A holiday to Southern Africa simply isn’t complete without an adventure out in the water. The ocean is a magical place to explore, and with South Africa’s neverending beaches, the water activities are endless.

Whether you want to dive deep and explore the depths and mysteries of the vast ocean or scrape the surface on a boat cruise while you witness the sunset over the horizon, no matter your age, physical ability or preference, there’s a fun and exciting water activity fit for everyone.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best activities and experiences that you can have during a beach and island vacation in South Africa.

Top 10 Best Things to Do on a Beach and Island Vacation in Southern Africa

In no particular order, here is a list of the top 10 things to do on a beach island vacation in Southern Africa.

1. Kayak with a view of Table Mountain

A kayak tour in Cape Town will show you the natural beauty of the Atlantic Seaboard, with stunning views of Table Mountain and Lions Head. Cruise down the Atlantic ocean and experience the magic of encountering dolphins, seals, penguins and sunfish. The tour departs from the V & A Waterfront and includes the kayak, paddles, life jackets, a qualified tour guide and safety equipment.  

2. Go stand-up paddle boarding

Whether it involves surfing, yoga or racing, stand-up paddle boarding or SUPing is a great water activity that can be enjoyed in many different ways. Not restricted to the ocean, stand-up paddleboarding can be done in any body of water, including lakes and rivers. A great physical activity as it uses your arms, legs, back and core, stand-up paddle boarding is a great activity for all abilities.

Woman stand up paddle boarding in Seychelles
Stand-up paddle boarding in North Island, Seychelles

3. Scuba dive in coral reefs off the coast of Africa

The Cape Peninsula offers some of the best scuba diving spots in the world. Whether you’re a beginner wanting to learn or an experienced diver, there is a diving site for everyone’s enjoyment. Explore the deep ocean and discovery the mysteries below by immersing yourself in the ocean life around you. Discover kelp forests, shipwrecks and see a marine species for the first time. Diving below the surface is an exhilarating experience that is guaranteed to surprise and inspire you.

4. Snorkel near the shores of the world’s best beaches

Grab a diving mask, a snorkel and some swim fins, and explore the world below the waves from the surface of the warm and calm water. Snorkelling on the surface of the water, you are free to explore the ocean bed over a long period of time at your own pace and in your own way.  Cape Town offers plenty of incredible snorkelling locations, Fish Hoek Beach and Windmill Beach in Simonstown being two of the most popular. If you’re planning an island escape, be sure to book a snorkelling experience to discover the magnificent coral reefs and the magical ocean bed in either Mozambique or Seychelles. Snorkelling does not take need much physical effort, so the activity can be adapted to any age.

5. Enjoy horseback riding on the beach

Touring along the beach coastline on horseback is an experience you will never forget. Take a guided horseback ride along the wide open-beaches and up sand dunes, witnessing breathtaking views of the glistening ocean. A popular location for horseback riding in Cape Town is Noordhoek Beach. Here, enjoy exploring the beautiful stretches of Cape Town coastline while you take in the sights and sounds of the magnificent ocean. If you’re looking for something a bit more tropical, book a Mozambique island vacation and explore the shores of paradise on horseback.

Horseback Riding on the Beach in Mozambique
Horseback safari in Mozambique

6. Enjoy a boat cruise along the Atlantic coastline

Spend the day relaxing on a luxury boat, with a cool ocean breeze and a famous South African mountain as your backdrop. Enjoy a traditional braai and sundowners with live DJs and gorgeous views. Depart from the V & A Waterfront or Royal Cape Yacht Club where you are able to choose between huge boats that can take more than 100 passengers or hire a private yacht for your family and friends.

7.  Swim with penguins at Boulders Beach

Home to a thriving penguin colony, Boulders Beach in Simons Town, just 40 minutes from Cape Town city centre is one of the few places in the world where you are allowed to swim freely with penguins. Along with a viewing deck to gaze at these world-famous birds, Boulders also offers a second entrance to a small beach, where penguins collect and swim. As the penguin colony is under the protection of SANParks, there is a small conservation fee to the beach. Once there, you are able to watch the penguins waddle about and splashing in the waves. The beaches of Fish Hoek, Muizenberg and Boulders are much warmer than those located on the Atlantic Seaboard, and perfectly suited for a swimming day.

Penguins at Boulders Beach Cape Town
Hang out with penguins at Boulders Beach in Simons Town

8. Go diving with great white sharks

Guaranteed to get your blood racing, come face-to-face with one of the oceans most notorious apex predator, the great white shark. Hop inside a secure cage and get up close and personal with these famous giants in their natural habitat. Best left for the adrenaline junkies, this underwater experience not only gives you an opportunity to connect with these amazing animals but also allows you to view other marine life and learn about the local sea conservation. Book a great white shark cage diving experience now!

9. Learn to surf at a world famous surf destination

A must-do activity on everyone’s bucket list is learning to surf, and what better place to don a wetsuit and ride a wave than South Africa. Famed surf hotspots, Blouberg and Muizenberg are two of the most popular beaches for those starting out. With plenty of surfing schools run by excellent surfing instructors, both Muizenberg and Blouberg are ideal locations for learning how to surf along the Southern African waves.

10. Embark on a Dhow cruise at sunset

Cruise along the pristine coastlines of Mozambique or Seychelles in a traditional local dhow sailing boat. Enjoy the quiet of the ocean as you sit back and soak up the calm and romantic ocean, discovering the island from a unique perspective while the sun sets behind you. While enjoying a relaxing adventure on the water, soak up the incredible scenery and look out for colourful wildlife, making the best memories of the quintessential tropical island paradise experience. Find out more about our island vacation packages in Mozambique and Seychelles.

Dhow sailing in Bazaruto Archipelago
Dhow cruise at Azura Benguerra, Mozambique

There you have it; a collection of the best experiences and activities waiting for you in Southern Africa!

Start planning your dream vacation in Africa. Find out more about our beach holidays and island escapes and contact us to book!

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