Safari might be top of mind when planning a vacation to Southern Africa, but the region also boasts some outstanding beaches and coastal regions. Just imagine immersing yourself in the raw African bush with its incredible concentration of wildlife on one day, and relaxing with a sundowner on a pretty beach on the next. This combination may be the perfect solution for those visitors who want the best of both worlds, have limited time, and can’t imagine going on vacation without some time just staring at the ocean or going scuba diving. While we may not have snow capped mountain resorts, Southern Africa certainly has everything else and Bush & Beach is the perfect way to experience the best that this continent has to offer in one trip.
The camps in the Kruger National Park are within easy reach of the endless wild coast of Northern KwaZulu Natal and Mozambique, and there are numerous ways to combine a safari with time on the beach. We recommend going on safari first (as the early wake-up calls for game drives can get quite tiring) and planning some chilled out beach-time thereafter to relax and reminisce about all your animal sightings in the bush.
Our Top Rated Beach Destinations
The South African coast runs for thousands of miles along two oceans, dotted with an impressive selection of hotels and resorts, each boasting their own unique blend of city and wilderness. On some beaches you can step straight off the pristine white sand into a trendy bar or café, on others you might be lucky enough to spot whales, and on remote beach destinations you may well find yourself climbing into a waiting 4×4 vehicle to take you on a late afternoon game drive.
Our top rated beach destination is Mozambique with its miles and miles of unspoilt beaches, turquoise-clear waters and coral islands. There are two main Archipelagos here, Bazaruto in the south, and Quirimbas in the north. Well-known for its offshore islands, barefoot luxury eco lodges, local culture and waterborne activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving and dhow sailing trips, Mozambique is the crown jewel of Africa’s top beach destinations. We suggest you stay at Ibo Island Lodge, situated on a remote Mozambiquan island, which is an oasis of laidback five-star luxury, beautifully renovated and complete with a magical roof terrace with panoramic views over the surrounding ocean. This little gem also boasts some of the best scuba diving, snorkeling and game fishing that Africa has to offer.
This great city is certainly blessed as a canvas of imagination for the weary traveler with its fair weather and cobalt skies, water on three sides of the peninsula, and the backdrop of rugged mountains wherever you look. No matter which beach you choose to visit, the sea and mountain vistas never disappoint. One of the most popular beaches is cosmopolitan Camps Bay. Reminiscent of the Californian coast with its palm lined street, trendy cafes and bars, Camps Bay boasts expansive sea views plus the dramatic backdrop of Lion’s Head and Table Mountain, as well as a wide selection of fabulous boutique hotels. But be aware the Atlantic waters here are always chilly! One of our favorite places to stay is The Bay Hotel. With its prime position overlooking the beach and its unrivalled proximity to the sea which guests can enjoy from their private pool deck, this is luxury beach-front living at its best! A spa and well regarded restaurant make this one of Cape Town’s best-loved hotels. And don’t forget Clifton Beach which is Africa’s own Cote d’Azur.
For those who prefer endless long white stretches of beach – the type that runs for miles and miles and is ideal for an early morning jog – the sweeping arch of False Bay is the epitome of wide open spaces for which Africa is renowned. One of the most popular is Muizenberg (also known as Surfer’s Paradise) with its colorful beach huts, surf schools and unpretentious beachfront littered with great cafes and fish & chips shops. Form here its just a hop skip and a jump to get to the Cape Peninsula coastline and its national park area. Another must-see (especially for families) is Boulders Beach, home to the delightful African Penguins, and ideally placed to visit nearby Simonstown with its naval museum and quirky shops. The drive from here over Noordhoek’s Long Beach, with its incredible stretch of beach perfect for horseriding through to Hout Bay with its thriving harbor market, surely rates as one of the most spectacular in the world.
A well-loved and popular holiday destination along this unique coast is Hermanus, an up-market town with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and mountains, only about an hour’s drive from Cape Town on the way up to the coast of Cape Agulhas. Famous for its cliff path walks and Blue Flag status Grotto Beach as well as the incredible backdrop of fynbos found in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve, this town has a genteel character reminiscent of the Hamptons. Well-known for the Hermanus Whale Festival that takes place in early October, this town is renowned for the Southern Right Whales that come to the bay to calve and put on breaching displays for whale loving visitors from July to November. We recommend staying at the stylish Birkenhead House, perched on a rocky cliff-top overlooking two of the finest beaches in Hermanus, which offers visitors a truly memorable luxury seaside experience! When tired of looking out to sea, you can venture up the nearby Hemel en Aarde valley for cellar tours and wine tastings at a couple of famous wineries, namely Hamilton Russell and Bouchard Finlayson.
Halfway up the coast towards Durban lies Plettenberg Bay, the gem of the Garden Route and a favorite amongst locals and holiday makers. This is arguably one of South Africa’s most pristine and breathtakingly beautiful coastline stretches with miles of unspoilt white sandy beaches, lagoons, dense indigenous forests, nature reserves and rivers. With its warm Indian Ocean, it offers plenty of outdoor activities such as dolphin watching marine safaris, canoeing on the many lagoons and up rivers, as well as numerous water sports. The village has plenty of fine dining options, world-famous golf courses are nearby, and you can even have an interactive experience with a herd of elephants. We suggest staying in one of the private villas of The Robberg Beach Lodge, perched above the warm, enticing breakers of Robberg Beach (which also boasts the Blue Flag status) and a mere 5-minutes away from the village-centre. The Robberg is a beautifully appointed luxury beach retreat, perfect for families or honeymooners.
KZN North Coast
The coastline continues for many hundreds of kilometers, with some of the best infrastructure north of Durban at the popular local holiday destinations of Ballito and Umhlanga. This area is more built up but still boasts long stretches of beautiful white sandy beaches with the warm currents of the Indian Ocean. It is also conveniently placed for golf courses and the game reserves of Zululand and the Kruger National Park. We simply love Thonga Beach Lodge! Set amongst pristine wilderness beaches, with the inky blue waters of the Indian Ocean coupled with five-star treatment, this is truly a small slice of heaven. Known as one of South Africa’s top dive sites, this beach lodge has a romantic Robinson Crusoe island feel where visitors can experience the thrill of swimming with dolphins, whale shark watching or witnessing turtles laying their eggs on the sandy beaches. In safari circles Phinda Private Game Reserve is known for its stylish luxury lodges and concentration of animals especially cheetah and rhino. But did you know that you can also access the beach (a game drive away) and depending on the time of year, see turtles laying or hatching and see whales too?
With the new direct flight between Kruger National Park and Vilanculos launching in June of this year (which will operate twice weekly on Thursdays and Sundays) we recommend that you try one of our most popular bush & beach offerings with three nights at &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp and five nights at &Beyond Benguerra Island.
Combining a bush and beach holiday may be the ideal vacation for those seeking to experience both the thrill of being in the dusty African bush, as well as the pure luxury of relaxing with a cocktail on the beach after a long pampering spa session.