A holiday to Southern Africa simply isn’t complete without an outdoor adventure exploring nature and the stunning shores. The ocean is a magical place, and with South Africa’s never-ending beaches, the list of beach and island activities is 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, there’s a fun and exciting water activity fit for everyone. No matter your age, physical ability or preference, an array of fun island and coastal activities await.

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

Top 10 Fun Beach and Island Activities for Your Vacation in Southern Africa

Wondering what to do on an island and beach getaway in South Africa? In no particular order, here is a list of the top 10 things to do on an island beach vacation in Southern Africa.

1. Kayak with a view of Table Mountain

When it comes to fun outdoor activities, Cape Town has more than enough on offer to keep you busy for days. 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. Glide along the Atlantic Ocean and experience the magic of encountering dolphins, seals, whales and even sunfish.

The tour departs from the V&A Waterfront and includes the kayak, paddles, life jackets, and safety equipment. A qualified tour guide will show you the ropes and ensure that you’re safe throughout the tour. All you have to do is enjoy the experience and the incredible vistas.

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. It’s one of the most fun outdoor activities for adults and children alike to get in some sun, movement and fresh air.

Not restricted to the ocean, stand-up paddle boarding can be done in any body of water, including lakes, canals and rivers. It’s a great physical activity, as it uses your arms, legs, back and core.

You can try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Stand-up paddle boarding is a great activity for all abilities and experience levels, as you’ll get expert training from your instructor. Once you’re comfortable, you’ll have leisure time to explore the waters of the canal or ocean and soak up the dreamy views.

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. It’s home to everything from cow sharks and Cape fur seals to pyjama sharks and octopi. Whether you’re a beginner wanting to learn, or an experienced diver, there is a diving site for everyone’s enjoyment.

Into the Blue Scuba Dive Centre is based in Cape Town and offers excursions for a variety of interests like scuba diving with seals or nature dives. Explore the deep ocean and discover the mysteries below by immersing yourself in the ocean life around you. Discover kelp forests and 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

Snorkelling is an excellent island activity for beginners and experts alike. 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. You can also head out on a snorkelling adventure in Hout Bay with the Cape fur seals of Duiker Island. 

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 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 one of those leisure activities you will never forget. It’s one of the best outdoor activities for couples or families to truly appreciate the splendour of the African coastline.

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’s 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

For a bit of leisure and adventure, why not take a 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.

Depart from the V&A Waterfront or Royal Cape Yacht Club where you are able to choose between a more intimate coastal catamaran cruise or opt for a sailboat cruise along the bay. Some cruise options even offer add-ons like prosecco and breakfast or lunch at one of the V&A Waterfront’s restaurants. Alternatively, hire a private yacht for your family and friends.

7.  Swim with penguins at Boulders Beach

For family-friendly outdoor activities in Cape Town, be sure to add Boulders Beach to your to-do list. 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 Beach also offers a second entrance to a small beach, where penguins gather and swim. As the penguin colony is under the protection of SANParks, there is a small conservation fee to access the beach.

Once there, you are able to watch the penguins waddle about and splash 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.

Tip: Get in touch to join our Cape Point & Cape Peninsula tour. You’ll get to see the African penguins and explore the beauty of the Atlantic Coastline.

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

8. Go diving with great white sharks

Shark cage diving is definitely one of the more daring adventure activities in Cape Town. Guaranteed to get your blood racing, you’ll come face-to-face with one of the ocean’s most notorious apex predators, 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 local sea conservation. Join us on a great white shark cage diving experience in Gansbaai for a coastal adventure you won’t soon forget.

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 the Southern African waves. Learn to surf with Table Mountains as your backdrop with Cape Town Surf School in Blouberg, or stop by Surf Emporium in Muizenberg for a few lessons on the waves.

10. Embark on a Dhow cruise at sunset

Cruising along the pristine coastlines of stunning Mozambique or tropical Seychelles in a traditional local dhow sailing boat is one of the best things to do on a tropical island. Enjoy the quiet of the ocean as you sit back and soak up the calm and romantic views, 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 and beach vacation packages in Mozambique and Seychelles.

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

Wrapping Up: Fun Things To Do on an Island and Beach Vacation in Southern Africa

There you have it; a collection of the best experiences and activities waiting for you on a Southern African adventure!

When it comes to the question of what to do on an island and beach getaway in South Africa, it’s clear that there are plenty of exciting outdoor adventures to add to your bucket list. Whether it’s snorkelling among local marine life or soaking up the last rays of sun on a cruise, you can look forward to memorable, fun activities that highlight Africa’s spectacular natural beauty.

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

First published in January 2019, updated in November 2023.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This