South Africa has a huge coastline and is pounded by both Atlantic and Indian Ocean waters.
The west coast of the country, from the border with Namibia down to the Cape Peninsula in the Western Cape, experiences the colder currents and less favourable ‘beach’ conditions of the Atlantic Ocean, whilst the majority of the south coast and the east coast benefit from the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean. Cape Town and Hermanus do offer some lovely beaches, but the best swimming conditions and greater number of ‘beach resorts’ are found further north-east, and in particular around Durban and the northern KwaZulu/Natal coast.
It is especially worth noting that South Africa does not offer palm-fringed, calm waters that are associated with tropical islands and are ideal for swimming. The sandy beaches are generally very large, and as about 95% of the South Africa coastline is not protected by an off shore reef, currents can be strong and waves significant. This does of course create good surfing conditions, beautiful coastal walks and stunning seascapes. In most major areas, beaches are patrolled by lifeguards and there are often markers earmarking the safer areas to swim. Shark nets may also be provided. However, you should take extreme care elsewhere.
The best scuba diving conditions are found on the northern KwaZulu/Natal coastline, which offers some magnificent, relatively unexplored, diving conditions.
We would recommend the South Africa coast for anyone seeking relaxation, wildlife viewing (whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles etc) and a general coastal experience to compliment the rest of their South Africa holiday, but if you’re looking for traditional ‘lie in the sun’ beach holiday you should probably be considering travelling on to Mozambique or the Indian Ocean Islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles.