With pristine white sands and calm turquoise waters hemmed in by gigantic granite boulders, Boulders Beach is one of the Cape Peninsula’s most magnificent beaches. Located just outside Simon’s Town, the beach is protected as part of the Table Mountain National Park and renowned for its African penguin colony.
A Cape Peninsula tour is the most popular way to visit Boulders Beach. Half- and full-day tours run from Cape Town and most include nearby attractions, such as Chapman’s Peak Drive, Cape Point, the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, or Camps Bay. Some tours include a cruise out to Seal Island to discover more of the peninsula’s wildlife, explore the Cape Peninsula by bike, or enjoy a wine tasting in the Constantia Valley.
The beach is split into the northern part, accessed via the Boulders Visitors Centre and offering a purpose-built boardwalk from which to watch the penguins in their natural habitat, and the southern part, which is open for swimming.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The entrance fee for the boardwalk goes toward conservation efforts.
- It’s prohibited to touch, feed, or interact with the penguins, although the boardwalks will take you close enough to get some great photos.
- Parking at the beach is limited, especially in peak season (December–January), so arrive early to secure a spot.
- The boardwalk is wheelchair and stroller accessible.
How to Get to There
Boulders Beach is located around 28 miles (45 kilometers) southeast of Cape Town, along the east coast of the Cape Peninsula. The most convenient way to visit is by guided tour, but it’s also possible to take the train from Cape Town to Simon’s Town and either walk or take a taxi for 1.8 miles (3 kilometers) to the beach.
When to Get There
It’s possible to spot penguins at Boulders Beach year-round but breeding season from February until August is the most interesting time to watch them. The highest numbers of penguins can be seen in the early morning or late afternoon, as the animals spend much of the day feeding out at sea.
The Boulders Beach Penguin Colony
The Boulders Beach African penguin colony grew from two breeding pairs that settled there in the early 1980s. The population is now more than 3,000, although numbers have declined in recent years. Nicknamed “jackass penguins” for the braying sounds they make, African penguins are an endangered species found along the Namibian and South African coast. Boulders Beach is the only place in Africa where you can enjoy watching the penguins roam freely in their natural environment.