Boulder Beach is located in Simon’s Town, one of the oldest towns in South Africa, and only located a short distance outside of the Cape Town area. In a relaxing beach town on the coastline, you’ll find the atmosphere to be very slow. Almost to a standstill as this tourist location gives off the pleasant vibes of no worries and to take your time on a day trip here. Small marketplaces selling local arts and crafts, restaurants, and very picturesque ocean views and mountain hikes are only a small part of this South African homestead that makes it a fantastic destination on anyone’s travel itinerary. What draws the rest of its appeal is the local wildlife, one animal in particular.
Where to go in Simon’s Town
One of the best things you can do while in Simon’s Town is to check out the African penguin colony located nearby in Boulder Beach. At least several hundred penguins can be found in Boulders and next-door Foxy beaches. It’s a great year-long destination regardless of the penguin’s breeding and feeding season. And one of the few places you can waddle with the penguins in the pristine water if you pay the conservation fee at the information center located at the entrance. Just be sure not to get too close to them as they will take an aggressive stance. You can catch them as you walk along the boardwalk to the entrance.
You’ll be enjoying some time in the sun while seeing one of the cutest animals in the world. Previously known as jackass penguins cause of the braying sound they make; this population has increased since the 1980’s when it was chosen by the penguins as a breeding ground. Though they are still nearing extinction even now. Under wildlife protection by Cape Nature Conservation, they are only found on the Southern African coastlines. Plan on getting to Boulder Beach at a good time as the African Penguins tend to be more active in the late morning to early afternoon.
When should you go to Boulder Beach?
The best time to visit this part of the peninsula is from February to May which is their breeding season. When I visited Simon’s Town in late November while making my way through South Africa there were still so many penguins to see at Boulder Beach. So I expect during the more preferred months the numbers would double or even triple. But there were also a large number of tourists passing through on private tours or just out for a day excursion. You’ll find April and May are better to avoid the crowds but don’t be surprised to find others who have the same idea you do.
The beaches are great. Natural rocks help discourage the large ocean waves and the area is so clean since it’s a protected area, part of the Table Mountain National Park. The sand is soft and white. The water tends to be on the warmish side which makes this relaxing spot even more of a calm paradise.
Multiple boardwalks will take you around part of the Boulder Beach area where the penguins tend to congregate and make it easier to view and take some high-quality photos at the beach. Even without the penguins, this is a pretty nice walking tour to take, and you’ll enjoy the nice ocean breeze coming in.
Check out the rest of Simon’s Town
There are other activities to do around Simon’s Town as well once you have finished with the penguins and Boulder Beach or planning on staying for an extended period in town.
South African Naval Museum – As home to South Africa’s largest navy base it’s no surprise there would be a maritime museum to commemorate all the experiences. Since it was originally with the Royal British Navy before being handed over to South Africa during its independence, you will find several different collections and exhibits here. They contain displays of model ships, military uniforms, medals, and their history as early as the First World War. It is free entry and a good way to spend an hour or two to finish up your day.
Shark, Seals, & Whale Tours – With scenic calming ocean waters and cool temperatures you can find boat tours heading out of the bay during your time here. This is a great opportunity to see some amazing ocean life and use more of your photography skills. You can also choose instead of a whale tour to go to Seal Island, just a few miles off from Simon’s Town.
On this tour, you may also be able to see passing dolphins and even sharks as a possible bonus. Cage diving is also an optional activity you can choose to do if you don’t mind the intense adrenaline rush. The tour guide will give you all the info you need to know about the habits and best sightseeing spots to check out.
Hiking Trails – There are plenty of easy and moderate hiking paths just outside of the town along the cliffs. Take a break at Admirals Waterfall or head to Swartkop for the mountain and breathtaking views of the entire area.
The active foot traffic of locals, buildings, and consistent tourism also help protect the penguin colony from natural wildlife predators and increased vegetation. If the African penguins had chosen to breed elsewhere it would have resulted in lower numbers.
While you are traveling through South Africa, make Boulder Beach part of your top spots to visit, a spontaneous adventure for animal lovers, or even a honeymoon destination. I highly recommend stopping by here even for a few hours if you want to take a break and just soak up the relaxed atmosphere of this coastal treasure.