Lex

Renowned for its honey coloured sandy beaches, Cape Maclear is not to be missed. While it is a hub for tourism activities – the sandy beaches and warm ocean makes this an excellent beach for snorkelling, kayaking, hiking and diving.

Mozambique beaches

A small tropical island of the coast of Mozambique -

Mozambique is a popular tourist destination that offers year-round sunshine and unspoilt beaches. White-sand beaches, turquoise warm waters, shoals of colourful fish and pounding surf make it one of Africa’s most enticing beach destinations. Mozambique offers the laid-back lifestyle at its best.

5. Tofo Beach, Inhambane

Sunset swim at Tofo Beach, near Inhambane, Mozambique -

Tofo Beach is an incredible 8km stretch of sandy beach fringed by the warm Indian Ocean. It offers incredible diving opportunities along a reef brimming with Mantra Rays, Sea Turtles and Whale Sharks. With almost 365 days of sunshine and rolling surf it is easily one of Mozambique’s top beach destinations.

6. Xai-Xai beach

Andrew AshtonXai Xai beach and tidal pool, looking South - Andrew Ashton

Xai-Xai is a quiet southern coastal town in Mozambique and home to a long, sandy beach.  The sea teems with fish and even the most inexperienced angler is sure to bring in a catch of the day. The calm, warm waters are ideal for snorkelling.

7. Vamizi Island, Quirimbas Archipelago

Wicker ParadiseTaken from the Indian Ocean off Vamizi Island, Mozambique - Wicker Paradise

A deserted island made up of miles and miles of soft, silvery sandy beaches.  While it is off the beaten track it is well worth the journey there.  Pass days relaxing on the beach or gliding along the crystal clear waters in a traditional Dhow boat. With 46 different types of coral and more than 400 species of fish – this is scuba diving paradise.

Madagascar beaches

Pierre-Yves BabelonFishing boat at Tsarabanjina island, near Nosy Be, Madagascar - Pierre-Yves Babelon

With 5,000kms of coastline, 450kms of barrier reef and 250 islands, Madagascar easily secures a place on the Ultimate Beach Bucket List for Africa.

8. Sainte Marie Island

An aerial overhead view of Sainte Marie Island, Madagascar -

The tropical island of Sainte Maria lies just off the coast of eastern Madagascar. With white sandy beaches, fringed by immense palm trees it’s hard to fault.  Yearlong sunshine and calm warm waters make it a perfect island to visit.  In-season you can view humpback whales and dive amongst beautiful coral gardens.

9. Russian Bay

Google MapsRussian Bay - Google Maps

Russian Bay is a remote beach with idyllic crystal clear, warm waters. The bay teems with turtles, dolphins and hundreds of fish.

The Hacking FamilyRussian Bay - yacht at anchor - The Hacking Family

From October to May the majestic whale sharks visit the bay. It offers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dive and snorkel with these ocean giants. The island is also home to abundant reptiles, birdlife and lemurs. Day hikes along the coast are a must.

Tanzania beaches

Pemba Island rock formations -

Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coastline is magical with peaceful beaches and sleepy coastal villages steeped in history.

10. Zanzibar

Zanzibar palms and traditional fishing dhow -

Zanzibar Island is regarded as one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Its pristine beaches are sure to capture the heart of any visitor. Formerly a spice island, the combination of Arabic and African cultures creates a heady mix. Just a short distance from the beaches you can explore the UNESCO world heritage site – Stone Town.

11. Mafia Island

Untouched and uncrowded Mafia Island, off Tanzania -

Part of the Mafia Archipelago, Mafia island is made up of parks, wildlife reserves and Indian Ocean islands. The 11th-century ruins at Kisimani Mafia, Kanga, Kua and Cholesland are not to be missed.

12. Pemba

Marcel OosterwijkPemba Island - Vumawimbi beach - Marcel Oosterwijk

Part of the Zanzibar Archipelago, Pemba is surrounded by warm emerald waters offering ideal conditions for reef dives and drift dives. During the September clove harvest, the spicy clove scent permeates the whole island. It truly is a magical place.

13. Chole Mjini

PavvelChole Mjini Sand bank - Pavvel

The isolated sandbar beaches on Chole Mjini are breathtaking.

PavvelChole Mjini Treehouse - Pavvel

It’s an eco-friendly island off Tanzania with untouched beaches providing the perfect backdrop for ultimate relaxation.

PavvelWindy Palm Tree, Chole Mjini - Pavvel

South Africa beaches

With over 3,000kms of coastline South Africa offers numerous stunning beaches.

Andre van RooyenSmitswinkel Bay seen from Cape Point Nature Reserve, looking North towards Cape Town - Andre van Rooyen

From pumping surf spots to quiet sandy stretches, and beaches packed with revellers – it is the ultimate beach destination. The challenge remains how to visit as many beaches, along the varied coastline as possible. Here are a few of our favourites;

Western Cape, Cape Town beaches

Damien du ToitClifton's beaches with Camps Bay behind - these are VERY popular summer beaches - Damien du Toit

No trip to Cape Town would be complete without a visit to Llandudno Beach, Camps Bay Clifton.

Julian KnutzenBoulders Beach - no waves, shady coves and penguins, with warmer water than Camps Bay and Clifton - Julian Knutzen

In the South Peninsula, Boulders Beach is famous for its penguin colony. The impressive rock formations provide shelter from the wind.

Jim SherLlandudno Beach Panorama - Jim Sher

Llandudno is considered the ultimate sundowner beach.

Camps Bay Beach with the 12 Apostles behind -

With a view of Table Mountain, Camps Bay offers easy access to trendy bars and restaurants.

Graeme ChurchardClifton's beaches beneath Lion's Head in Cape Town - Graeme Churchard

Clifton Beach is undoubtedly Cape Town’s St Tropez.

Cape Town's Clifton beaches at sunset -

It’s the party beach that is alive all year round. So while the mother city is well known for these beaches, there are other less well-known beaches that deserve attention.

14. Seaforth Beach

mp3iefSeaforth Beach paddling - mp3ief

Seaforth Beach is a small pretty beach with surprisingly mild waters.

Chrystian CruzJackass Penguin on Seaforth Beach - Chrystian Cruz

It is home to the endearing Jackass Penguins who spend all day catching waves or baking on the rocks. Well-sheltered, it offers great respite from the South Easterly wind when it blows through Cape Town. It’s a great beach for kids.

15. Beta Beach

Tali FeinbergBeta Beach, tucked away near Bakoven, just outside Camps Bay - Tali Feinberg

The size of a postage stamp, Beta Beach is a wonderful coarse-sand beach with views of the Twelve Apostle mountain range. Located near Bakoven, it is a great place to relax, picnic and watch the sunset over the Atlantic. Pure bliss.

Kwa-Zulu Natal beaches

With the warm Indian Ocean lapping its coastline, KZN offers some of the best swimming beaches in the country. Umhlanga Rocks, Ballito Beach, Durban North Beach and Margate are some of the more popular beaches.

16. Mabibi, Isimangaliso Wetland Park

hyper7proBat Point, near Isimangaliso Wetlands - hyper7pro

The Isimangaliso Wetland Park offers 220kms of remote, untouched beaches. While only accessible by off-road vehicles, the journey takes you through subtropical forest and over steep coastal dunes until you reach the sea. Rustic camping facilities are available. This is a beach, right off the beaten track, which offers pure solitude and tranquillity.

17. Kosi Bay, Isimangaliso Wetland Park

Crystal clear water at the Kosi Bay mouth -

Easily one of the quietest beaches in South Africa, Kosi Bay is truly a hidden gem. The Kosi River mouth is known locally as the aquarium because of the clarity of the water and phenomenal sea life. It attracts fascinating birds such as Pel’s Fishing Owl, Kingfishers and the White-backed Night-Heron. Kosi bay is en-route to Mozambique and absolutely worth a visit.

Eastern Cape beaches

Exploring the garden route will take you via fantastic beaches such as Plettenberg Bay’s Lookout Beach and the surf phenomenon at Jay Bay as you enter the Eastern Cape. Known as the sunshine coast, the Eastern Cape is home to many spectacular beaches including Port Alfred’s blue flag Kelly Beach. Each beach is an attraction in itself.

18. Kariega Beach, Kenton-on-Sea

Shelley Bay - a tidal pool near Kariega Beach -

Once voted the best beach in South Africa, it is easy to know why holidaymakers return to Kenton’s Kariega beach year-on-year. Kenton offers wide, clean beaches dotted with rock pools and rocky outcrops.

19. Dolphin Bay, Jeffrey’s Bay

Rian (Ree) SaundersSunrise over Surfer's Point, Jeffreys Bay - Rian (Ree) Saunders

Jeffrey’s Bay is the surf capital of South Africa and a top 10 rated surf spot worldwide. Dolphin Bay is Jay Bay’s chill-out beach where its easy to pass hours watching surfers ride the legendary Supertubes wave.

20. Hluleka Beach, Hluleka Nature Reserve

Jessica ButcherHluleka Beach - remote - and usually deserted - Wild Coast perfection - Jessica Butcher

This is undoubtedly one of the Wild Coast’s best-kept secrets. The untouched cove is fringed by coastal forest and lapped by unpredictable, emerald green waves. The incredible beauty of this remote beach makes the journey across the rough roads of the Transkei well worth it.

Our team of travel experts is based along the shores of South Africa, in Cape Town. We constantly travel far and wide across Africa. Ask our team for recommendations and help planning or even tailor-making your perfect African beach getaway.

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