Just an hour outside of Cape Town you will find Boulders Beach. This beach has become one of the most visited places in South Africa. And there is a very specific reason for this. It is not the large boulders as the name suggests, but rather the penguin colony that can be found right on the beach. You might think that we are totally crazy. But the African penguins actually prefer sunshine over ice, which is why South Africa is a perfect home for them. One of the incredible things you simply must do when in Cape Town is visiting the penguins at Boulders Beach.
Everything you need to know for a visit to Boulders Beach
Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town is one of the most popular places to visit when in Cape Town. And we definitely understand why. Visiting the penguins is just a great experience. However, like so many other attractions there are always a few things you might find useful before your visit. Therefore, we have gathered everything you need to know for a visit to the penguins at Boulder Beach.
Getting to Boulders Beach
Boulders Beach is located in Simon’s Town which is about an hour south of Cape Town. It is possible to ride with Uber, however, it is not very cheap. Therefore, we would recommend you drive by yourself. With a rental car, you are also able to explore other places out of Cape Town like Cape Point Nature Reserve, Cape Winelands, or Garden Route. To reach Boulders Beach from Cape Town you must follow M3 to Muizenberg. From here you must drive along M4 which will lead you right to Simon’s Town. You must then drive through the town till you see the sign towards Boulders Beach. We would actually recommend that you drive a bit further to Bellevue Road and turn left there. At the end of the road, you will find a small parking area. From here you can walk to the second entrance of the reserve – which is actually where the beach is.
At the second entrance, you can buy your ticket to the nature reserve and walk straight to the beach. If you want to visit the main area of the reserve, you must exit the beach and walk along the public boardwalk to the main entrance. With your already-purchased ticket, you can walk inside and admire the penguins from above from the wooden boardwalks.
Bonus tip: Drive along the Ou Kaapse Weg pass for some stunning views.
The opening hours of Boulders Beach vary depending on the seasons. In the winter months from April to September, the nature reserve is open from 08:00 to 17:00, whereas in the summer months from December to January the opening hours are from 07:00 to 19:30. While in February to March and October to November the opening hours of Boulders Beach are from 08:00 to 18:30.
Tip: Try to visit during low tide!
The entrance fees to Boulders Beach are as follows.
|South African visitors||42 ZAR||21 ZAR|
|SADC Nationals||85 ZAR||42 ZAR|
|International visitors||170 ZAR||85 ZAR|
Time spent at Boulder Beach
Many people only visit Boulders Beach for a short visit to see the penguins. But it is actually a perfect place to spend a day. Therefore, we would recommend you bring your swimsuit, towels, a good book, and some snacks to make a day out of your visit. However, if your time is limited you should aside about 2 hours for your visit to Boulders Beach. That way you are able to walk around the area with the boardwalk and visit the beach without feeling stressed.
Penguins are wild animals
When you are visiting Boulders Beach you must keep in mind that penguins are wild animals. They will bite you if you do not respect their personal space. It is therefore important you give them enough space to move freely and that you never touch, feed, or chase them. They are really cute but might attack if you give them reasons to. Keeping a safe distance is thereby the perfect and most respectful way to visit the penguins in the habitat.
Best time to visit the penguins at Boulder Beach
The best time to visit the penguins at Boulders Beach is in the early morning hours when they are more active. This is also when the crowds tend to not be too big. Another plus of arriving early is that you are able to find a parking spot as they are limited, as well as you can find the perfect spot for your beach day. Try to avoid weekends and public holidays as this is when many locals visit the beach. It can therefore be very crowded during these days.
Seeing penguins for free
If you are not too keen on paying the entrance fee to Boulders Beach, you might be able to spot the penguins on one of the neighboring beaches. Though, keep in mind it is not certain that you will see penguins. Next to the parking area on Bellevue Road, you’ll find a small wooden gate. If you go through this and follow the path you will be led toward Link Beach. Along the path, you might see some penguins – especially in the early morning before sunrise. But again – keep in mind that you do not see penguins this way. If you want to be certain you must visit Boulders Beach and pay the entrance fee. The money from which is used to maintain the sanctuary and further work with penguins in South Africa.