Boulders Beach is a sheltered sandy patch just outside of Simon’s Town, about 40km from Cape Town. It’s named after the large granite boulders that jut out of the beach and ocean at this spot.
This beach is most famous for the African penguins that have decided to make it their home and is one of the protected areas that make up Table Mountain National Park.
History of Boulders Beach
Until 1983, Boulders Beach was just another pretty coastal playground along South Africa’s coastline. That’s when a pair of African penguins decided to nest on Boulders Beach. Conservationists acted quickly, declaring Boulders Beach a protected area in the same year.
Unable to defend themselves against land-dwelling predators, penguins usually build their nests on small islands Yet, thanks to their urban location, this solitary couple survived and raised their chick in total safety.
Before long, news spread of this penguin paradise and more of their kin joined them in this safe, sheltered spot. By 2010, there were over 2 000 penguins nesting at Boulders Beach.
Things to Do on Boulders Beach
Visit the African Penguins
The African Penguins are the number one attraction for miles around. Not only are land-based breeding sites extremely rare in the world of penguins, urban penguins are unheard of. Yet, these birds happily co-exist with their human hosts, even wandering away from the beach at times.
Naturally, these city slicking seabirds are a big drawcard for visitors to the area and they have become accustomed to their human onlookers. This gives you abundant opportunities to see them up close when you visit Boulders Beach.
There are wheelchair-friendly boardwalks through the dunes and vegetation that prevent the penguins’ fans from unintentionally damaging their nests on the way past. These boardwalks also give visitors a better view of the birds. For the best views, start your walk from Foxy Beach.
Boulders Visitors Centre
For more information about African penguins, pop into the Boulders Visitors Centre, where local guides will fill you in on more interesting facts about these unique creatures.
Despite the penguins, Boulders Beach is still open for fun in the sun business, and it’s a great family-friendly swimming beach.
Children love climbing among the boulders and exploring the rock pools, while adults can enjoy sunbathing or taking a dip in the cool waters of False Bay. It’s seldom crowded thanks to the R65 conservation fee, and a brilliant destination for a family picnic with a view of Simon’s Town’s most unique inhabitants.
Nearby, Seaforth Beach is another good option for seaside fun.
What to Bring
All you need to visit Boulders Beach is your camera and beach wear. You’ll also need some cash to pay the R65 entry fee, and sunblock and a hat are always a good option for outdoor activities in Africa.
In winter, the weather can be unpredictable, so bring an umbrella or raincoat in case of showers. Arrive as early as possible, finding parking can be a challenge during busy periods.
Boulders Beach is about an hour’s drive by car from the Cape Town CBD. You can get there by taking the M3 then M4 towards Simon’s Town/Muizenberg or on the scenic route via Camps Bay and Hout Bay along Chapman’s Peak Drive
When you reach Simon’s Town, turn left into Seaforth Road and park at the Seaforth Beach Parking lot. A short stroll along Kleintuin Road takes you to the Penguin Colony.
Otherwise, you can continue to Secluse Road in Simon’s Town and park at the official Boulders Beach parking lot. A stroll along the boardwalk brings you to the penguin colony.
If you’d like to use public transport you can take a train to Simon’s Town and walk to the beach from the station.
The Cape Point Explorer bus stops off at Boulders Bay on its travels and you can also join up with organized tours to Simon’s Town from Cape Town.
Hit the Beach
Whether you’re in search of unique birding experiences or simply looking for a few moments in the sun, get in touch with African Travel Guide for advice and information regarding your travels around Africa.
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