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Boulders Beach, Cape Town

Dreamy sands and calm waters flanked by ocean-smoothed boulders. “How could the scene be any more idyllic?”, we hear you ask. Well in the case of Boulders Beach, the answer is simple – it’s the resident colony of African Penguins that steal the limelight here. 

Dotting the beach, rocks and dunes that run from Boulders to Foxy Beach, these loveable black and white birds know how to captivate an audience. And, thanks to this being one of the only spots in South Africa in which to see them, they are rarely without one.  

In this mirage-like bay, they may appear to be as common as the dassie, but the African Penguin is a unique and endangered species that has had it pretty tough over the years. During the beginning of the 20th century it is thought that there were around one-and-a-half million of them living on this coastline which fell, quite shockingly, to just two breeding pairs by 1982 due to overfishing, pollution and irresponsible tourism. Today, thanks to a fantastic conservation programme being put in place, this number has been brought back from the brink. It’s now estimated that the Boulders colony consists of nearly 3,000 penguins. Now that’s a fighting spirit to admire. 

Elegant they may not be – they’re known as jackass penguins for the unusual braying sound that they make and the waddle, oh the waddle – but you’ll be hard pushed to not let the word “cute” slip upon sight of them. 

Why add Boulders Beach to your itinerary

Old school romance is be hard to come by these days with the likes of Tinder changing the face of dating, but amongst penguins a partner is for life. During nesting season, watch these fascinating relationships at play as mothers and fathers take it in turns to lovingly incubate their eggs and feed their chicks. Can society learn something from the African Penguin? We certainly think so.

Everyone’s go-to is Boulders Beach, because, well, you’ve come to see the Boulders Beach Penguin Colony haven’t you? But, it’s often overlooked that a series of boardwalks at Boulders Beach mean that access to the penguin dotted sands are fairly limited – it’s at neighbouring Foxy Beach where things get up-close-and-personal. Here, you’re able to roam – and swim – as freely as the penguins themselves. Just don’t get too close, because however cuddly they may look, these are wild animals that aren’t afraid to bite.

And once you’ve had your fill of penguin pictures, why not check out nearby Simon’s Town? Browse the suburb’s vintage shops before stopping for a coffee and a sweet treat at one of its quaint cafés.

Boulders Beach essential information


About a 45 minute journey outside of Cape Town, near Simon’s Town on the False Bay coast. Due to the conservation movement in place along the Cape Peninsula, the beaches here are classified as part of the Table Mountain National Park.

Opening times

Opening times vary throughout the year, but generally they are open from 8am to 6.30pm. 

Early morning and late afternoon are when the penguins are most active, but to catch the more enchanting, people-free scenes, get there for when it opens.

Getting in

There is a R152 conservation fee.

Dress code

Maybe avoid black and white because it’s always embarrassing when someone turns up in the same outfit as you...

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