Paradise Island, Seychelles, Africa

A Guide to the Best African Beaches

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Written by
Jody van Merode

Published on: September 29th, 2017

Last modified: July 27th, 2023

If you thought Africa was only good for safaris, think again.

The continent offers incredible experiences, from sublime private islands to cage diving with great white sharks.

Here’s our guide on where to go and what to do, detailing our picks of the best beaches in Africa.

Jeffrey's Bay
Mnemba Island
Snorkelling & Diving
Sodwana Bay
Blonde surfer girl


South Africa is a great choice for surfing and the host of several annual surfing competitions. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Billabong Pro ASP World Tour on Supertubes Beach in Jeffrey’s Bay, held each July. This Eastern Cape beach is known as one of the best surfing destinations in the world.

Surfing South Africa

Closer to Cape Town, there is Dungeons in Hout Bay, where the massive waves create epic conditions; as a result, it’s only suitable for experienced surfers.

Surfer Hout Bay South Africa

Outside South Africa, Mauritius has a famous wave called ‘One Eye’, due to the small hole that reveals itself on the craggy rock face when surfers ride the wave. Shanti Maurice can sort out all the appropriate arrangements for surfing this epic spot.

Surfing panorama

For wind or kitesurfing, head to Mauritius to catch the ocean winds, which blow 300 days a year. Le Morne is the main spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing, an area that includes spots such as One Eye (see above) and the Lagoon. Learners should visit The Bay, also in Le Morne, where the water is calmer.

Sunset stroll along the beach, Miavana


Of course, you can happily sunbathe at most beaches, but some are just perfect for an uninterrupted Vitamin D binge. One such place is Mnemba Island, just off Zanzibar, with its unspoiled beaches to rival any not just in eastern Africa, but anywhere in the world.

Mnemba Island Lodge, Zanzibar Island

If you ever get bored of soaking up the sun, you can also go diving, snorkel from the beach, spot cute turtle hatchlings, head inland to explore the area’s fascinating cultural heritage, and swim with whale sharks between July and October.

Bwejuu Beach Zanzibar
Snorkelling Zanzibar

Snorkelling & diving

Sodwana Bay is one of the best diving spots in the world. On South Africa’s Elephant Coast, Sodwana Bay dive sites have coral reefs, caves, walls and pinnacles, all of which make for excellent diving. The walls create whirlpools that sweep up dazzling fish, such as yellow, blue-banded and dory snappers, soldier fish and potato bass. Base yourself in Thonga Beach Lodge while you explore this protected stretch of coastline.

Scuba diving Mnemba Island Lodge, Zanzibar, Africa

Just forty minutes off Mozambique’s Tofo Beach, Manta Reef hosts dozens of – you guessed it – manta rays. These tranquil creatures can reach up to six metres across and are quite an incredible sight. They visit the reef to be ‘cleaned’ by the tiny fish that eat the parasites off their wings. Whale sharks are also spotted here (see the Whale Shark section below).

Backlit Manta

En route to the Cathedral, a world-famous dive site, located just off Flic-en-Flac on the west coast of the Island of Mauritius, divers are often joined by playful dolphins. A crevice of ten metres leads down into this cave, home to angelfish, sergeant majors, sweet lips and lionfish; once in the Cathedral, the rays of sparkling white light shining through the entrance create a magical scene.

Backlit diver from below, Mauritius, Africa


Desroches, in the Seychelles is fabulous for big game fishing and fly fishing; when we visited, the obsessive enthusiasm of the onsite fishing expert was infectious! Catches include dog tuna, sailfish, wahoo, permit and giant travelly.

Seychelles cove, Africa

For deep sea fishing, Mnemba Private Island (Zanzibar) is a brilliant base. You can expect bites from barracuda, king fish, mackerel and marlin.

Fishing on the beach Mnemba Island, Zanzibar
Kaikoura, South Africa - Whale Watching

Experience whales & sharks

To see these massive mammals up close, you should head down to the Whale Coast of South Africa. Between July and November, there are humpback whales, southern right whales, Bryde’s whales (seen year round), and the occasional orca.

A whale breaches above the surface of the ocean off the Whale Coast in South Africa.

Although there are plenty of whale-watching boat trips, you can spot them from dry land, too – welcome news for those susceptible to seasickness.

Humpback whale, Baleine à bosse

Off the coast of Cape Town, False Bay is the most famous place in the world for watching the incredible great white sharks. As well as seeing them breach – an awe-inspiring sight – you can get down to their level and meet these massive sharks nose to nose – albeit separated by strong metal bars.

Great white shark

Swimming with whale sharks is an amazing experience and there are plenty of places you can find the world’s biggest fish. You don’t need to be a certified diver either, as snorkelling is the best way to see the sharks, given that they tend to swim close to the surface.

Scuba diver with whale shark

Just thirty minutes off Beau Vallon in the Seychelles, Shark Bank hosts dozens of whale sharks between August and November (October is peak season). Mozambique’s Tofo Beach is also very popular for whale shark sightings; for the chance to swim amongst fifty or so of these gentle giants, head here between October and March.

Snorkelling with a whale shark


For a dash of culture thrown into your beach vacation, visit the beautiful Bwejuu beach (where you can stay in the sleek Baraza resort) on Zanzibar, from which you can visit Stone Town with its crumbling Omani forts and eight-foot-high Zanzibarian doors


Coral Lodge in Mozambique is a fabulous base from which you can visit the Ilha de Moçambique, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, fortified city, and old Portuguese trading post.

Ibo Island, Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique
Ibo Island sailing. Mozambique


It’s fair to say that there is no shortage of honeymoon-suitable beaches around Africa, particularly in Mauritius, the Seychelles, Mozambique and Zanzibar. For glamour, you’ll want to fly out to the Seychelles. Some top beach properties include Raffles, Maia and the Four Seasons, from which you can take advantage of the pristine beaches of these Indian Ocean islands.

Beach cocktails at sunset

For a more rustic type of charm, Quilalea, in Mozambique, is a gorgeous private island with a really chilled, barefoot-luxury feel to it. This is one of the most untouched islands in the country. There are great diving opportunities accessible right from the beach and whale sharks are present in the surrounding waters during part of the year. Take a sunset dhow ride with glasses of champagne to set the mood.

Azura at Benguerra, Mozambique, Bazaruto Archipelago
Bedroom, North Island, the Seychelles

Sheer luxury

Although most travel articles tend to focus on North Island in the Seychelles (famed for hosting Kate and Wills’ royal honeymoon), this is just one – very high-end – option for privacy and romance.

Bedroom, North Island, the Seychelles

Another top recommendation is Fregate Island. If you’re a nature-lover, this UNESCO World Heritage Site (with just a single hotel on its shores and home to giant tortoises, hawksbill turtles and the Seychelles magpie robin, plus over a hundred other bird species) will be extremely hard to beat.

Family on the beach, North Island, Africa


Desroches Private Island in the Seychelles is a superb beach spot for a luxurious family holiday, with over 14km of unspoilt beaches and virgin forests surrounded by the sparkling Indian Ocean.

A child strokes a tortoise

Desroches Private Island Hotel offers loads of activities for families, including water sports and island-hopping trips, as well as plenteous opportunities for exciting wildlife encounters.

Family on the beach, North Island, Africa

Talk to one of our expert travel designers and start creating your perfect African beach adventure.