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Travel Guide: Big Trip: Saffa's Up

6th Jun 2014 2:05pm | By Heather Richardson

From killer waves to killer whales, South Africa’s beaches offer a plethora of adventures and a chance to dive into the wild side.

With 3,000 miles of coastline, South Africa suffers no shortage of incredible beaches. Whether you’re hoping to witness a 40-ton humpback whale breaching, surf world-class waves or simply work on that tan, there is a beach in South Africa to suit every purpose.

South Africans will be at pains to remind you that these are some of the best shores in the world, and there’s strong evidence to back this claim: some of the biggest pro-surfing competitions are held here, Hermanus is the best land-based whale watching site in the world, and great white shark breaching tours are unique to the Western Cape.

Cape Town is South Africa’s most popular city, and rightfully so. Located on the southwest coast, the city serves as a perfect base for surfing, cage diving with great white sharks, visiting the tiny, brilliantly named Jackass penguins, and simply admiring the views of iconic Table Mountain while soaking up the sunshine.

Further east along the coast is where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic. This area is arguably the best place in the world for spotting whales, often without ever having to leave the shore (a big relief for anyone prone to seasickness). The Whale Coast, as it’s often termed, is also where you can spot the Marine Big Five - the ocean’s answer to the famous safari Big Five - consisting of sharks, seals, penguins, dolphins and, of course, whales. Hermanus is the most popular launch-pad for sea-based adventures.

The scenic Garden Route stretches around the Western Cape coast and is home to Plettenberg Bay, one of the most popular staycation spots for South Africans. It’s a great place for swimming, long walks along the clean beaches, sailing and kayaking. Just east of Plettenberg, crossing into the Eastern Cape province, is the site of the annual Billabong Pro ASP World Tour, which puts this area high on the list for surfers keen to tackle the waves in this world-class surfing spot.

Follow the Eastern Cape coast and you’ll reach the KwaZulu-Natal coast in between Durban and the Mozambique border. This is an amazing environment for divers: Sodwana Bay is commonly cited as one of the world’s top 10 dive sites. If you’re visiting between November and January, you can also watch the loggerhead and leatherback turtles laying their eggs on these north-eastern beaches. Whether you’re travelling to South Africa for the sunshine, the wildlife, or the surf, we’ve got your ideal beach right here...

Fancy booking your own trip to South Africa? Try this 21-day tour from Victoria Falls to Cape Town