Swim, snorkel, surf and walk the dog
What makes one beach more childfriendly than the next? They all have sand and waves, so what’s the difference? Well, the parents want to relax. For that to happen, you need a specific kind of beach, preferably one with a shallow lagoon or some rock pools so you can build sandcastles and look for starfish and anemones. As soon as the kids are engrossed, you can slip away to your towel. If your kids are confident swimmers, a tidal pool is also a must. It’s much safer than the open sea. And, of course, there has to be a softserve kombi in the parking area.
Our pick: Boulders (near Simon’s Town), Palmiet (Kleinmond), Goukou River (Still Bay), Nature’s Valley, Morgan Bay, Uvongo, Umhlanga Rocks. Tidal pools: Herold’s Bay, Victoria Bay, Cintsa West, Salt Rock Beach
A beach is photogenic by nature: all that sand and water, plus a silhouette of an angler or a running dog in the last light. Some beaches, however, take it to the next level. Think of the splashes of colour provided by the changing huts at St James in Cape Town, or the fishing boats at Paternoster on the West Coast. It also helps if the beach is home to a special or unusual subject, like Table Mountain viewed from Blouberg, Hole-in-the-Wall on the Wild Coast, a lighthouse on the rocks or Durban’s iconic piers. If you want to take a photo of the sun sinking into the ocean, make sure the beach faces west! Otherwise you’ll have to wake early for sunrise. St Helena Bay on the West Coast is one of only a handful of places in the world where you can watch the sun rise and set over the ocean.
Our pick: Paternoster, Blouberg, St James, Cape St Francis, Hole-in-the-Wall, Mbotyi
Many beaches have dunes, but not all of them are as high as buildings. Big dunes are the best. Climb to the top and find a spot where you’re completely surrounded by sand. Sandboard down and repeat. Best of all? A day in the dunes is tiring – everyone will be in bed by eight!
Our pick: Betty’s Bay, Koppie Alleen (De Hoop Nature Reserve), Jeffreys Bay, Woody Cape (Addo Elephant National Park)
Tugela River Mouth
Windmill Beach at Boulders
Cape St Francis