Seven of the best beaches in Africa

From nesting turtles to volcanic sands, there’s a wealth of natural attractions to be found on Africa’s shorelines. Here are some of the best beach experiences the continent has to offer.

By Tamsin Wressell
Published 1 Apr 2021, 08:06 BST
View of Table Mountain from Bloubergstrand, South Africa.

View of Table Mountain from Bloubergstrand, South Africa.

Photograph by Getty Images

1. Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa

Best for views of Table Mountain

This is a top spot for sunset photography, with the white sands reaching out towards an iconic silhouette of Table Mountain. Bloubergstrand is divided into two beaches: Big Bay, a popular location with kitesurfers; and Little Bay, whose lawn area is ideal for picnics and braai (barbecues). 

Blank Canvas offers tailor-made packages to South Africa, with a 10-day trip to Cape Town and Amakhala Game Reserve, including accommodation and return flights from Heathrow, costing around £1,790 per person.

2. Santa Maria, Sal, Cape Verde

Best for watersports

The chain of volcanic islands has plenty of wild and untamed beaches to choose from, but one of the best for watersports is Santa Maria on Sal Island. During the summer months, the waters are great for surfing, diving, jet skiing and paddle boarding. In winter, they’re perfect for kiteboarding, windsurfing and sailing. 

Cape Verde Experience has a seven-night package on a B&B basis at Hilton Cabo Verde Sal Resort, including return flights with TUI Airways from Gatwick to Sal, from £959 per person.

3. Likoma Island, Lake Malawi, Malawi

Best for freshwater swimming

While the clear waters and golden, sandy stretches are reminiscent of ocean beaches, the freshwater shores of Likoma Island are found on Lake Malawi, the continent’s third-largest lake. The beaches are beautiful and peaceful, and the island’s eco-resort, Kaya Mawa, has its own secluded beach. 

Kenya Airways flies from Heathrow to Lilongwe Airport, with one stop in Nairobi, from £523 return. Trailfinders offers three nights at Kaya Mawa, all inclusive, including return transfers to Likoma Airport, from £949 per person.

Kokrobite Beach in Ghana is a well-known party spot.

Photograph by Alamy Images

4. Kokrobite Beach, Kokrobite, Ghana

Best for nightlife

Less than 15 miles from Accra, the soft white sands of Kokrobite are the stage for many a barbecue party. The beach has a relaxed, low-key atmosphere and often plays host to live music performances and dynamic art installations. There’s plenty in the way of water-based activities, too, including boat trips, scuba diving and surfing. 

Viator’s seven-day Ghana Holiday Coastal Tour costs from £1,009.45 per person, including six nights at Axim Beach Resort, with some meals and tours, starting and finishing in Accra. British Airways flies direct from Heathrow to Accra from £453 return.

5. Loango National Park, Gabon

Hippos taking to the waves

Loango National Park comprises areas of forest, wetlands, savannah and pristine beaches. Just like the rest of the park, the beach is ruled by wildlife. It’s become famous for the hippos that grace the waters here, sometimes appearing to body-surf in the waves, but there’s also the chance to spot elephants, buffaloes, gorillas and leopards on the sands. 

January offers the best chance of seeing the so-called ‘surfing hippos’; September to May is best for forest elephants and buffalo; and between October and February is when turtles nest here. Alitalia and Ethiopian Airlines fly from Heathrow to Libreville from £449. Steppes Travel has a 13-day group trip for £7,995 per person, departing on 22 January 2022 and travelling from Libreville to Ivindo and Loango National Park. Includes accommodation, some meals and internal travel.    

BomBom Beach on the island of Príncipe is home to diverse wildlife.

Photograph by Henrique Seruca

6. BomBom beach, Príncipe, São Tomé and Príncipe

Best for nesting turtles

The island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe sits in the Gulf of Guinea. Príncipe, the smaller of the two islands, is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, its mountains covered in thick forests that slope down to BomBom Beach. The beach is fantastic for birdwatching, given its location on the fringe of the jungle, and for spotting local nesting turtles along the shores. 

Rainbow Tours has a 10-night São Tomé and Prìncipe Retreat from £2,950 per person, based on two sharing on a half-board basis, including four nights at Omali Lodge in São Tomé and six nights at BomBom, including international flights from London to São Tomé with TAP Air Portugal and domestic flights between São Tomé and Prìncipe.

7. Tremblet Beach, Saint-Philippe, Réunion

Best for black volcanic sands

Réunion is known for its volcanic interior and the white sand beaches lining its edges, but Tremblet Beach, on the southeast of the island, offers something a little different. Formed after a volcanic eruption in 2007, this 900ft stretch is recognisable by its black volcanic sands, dotted with large boulders. The beach is occasionally occupied by a resident elephant seal, known to locals as Alan. 

The best times to visit are from September to November and from April to May. Kuoni offers a seven-night trip, staying at Palm Hotel & Spa on a B&B basis, from £2,249 per person, including return flights from Heathrow with Air France.

As featured in the 2021 edition of National Geographic Traveller The Africa Collection

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